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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: James Sims should be remembered out of forgettable senior class

Kansas University senior running back James Sims (29) stands with his grandmother, Juana Luna, left, and his mother, Mary Luna, as they watch a video of Sims during senior day recognition before the Jayhawks' game against Kansas State, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University senior running back James Sims (29) stands with his grandmother, Juana Luna, left, and his mother, Mary Luna, as they watch a video of Sims during senior day recognition before the Jayhawks' game against Kansas State, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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Kansas State 31, Kansas 10

Box score

The worst four-year stretch in the history of Kansas University football, based on losses, came to an end Saturday in Memorial Stadium, which by the end of another long day had a distinctly purple hue to it.

It ended with Kansas State scoring its fifth consecutive victory in the in-state rivalry, 31-10.

The latest loss, yet again marred by an abundance of dropped passes, put the four-year record at 9-39, and also ended the careers of a senior class that, but for one man, couldn’t be much more anonymous than if all the players enrolled in the federal witness protection program.

Just one player will be remembered for a long time by the average football fan, although he did nothing memorable in his career finale.

James Sims carried the ball 22 times for 82 yards and lost two fumbles Saturday, two weeks after he rushed for 211 yards against West Virginia in KU’s first and only Big 12 victory since his freshman season.

If not for missing four games — the first of his career because then-coach Turner Gill decided not to put him in, the first three of his junior season while serving a suspension for drinking and driving — Sims could have left as the school’s leading career rusher. Instead, he ranks third with 3,592 yards, behind June Henley (3,841) and Tony Sands (3,788).

His 34 rushing touchdowns rank second to Henley (41), his 15 100-yard rushing games second to Sands (17).

After the game, Sims approached second-year KU head coach Charlie Weis, who read the look on the running back’s face, knew what was coming and threw up a stop sign.

“I said, ‘Don’t even start. I don’t want to listen to you start apologizing. We’re not going there. You’ve got a lot of football to play yet, so you can feel sorry for yourself for a short amount of time, OK, then let’s pick it back up and let’s get ready to go.’ I’m a big fan of James Sims,” Weis said. “I don’t think you’ve seen James Sims play football for the last time.”

Fifth-year senior center Gavin Howard, who ranks blocking for Sims from all five positions on the offensive line among his career highlights, also predicts an NFL career for Sims.

“I don’t know where he’s projected to get drafted or if he’s even projected at all, but there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to get on a team and he’s going to do what Chris Harris did and end up making a team and everyone will be like, ‘Why the heck didn’t he get drafted?’ if he doesn’t get drafted,” Howard said. “Or: ‘Why didn’t he get drafted higher?’ He’s a workhorse and comes to work every day. You can count on him every single day. He’s really been a bright spot in the not-so-bright past (four) years.”

Sims was not one of the two Kansas players (Howard and safety Dexter Linton) made available after the game, but was the center of much of the post-game chatter.

“It’s almost sad timing for James,” Weis said. “Without knowing all the candidates in Kansas history, he’s probably one of the best who has ever come through. Because the team hasn’t won very many games, he’ll be under-appreciated. I’m a big fan of James Sims. I feel bad for him.”

A case could be made for Sims ranking in the top half-dozen rushers in KU history, behind: 1) Gale Sayers, 2) John Riggins, 3) Laverne Smith, 4) Henley, 5) Sands. Jon Cornish, Charlie Hoag and Homer Floyd belong in the conversation as well. Wherever Sims deserves to be ranked, he at least belongs in the conversation of all-time great KU running backs. That means people will continue to talk about him and not much else about the past four seasons of Kansas football.

Comments

W Keith Swinehart II 9 months ago

Completely inappropriate article title!

4

W Keith Swinehart II 9 months ago

Dexter Linton, Gavin Howard, Christian Matthews and every senior who came to KU to play for our school, and stayed the course in a most difficult period. All these guys should be remembered.

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Alex Berger 9 months ago

I hate this article title. Kebo Agostinho is another player that leaves with my respect as well as the one's listed above. Unfortunately a lot of our good players don't get recognized in the season or get to show all that they are capable of because we don't have 11 guys on both sides of the ball that are quality Big XII players. Nonetheless these guys put in a hard four/five years and wore the Jayhawk with pride. Thanks guys.

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Alex Berger 9 months ago

Although I do agree about the part of how James Sims should be remembered. I'll be cheering hard for James Sims while he plays on Sundays.

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Phil Leister 9 months ago

A totally BS title. How about "a forgettable 4 years". The substance of the article was great, giving Sims his due. But to call our senior class "forgettable" is a low blow, cheap shot. Shame on you, Keegan.

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Jeremy Bolinger 9 months ago

Low blow? This class, as a whole, was not very good. I couldn't name 1 guy other than James Sims. I think it's spot on. Not that it's their fault, they've been dealt a pretty crappy hand by having to play for Gill and Weis. But none of them will be remembered by KU fans for anything.

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Titus Canby 9 months ago

Sims is a stud. He had the unfortunate experience of playing on four of the most undisciplined offenses I've ever seen. All defenses needed to do was key on him, because we had no other weapons. Howard is right. People will be wondering where the heck he came from when he lights it up in the NFL.

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Steve Hilker 9 months ago

Don't know if the article was good or bad, with a title like that I won't read it. It could have been worded any number of ways, other than "A Forgettable Class". Mr. Keegan, I know you take some shots on here that aren't warranted, but any heat you get from this title is well deserved. C'mon Man!

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Chris Condren 9 months ago

The headline is a cheap shot at good Jayhawks. Most had to endure three coaching staff changes. They stuck with the program during very dark times. All deer serve respect. Sims is a real talent and excelled. No Jayhawk player deserves this Keegan low blow.

2

Leo Hawkins 9 months ago

This was an opinion piece by Keegan. I don't respect his opinion much on this one. There is no need to trash the other seniors on the team with the title. Especially when they aren't the focus of the article. The article is about James, keep it about James.

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Brett Glover 9 months ago

Tom the only thing that's forgettable is your $|-|itty writing. Go jump in potter lake.

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Chris Bailey 9 months ago

I agree terrible title. Forgettable 4 years yes but the guys who gave their all don't need the disrespect and I've been as hard as any on this team. What would we be now had Lew hired a quality coach after Mangino? I think we'd be a 7 win team by now. We should have easily beaten all 3 non conference, WVU, ISU and KSU plus another lucky win. Had we not had Gill. The worst coach EVER!!!!

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Chris Bailey 9 months ago

James Sims! You were a class act! Good luck going forward and thank you for the memories!

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Brett Glover 9 months ago

Keegan, can you post on here so I can suggest your removal?

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Armen Kurdian 9 months ago

I very much doubt there's anyone who doesn't think this guy shouldn't go in the first five rounds. Sims is going to be a stud in the NFL.

As for Keegan, I don't usually comment on you wrt your columns, but that really wasn't a very nice thing to say to the Senior Class, Tom. They know they let a lot of games slip away, they know they made mistakes. And they know we get on their case. But we know they were out there practicing, fighting, and every now & then giving us a few moments of brilliance or excitement.

I wish the entire senior class the best of luck, and hope you all successfully graduate.

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