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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

AD asks KU football fans for leniency as Les Miles rebuilds program ‘right way’

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches his team warm up before an NCAA college football game against Iowa State in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches his team warm up before an NCAA college football game against Iowa State in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

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University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long has heard the concerns and disappointments from fans and donors alike, regarding the KU football program. And in response, Long is asking the fan base for some tolerance during head coach Les Miles’ rebuilding project.

The Jayhawks finished 3-9 in Miles’ first season as head coach a year ago, and will need to pick up a victory at some point in their final three games of 2020 to avoid a winless season in Year 2 of the new regime.

“I know losing is tough,” Long said, while addressing fans on a recent airing of “Hawk Talk,” the athletic department’s radio show. “And I know we’ve lost here for a long time. And I know our fans are frustrated. And I know they’re impatient, because they’ve been told time after time to be patient. And I do understand that.”

While asking the team’s supporters for further leniency, amid what will go down as KU football’s 12th losing season in a row, Long said it’s “a different program” now, and pointed to the way Miles and his staff are planning to revamp it through recruiting and developing young players.

“We said from the beginning, we’re starting a four- to five-year process. I’m not making that up now because we’ve lost some games. That has been the plan,” Long said. “We’re working that plan. We’re doing it the right way, with the right kind of (players). We’re doing it with high school (players).”

Without bringing up the name of David Beaty, the former KU head coach whom Long fired in November of 2018, a few months after he became KU’s athletic director, Long referenced how recruiting a high number of junior college players in the past didn’t help bolster the program.

Beaty and his staff signed 10 juco players in 2017, and 12 more in 2018.

“We’re not going to do that,” Long said. “Coach Miles has my commitment. I shared that when I took the position with Chancellor (Douglas) Girod. There’s a commitment here to do this the right way.”

Miles, who inherited a nearly empty 2019 recruiting class — the result of KU having a lame duck coaching staff — when he took over, signed five juco players in his first KU class: receivers Andrew Parchment and Ezra Naylor, quarterback Thomas MacVittie and defensive linemen Malcolm Lee and Caleb Sampson.

But as Miles and his assistants were in position to build the 2020 class for a full year, they signed nothing but high school prospects. Plus, a little more than a month out from the Class of 2021 early signing period, all of KU’s commitments are from high school players.

Long touted how this year, during Miles’ second season, a slew of players from his initial 2019 recruiting class are playing important roles. That group includes senior receiver Parchment, sophomore safety Kenny Logan Jr., sophomore running back Velton Gardner, redshirt freshmen defensive linemen Marcus Harris and Da’Jon Terry, sophomore linebacker Gavin Potter, redshirt freshman outside linebacker Steven Parker, sophomore tight end Mason Fairchild and junior defensive linemen Lee and Sampson.

Of course, the Jayhawks (0-7 overall, 0-6 Big 12) are turning to more true freshmen the deeper they get into the season, too. Six true freshmen — cornerback Karon Prunty, quarterback Jalon Daniels, receivers Luke Grimm and Lawrence Arnold, running back Daniel Hishaw Jr., and offensive lineman Armaj Adams-Reed — have started at least one game. As defensive lineman Caleb Taylor and tight end Will Huggins played for the first time this season in KU’s loss at Oklahoma, they brought the total number of true freshmen who have at least appeared in a game this season to 24.

Including walk-ons, KU has 37 true freshmen on the roster this year — the most in the Big 12 and the fifth-most among Power Five programs.

“Many of them are playing,” Long said of KU’s 2020 recruiting class. “We’re suffering through that right now. I think you all can see the talent that we have, that younger talent and their ability to be more athletic and productive. They’re inexperienced. And they’re going up against programs that have had guys in their program four and five years. That’s what we’re going to be in year four and five.”

Long said he has as much confidence now in Miles as he did when he hired the former LSU and Oklahoma State head coach nearly two years ago. Long insisted no one hates losing as much as he and Miles do, and the A.D. requested patience from KU football fans who are starving for winning season.

“No matter what we are sticking to the plan,” Long said of recruiting high school players and developing them. “There may be more tough times in front of us. I’m not going to say there isn’t. But we are sticking to the plan. I am confident. I know when we get in that third, fourth, fifth year, we’re going to have a program that can compete consistently, week in and week out, with very highly developed (players), very conditioned and trained.”

Miles, who turned 67 this week, signed a five-year contract when he joined KU, and the agreement runs through the 2023 season.

Comments

Greg Ledom 2 months ago

The process, painful as it is, has to be followed to a T. Les and this staff were handed a program on life support and, as much as I personnaly am tired of having to be patient, will give this staff the chance to prove themselves over a 5 year period. We simply have to. I'm encouraged by the recruiting and the young talent that's getting some PT. I'm a season ticket holder and have been for ~20 years. Even with tickets in hand and paid for, my desire to go to the games has waned. I don't feel good about that and have to keep thinking how hard (young and veteran) the football team is working to try and compete. God bless Parchment and the other veterans for giving it their ALL knowing the end result will not be positive. I don't care how hard you try or talented you are, if you're playing a lot of Freshmen and Sophomores against 3, 4, and 5th year guys at very established programs, the results from a score and W/L aspect are not going to be good. So, I'm all in, and look forward to better days when we can field teams of comparable talent and maturity with other programs and legitimately compete week in and week out. Rock Chalk!!

Dane Pratt 2 months ago

Three wins the last two seasons and at least three competitive games each of those seasons that resulted in losses does not qualify as life support and that’s why this season is so disappointing. But you’re right. We have to give Les the opportunity to build this program from the ground up because we cannot survive another coaching change.

Brett McCabe 2 months ago

On Repeat: the next recruiting class will determine Miles’ fate. In year three of recruiting, if we have a bottom class in the conference, then years four and five won’t be productive.

Year one recruiting was a rush job. Year two looked solid. If we fall backwards in year three, then that means two of his three classes will be weaker than those of every other team in the conference. This will play out on the field in years 4 and 5.

It’s a little difficult to trust a guy who lost to Beaty (Long) but I’m fine with giving Miles the five years, as long as he does his primary job of filling the empty shelves.

Beaty couldn’t win. Couldn’t recruit. Couldn’t develop. Couldn’t build. Keegan did us all a great service when he chronicled Beaty’s obliteration of the roster to try and save his job.

But Miles’ primary job is to fix the roster and fill it with Big 12 players. 37 freshmen is a meaningless number. What’s meaningful are full classes with a 2.9 or better overall rating. That’s been the line of demarcation in the conference. It’s not moving. We have to.

Dane Pratt 2 months ago

Our recruiting class over the last 5 seasons averaged 2.65 stars while K-State’s averaged 2.47 stars. The difference being the number of players recruited. Over the same 5 seasons we got 104 and they got 120.

Dale Rogers 2 months ago

Very well said, Greg, and I fully agree. I watch every game to its conclusion despite all the pain that causes. I am enjoying watching the young guys develop. As you said, we have some serious talent in those young men. Their playing as freshmen and sophomores will pay big, big dividends in a couple of years.

How many of our 7 (so far) opponents were ranked when we played them? Maybe if we played in a lesser conference we'd have a couple of wins. Or not. In any case, our schedule is very tough for a team in a rebuild situation like we are dealing with. Those with ability to see the big picture and who have followed the team closely can see that progress is being made and the future is bright. Not this year. Probably not much next year. But after that...

I wish I could attend the games but I live about 1500 miles away. Thanks to the pandemic, we are able to watch the games on tv. The networks don't have enough other games to bump us. Plus, many of our opponents being ranked helps get us on tv.

Sam Meyer 2 months ago

I really like the job Coach Miles is doing. This program was an absolute mess when he arrived. He appears to me to be doing the heavy work in recruiting to make this program stable. We’re FINALLY rebuilding from the ground up, it doesn’t happen overnight. I expect next year to be better, but not by much. Year 4 for Coach Miles is where I expect we’ll see significant improvement and a team that solidly competes within the Big XII. Better days are ahead, we’re taking licks but I see a future much brighter than anything since 2007.

Steven Haag 2 months ago

I agree with Brett. Doesn’t matter if we have 3 Freshman or 39; if they are 2 star and the rest of the conference is 3 star and above, we will lose. I’ve actually watched quite a bit of Big XII football this year. ALL the other teams have playmakers that were freshmen and sophomores. People act like we are the only team recruiting high school players. Lots of good players in our league and PLENTY of good coaches. We all hear the same stuff every single week.....we need to play harder, watch film, talk to each other, take care of of “little stuff”, execute our assignments, etc. seems like other schools don’t seem to be having those problems. Why? Better coaches? Better prep? Better discipline? Better motivators? I don’t know, but I’ve seen nothing this year that makes me think year 4 or 5 will be any better....I guess if, in year 4 or 5 we only lose by 21, that means we turned the corner....right?

Micky Baker 2 months ago

I don't agree with Brett because we aren't getting "2 stars" while K-State is getting, "3 Stars". As of right now we have 5 more verbal commits than K-State for the class of 2021 according to Rivals. We have 17 3-star recruits, K-State has 12 3 star recruits. It's rebuilding the roster with guys that can be developed. We have some guys who have verbally committed who are every bit as good, or even better players than K-State recruits. We're rated quite a bit higher than K-State right now in 2021 we have higher ranked recruiting classes than K-State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech, and they aren't that far behind us in quantity. Though I would expect a couple of them to finish ahead of us unless we get the few guys back that we lost the verbal commits on. This season is really difficult to measure due to COVID. I get that we have some catching up to do in terms of quantity, but that isn't on Les Miles that we are here right now. We're better than we were 2 years ago because of Les. If people want to pull the plug after next season, especially the fans that won't stay past half time, get new fans. It has never been KU getting just 2 star recruits. We were getting a lot of transfers that went to JUCO for what was many cases issues in self-discipline of the players. Getting the guys right out of high school is going to go a long way towards developing them within Miles' system. And I'm going to say right now, Devin Neal there in Lawrence, he's really really really underrated.

Chris Bailey 2 months ago

I'm patient as well but the O'line still sucks no matter how you slice it. Do I think Miles is building the program the right way? Absolutely. Hoping in 3 more seasons we see a major change!

Gerry Butler 2 months ago

Don't really remember reading anywhere that they said that we were the only one's recruiting high schools kids - - guess I missed that, - What they DID SAY was that we had including walk on's was that we had 37 true freshmen -MOST in the Big 12 - -and they are going against kids that are in their 3 and 4th years of P-5football - -what they said was that this number is the 5th most in P-5 across the Nation -- doesn't matter if they are 2 * - - 3 * -- 5 * -- or 20 * -- they are still freshmen and alot of those others that your talking about that are FAR better football programs - -they're programs are a far cry from the shape our program is in, so of course these other freshmen kids are bound to be better - -THEY ARE IN BETER PROGRAMS - - DAM - somebody turn the light on for some people. our freshman are having to play against kids in their 3 & 4th years of a lot better program these kids of ours who are much more talented then these guys of the past years are STILL inexperienced Freshmen. - -If you can't see that these guys that we have in the program now are much more talented then what we have had in the past - -then I'm sorry you just don't get it - -it all comes with experience & with the way things turned out ALL these Freshmen that are more talented then we have had in the past - - will be FRESHMEN AGAIN NEXT YEAR with a year of P-5 experience - like they said you have to work this dam thing we just can't continue to switch staffs every 1-2-3 years and expect any kind of continuity and trust from players - -hell how do you expect recruits to commit here if you can't even tell them for sure if a particular Coach will be here from one year to the next - - you have to work the process - let them do it

Dane Pratt 2 months ago

If our roster is as depleted as we’ve been told for so many years, why not redshirt more key players to help us catch up.

Len Shaffer 2 months ago

Considering that every player on this year's team is guaranteed an extra year of eligibility, there's no point in redshirting, is there?

Charlie Gaughn 2 months ago

I may be wrong but I think any player that plays in four games or less can still redshirt. In the case Daniels, I believe he's played in only four games. Miles needs to weigh the value of playing him in the last three games versus having him for five more years.

Chris Condren 2 months ago

This is perhaps the closest thing to an apology fans and those negatively impacted by past KUAD and KU blunders with respect to the football program will receive. I support Coach Miles in the rebuilding effort he has undertaken to dig out from the ruins. It appears AD Long is directing resources to the program necessary for the task.

Armen Kurdian 2 months ago

In for a penny, in for a pound. But I do agree, we need more higher caliber recruits at the 3/4 star level. I don't know if it's coaching or what, but there just seems to be too many people playing out of position. The most obvious is the out routes. We can't seem to cover them too well, but when we are on offense, the receivers are getting walloped w/in a second of catching a pass.

We've got to run the ball more, take heat off of Jalon, even if they don't go for much. It eats up clock, and will at least keep the defense modestly honest.

Layne Pierce 2 months ago

Last year we overachieved, because our line was a little better, and we had a qb have a truly great season.

That being said we are doing great on developing and recruitng young players, except for the all essential Offensive Line. We must improve the line and its depth, if we really want to see results. To begin with just being competitive.

As I've said before, we need to recruit the best lineman, even if they are a little undersized, even if we have to change offense a little to take advantage of their speed and athletic ability.

Right now we are playing young people and that experience is all that is left to gain in this season.

RCJH

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