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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tait

Jayhawks’ schedule not kind

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We’re approaching the end of July — like it or not — and now is the time that many fans start seriously scouting the season ahead and gearing up to make their predictions that can make or break their status as true sports fans with their friends.

Seeing how the Kansas University football team has yet to report to preseason camp and still has unanswered questions about which players will be on the field, I’ll save my official prediction for a little later this summer.

But for those who can’t wait that long or need help formulating your picks, here’s a quick look at a few facts that might help.

Warning: The following information may help you make a sound prediction but won’t do much for your hopes of a strong season from the Jayhawks this fall. Proceed with caution.

By now, you’re surely aware that the Jayhawks will play all nine other schools that remain in the new-look Big 12. No more North against North or South against South. From here on out, it’s everybody against everybody, winner take all. For the most part, I love that. For the Jayhawks, I don’t.

Sure we know that KU will have to play Oklahoma and Texas and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M and, well, you get it. But add to that a good Northern Illinois team in Week 2 and a road game against Georgia Tech in Week 3 and you’re staring at the 26th toughest schedule in the country, according to college football analyst Phil Steele.

One quick note before diving in further: Steele makes sure to point out in his breakdown that his strength of schedule numbers are based on the make-up of this year’s teams and not the records from 2010. More on that a little later.

Amazingly, KU’s standing at No. 26 in the nation only comes in at No. 7 in its own conference. Iowa State (2), Baylor (3), Oklahoma State (18), Missouri (19), Texas A&M (22) and Oklahoma (25) all rank ahead of KU. Get this: KU barely avoided finishing eighth in the Big 12, as K-State landed just one spot behind them in 27th.

Texas (31) and Texas Tech (50) round out the rest of the conference on Steele’s list, putting all 10 Big 12 teams in the Top 50 in terms of toughest schedules in the country in 2011. How’s that for an indication of how good the league is this year? Yikes.

For a quick comparison, consider that KU’s 2010 schedule ranked as the 48th toughest in the country, good for eighth in the 12-team league.

Now, about that distinction between the strength of this year’s teams versus last year’s records, Steele addresses that, as well. On his list of schools facing the toughest schedule in terms of the opponents’ win-loss records from 2010, KU ranks third in the country.

KU’s 2011 opponents combined for 97 victories and 57 losses in 2010, good for a winning percentage of 63 percent. Only Clemson (104-54, 65.8%) and Baylor (96-56, 63.2%) are facing a bigger bunch of winners.

It’s hard to know what to make of this in late July. Things change, breaks happen and a couple of teams almost always show up and surprise people.

One thing that won’t come as much of a surprise for the Jayhawks this year will be staring down talented teams on the opposite sideline. They’ll be doing it just about every week.

Comments

Funhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

So, our final record for 2011 may be worse than last year's, but I think we will have a better team this year. Better front line, more speed, more experienced players. Hopefully, the games will be closer than they were last year. I think they will be. Just chill out and know our guys do the best they can. Even last year had fun moments, like the Georgia Tech and Colorado games. Those were fun games, so never give up.

Ben Kliewer 3 years, 4 months ago

The headline of this article could've said "Water is Wet" I think we all saw this coming. But I do appreciate the statistics provided in this article to give us a good idea of where we sit on paper for the schedule. Thanks Tait.

hawk316 3 years, 4 months ago

You're exactly right, Funhawk. Although this program is steadily improving, the difficult schedule will probably prevent that from being evident for some of our fans. However, if this team continues to improve in the next few years, it will eventually become obvious to even the most skeptical fan.

I think we're going to be more competitive this year and may even surprise a couple of teams for some unexpected wins. The bottom line may not look pretty, but these guys are going to play hard, and they should be fun to watch, I suggest we not worry about the record this year and just enjoy watching these guys lay it on the line every Saturday.

KU_Alumn_2000 3 years, 4 months ago

It's gonna be tough getting 3 or 4 wins this season...but it will be fun watching this program get better over the next few years.

minnhawk84 3 years, 4 months ago

7 and 5. You heard it from me first. I believe in miracles.

Hammertoe 3 years, 4 months ago

the hawks may not win a game. you heard it from me first.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 4 months ago

I guess for some people, if we beat McNeese State than it would be an improvement over last year, since we beat the DII team we play.

I think it is kind of sad that an expectation of 3-9, is basically the best most people are picking.

justanotherfan 3 years, 4 months ago

I think every football coach should get at least five years to work with his program, unless he does something ridiculous. Improvements on the field take time, particularly if you aren't at a power program like Alabama or something. I'm sure Ohio State will recover rather quickly because they have all of that tradition. Five years is enough time for your first two classes of recruits to get through the system and become RS seniors and juniors. By then you can see where the program is heading.

At a school like KU, if we are axing coaches after only 2-3 years, we will never get anywhere. We have to have some stability and consistency. I don't know if Gill is the right guy yet. He could be on the path to greatness or mediocrity. It's too early to tell. His on field results last year were poor, but his ability to recruit looks promising. This year's schedule is tough enough that the on field results may not trend that far up, but if he continues to recruit well, next year we could have a shot at knocking off some of the lesser teams (ISU, KSU, maybe Tech or Baylor). An upset here or there could land us in a bowl next year, but the bigger project is building a recruiting base here in the midwest, and in particular, gaining some control over Wichita and KC, where he has had some early success. On the other hand, his recruiting could fall off and we could be staring at a string of 4-5 win seasons. Either trend is in play right now.

squawkhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Be careful what you wish for. I believe KSU was very glad to get rid of Ron Prince after 3 years...and wish they had gotten rid of him after 1 or 2 years.

squawkhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Be careful what you wish for. I believe KSU was very glad to get rid of Ron Prince after 3 years...and wish they had gotten rid of him after 1 or 2 years.

KStoCAHippie 3 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, but think about it. 5 years can absolutely run a program into the ground. You give 5 years to someone who is doing moderately well and we might end up slightly for the better... you give 5 years to someone who isn't doing the job and we end up on the SHORT, short list for a replacement coach.

We'll see how we do this year. Personally, I'm inclined to agree with jhwkfan162515... I think this guy is like Terry Allen (actually I think Terry Allen might have a one up on the dude). And I think Chuck Long is a freakin' joke. The guy put SDSU in the ground... I mean a 2-10 season -- that DOESN'T sound kind of familiar (if you take out the fluke Colorado game)?

We'll see, I'm usually a very optimistic guy, but the realist in me just doesn't see this panning out.

KStoCAHippie 3 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, but think about it. 5 years can absolutely run a program into the ground. You give 5 years to someone who is doing moderately well and we might end up slightly for the better... you give 5 years to someone who isn't doing the job and we end up on the SHORT, short list for a replacement coach.

We'll see how we do this year. Personally, I'm inclined to agree with jhwkfan162515... I think this guy is like Terry Allen (actually I think Terry Allen might have a one up on the dude). And I think Chuck Long is a freakin' joke. The guy put SDSU in the ground... I mean a 2-10 season -- that DOESN'T sound kind of familiar (if you take out the fluke Colorado game)?

We'll see, I'm usually a very optimistic guy, but the realist in me just doesn't see this panning out.

IraUlrich 3 years, 4 months ago

We're not Texas, why don't you give the guy some time to establish himself. It's not like you expect 10 wins every season...

John Randall 3 years, 4 months ago

But, Ira, not many fans are patient or realistic enough to have their expectations bounded within the realm of probabilities – most of us didn't realize a twelve-win season was a once-and-only-once happening.

So, I'm afraid it is "like you(we) expect 10 wins every season..."

Ben Kliewer 3 years, 4 months ago

Gill still has a 5 year contract without a buyout, so like it or not, and whether or not it should be, we'll have him through 2015. Unless something has changed.

sevenyearhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

"I very seriously doubt that Gill will last past the 2012 season."

one can only hope!!!!!!!

Ludwig Supraphonic 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm hopeful about our program; though I do note we are the reason Baylor didn't face the toughest schedule in 2010.

jayhwkr77 3 years, 4 months ago

i think three wins is realistic for next year with an outside chance at four. it just sucks now playing the entire south, i think it's safe to say that were in for a few good beatdowns from the big dogs in texas and oklahoma.

i love the new big 12/10 scheduling and format, but theres no doubt that it definitely kills the north schools such as KU in terms of wins on a yearly basis.

Mark Anderson 3 years, 4 months ago

As far as "big dogs" in the south, I would say that OSU and Texas A&M (and perhaps even Baylor) would be considered even bigger dogs than Texas this year. It's going to be brutal, and KU can only hope that adversity builds strength!

Kevin Kelly 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm excited for the schedule. For the entirety of the Big 12 so far, no one has had to look at KU but only look at KU's schedule. It was a four year cycle of either 'you don't play anyone' or 'it dosn't matter how good you are with that schedule'. Recruiting with this kind of wild schedule swing was doing no one any good. Good teams looked great, bad teams looked horrible, mediocre teams won 6 games and did/didn't go to a bowl, etc.

Now when we recruit someone....they get 4 tries at the same schedule. And as far as what the schedule is now...it simply feels like the 'hard' schedule we had before but with aTm replacing NU and TT replacing CU (while adding BU as a permenant home/away). That isn't neccisarily a step up from our 'hard schedule'. I welcome it. We will have a much better sense of where we are over a 4-5 year stretch now.

Ludwig Supraphonic 3 years, 4 months ago

Good points! One method of getting Texas recruits is the prospect of getting to return home, play in front of their families, and stick it to the teams that passed them over. The current alignment should help our recruiting

rob4lb 3 years, 4 months ago

I definitely agree with Justanotherfan- At a program like KU's, you need to give the coach 4-5 years to see if he will be effective. He needs to get his players and system in place. I look at this coming season as transitional one. I don't expect alot of success. I would be happy if the team was more competitive than last year. If that happens and Hawks only win 2-3 games, I would not be overly upset. I do have expectations that in 2012, the Hawks will win some conference games and make a run at Bowl Eligibility. If that doesn't happen, then Gill will be on the hot seat going into Year 4.

beenahawk 3 years, 4 months ago

"At a program like KU's, you need to give the coach 4-5 years to see if he will be effective."

Not entirely true. Especially since you through "effective" in there. Gill was NOT "effective" in 2010. If he is not "effective" in 2011 it's time to part company.

One should actually see some progress...as KU fans we saw progress in Mason's early teams as well as the Buddha's...so each was given time. We backpeddled under Gameball and there was no evidence of progress under Val. It doesn't need to be wins vs losses...but we should see an IMPROVED team in 2011. If the same blunders occur or heaven forbid, new blunders occur in 2011, Gill should be thanked for his effort and shown the door.

Mason inherited Val's trainwreck (much courtesy to Gottfried for emptying the cupboards with a plethora of JC's) and one could immediately see a difference. The same for Mangino. When a new head man comes in and immediately takes several steps backwards, it leaves fans wondering just how "effective" that head man is.

rob4lb 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm not sure that last year was several steps backward. They won the same number of conference games as the year before. Even if Mangino were still coach, it was going to be a rebuilding year regardless, given the talent that left. I think Mangino would have put out a more competitive team, but may not have won anymore games. I suspect he would have beaten NDSU, but he could have lost to Ga Tech.

As I mentioned, before what was most disappointing were the routes in conference games- it reminded me of the late 70s when I went to school at KU.

In the new conference arrangement, KU will have to win at least three conference games just to get bowl eligible. That will be tough. It is hard to see KU ever consistently winning 7-8 games a year with this set-up.

justinryman 3 years, 4 months ago

It seems one of two things happen when you play against better opponents all the time.

  1. You give up and never get better and become a perennial door mat.

  2. You keep working hard to compete and then one day it clicks and you become a very solid team, that others don't want to play anymore.

So what will happen with this KU team and staff?????

Phoggin_Loud 3 years, 4 months ago

Sing it with me:

"New coach, new players, new team.

You put it all together, and we're just gonna' believe"

Keep working hard & make plays. That"s all they can control.

Mike Kendall 3 years, 4 months ago

Brutal, like the consecutive days of 100 heat. We'll see what happens. For right now, I am staying positive. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

texashawk10 3 years, 4 months ago

This article is a perfect example of why Matt Tait is a better writer than Keegan. Had Keegan written this article, he likely would've just gone with KU having the third toughest schedule based on last years schedule. Tait did mention this, but the article focused on Phil Steele's (a reasonably credible opinion) SOS and instead of just saying KU had the 26th toughest schedule and also talked about where the other Big 12 school's SOS ranked nationally and I was surprised that KU's SOS was 7th in the conference. Had Tait not brought this point up, I wouldn't have gone and looked at everyone else's schedule. I already knew that OU was playing FSU in Tallahassee, Texas A&M was playing Arkansas at Jerryworld, and ISU was playing Iowa which are three very difficult games, but I didn't realize OU was also playing Tulsa (a good solid team most years), Missouri is playing @ Arizona St. who some think could win the PAC-12 south, KState playing @ Miami, Baylor plays TCU to open the year, ISU also plays @ UConn who played in the Fiesta Bowl last year, Texas plays BYU, OSU plays Arizona and @Tulsa, and A&M also plays SMU, and Texas Tech is playing Nevada. The Big 12 this year has a very solid slate of non-conference games in which it's possible every Big 12 team could lose a game this year. If it wasn't for Tait being such a good writer, I wouldn't have just spent the last 10 minutes looking at the non-conference schedules to see why KU was only 7th in the Big 12 for SOS this year.

texashawk10 3 years, 4 months ago

I said this somewhere else on here earlier this year, but KU could be a significantly better team this year than last year and still have the same record as last year or worse. KU will be favored in 1 game for sure this year (McNeese St.) and possibly the KState and ISU games depending on how those three teams look this season.

McNeese St. is not nearly as good as NDSU was last year and KU should handle this one with little drama.
Northern Illinois won 11 games last season and returns a lot of starters from last year, but is going through a coaching change which provides a little hope, but NIU is a more talented team than KU right now. Georgia Tech was terrible after Josh Nesbitt went down with an injury last year and with him gone, that should make this another fairly competitive game but GT gets the advantage with the game being in Atlanta. Texas Tech's defense was about as bad as KU's last year and they are replacing their QB so this is a game to watch for early on to see if KU could pull an early upset. OSU and OU should both handle KU very easily this year. KSU is one of the two games to circle as a potential win. KState's offense will be worse than last year as Bryce Brown is not nearly as good as Daniel Thomas and their passing game will be non-existent and their defense will be not be much better than last year. If UT is as bad this year as last, KU could hang around long enough to make this game interesting, but UT should still beat KU easily. ISU is the other game to circle as a potential win as ISU will be horrible this year with the losses they suffered from graduation this past year. Baylor depends on whether or not Griffin is playing or injured at that point. If he's healthy, Baylor will roll but if he gets hurt at some point prior to this game, KU could have a chance but I would still give an edge to Baylor. A&M should beat KU soundly in College Station as a tune up for UT a few days later. Missouri will have a very good defense and a good running game. Their passing game will depend on Franklin's development as their receivers and TE are among the top pass catching units in the country.

Best case scenario for KU is to go 7-5 sweeping the non-conference and beating Tech, KSU, Baylor, and ISU. A more realistic season has KU going somewhere between 4-8 and 1-11 and a lot more questions about Turner Gill and people calling for his head despite not realizing it will cost KU at least $10 million total to fire Gill and his staff and bring in a new coach and staff and KU simply can't afford that right now without major help from donors.

waywardJay 3 years, 4 months ago

Should be the handle for all of these frames of reference.....

Do i think we are less talented than Northern Illinois....Not particularly...

Georgia Tech's not going to be much improved running that same option offense...

I could see us legitmately running a 3-0 to start.....

You are right on when it comes to Texas Tech. If we can get that W, It changes the forecast dramatically. We get to 4-0, I think it will be hard to avoid a 6-6..... But getting to 4-0......

sevenyearhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Texas Tech and their SEC-caliber coach is going to obliterate Kansas.

I hear that the athletic department may be seeking a special "one-time" only major corporate sponsor for that game ... stay tuned!

haydenhawkco 3 years, 4 months ago

Well...games aren't played on paper. I'll await for the outcome

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