Tuesday, July 30, 2013

KU’s Miller hopes to make most of second chance

Kansas running back Darrian Miller races up the field for a first down against Baylor during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Kivisto Field. The run helped put the Jayhawks in field goal range.

Kansas running back Darrian Miller races up the field for a first down against Baylor during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Kivisto Field. The run helped put the Jayhawks in field goal range.


When news broke in late May that former Kansas University running back Darrian Miller was coming back to Lawrence to rejoin Charlie Weis’ program, the only official reaction from KU came through a press release that included comments from Miller about being thankful for the second chance.

Last week at Big 12 media days in Dallas, Weis spoke about the running back’s return for the first time and the second-year KU coach offered his thoughts on what Miller’s mindset should be entering fall camp, which gets going next Wednesday.

“First of all, I think what Darrian should be (trying to do) is beat everybody out,” Weis said. “He’s been there before, right? So if I were him, I wouldn’t be content coming in being anyone’s back-up, I’d be trying to beat them out.”

With senior tailback James Sims continuing to improve and coming off of three straight seasons as the Jayhawks’ leading rusher, such a goal sounds like a bit of a reach. But there are plenty of people who believe that Miller has what it takes to become a big-time player in the Big 12 and many of them are basing that belief off of his stellar freshman season in which he finished with 559 yards and four TDs on 136 carries, just 168 yards and 46 carries behind Sims’ team highs.

“I’m playing the best guy,” Weis said. “And, right now, James Sims is the best guy. But James Sims knows that the competition, which was already tough enough with Tony (Pierson) and Taylor (Cox) and Brandon Bourbon, just got tougher.”

Miller is the second player who left the program after Weis was hired to return this offseason. Cornerback Dexter McDonald was dismissed following the 2011 season because of academic issues, but after a year at Butler Community College — the same school Miller spent the spring — McDonald was welcomed back to Kansas, and the early reports on his comeback have been good. McDonald spent the spring as one of KU’s first-string cornerbacks, and all indications suggest that’s how he will begin fall camp next week.

Miller did not arrive in Lawrence until June, so it’s hard to know where he’ll land on the depth chart when Weis releases an updated version during camp. But there are plenty of signs, both inside and outside of the football complex, that suggest Miller has matured and is not taking his second crack at Division I football lightly.

“At the end of the day, that kid took a little bit of time to figure it out and then when he got to Butler he figured it out,” Weis said of Miller. “It might not have been until he got to Butler that he figured it out, so give kudos to their staff. But he figured it out. And once he figured it out, he was gonna go somewhere, and why not us? If he’s figured it out and his life’s turned in the right direction, now you want a kid like that on your team. My job isn’t to get rid of players. My job is, here’s the way we’re gonna do it, are you with us or without us? And I feel very confident that he’s with us.”

Harwell update

A recent check with Don Jackson, the lawyer for former Miami (Ohio) University wide receiver Nick Harwell, revealed that there was “no news as of yet” regarding Harwell’s bid to finish the classes he needs to graduate from Miami and become eligible to play for KU as a graduate senior this fall.

Eligible or not, Harwell is expected to arrive in Lawrence when camp opens next week, and it’s possible that his status could remain uncertain even after he’s on campus.

“Do I hope he’s a go for this year?” Weis asked at Big 12 media days. “You betcha. If he’s not, we’ve already got a plan in place and let’s go.”

Pep rally date set

For the eighth year in a row, notable figures from KU’s athletic department and Jayhawk fans will join together at Corinth Square, 83rd and Mission Road in Prairie Village, to kick off the 2013-14 sports season with a pep rally that is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Aug. 16.

KU football head coach Charlie Weis, men’s basketball coach Bill Self and women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson will each address the crowd during the rally. The event also will include food, drinks and KU giveaways as well as inflatable games for kids. In addition, the popular cover band SELLOUT! is scheduled to perform from 8-10 p.m.

KU-UT television

As announced earlier this summer by the University of Texas, KU’s Nov. 2 game at UT will be televised by both the Jayhawk TV Network and the Longhorn Network, with the kickoff slated for 2:30 p.m.

The broadcast will be handled by Metro Sports for Time Warner Cable and Comcast subscribers in the Kansas City area and WOW subscribers in Lawrence. A recent KU press release regarding the game said distribution plans for the rest of the state would be announced at a later date.

KU and UT worked together on a similar shared-broadcast deal in 2011, the last time the KU football team traveled to Austin.


jhox 6 years, 3 months ago

Why not embrace the Big 12's third tier revenue distribution model? Kansas is one of the winners when it comes to third tier revenues. While we may not be getting the $15,000,000 Texas gets, we received around $6,500,000 ( the last figure I saw.) I believe that will be going up substantially. If third tier rights were split equally, as they are in other conferences, we would likely be taking a hit and subsidizing schools like KSU, ISU and Tech. Texas appears to have done us a favor, as it turns out.

Joseph Kuebel 6 years, 3 months ago

Ya, this does Cali viewers (or anyone outside of Lawrence, or whoever else has the Jayhawk TV Network) no good. Might be fine and dandy for you, jhox, but this is not how KU makes their 3rd tier revenue... (unless it turns into an ESPN3/aka online telecast). How much money depends on how many viewers, and how many viewers depends on subscribers, so unless ESPN3 pays for this game, and nobody outside Lawrence (that I know of, anyway) has Jayhawk TV, and I doubt KU is getting a justifiable portion from UT, it probably will be an ESPN3 telecast as Longhorn Network is part of ESPN3. If it isn't, then this is worthless for tier-3 and anyone without Jayhawk Network, and APCE is right.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 3 months ago

"unless it turns into an ESPN3/aka online telecast"

I believe the answer in the other article announcing the game was yes it is.

Joseph Kuebel 6 years, 3 months ago

Thx. In that case I suppose you can disregard the above.

TexiCaliHawk 6 years, 3 months ago

Wrong! I have LHN on my U-Verse Sports Package and I live in the L.A. area, so I'm not sure what you're talking about? As much as I hate what UT has done to the Big 12 with this venture, I give them credit for stepping out and using their 'brand' assets to build their own empire within the rules of the NCAA and Conference.

Look at how the Yankees have been able to afford their star players over the last several years -- YES, their own network. And now look at how Guggenheim Partners can afford to (overpay) >$2B to buy the Dodgers -- as well as maintain the highest payroll of players in MLB. While they say you can't 'buy' a Championship (which the Lakers found out the hard way this year), let's just say that 'money' certainly helps to improve the odds. And that 'Hope' helps to fill the stadiums with people, who buy concessions and merchandise, and . . .

In this case, using media dollars to improve training, living and playing facilities as well as their coaching staff and recruiting budgets is how the 'rich get richer.' Look no further than at KU in Basketball as our revenue puts us 2nd (behind only Louisville) in the country -- we now need to do so in Football, which is painfully obvious to our AD and why he is working a Master Plan to do just that. Of course, this approach will not only benefit Football AND Basketball (our 'Cash Machines'), but have a 'trickle down' effect on both our Men's and Women's Non-Revenue sports. Of course, we all know what they say about 'the best laid plans' . . . however, amassing the most money and resources possible provide the best foundation for them to become a 'reality' (see: OSU & Baylor Football).

Net, net: I don't personally like it, but I certainly do understand it -- and those who deal with 'change' best in any industry are the ones who usually come out on top. I applaud our AD for not only constructing the recent TV deal, but for taking the 'blinders' off and working with UT in partnership (as opposed to against them out of spite). Now, we've got to go out and prove it on the field and get some 'W's . . .


Cmill1221 6 years, 3 months ago

You can't buy a championship if you are the Lakers, but you can if you are from Miami!!

KGphoto 6 years, 3 months ago

I don’t know how it all works, but I swear I watched the majority of KU’s games on one of the RSN or FSN (FSRM, Fox Sports Rocky Mountain? or something like that.) channels in Denver through Direct TV. Sometimes an Air Force game would take it’s place there, but I always seemed to be able to find the game somewhere in the FSN group, or Altitude Sports. All those channels are in the 600-699 range.

kellerman411 6 years, 3 months ago

You can forget about Harwell playing this season. I still think our receivers have improved even without him. Especially if Pierson is moved to receiver.

CrystalJones 6 years, 3 months ago

No kidding. If Pierson doesn't get hurt, we would have beaten the eventual conference co-champs by 21. Very unfortunate injury that day.

Joseph Kuebel 6 years, 3 months ago

U forgot about the 4-Star Bourbon. It's a ridiculous. Can we trade 2 RB's for a DE and DB? Sure would be nice.

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't know about the four back position but I would sure like to see it. The play I would like to see with these backs is Mason's old toss sweep. In '95 they ran that play over and over very successfully. It was a great short yardage play. Many times it was taken to the house by June Henley.

Micky Baker 6 years, 3 months ago

That was pretty and June Henley wasn't that fast, but had tremendous vision. We have that plus speed, but do we have the OL that can pull and get out in front quick enough?

741hawk 6 years, 3 months ago

Toss Sweep Left. Toss Sweep Right. Mizzery knew it was comin' and couldn't stop it. Tony Sands set a record. It was a thing of beauty and Great, Great Fun!

qringer 6 years, 3 months ago

Oh man that was a cold day, but I stayed to the end while my Missoura brother-in-law slithered out at half-time. That was AWESOME!

Reuben_J_Cogburn 6 years, 3 months ago

Really? Football? On July 31st?

I was really hoping for the "Top 10 Best KU Basketball Walk-On Players Who Maintained a 3.0 GPA, Did Not Major in Communications, Enjoyed Moutain Biking, and Supported the Designated Hitter Rule in Baseball" article.

...but I guess I'll make due.

Doug Roberts 6 years, 3 months ago

Well said, Rooster. Hey LJW, more football articles, please!

vd 6 years, 3 months ago

We are all waiting on the ten part series on KU FB. Top 10 o linemen, 10 best d linemen, 10 best RBs, 10 best QBs, biggest comebacks, etc. oThis is the old "chicken vs. egg" argument. Does LJW give more coverage to BB because that's all the readers want, or do KU fans only care about men's BB, since there is terrible coverage of the FB team by the LJW?

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

Obviously, you're all entitled to your opinions but I can assure you that we've had more football stories this summer than any of the outlets that cover KU. And that's only going to increase with camp starting next week.

Enjoy! And thanks for reading.

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

Oh yeah... And we did the summer series on hoops this year because last season marked the 10th year of Self's time at KU.

Last summer's series included both basketball and football and the summer before that the series was entirely football. That will likely be the case again next summer too.

Joseph Kuebel 6 years, 3 months ago

Tait aint havin none of that backtalk today... No way! No-o way. Flawless takedown, eh? More like backhand to face.

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

Definitely wasn't intending to be nasty, just wanted people to realize that from December through July we had more KU football coverage than anybody out there.

And, yes, with camp starting in a week, it's going to get turned up a notch or 10 from here on out. Can't wait!

Chris Bailey 6 years, 3 months ago


I bet the swear jar in the sports dept is overflowing! I'd be cussing everyday reading these comments! I bet TK is a big contributer as well. People bitch way too much on here! You guys do good work. Thanks! Rock Chalk!

Tim Orel 6 years, 3 months ago

I love your coverage. Of both sports. It's much better than what I get for my other two schools (KU being my hometown school).

Joseph Kuebel 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree. Cal doesn't give enough attention to sports, this is the #1 thing I miss about KU. I miss a few things, about Lawrence, and KU however. It's a special place. Enjoy wherever you are, if you're not in jail or a penitentiary falsely convicted you are in a better position than you could be.

Gary Wirsig 6 years, 3 months ago

Matt, I always appreciate your positive attitude and kind remarks.

Andy Godwin 6 years, 3 months ago

I can't remember a KU football team this loaded at one position. This group has to be near the top, if not the top group of running backs in the Big XII. I just hope the offensive line is as good or better than last year and can protect the QB and open holes for the backs; otherwise KU's offense will look mediocre.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 3 months ago

CW was saying this spring that he thought this year's OL was likely even better than last year's at run blocking. If I remember correctly, Grunhard was as successful as he was more because of how he played the game vs. just being physically gifted. Bodes well to helping our OL learn "the tricks".

I believe EPSN/Ubben ranked our RB's behind Baylor - mostly because of Lache. I'm recalling a token reference to Darrian, but think he could end up being a featured part of the O by the end of the year ~ 2011.

Micky Baker 6 years, 3 months ago

Grunhardt, If I remember right, had the likes of Christian Okoye and Harvey Williams to block for, but all a guy had to do is get in the way of a defender because they couldn't arm tackle Okoye. They had to lay their whole body into him just to slow him down a notch to let another safety or linebacker come in to clean it up. During Grunhardt's time, it was "establish the run to set up the pass", so this could play in KU's favor.

Jim Jackson 6 years, 3 months ago

What do we think the chances are that Harwell plays?

Tait, still 50/50? I know we thought that the longer he was not on campus the better his chances...

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

I think if it were a done deal his lawyer would've told me that. It's definitely looking a little worse with each day that passes, but there's no telling what's happening right now. He may be taking classes at Miami and part of the deal for allowing him to enroll could've been to stay out of the media about it. Who knows?

I definitely still think there's a chance he plays this year. We should know fairly soon.

vd 6 years, 3 months ago

“I’m playing the best guy,” Weis said. WOW. Does mean the coach is changing his ways? I hope so.

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 3 months ago

Lol - probably the fact that he played Crist over ANYBODY last year. I don't want to knock his character because I don't know him, but as far as being a quarterback, he ain't.

Joseph Kuebel 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm with you. Nobody likes a vinereal disease.

KGphoto 6 years, 3 months ago

Any chance Pierson changes his number again? He basically changed positions into the new hybrid Slot/RB role that’s trending in the NFL with guys like Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb.

I can’t wait for that, by the way. He reminds me most of Randall Cobb who wears #18. Tony could take place kicker Eric Kahn’s #18. Kahn could take Miller’s #6. Miller gets his old #3 back. And just like that...

The return of Run DM3!!

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 3 months ago

Really looking forward to Miller's return. Like to see him, too, catch a few balls in open space. See ya.

Pbbut 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm a big Miller fan, this guy has great potential.

As for the access issues, I know it's 2013. I know the technology has changed. I know you want to see all the games live. But it's like you believe the athletic department has taken this route just to get you POed. The department is not always right, we have the bodies laying by the side of the road to prove it, but I believe they are operating in the best interest of the overall program.

Does anyone remember trying to pick up Tom Hedrick on AM radio from Des Moines on a Saturday afternoon? You might not find out what the score was until Sunday.

texashawk10 6 years, 3 months ago

I thought Miller was KU's best back in 2011 and if he returns to that form this year, the he and Sims will be the best 1-2 punch in the league since Pierson will mostly be lined up outside. Bourbon is a good player when healthy, but the problem is that he can't stay healthy and I really wouldn't be shocked to see Cox redshirt this year.

Here's a little secret about KU's running game, all of those backs except for Cox were 4 star players coming out of high school. Recruiting rankings matter, there's a reason why the teams that are consistently in the top 10 of recruiting every year are also the same teams that are consistently in the hunt for a national championship. The rankings are not perfect and never will be, but they are the best indicator of future success for a program.

Chris Bailey 6 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the tip! I'll keep that one for those crappy days without TV at work!

Darin Bradley 6 years, 3 months ago

Great to have Miller back but not expecting him to burn it up right away. He sat out all of last year and Sims is significantly better than when Miller was here last. I think he sees the field but would be surprised to see him as first string at season end. Sims is that good in my opinion. And that's saying something b/c Miller is a stud. Can't wait to get this season started!!

Rock Chalk

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