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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What a year: Sheahon Zenger had eventful first 365 days

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger listens as new football coach Charlie Weis takes questions during a news conference on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger listens as new football coach Charlie Weis takes questions during a news conference on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

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Today marks Sheahon Zenger’s one-year anniversary as the athletic director at Kansas University.

If you haven’t been paying close attention, it might seem more like five years have passed since Zenger was introduced as the replacement for Lew Perkins. That’s often the case for Zenger, who, in 12 months, has been through and done more than some ADs do during an entire career.

“For the most part, the tasks of an athletic director’s job on a daily basis are relatively the same across the country,” said Zenger, looking back at the year that was. “What was unique here was the magnitude of the issues that surfaced relatively quickly.”

From navigating the worrisome waters of conference realignment to reorganizing the athletic department and firing one football coach and hiring another, Zenger has had his hands full since the day he started at KU.

“The issues that arose early on forced me and forced the staff to run at a faster pace,” said Zenger, who came to KU after six years as AD at Illinois State. “And I see that now as a real positive, because we’re not sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, trying to figure out what we’re going to do next.”

With his foundation firmly in place, and KU’s most dire issues behind him (for now), Zenger plans to focus even more attention on raising the level of competitiveness throughout the KU athletic department. His focus from the beginning was on elevating all of KU’s sports programs into the top tier of the Big 12. Although the near collapse of the conference and his quest to hire Charlie Weis as the school’s 37th football coach demanded most of Zenger’s energy and attention during Year One, his vision has not changed.

“There’s only one goal here at the University of Kansas, and that is to always aim high,” Zenger said. “Aspire to greatness. That’s how I was brought up. That’s what I think the University of Kansas stands for, and that’s what I think the athletic department here needs to keep in its forefront at all times.”

Men’s basketball long has been top dog at KU, and Zenger was well aware of that when he arrived. In fact, much of what he did during his first year in charge — not all of it noticeable — was done with men’s basketball in mind. At least one man recognized and he spoke highly of the way with which Zenger began to repair the image of an athletic department in need of a makeover.

“One of the things that has impressed me about him is that he is not a knee-jerk-reaction guy,” men’s basketball coach Bill Self said of Zenger. “He studied, talked to people and has done it his way, as opposed to feeling pressure to do what others sometimes think you should do. And I think that’s been a very positive thing for KU. It’s a challenging time. It was a challenging year. But the pot at the end of the rainbow is gold.”

One of Zenger’s first visible roles with Kansas was to follow Self’s top-ranked team during its run to the Elite Eight. He talked often about how he saw sitting courtside at KU hoops games as one of the best parts of his job, both for the Jayhawk fan inside of him and for the connection to donors and alumni it allowed him to create.

Shortly after basketball ended, things began to heat up with conference realignment for a second straight year, and Zenger spent the bulk of the summer in the middle of intense talks designed to save the Big 12 Conference. Although the league lost two schools (Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC) for the second straight year, it also added two — TCU and West Virginia — and appears to be on more stable ground heading into 2012.

With less threatening realignment issues still lingering, Zenger, a former football coach, was forced to endure the disappointment of a 2-10 football season that led to the dismissal of second-year coach Turner Gill. Though Zenger did not hire Gill, he acted swiftly in firing him, largely because expectations were not being met on or off the field.

While pulling the plug on Gill marked his first such move at KU, Zenger had been through coaching transitions in the past. During his six years at Illinois State, Zenger parted ways with three high-profile coaches and ultimately hired two-thirds of the head coaches who were in place the day he left.

“It’s the most unfortunate part of any athletic director’s job,” Zenger said of having to fire a coach. “But it’s the most important part of an athletic director’s job. And if I had not gone through it before, I can’t imagine having to do it at this level.”

Less than two weeks after firing Gill and his staff, Zenger made national news by hiring Weis, a man with nearly 20 years of NFL coaching experience and four Super Bowl rings. The move, though met with skepticism by some, was celebrated throughout the KU community.

“A lot of times, you can’t get to the good things until you take care of some things that need to be addressed,” Self said. “But you don’t want to rush into addressing them. So, to me, it’s been one of those situations where he’s taken his time, and taking his time has better given him the opportunity to evaluate and make the proper decisions. It was the perfect time for a guy like Sheahon to come in here and put his own stamp on things. Moving forward, I think there will be a lot of positive things happening.”

While his first year at KU was an eye-opening experience, Zenger said he would not have asked for anything different.

“I see it as a positive,” he said. “Rather than sitting back and watching for a year, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work and got to know people locally, regionally and nationally. Now we’re at warp speed, and we’re way ahead of where we would’ve been had this first year just been a normal year.”

When it was suggested that the breakneck pace of his first year in town made it seem as if he had been in his current job for much more than 365 days, Zenger agreed.

“It does,” he said. “And part of that has to do with the fact that this isn’t my first time at the University of Kansas. At the same time, my lifespan in the department feels like … it feels more like I’ve been here closer to two or three years. And quite frankly, that’s something I’m thankful for.”

Although he spends most days with dozens of things going on at once and all of them racing through his busy mind, Zenger is not a complicated man. He loves his job and his family, and those are the two most important things in his world.

During winter break, when the KU campus was quiet and many of the students and staff members spent extended time away with their families, Zenger found time, just about every day, to head up to his office. Sometimes he sat there and thought. Other times, he returned phone calls or straightened his desk. His idea of a break? Going to work in a KU sweatshirt instead of wearing a suit and tie.

“Now’s not the time to rest,” Zenger said. “People perceive that this has been a long year and a year with a lot of intense issues, and they’re right. Some people, at the end of that time period, might think that it’s time to take a deep breath. But my message to the department and to the institution is now is not the time to take a deep breath. Now is the time to continue to push forward with great momentum.”

Comments

kusportsdotcom 2 years, 11 months ago

Please raise the bar for all the non-revenue sports at KU. Look at a team like volleyball, who has had the same coach for 15 years, and has made 3 NCAA tournament appearances, and are coming off a whopping 3 Big 12 conference wins this past season.

There's no excuse for being the worst school in the conference in terms of overall sports performance. If it weren't for basketball (and now, hopefully football) KU sports would be an absolute joke. It's time for an overhaul. Zenger's the man for that.

bradh 2 years, 11 months ago

The ladies basketball team is 13-1. They are looking much better this year.

kuilander 2 years, 11 months ago

theyve gotten off to great starts many times only to fizzle every single year. this year has been no different than several others the past 5-6 years.

John Randall 2 years, 10 months ago

I do one big difference – not having to 'reload' during the season. Hopefully, that stability continues and lets us see better results from coach Henrickson's hard work on the recruiting trail and in the practice gym. Transfers and injuries happen in all programs, but our WBB team has had way more than their share for several years running.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

I have been impressed with Zenger this year. The two major problems (conference realignment and the coaching situation) are currently in a satisfactory state. I agree with kusportsdotcom that our entire athletic department needs to be competing and not just basketball. We have way too much going for us at KU to have sub par non-revenue sports.

YEAR 2,,, I would love to see Zenger launch a massive fund raising project to renovate the football stadium. I know our athletic department is in debt. That being said, immediately after it is financially feasible, the stadium needs some major plastic surgery!

Keep up the good work Zenger!

Cody Stumma 2 years, 11 months ago

How about we wait until at the very least a winning season first.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

I would agree but our stadium is bad to the point that it hurts recruiting.

bulldawgs 2 years, 11 months ago

Memorial Stadium is so dated...it saddens me that you have to walk up a flight of stairs and a ramp just to get to your seats...Also given that 40% of all seats are beyond the goal line and it isn't a premium experience...

After seeing what TCU has done with their football stadium over the last year, it is time to do a similar redo of Memorial Stadium...

Phoghorn 2 years, 11 months ago

With the demolition of the oldest parts of Husky Stadium in Seattle, KU now plays in the oldest college FB stadium west of the Mississippi (although OSU makes the same claim). While the place certainly needs some work, I think KU should actually play this up, and not shy away from it.

kuilander 2 years, 11 months ago

a fund raising project has already begun ...

kuilander 2 years, 11 months ago

its been pretty common knowledge through the boards the past month or so ... sources are there ...

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

kuulander... What are the funds for specifically? I continually hear about three projects which are the non revenue sport facilities by AFH, The Gridiron Club, and the football stadium renovation.

Phoghorn 2 years, 11 months ago

Upgrade the Memorial Stadium? I thought we already removed the trough style urinals...

In all seriousness, what I can see happening is building a mini-bowl (ie 10-12 rows) to partially enclose the south endzone, but not block the view of the hill - unless you are actually standing in the endzone. Expanding the north bowl upward would also add a substantial number of seats and put us on par with some other schools capacity wise.

Phoghorn 2 years, 11 months ago

Before the grammar police arrest me, I am aware of the dangling modifier in the above comment.

nuleafjhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

I thought the dangling modifier was taken care of when they removed the trough style urinals.

John Randall 2 years, 10 months ago

Well, some prostate troubles require more modification than others. Remember this when you have to wait in line . . .

KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 11 months ago

ADSZ still has a busy job on his plate for at least the next couple of years given the status and recent performance of our non-revenue sports programs.

Joseph Kuebel 2 years, 11 months ago

He showed he is more than capable of running the show at a school in a power conference... Which I also even had my doubts about.

Kudos to Sheahon, and BGL for their hardwork this year.

SZ, for what it is worth pulled a creative, homerun of a hire(although I do hesitate using that term). It seems undisputable that CWeis fits KU football and their reputation like a glove (both needing a rebound). I don't think I could name anyone I'd have rather had... Maybe Fedora but still I think that's a disputable argument as he has never been bug time... It's not like CW failed miserably and is washed up, he definitely has some gas left in the tank after returning from ND to take Cassell to a pro bowl... And you lose ur #1 and #2 qbs, u r gonna have a VERy hard time winning when ur greatest strength (coaching qbs to great numbers) is axed through both knees...

I commend SZ, and have been more and more impressed after each passing issue with him as AD.

NOW... PLEASE REMOVE THE F(olliage brow)n TRACK!!! NOW, PLEASE!!! IF I WAS IN LTOWN I WOULD PUT A RALLY AND RECRUIT DORMATORY VOLUNTEERS TO REMOVE THIS DISGRACE, AND TRUE EYESORE. IT REALLY DOES SHOW OUR TRUE COMMITMENT LEVEL TO FOOTBALL... SURE, Kansas Relays are a big part of our history, but they've been moved before... What's the problem with moving the Relays, again?? Nothin. They aren't what they used to be anyways, and won't be close as important as football ever again (Like they were in 1930... It's not 1930 anymore). In fact moving the track may help save the Kansas relays (in an odd twist of fate). Organize a Lawrence dig, and have 75,000 people bring their shovels, followed by some civil engineering students to design the proper pumps and pipeline layout to keep the field from being as soaking wet "as Jim Morrissay, on Christmas day on helayay, dressed hela&ay"

Joseph Kuebel 2 years, 11 months ago

Time to get to the airport and leave bitter cold Chicago back to the land of fruit and nuts!

Joseph Kuebel 2 years, 11 months ago

Meaning last season as OC at Florida: And you lose ur #1 and #2 qbs, u r gonna have a VERY hard time winning when ur greatest strength (coaching qbs to great numbers) is axed through both knees...

Steve Reigle 2 years, 11 months ago

Bill Self was a great hire. Charlie Weis was a great hire. And Sheahon Zenger is proving to be just as great a hire. KU is in a terrific position for the future.

Josh Galler 2 years, 11 months ago

I am sorry there are more things to worry about our sport facilities than removing the track. How about build a small 3 to 8k soccer only stadium for the woman's soccer program. I remember when I was in school woman's soccer was doing well. Or how about improving Robinson Gym for the swimming and diving teams, Do we still have woman's tennis? i know when I was in school they cut men's tennis, why not improve the tennis courts? There are many non-revenue sport facilities needs to be improve before we remove the track add more seats. Rememeber just 10 years ago the stadium just finished some major work to it

Clarence Haynes 2 years, 11 months ago

Such was the Olympic Facilities capital plan, which unfortunately was put on hold because of among others the economy. I am confident that SZ has developed or is developing a strategy that will upgrade facilities whose implementation has been helped by the prospect of having 5,000 to 10,000 more in the stands for football.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Kansasalumn... Agreed but the reality is that football and basketball pay for the other sports. If the stadium is renovated with a capacity boost, then that could only mean more revenue for all the sports. I think the track, the south end zone, and the overall state of the stadium needs to be the first priority.

Not to mention another reality... More people go into Memorial Stadium and judge KU Athletics than the non-revenue sports. That is just a reality.

andrewbary 2 years, 11 months ago

Not to mention the times we get on national TV

Danimal 2 years, 11 months ago

Unfortunately before they can remove the track and lower the field they have to build the new Olympic village where the old football practice fields are so the track team isn't homeless.

I'm all about renovating Memorial Stadium and making it as modern as possible. What I don't want to see happen is that we'll lose the "Memorial" part and it becomes Sprint or H&R Block Stadium. I also don't want the original intent of the stadium to be lost with the passage of time. The stadium isn't just a stadium, it and the Kansas Union are the University's memorial to the 127 students and staff killed in action during World War I. It should remain a monument to their sacrifice, not just football and big money college sports.

rockemchalkemrobots 2 years, 11 months ago

"i know when I was in school they cut men's tennis, why not improve the tennis courts?" You answered this question with the question you posed immediately prior. Why dump money into a program that Joe Alum is not even confident still exists? And a 3 person soccer stadium is about 2 people too big...

In all seriousness, the revenue sports need to be maximized before there can be any substantial improvements to non-revenue facilities, unless Zenger can cultivate some specific benefactors for those sports.

Joseph Kuebel 2 years, 11 months ago

I am sorry, but the faster the track is removed the more quality seating becomes available and the faster we get your women's soccer(?) Stadium and diving team improvements...

Really?? Women's soccer and diving teams??? What do you think pays for women's soccer and diving teams??? Oh yea, football and bball... Hence the term revenue sports.

Gene Jackson 2 years, 11 months ago

In the late 50s and early 60s, KU was one of the elites of track and field. Let's find another Bill Easton.

Phoghorn 2 years, 11 months ago

Exactly! The Kansas Relays also used to be one of the major track events nationwide. I would love to see them built back up to their glory days- and held in Memorial Stadium. I know I am in a minority here, but that is why I am in favor of retaining the track - those relays could be a huge boon to our University. IMHO they need to be held on campus. Not on west campus away from the main campus, not just in DG CO somewhere, not in KCMO under the name "Kansas Relays", but on the KU Campus.

Traditionalist, stick-in-the-mud, fuddy duddy, old fogey rant over...fire away!

741hawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Oregon is a school that has a great track program. They have a SEPARATE track facility. As a matter of fact, every school in the BCS (except KU and Duke) have a SEPARATE track facility. (Do you really want to be like Duke in football?

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Phoghorn... I agree with your idea but the problem is right now that the Kansas Relays are nothing special and they are the reason the stadium remains an eye sore and a recruiting liability. If we found a way to make the Kansas Relays a really special event again then I would be for possibly keeping the track. Unless that happens, it has to go.

haydenhawkco 2 years, 11 months ago

Men and women finished in top 25 for 2011. They have a great discus / shot put competitor in Mason Finley and an exceptional sprinter in Diamond Dixon. They are building a great team.

Scott Oswalt 2 years, 11 months ago

Please refer to Sheahon Zenger as Shay Z

dhinkansas 2 years, 11 months ago

Where's Beyonce' then if we have Shay Z? Many schools have gotten rid of the tracks around the football stadiums, and it puts part of the seating closer to the field. It's time to let the track go.

Scott Oswalt 2 years, 11 months ago

I completely agree. That track is wretched. Once we remove that track, everyone can throw up the HOVA.

Bernyonce' perhaps???

ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 11 months ago

I totally didn't expect to log on today and see a giant make out session with the posters and sheahoRn.

During conference realignment he sat quietly in his office while others saved his arse. Remember the video of him at halftime when OU said they were going to the PAC. sheahoRn looked like 7 year old that was told "no video games for a month!" and don't forget it was Baylor that stood up in their own interest and not only saved themselves, us, but the rest of the league. For now!

Firing Turner...That same 7 year old I just talked about could of figured out it was time for TG to go.

Hiring HCCW might be the one issue I'd give him credit on. Except he had a consulting firm making his every move for him. You really think CW takes a call from 2-10 Kansas and it's AD he's never heard of before? So credit sheahoRn for using a consultant. But don't twist it with him having some great insider knowledge or connections that landed us HCCW.

ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 11 months ago

Side note: anyone else watch the Stanford game last night and think that could be us under CW. Maybe not the best athletes on the field, but a great QB in a pro style offense, well coached players making smart plays, and competing with the big boys.

Phoghorn 2 years, 11 months ago

Dude, if KU goes to a BCS bowl next year (not that I am predicting it), are you going to complain that you have to wait until January to watch the game?

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

I have to disagree ahperse...

A year ago today KU Athletics was not doing so hot. We had scandal, massive debt, an ineffective football coach and a conference falling apart. Significant progress seems to have been made in all of those areas, You don't have to love the guy yet, but there is no logical reason to bash on him either.

Sam Constance 2 years, 11 months ago

You don't have the first clue about what exactly happened during the conference realignment mess.

Yes, Baylor stood up and threatened a lawsuit which appeared to save the Big 12. But have you considered the idea that Baylor did that, not out of some altruistic interest in saving the Big 12, but because they were the only school without a contingency plan? I'm not saying that's what happened, because I don't know, and neither do you. All that we KNOW happened was:

1) KU ended up in the most logical athletic conference possible, retaining an automatic BCS tie-in and continuing to play teams in the immediate geographical footprint

2) KU ended up with about as promising a football HC hire as possible, given the dire state of Kansas football over the last 2.5 years. A big name who would bring interest/attention and experience in major college football, not to mention expertise on at least one side of the football.

Zenger mentioned, in the aftermath of the Weis hiring, that his need to keep the search quiet and out of the media was key in being able to bring in a guy with Weis' cache. The idea of being able to accomplish more without showing your hand is not a new or terribly original idea. How often does the guy with pocket aces win the pot when he sits there acting ecstatic at his hand, and blurts out "POCKET ROCKETS" at the table? But, as you know, Zenger was constantly criticized (baselessly, I might add) that his silence was evidence that he was in over his head. Six months later, KU is in the athletic conference that makes the most sense and has a promising hire as the HC of football. Seems like his strategy worked.

But I'm sure you know what was really going on during the time where KU's thoughts and intentions were not a part of public record, right?

Maybe you can provide one piece of proof that Zenger was "saved by others"? And no, pointing to his media silence is no such proof.

John Randall 2 years, 10 months ago

The net worth of SZ to KU athletics is in his attitude, his resolve, his work ethic, not just in his 'connections'. He is definitely a step up from the 'name' Perkins who squandered all the money he raised on settling contracts (his own included).

In this same vein, we have a POTUS who is "connected" - and where, exactly, is that getting us?

stm62 2 years, 11 months ago

Kansas had little leverage in the latest conference reallignment saga because football is king. It's imperative that we get our gridiron program on track. SZ and others had little choice but to listen to Texas and Oklahoma dictate how things are going to be. We've been granted a temporary reprieve. The culture and attitudes about KU football MUST CHANGE if the other athletic programs are to survive and prosper.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Agree... That starts with a coach. Weis seems to be the man for the job.

Next step has to be renovating the stadium.

Robert Brown 2 years, 11 months ago

To me the jury is still out on whether Zenger is a good hire. I'm not sure the athletic department has been in this much of a weakened state in the last 15 years. We sat helplessly during realignment. We really had no leverage so I can't blame that on Zenger. I think the responses of all KU representatives during MU's move to the SEC and not wanting to play them in the future were an embarrassment to the university. I know it was red meat for the people on this board. I don't live in Kansas and the university was pretty much universally panned by the national media. By the way, any of you who say you don't care what the national media says about KU is not being honest with themself. The further strengthening of the KU brand is directly related to national perception.

I don't think it took alot of managerial courage to fire Turner Gill and it remains to be seen if hiring Charlie Weis was a good move. Everyone wants to believe that, but we need a couple of years to see some results. However, I do believe the football program is in better shape today than it was six weeks ago.

Currently the men's basketball teams is in worse shape than it has been in many years which is more of an indication of what Bill Self has created- KU is still a Top 20 team and easily could win the conference. They also could finish fifth.

I don't want to sound negative. I just want to look at this objectively.

Robert Brown 2 years, 11 months ago

You are entitled to your opinion but there is nothing illogical in my comments about the jury still being out on Zenger. As a KU fan, I want him to succeed, but his big move was firing Gill and hiring Weis. Anyone hired as AD would have fired Gill and I mentioned that I thought the football program was in better shape today than six weeks ago, but hiring Weis was very risky and we will not know if it was a good hire for at least a year or two.

I also think you need to reread my comment on the basketball team. I said that while this was probably the weakest team in several years, it really is a tribute to Bill Self that during our down year, the team could win the league and is ranked in the Top 20. You are kidding yourself if you don't think this is one of Bill Self's weaker teams he has had at KU.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Everyone seems to think that KU sat quietly and did nothing during the conference realignment. During the coaching search we heard nothing from Zenger and we ended up with what seems to be a pretty good coach. I believe the same approach was taken with conference realignment. Zenger was probably plenty active, but being active and being public about every move are two different things.

You don't have to love the guy yet, but so far there is are no glaring negatives about "Shay Z"

blackhawkjayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Yes, just because he doesn't crow every time he goes to the bathroom doesn't mean he isn't active. He made some strong and clear statements about SlaveU leaving, he's hired a good football coach and has spoken out strongly regarding performance of non-rev sports. No one is perfect but I really like his style so far.

As Christopher Walken famously said: I need more Zenger.

Sam Constance 2 years, 11 months ago

+1

It drives me crazy that lately KU fans--in the absence of direct and specific evidence to the contrary--assume the worst. We didn't hear Zenger or BGL gossiping to every reporter who smiled at them about "we want to go to X conference", so we must have been doing absolutely nothing, right?

Wrong.

Or right.

The point is this: who knows? I certainly don't. What I do know is that in the two biggest concerns for the KU Athletic Department in recent history, Kansas landed on its feet in spite of having minimal leverage and an uphill battle. It seems a bit naive to assume that everything turned out for the best (thus far) by sheer random chance.

My take on what happened with conference realignment (which is admittedly pure speculation, given the lack of availability of public record on the matter) is this:

Zenger and BGL were active throughout the process, with the other schools at a leverage disadvantage, with other conferences that could be affected, with anyone who might be able to help KU land in a favorable position, knowing that at the end of the day, if the prima donna presidents at OU and UT decided that they were gone, KU needed a plan. However, knowing that the opinions of those two schools tended to change with the blowing of the wind, I think both BGL and Zenger realized that they couldn't be public about their contingency plans or they would risk ruining Plan A (for a comparable example see: Exhibit A - The Missouri Debacle), which was to remain in the conference that had been home (in some form) for a century and all it's logical geographic relationships and historic rivalries.

We all saw Baylor stand up and threaten to sue A&M, which considerable slowed the process and allowed the schools like KU to band together and come up with a solution. Now, some might point to this and say that Baylor saved the conference... or possibly they were the only ones to broach that subject because they truly didn't have a fallback plan, and it was their ONLY option.

Once the process was slowed, I think KU and the other schools probably saw their best opportunity to salvage the Big 12, and ultimately did so.

Maybe I'm way off base, but I certainly have as much direct knowledge of the situation as anyone else who isn't inside Zenger's head. That is to say NO ONE has that knowledge. I can understand justifiable criticism of KU, as we all want the Jayhawks to be as successful as possible. What I don't understand is the I-have-no-direct-knowledge-but-I'm-going-to-whine-and-moan-as-if-I-do criticisms.

Robert Brown 2 years, 11 months ago

The answer is we don't know what happened. What likely happened is that once Zenger and Gray surveyed the situation they realized that none of the power conferences wanted KU and determined that keeping the Big 12 together was the best option and that was very smart on their part. That KU or K-State has any real influence in keeping the conference together is debatable but the conference appears to be in decent shape for the next several years.

Sam Constance 2 years, 11 months ago

Define "likely".

Because I don't know what information you have that leads you to believe what you just wrote is any more or less likely than my speculation.

DCLawHawk 2 years, 11 months ago

The other thing no one has mentioned about Baylor's suing A&M is that Baylor's president is Kenneth Starr, one of the greatest litigators in America. Everyone plays the cards they are dealt. One of Baylor's best cards was that it had a master litigation strategist as university president. Bully for them for playing that card. That doesn't mean that KU should have done the same thing.

wildjayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

We can hope that Sheahon keeps a close watch on the m-basketball team as it looks like it is coming unraveled in the last few years as far as recruiting goes. Time will tell soon.

kuilander 2 years, 11 months ago

i like our current recruiting sutuation ...

Robert Brown 2 years, 11 months ago

Me too when you take into account that the two ineligible players from this year's class should be playing next year.

Sam Constance 2 years, 11 months ago

By "keeps a close watch" on the basketball team, what exactly do you mean?

Surely you aren't suggesting something as stupid as getting rid of Self because the rankings of his recruiting classes have dipped in the last year or two even while he maintains a high level of success on the court. Are you?

Pretty sure time is already telling--the upcoming two classes are full of talent, and Self has this team, and all it's recruiting "failures" ranked in the top 10 according to the objective, statistical-based system on Kenpom.com (rather than the biased pollsters).

Of all the things to talk about Zenger needing to keep an eye on, it blows my mind that anyone would include KU men's basketball. Idiotic.

Robert Brown 2 years, 11 months ago

The last thing Bill Self needs is a meddling AD. As KU basketball fans we are really spoiled. This is our down year and we: 1) have beaten two teams currently in the Top 10 2) are ranked in the Top 20 3) have a decent shot at winning or sharing our eighth consecutive conference title. I could see us ending up anywhere from 10-8 to 14-4. 4) have a lot of good new talent coming in next year

wildjayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Have watched the recruiting process and the back court is going to be a problem like it was last year with Brady and Trell. Brady was a great disappointment and it looks as if Tharpe is a possible Brady M. This year is a problem for the back court and it has shown up in the past games. Self hasn't recruited a good back court for the past 3 years and now it shows big time.

FLJHK 2 years, 11 months ago

Zenger deserves major kudos for his job performance in an extraordinarily challenging year. But, as is the nature of the beast, this is no time to rest. Major challenges remain and must be addressed. Conference realignment. While the situation may be somewhat more stable for the time being, this situation is far from over. The Big 12 is a lesser conference than it was a year ago, and I don’t think a 10-team conference is viable over time. Expansion to a minimum of 12 is essential, and Louisville and BYU should be the first targets (along with Notre Dame exploratory chats). Expansion beyond 12 is desirable, and the potential candidates are less obvious but still intriguing. The prospect of 4, 16-team superconferences is still very real, and right now and that leaves Big 12 teams merely targets for poaching unless the conference is proactively strengthened. KU has to have a back-up plan if the Big 12 implodes in a few years. The Big 10 and PAC are the most desirable and likely destinations if this occurs, and there must be some discreet communication on-going with these conferences. In the event of the superconference scenario, KU has made a substantial and critical upgrade to its attractiveness by improving the football pedigree with the hiring of CW and a renewed sense of commitment to the program. Related commitments are needed for non-revenue sports. While the money and interest may not be there for major upgrades across the board, targeted upgrades to select sports are needed. In addition, I agree with many that upgrades to Memorial Stadium are necessary. I think seating upgrades are more important than removal of the track as a first priority, but a long-term plan for a comprehensive upgrade must be developed. So Zenger is off to a great start, but much more needs to be done. Best to be proactive, not reactive as the landscape shifts. Rock chalk!

jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

The apparentlys:

BGL apparently handled and is handling realignment.

A consulting firm apparently handled the Weis hire.

What does that leave Zenger apparently doing the past year?

He apparently followed BGL's orders and fired Gill and cost KU $6M bones.

We can also spec that he implemented a new paper flow system, or at least hope so.

Inference: mostly he has been raising money to pay for firing Gill and to build a new stadium.

He apparently hasn't done bad job of carrying BGL's action plan.

The question is: is BGL's apparent action plan effective?

Next question: Tait says Gill was problematic on and off the field, so what was the off the field problem?

The off the field problem has never been explained.

It sounds like Tait knows what it was and can tell us.

What kind of off field problem was worth burning $6M bones on?

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

This was actually a very smart financial move. There was no interest or butts in the seats with Gill... Because of that, the Weis hire is worth 6 million if he can generate moderate to good interest.

jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

This was a very costly move.

Six million dollars up front to Gill.

$500k more per year for ND-fired Charlie.

And probably he will have a lot more expensive staff.

And the lost sunk costs in recruiting by Gill.

And Gill likely as not was on track in rebuilding to win as many games as Charlie might.

Charlie wouldn't have taken the job, if Gill had not fit the basic pieces in place already.

What were the "off--the-field reasons Gill was fired?

Joe Ross 2 years, 10 months ago

@Jaybate:

Dont pretend that youre concerned about Gill being wrongly accused off the field. Every knows thats a red herring. You are a Gill apologist and have come out with some hare-brained defenses of his poor coaching. You've been looking down in the mouth at the Weis hire all along, and now you want to drag Matt Tait into your tangled web. Arguments like these is why I dont take you seriously. I'd be stupid to. You are a flake who knows nothing about football, and were you AD (God forbid) you'd blast the program into oblivion. You come on here attempting to sound logical, but as they say, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig." Keep speaking, and show yourself to be every bit as foolish as I charge. I dare you.

jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

What are the "off the field reasons" Turner Gill was fired?

You are avoiding the issue. :-)

You are squealing like stuck pig wearing lipstick. :-)

Joe Ross 2 years, 10 months ago

"Though Zenger did not hire Gill, he acted swiftly in firing him, largely because expectations were not being met on or off the field."

This doesn't necessarily mean coaching misconduct. Other off-the-field responsibilities of a head football coach include selection of a capable coaching staff (see Charlie Weis' exploits in this regard for an example of how it should be done), strength and conditioning of players, etc. Gill failed in these areas and it's fair to say that expectations were not being met. Tait may yet have other areas in mind. This is not rocket science. Now that that's settled, I restate my points that you have been a drum-beater for Turner Gill and you are stupid for being one given his performance here. Dumb. Moronic. You are also slow to give Weis credit for amazing accomplishments during a short time here. And you attack Tait simply because you don't agree with his take. You don't know sports like Tait does and the truth is you aren't worthy of lacing his shoes. I'm not saying he's always right, but he knows a hell of a lot more than you on the subject of football. Keep coming. What's next...?

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

I'm reading some crap arguments.

Saying Zenger gets no credit for realignment or Weis would be like saying President Obama should get no credit for any of his bills because he has advisers and didn't actually write them himself.

Shay Z RUNS the athletic department so he is the bottom line guy. The bottom line seems to be much better since he got here. I promise he is not the only AD with consultants.

jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

The thing that gives me hope for Zenger is he hired Janks at Illinois State.

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