Already more than two weeks removed from the day Les Miles was introduced as the Kansas football program’s new head coach, there seems to be no stopping the buzz surrounding the program.
This past weekend Miles invigorated the Allen Fieldhouse crowd at halftime of the basketball game versus Stanford by simply strolling onto the court, saying a few words, eating some grass and giving away some Yeezys.
The KU fan base seems to love its new football coach and the hope his presence provides for a program that has fallen flat since a previous administration forced Mark Mangino out.
And the offseason fervor figures to continue in the days and weeks ahead, as Miles continues to fill out his staff and he and his coaches carry out a critical step in the rebuilding process: recruiting.
With that, let’s get to today’s questions. And remember, you can hit us up anytime on Twitter by using the hashtag, #AskKUsports.
While I haven’t yet got the chance to speak with Lindsey directly — plans from KU staff to make Miles’ hires available for interviews remain in the works — the more I read about him and listen to what he has to say the more I’m intrigued about what his addition will mean for the program.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Lindsey ends up being KU’s quarterbacks coach, as well. And QB has been a position of need for the program since Todd Reesing graduated.
It’s not realistic to think Lindsey will be able to make a quality Big 12-level QB appear out of thin air in time for the 2019 season. But the man already has extended an offer to a Class of 2020 four-star prep by the name of Robby Ashford.
That doesn’t mean Ashford will actually end up at KU and become the offense’s savior. It does give you a sense though that Lindsey will be aggressive in finding an effective QB to fit into his system.
Lindsey plans on building the offense around KU’s play-makers, and while it may take time to identify which Jayhawks can fit that bill other than Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert — I happen to think Daylon Charlot will, too — I think fans should be excited about the hire.
Because this one was asked during basketball season and most KU football outcomes have been foregone conclusions for years now, I’m going to assume this health-related inquiry is about KU basketball’s recent run of close games.
It really did look at various points that KU was going to lose to Marquette, Tennessee and Stanford.
I honestly was impressed that the Jayhawks didn’t drop any of those, because this is a team that’s still finding its way.
There’s no calming influence or unflappable veteran on this roster such as Frank Mason III or Devonte’ Graham to carry the Jayhawks to a victory when the odds are against them. And yet this team still is unbeaten.
The deeper we get into the season, the more it looks as though Dedric Lawson and Devon Dotson will be the players who lead game-changing runs when Lagerald Vick isn’t dominating offensively.
So that should be encouraging for the KU die-hards out there who don’t handle losing or tight games well. This team has room to grow and it’s already in a pretty good spot. Plus, the offense might not look as out of sorts in coming weeks, as Udoka Azubuike’s ankle injury forces Bill Self to go back to the four-guard lineup that has worked so well the past couple of years.
From Matt Roesner via email: Coach Miles will have ~15 available slots for recruits this coming year. In looking at the KU football team in 2019, what are your thoughts on key positions of needs, and how the graduating class (and any other losses of eligibility) are going to influence Coach Miles and KU?
As I detailed in a recent story, the football team is losing half of its 2018 starters.
There’s no way to replace Daniel Wise and Joe Dineen on defense. But defensive linemen and linebackers will be positions of need in this recruiting class.
Lindsey needs to find a QB for the Class of 2019, too. Whether that’s a high school senior who can be a longterm solution or a transfer who can step in more ready to compete — or both — don’t be surprised to see Kansas bring in a player to compete with Carter Stanley and Miles Kendrick.
It will be tricky, because there are positions where KU needs help immediately and a lot of times, particularly with true freshmen, first-year players are not ready for those types of roles. Developing returning players who haven’t been heavy contributors previously will be critical.
Hull is no pushover. He’s a big, tough dude. But the running backs like playing for him and respect him. There’s value in that.
But, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, Hull’s been a prized member of KU’s staff because of his recruiting prowess back in and around his home city of New Orleans.
If Hull wasn’t at KU, there’s no way Pooka Williams, Mike Lee or Corione Harris ever would have signed with the program. And those three players will be pivotal in 2019.
Having the foresight to bring Hull aboard was one of the better moves David Beaty made in his four years on the job.
It seems Miles will keep Hull around, too, so that’s good news for the program in this early stage of a massive rebuild.
From Steven McKillip via email: Is there any information on the "blueshirts" that count towards the 2019 recruiting class? Since they are taken up spots in the 2019 class, will they ever play for Kansas?
While it’s difficult to distinguish in many cases which players from the past few recruiting classes were straight-up scholarship athletes and which ones with which Beaty and his staff decided to take the blueshirt route, I don’t think KU fans should be overly worried about how useful those blueshirt players will be for the new coaching regime.
I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, if many scholarship and blueshirt players benefit from having new coaches around. A new assistant may see something in a player that a previous position coach didn’t or may be better suited for developing certain strengths within a player.
Plus, a lot of these guys who didn’t contribute much in 2018 will be a year older, with more coaching and lifting and preparation behind them, so, theoretically, they should be more capable of playing a role in 2019.
Now, this line of thinking might not hold up if a number of blueshirt and scholarship players end up transferring for some reason between now and next season. Then you have an even bigger problem just in terms of available bodies. But I don’t think there’s any indication at this point that Miles and his staff plan on running people off or that players wouldn’t want to stick around and play for the new coaching staff.
Sleeping on Vick, KU football commitments and is it time for Marcus Garrett to join the starting lineup?
Just when I thought this whole Les Miles to Kansas hysteria had calmed down a little and we could move on to talking more about the basketball season that’s under way or what’s next for the football program as a whole, The Mad Hatter himself came flying out of the Allen Fieldhouse student section and onto the floor for a halftime introduction during last Saturday’s victory over Stanford.
OK, fine. Let the hysteria continue.
Miles is clearly going all-in on his time at Kansas and his confidence, in himself and the team, is boiling over nearly every time we hear from him.
That’s a good thing for the program and the university and can only help bring some momentum back to Kansas football.
Wild to think that just a handful of days after Kansas hires a man of Miles’ caliber, Kansas State officially said goodbye to legendary head coach Bill Snyder.
That news, if you haven’t heard yet, became official on Sunday and it could have a huge impact on Kansas football.
For starters, the Jayhawks have always been better off — from the 1980s to present day — when Snyder has been somewhere else during the Sunflower Showdown.
Beyond that, though, Snyder’s retirement and the changing of the guard in Manhattan opens the door for Miles and Kansas to make up some ground when it comes to in-state recruiting.
That, as much as anywhere, is where you win these annual KU-K-State battles and Miles already has made it clear that he understands the importance of winning the state, both on game day and in the recruiting wars.
I have little doubt that K-State will hire a terrific replacement for Snyder, but the next couple of weeks and the transition as a whole gives KU a real opportunity to make up some ground on their rival to the west.
All right, let’s get right to this week’s batch of questions.
Be sure to keep the questions coming in the comments below, in response to our Twitter requests, on Twitter via the hashtag #AskKUsports or by email at email@example.com
I like the question and I see why you’re asking, but I’m definitely not sleeping on Vick.
The dude’s crazy talented, more confident than ever and is the only one on this roster who can legitimately carry himself with that, “I’ve seen it all, man” mentality. That’s so valuable to a team.
The reason I had Garrett pencilled in over Vick as a starter all offseason was twofold. First, it was based on a few conversations I had with a few people after Vick was welcomed back. I wasn’t sure if he would be given the opportunity to start so I played the odds. Clearly, his attitude, effort and performance trumped that and he’s been a starter since Day 1.
Second, it’s not as if I was putting a walk-on out there in his spot. Garrett’s a stud and does so many things that Bill Self absolutely loves. Again, I played the odds there, as well.
If you listened to our most recent KU Sports Hour podcast, you heard that I picked Vick as my choice for team MVP through the first half of nonconference play.
(If you haven’t listened yet, go check it out to see who Benton and Shane picked)
I realize that’s not a huge surprise nor is it something different than what thousands and thousands of KU fans would have picked, but it is an indication that I’m not sleeping on the guy.
He’s been sensational and KU is still unbeaten largely because of him. He’s also been a blast to watch and much more fun to cover, as well. KU coach Bill Self has said it, but Vick looks like he’s having fun out there and is playing with a ton of joy.
As for the Dotson part of your question, that has nothing to do with Vick and everything to do with my thoughts on Devon Dotson. The kid is off to a sensational start and has flashed some serious game while being asked to carry a pretty large load.
Oh, and he’s only going to get better.
Vick’s a star and he’s been spectacular so far. But Dotson has been the most consistently impressive player on both ends in my opinion, simply because he’s doing all of this as an 18-year-old freshman and delivering.
The chemistry between Vick and Dotson is pretty cool to watch right now and neither player would be quite as good without the other.
From Ron Rutkowski via email
Marcus Garrett….He has a ton of talent, but cannot shoot. Awesome on Defense, but a bit of liability on Offense. He can slash, cut, dunk, but weak on the outside shot and always seems to be short. Has anyone ever had him tested for “Depth Of Perception”---easily fixable— glasses and/or vitamins.
This is so interesting to me, Ron, but I have not heard one thing about Garrett’s vision as being a part of his problem.
I talked for over an hour with his uncle — and AAU coach — about Garrett’s shot heading into the offseason and his eyes never came up. It was all about form, technique and repetition.
I hear what you’re saying, though, and, at least somewhat, can speak from experience. I wear glasses to correct nearsightedness — mostly for driving and at night but pretty much wear them all the time since the prescription is so mild — and I’ve always wondered if I wore them when I played ball if it would help my game.
I still play 2-3 times a week with a group of dudes ranging in age from 24 to 50 and we all have pretty good basketball backgrounds and get after it. But I never wear glasses or goggles or contacts when I play.
It hasn’t really hurt my shot — I’m much more of a passer, defender and screener to begin with — but I do notice a difference when I take my glasses off when I get into the gym.
I’ll poke around on Garrett’s situation and try to find out if there’s anything there. But I would doubt it. For one, I think his shooting woes are just a comfort thing and getting that fixed is a work in progress. For two, I’m not sure that I’ve noticed him being short on his shots like you have. So I’ll keep an eye on that, too.
Interesting question, though.
Speaking of Garrett, let’s jump in on him a little more here. I actually was going to write a blog about this today anyway, so we might as well just handle it here.
I definitely think a case could be made for him sliding into the starting lineup, but here’s why it might — MIGHT — not happen.
If Self goes to Garrett and is relying on Grimes off the bench, it could put the team in an even tougher spot. Right now, Grimes starts and hits the floor with the confidence that comes from that and then shows that he either has it or doesn’t. Most days so far, it’s been the latter, but at least Self has had somewhere to turn, with both Garrett and Charlie Moore sitting on the bench.
If Self benches Grimes and goes with Garrett, he could find himself in a tough spot if Garrett were to get into foul trouble or have an off night himself. Then, he’d be asking a player like Grimes, confidence potentially shaken by the benching, to go out there and play through it after the benching. That probably wouldn’t do much in the way of helping him snap out of his funk.
I think a strong case can be made for either decision — to continue starting Grimes or benching him — but based on the way Self continues to pump his confidence that Grimes will be fine, my guess is he’s going to ride it out for a little while longer before making any major changes.
After all, giving Grimes a chance to show he’s engaged and then going with someone else if he isn’t hasn’t hurt Kansas yet.
I’m mildly surprised that no one has — in fact, I would’ve put money on Jayden Russell committing on Sunday after a visit this weekend and taking in that KU basketball game — but I don’t think it’s panic time yet.
Miles is a big name and a nice draw for Kansas, but it’s not as if these kids he’s contacting are going to jump all in at the first phone call. They still have others recruiting them and need to take a real look at Kansas before signing up to play for the Jayhawks simply because the new head coach won a national championship a dozen years ago.
I think what’s been most impressive about Miles’ efforts so far is the fact that he’s hitting the state hard like he said he would. I’ve seen all kinds of kids from the state of Kansas post to Twitter that they’ve been offered Preferred Walk-On spots by Kansas (PWOs) and that, as much as any commitment, is a sign that Miles is really trying to build this thing through an emphasis on the Sunflower State.
Many KU coaches have talked about it, but few have done it. If Miles can get that done, the commits will come and the wins and better days just might follow.
This is such a fascinating question to me because I keep thinking back to last year and what I might have said at the midway point of the season if someone had asked me about De Sousa’s potential impact later in the season.
After those first few games, where he couldn’t play more than a minute or two and looked so out of sorts out there on the floor, it would’ve been hard to predict that he’d do what he did in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments for the Jayhawks.
But he did.
Now De Sousa’s in a much different situation and the question with him is whether he’ll even be given the opportunity to contribute.
Nothing’s new on that front — at least not that we’re aware of — so the question comes down to this: Which is more likely, Grimes snapping out of his funk or De Sousa playing at all?
I’m not really sure where I stand these days on whether De Sousa has a chance to play. (I’m probably leaning more toward no than ever before) But I do know that plenty of people at KU are still of the belief that it can happen.
That said, I think the odds are much greater that Grimes will snap out of his funk and start to figure out how to play at this level.
Right now he’s thinking way too much and is in his own head. Self called it a mental block. That’ll go away with more time, more reps and some success. So my money’s on Grimes here and that’s probably the case even if De Sousa is cleared to play.
Grimes is too talented and too full of potential at a position where KU could really use him to not figure it out at some point.
That Michigan State game was something to watch but it might actually have been a bit of a temporary detriment to Grimes, who has not played with the same free mind and confidence since that night. Could it be because his own expectations were too high after that and now anything other than hitting 6 of his first 7 3-pointers seems like a disappointment?
Could be. Or it could simply be a case of a freshman needing time to adjust.
No. 2 Kansas has a perfect 5-0 record to date, but it has been anything but flawless.
KU needed overtime to finish off Tennessee in a battle between a pair of top-five teams. Kansas held off a second-half surge by Michigan State in the season opener to claim a victory in the Champions Classic. Senior Lagerald Vick went bonkers during the team's only two home games to fend off Vermont and Louisiana in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas has a pair of home games and a contest in the Sprint Center remaining before its much-anticipated rematch with Villanova. The Wildcats downed the Jayhawks in the Final Four last year before eventually winning the national title.
That leads us into the first question of the latest edition of Ask Us Anything.
Well, based on recent reports, it looks like Kliff Kingsbury is going to be finding employment elsewhere. As a result, I will dive into the question about Kansas slipping up against anyone before Villanova.
If I were a betting man, and I certainly am, I wouldn’t bank on KU dropping a game before the rematch of last year’s Final Four. According to KenPom, Kansas has at least a 95 percent chance of winning in each of its next three games that lead up to the showdown with Villanova.
The Jayhawks play two of those three games in the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse, while facing New Mexico State in the Sprint Center. That game is the most likely loss for Kansas, though even that seems far fetched.
No. 2 KU has yet to really put all together during this 5-0 start to the season. The first half against Michigan State was the closest Kansas has looked to being worthy of its No. 1 preseason ranking.
At some point, you would think the Jayhawks demonstrated that dominance again, and I’d bet fans see a version of that during this three-game stretch. As a result, it just doesn’t seem likely that KU will have a loss on its resume ahead of the home meeting with the defending champs.
All three of these are great questions, so I’m going to go ahead and make this a questions No. 2 through No. 4 for this edition of Ask Us Anything, and you can’t stop me.
No. 2: The first and most important step for the Les Miles regime is ___ ???
I suppose the easy answer would be filling out his staff, seeing as he can’t coach the 2019 season all by himself on the sideline. Wouldn’t that be fun to see though?
However, I’m going to go a different route with my answer. I think the first and most important step for Les Miles is recruiting. KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said he made the move when he did because he knew how important recruiting was, particularly with the early signing period inching closer.
Miles is not only starting late in the game, but he’s also dealing with a limited number of available scholarships. That’s what makes this so important, because Miles really has to hit on a good majority of his recruits in order to turn this thing around sooner rather than later.
Of course, the real answer is making sure Pooka Williams stays at KU. Yet I don’t think he’s likely to leave, so focusing on putting talent around Pooka should be the most important thing Miles does in the next month.
No. 3: More of a concern for KU hoops — Dok’s inability to stay on the floor or 3-point FG defense?
My first thought was to go with Udoka, because he is arguably the team’s most important player. After all, 10.4 plays per game for Kansas end with a post-up by Azubuike. The Jayhawks lead the country in post-up usage with a rate of 19.7 percent, according to Synergy.
That being said, I’m more concerned with the team’s inability to defend the perimeter. Per KenPom, opposing teams are shooting 37.8 percent from deep against Kansas. That mark ranks 285th in the nation.
More than that, though, teams are going into the game against KU with an emphasis on shooting the long ball. Louisiana forward Justin Miller admitted that after he recorded a career-high 22 points against KU. Marquette drilled 11 triples on 21 attempts in the first half alone against KU’s defense.
Azubuike, meanwhile, is averaging just two minutes less per game than he did last year. For me, the answer to this question is pretty simple. The Jayhawks need to fix their perimeter defense if they hope to cut down the nets in April.
No. 4: What do the offense efficiency numbers look like going 2 bigs and 3 guards vs. 1 Big and 4 Guards?
This is a tough question to answer, because it is impossible to find lineup-based efficiency numbers on Synergy or KenPom.
I do think it is easy to tell that KU’s offense looks more comfortable in a four-guard lineup, which is probably because that’s what this team has done the last two years.
In fact, KU averaged 1.015 points per possession while using mostly a one-big lineup last year. That mark ranked 16th in the nation. This season, the Jayhawks have used more two-big lineups and are averaging 0.984 points per possession through five games. It is the 61st-best clip in all of college basketball.
So, it’s safe to say that KU should try to incorporate more four-guard lineups.
At first glance, I thought it was surprising when watching the game, but K.J. Lawson did very well in his 19 minutes of action.
To put that in comparison, Lawson had a total of 17 minutes in his previous four games. This goes back to what I was saying in the previous question, but I would like to see KU use more four-guard lineups, which could include Dedric Lawson at the 5 and K.J. Lawson at the 4.
Of course, that’s not to say K.J. Lawson should and will play 19 minutes again, but he did well and even collected six rebounds. More importantly, it allowed KU to create some space and let Dedric Lawson go to work as the lone big man inside.
Mitch Lightfoot, who is still the first player off the bench, will get his opportunity to make an impact late in the game at some point this season.
The past few days inside Anderson Family Football Complex, according to those who would know, new Kansas football coach Les Miles has stayed busy by assessing various aspects of the Kansas football program he just took over.
Think: meetings, phone calls and more meetings and calls, mixed in with whatever the new man in charge can do to settle in and get comfortable.
Miles has spoken with assistant coaches from his predecessor David Beaty’s staff and met with players, as well.
While no hires have been announced as of Wednesday afternoon that could change quickly.
And that leads us right into our first question for today’s post.
I asked Miles during his introductory press conference how long he thought it would take to get his staff in place. And while he didn’t give a definitive timeline for the process, his answer showed that finding the best coordinators he can will be his priority.
Miles doesn’t have to rush these hires and he made it clear from the day he took this job that he had been having conversations with potential assistants and coordinators already and would continue to do so.
This week has been the first time Miles could really speak with potential coordinators, too, because last week many candidates were busy preparing for the last game of the regular season.
As Miles speaks with potential coordinators this week it is also likely he will act quickly if it becomes clear someone he wants to bring on board is interested. He told the Journal-World recently that having coordinators in place would be one of the most important steps for him as he fully attacks the recruiting trail for 2019.
Michael Hinton: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sports' Wally Hall wrote a column that referenced the Razorbacks' losing football season(s) and Jeff Long's contributions. What are your thoughts? Things obviously ended poorly for Jeff Long at Arkansas, his previous stop as an athletic director. Long was fired in November of 2017 after close to 10 years heading the athletic department at the SEC school.
Though Long’s hiring of Bobby Petrino brought the Razorbacks victories and appearances in both the Sugar and Cotton bowls, that relationship ended in an ugly fashion when Long had to fire Petrino in 2012, in the aftermath of the coach’s motorcycle accident. The whole ordeal eventually revealed Petrino had hired his mistress to work for the football program and the coach misled members of the athletic department.
Long had interim coach John Smith handle the football team in 2012, and the Razorbacks went 4-8.
When Long hired Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin, Arkansas finished 3-9 in 2013 before Bielema posted a 22-17 combined mark for the next three seasons. But Arkansas fell off again in 2017, going 4-8. Long was fired shortly before the season’s conclusion and soon after Bielema was done, too.
Even before Arkansas finished 2018 at 2-10 — with its .167 winning percentage going down as the worst in program history — the school’s football fan base didn’t mind blaming Long for its current state. I had a few Razorbacks supporters email me this past summer just airing their grievances about his time there.
Does that mean Long’s hiring of Miles will go so poorly? Of course not. But it’s also important for everyone to step back every once in a while and realize it is way too early to tell how the next few years will play out for KU football.
KU football attendance really began falling off a cliff near the end of the Charlie Weis era. But it officially went kersplat in 2018, with announced crowds in the 15,000 range at each of the Jayhawks’ final three home games of the season.
That’s what makes 40,000 such an ambitious figure for Miles’ KU debut — slated for Aug. 31 against Indiana State.
Even so, the KU fan base seems genuinely fired up about the program’s latest reboot. And between the intrigue surrounding Miles and having a chance to watch Pooka Williams perform his unique form of on-field voodoo, I think KU can get there.
Nine months out, I will take the slightest of overs.
Though nothing is official yet, it sure seems likely that Miles will keep Tony Hull, KU’s Louisiana recruiting guru, in place.
And, with Miles having spent more than a decade living and working in Louisiana, I think that pipeline will only grow stronger in the months and years ahead.
Both Miles and Hull have strong connections down in the New Orleans area, and while the very best players from down in “The Boot” will likely continue to pick SEC programs, Hull has proven he can get coveted prospects to KU.
With Miles in place, the number of talented Louisiana players KU is able to sign should only increase — even though the new coach has made clear his plan to recruit heavily near his new home, too.
Oh, yeah. And, no, I don’t think fans need to worry about Pooka Williams leaving. Just my gut feeling.
I’ll begin by saying this: KU has done a good job thus far of keeping Miles’ search for his coordinators under wraps.
I’m guessing a lot of that credit goes to Mike Vollmar, KU’s senior associate AD for football administration, who, like Long and Miles, has great connections throughout the college football universe.
Fans obviously can’t wait to find out if Miles can bring in some more big-name coaches for his first staff. But I get the sense most of the people around the KU football program — except for Miles, obviously, and probably Vollmar — don’t yet know how this will all play out.
It’s probably worth monitoring the status of recently fired UNC coach Larry Fedora, as well as various members of his staff. One of Miles’ sons, Manny, was a backup QB at UNC, so Miles has to know those coaches fairly well.
John Papuchis was Fedora’s defensive coordinator at UNC, and he was a graduate assistant at KU from 2001-03. Papuchis also worked for Miles during the new Kansas coaches first three years in Baton Rouge, La.
Before Fedora became a head coach at Southern Miss, he was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005-07 (after Miles left that program to go to LSU).
I’m sure the pool of candidates will be large and I think it’s a safe bet whomever Miles hires to lead the offense and defense will have plenty of experience.
It’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were all digesting the news that Les Miles was the new Kansas football coach.
Now, after the season football finale against Texas and an impressive week of basketball in the Big Apple, the whole idea that Miles is KU’s football coach seems to be commonly accepted and embraced both here in Lawrence and across the country.
Crazy how fast things can change.
Miles, of course, still has all kinds of work to do, from filling his staff to actually getting the program back on track, but it’s clear, just one week into his reign, that he’s all in and he came to Kansas to coach football and win games.
We got a lot of “Ask Us Anything” questions regarding Miles and his staff this week. And Benton will answer most of those on Wednesday.
Today, though (OK, OK, tonight if you’ve been paying attention), I’ll dive into a few of the basketball-related questions that we received.
Thanks for the questions and keep them coming, in the comments below, on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUsports or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get to it.
I love this question (and questions like it) because it allows us to have a little fun and forces you to really think a little bit instead of just sharing information or dropping knowledge.
With that in mind, I really only think one of these is possible and that’s the Quentin Grimes breakout. Unless, of course, you’re talking about Lagerald Vick becoming KU’s player of the year. That is very much in play and, believe it or not, he could easily wind up being this team’s MVP.
But given that names like Mason and Graham recently have won Big 12 player of the year honors — and then some — I’m guessing that you mean bigger awards and I just can’t see Vick challenging for those, largely because it takes a pretty complete all-around game to win awards like that. Mason and Graham both were as good as passers and rebounders as they were scorers and right now Vick’s pretty much just looking like a scorer, albeit a pretty damn good one at that.
So that one’s out. And I don’t know if I can picture a scenario in which K.J. Lawson jumps all the way into the starting lineup before his Senior Night in a couple of years.
That’s not a knock on Lawson. I like his game, I admire his cool, calm and collected playing style and I was wildly impressed by the way he played against Tennessee in New York. But the opportunity only came because Marcus Garrett was out. Had Garrett been able to play, Lawson probably would not have had the chance to play 19 minutes.
Could things happen down the road that lead to Lawson getting more opportunities like that one (his solid playing being one factor that leads to that)? Absolutely. And it’s not all that hard to see him finding a way into the rotation from time to time. But to reach the point where he’s in the starting five, I just can’t see it.
So I’ll go with Grimes. Partly because the other two aren’t as likely — at least in my eyes — and also because Grimes is so talented and it’s going to click for him at some point. It might take until after winter break for him to be fully comfortable, but when he does there’ll be no turning back.
And if it does take that long, that might actually wind up being good news for Kansas because the Jayhawks have been pretty good with him fighting through a mini-slump to start the season. Adding a player of his caliber reaching his potential halfway through the season would almost be like adding a completely new player altogether.
Grimes is going to be rock solid this year. And he’s going to have some games that make you sit back and go, “Wow.” It just might take a little while to get there.
Nothing crazy happening here. Elliott’s redshirting. Self announced that after a game early in the season in which Elliott did not suit up or play.
This seems to make plenty of sense, given the fact that Elliott came to KU a bit late and as a walk-on. The Jayhawks really aren’t losing anything by him officially sitting out the 2018-19 season and Elliott’s not missing out on anything either.
He now can fully embrace his role as a member of the red team in practice, where he can spend the season developing his game against KU’s starters and rotation guys, while doing his best to push them to become better along the way.
Elliott came to Kansas with the idea that he’d have to put in some work to earn anything resembling playing time. He certainly did not expect to come in and make an immediate impact and this decision to redshirt gives him five years to reach the point of making an impact instead of just four.
That’s one more year in the weight room, one more year against elite competition, one more year with a close-up look at how the whole Kansas basketball operation works.
That might not pan out this year or next, but you never know what could happen three or four years from now, with the right amount of effort, work and development.
I’m a huge fan of the fact that so many KU fans still remember my percentage wheel that gained traction during conference realignment and served me well during a few coaching searches, as well.
But I haven’t had as many opportunities to use it of late, despite people asking me to break it back out. Take the recent KU football coaching search, for example. Jeff Long ran a quiet search and I only received bits of information about three or four guys along the way.
Most of it was concerning guys who were not taking the job, therefore I couldn’t throw them on an percentage wheels because what I was hearing would have landed them at 0 percent and what fun is that?
The bottom line is this: Unless I’m getting good information about a handful of options, I’m not going to throw one together just to do it. I could have done that with the KU football search and probably would have had Miles at 77 percent or so most of the time. But I didn’t have any great info on any other candidates and did not want my percentage wheel to look lame or, worse yet, be a waste without providing any good information.
Why did I go into all of this to answer a question about De Sousa? Because it’s kind of the same thing here.
Nobody’s talking much about De Sousa’s chances of playing and that, to me, means it’s settling in around 50 percent. But everything’s 50 percent, isn’t it? He either will or won’t, right?
I get the question. And I understand how you could see me being able to say there’s a 20 percent chance or a 75 percent chance or whatever the case may be. But without any good information to go on, it would just be guessing.
I’ll leave it this way: I haven’t given up on the idea that De Sousa still could find his way onto the floor this season and will actually play for the Jayhawks at some point again. And I don’t think he or the KU coaching staff have given up on that either.
Expecting it to happen or be announced any time soon might be wasting time, though.
This one, to me, has the feel of one of those situations that will get sorted out sometime after the holidays, with the NCAA ruling that the X-game suspension that De Sousa already served was sufficient and KU can announce that he’s now eligible to play.
I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting on that outcome. But if he does play again, I think that’s how it could go down. There is, of course, still the very real chance that he won’t play at all this season, which would be too bad both for Silvio and the Jayhawks.
First off, shoutout for the Twitter name. I've heard there are a handful of good Les Miles parody accounts out there already, too. Always fun.
So here’s a Miles-related question for ya (I couldn’t miss out on all the fun) and I chose this one because my gut tells me things will play out from the inside out.
What does that mean?
I think Miles will soon — if he hasn’t already — determine which members of the current KU staff he wants to keep and that very well could be the first bit of coaching staff news we hear.
Makes sense, right? It’s easy to announce “so-and-so is staying,” without having to make a big fuss out of it.
I still think Clint Bowen and Tony Hull will be retained in some capacity and a handful of members of the staff and support crew also could be retained in GA or analyst roles. We already know KU is looking to expand its staff in that regard so why not keep at least a few people who already are familiar with the current roster, opponents, etc.?
I’m a little bit surprised that we haven’t heard about at least one of the two coordinators yet, but that tells me that Miles has been waiting on something, perhaps someone to be fired or a season to be completed.
Benton will have more input on the assistants later this week.
I already addressed the De Sousa question up above, so look back at that if you’re skipped down to this one.
But let’s get into the other two questions real quick.
Regarding Keegan, of course we miss him. Tom was a huge part of everything we did here at KUsports.com for the past 13 years and was an absolute blast to work with. He always embraced our coverage ideas and was excited about trying new things or doing podcasts or videos — or both — as a way to both entertain and bring good information to our readers.
He’ll be tough to replace. And we’re working on doing just that at the moment.
But I’m also excited for him and his opportunity in Boston. I think he’ll kill it there and what an amazing town and opportunity for a sports columnist, huh? The guy’s earned it and I’m not sure how long it will take me to get used to seeing him Tweet about Tom Brady and the Patriots of sending live updates from a Yale-Harvard football game. Crazy!
As for your last question, if you would have asked me this question before the season began, I’d have said there’s absolutely no way KU would reach January without a loss.
Full disclosure: I wasn’t sure they were going to win their opener because of the veteran Michigan State guards that Grimes and Devon Dotson handled so incredibly well.
But KU has already made it through three of its toughest nonconference games and five of the seven remaining non-con games are at Allen Fieldhouse. The two that aren’t? New Mexico State on Dec. 8 at Sprint Center and a true road game at Arizona State on Dec. 22.
New Mexico State is 4-1, with a loss to Saint Mary’s, and Arizona State is 5-0, with a win over No. 15 Mississippi State.
Neither of those games — along with Villanova at home — will be easy. But KU will be favored in both of them and should be plenty motivated in that Arizona State game after watching Bobby Hurley’s squad walk into Allen Fieldhouse last year and put a beating on the home team.
KU’s schedule is tough. Even the so-called no-name teams are tough opponents who are experienced and slated to finish first or second in their conferences. But one of the most impressive things about this Kansas team thus far is that the Jayhawks aren’t anywhere close to playing their best ball yet and if that comes — or they at least get closer to that — in the next few weeks, it’s not hard to see KU making it to 12-0 entering the Big 12 opener on Jan. 2 vs. Oklahoma.
I wouldn’t bet a ton on it happening because you just never know when that rare off night is going to pop up. Lord knows we’ve seen it enough over at Sprint Center throughout the years. But I think, at this point, KU’s chances of running the nonconference table are slightly better than 50-50.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether or not the Les Miles experiment will work at Kansas.
Regardless of your belief, most people seem to agree that it is going to take some time for the Jayhawks to climb out of the bottom of the Big 12 conference. KU has not posted a winning season since 2008, but there seems to be optimism around the program in the first time in a long time.
Whether or not that optimism turns into success remains to be seen, of course.
But a large part of that will ultimately come down to whether or not Les Miles can prove the game has not passed him by since being fired from LSU midway through the 2016 season. Sure, Miles won't get the same players at Kansas that he did at his previous stop, but he's succeeded at multiple places in his career.
Miles will have to prove that the time away from college football was beneficial, and that he's ready to coach in the Big 12 again. That leads us into the first question of the latest edition of Ask Us Anything.
From Sam Bruning, via email Could you see Les Miles going away from his old school offensive strategy and using more of a traditional Big 12 air raid offense?
This is obviously the big question, right?
Les Miles was asked multiple questions about his offensive strategy during his introductory press conference. It was a reasonable concern to wonder if Miles, who is 65 years old, is able to adapt to the modern age of college football. Forget the Big 12, this was a concern for wherever he ended up.
During Sunday’s conference, Miles insisted that he used the passing attack when he had a competent quarterback. Benton Smith wrote about it the other day, of course, but there is some truth to that. In 2013, LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for over 3,000 yards.
That being said, I don’t expect KU to start slinging the ball around at a rate similar to some teams in the Big 12. Perhaps my opinion will change depending on the offensive coordinator that Miles selects.
LSU ran the ball at least 60 percent of the time over the last six full seasons under Miles. In fact, the Tigers never ran less than 55 percent of the time in a single season with Miles at the helm. At Oklahoma State, however, Miles ran the ball just 51 percent of the time in 2001 and 49 percent of the time in 2002.
As a result, it is not hard to imagine Miles being able to throw the ball more than he showed during his stretch at LSU. However, personnel influences this more than anything else, and KU will have a loaded backfield led by Pooka Williams for the near future. It might be more wise to lean on the ground game and control the clock, as Kansas tried to do against Oklahoma this past weekend.
Obviously, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder would never agree to this in a million years.
More importantly, it would be foolish for KU to even consider it, which I don’t think it would. Sure, Snyder has been tremendous at player development, and has dominated in-state recruiting for a long time. But there would be reasonable skepticism if Kansas hired 79-year-old Snyder for a prominent role after tabbing 65-year-old Miles as the head coach.
That whole situation has been a sour end to a legendary career. Snyder, who has won 215 games in 27 season, deserved to ride off into the sunset after what he accomplished for the K-State program.
But this entire season has been bizarre in Manhattan, with Snyder keeping players from speaking to reporters during the last two weeks of the media availability. Earlier this season, Snyder snapped at KMAN radio sports director John Kurtz for asking about the quarterback situation and told him, “you write what the hell you want to write.”
Multiple publications, including the Kansas City Star, have published columns calling for Snyder to retire.
None of this would make KU fans excited about the prospect of Snyder joining the program in some capacity. More than that, though, it has been disappointing to see this is how a legendary coach will close the book on his illustrious career.
This is an interesting question, because we all assumed that the loss to Nicholls in the season opener marked the unofficial end to David Beaty’s time as the head coach of Kansas.
After seeing what Williams did over the next two weeks, I’m certain that KU wins that game if he is able to play in Week 1. Yet I’m not so sure that changes the course of the season, even if that is a lame answer to this hypothetical scenario.
Because of the relationship that Les Miles and Jeff Long have, I think it is safe to assume this was always going to be Miles’ job if he wanted it. You can argue that KU should have beaten K-State with a better coaching effort, but I’d counter with Kansas should have lost to TCU if it weren’t for a fortunate fumble late in the game.
In the end, I think Pooka Williams playing in the season opener only changes just that. KU would have one more win, and Beaty still would have been fired sometime in November. I certainly don’t think the Jayhawks starting 3-0 would have changed much about the Big 12 games, if at all.
Why stop there? KU should try keeping Steven Sims Jr. and Daniel Wise for another year as well. All jokes aside, I do feel for someone like Dineen. He loves this program deeply and has given so much for it. Dineen, more than anyone else, deserved a chance to play for someone like Les Miles and been around when KU had a shot to have more success.
Of course, Dineen and Wise wouldn’t even consider coming back for another season if they could trick the NCAA into letting them since both players are headed for the NFL.
I must admit, I have never once thought about this question.
So I went and took a BuzzFeed quiz about which animal should be my new favorite. Based on my answers, I got sea turtle as my outcome. Can I just go with that?
Actually, I do love sea turtles and that probably would be my answer. How does BuzzFeed know me so well? When I was kid, I had an aquatic turtle as a pet and his name was Crush. He’s the only pet I have ever owned that was all mine, and I was responsible for taking care of him.
Thanks for your question, now I miss Crush.
Has there ever been so much buzz surrounding a Power Five college football program that enters its final game of the season with a 3-8 record?
Nobody asked us that — at least I don’t think anyone did — over the past couple of days, but it would be a reasonable inquiry.
The Kansas football team, unlike in its primetime faceplant against TCU in 2017, looked relatively competitive this past weekend in a 55-40 loss at Oklahoma on national television.
And the very next day, KU hired Les Miles — he of LSU and 2007 national championship fame — to take over the program.
After year upon year of so many losses in the post-Mark Mangino era, it appears the football team’s supporters finally have a truly optimistic view of where the program is headed next.
Which leads us perfectly into our first actual question for today’s post.
What a strategy this would be.
If you’ve been paying attention at all to the message being pushed from KU’s athletic director, Jeff Long, and even Miles during his “Hawk Talk” debut earlier this week, the athletic department is wasting no time in trying to rally the fan base to invest in 2019 season tickets.
They’re already available online at KU’s website and the hope, of course, is that WAY more people will want to spend a chunk of their Saturdays at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in the future, because they’re excited about watching the team being led by Miles.
Here’s how many people, according to KU’s numbers, have decided to attend a KU football game in Lawrence this season, which proved to be David Beaty’s last in charge.
• Sept. 1 vs. Nicholls State: 24,305
• Sept. 15 vs. Rutgers: 28,044
• Sept. 29 vs. Oklahoma State: 18,364
• Oct. 27 vs. TCU: 15,069
• Nov. 3 vs. Iowa State: 15,543
That final number is the most appalling because it was clear that day more than half the crowd was there to cheer on Iowa State.
I’m not sure how close we are to KU football games reaching the stadium’s 50,071 capacity. But having Miles in place will definitely help.
Back to the question. If Bradley were in charge, KU football would surely see a ticket sale boost for this week’s Black Friday matchup with Texas. And if the Jayhawks got to play in front of a decent crowd, one feeling good about the program to boot, it would only help their upset bid.
First off, let me say that the employees at the Lawrence Municipal Airport could not have been more friendly or helpful.
I wish it were possible to fly out of there to cover KU road games because it is so laid back at the tiny airport.
That being said, it’s not as if the people who covered this KU coaching search were camping out there around the clock — thankfully.
The fact that the jets were never headed to or from Baton Rouge, La., even though flight plans had been submitted for them was a bit maddening.
Long clearly had some fun with the search by creating these fake flights. But in doing so all he accomplished was making sure media would cover his trips on those days. If KU’s jet only had flight plans for Dallas and Colorado Springs, Colo., there wouldn’t have been nearly that amount of intrigue.
While staking out the airport isn’t exactly my ideal weekday night, at least it was a break from the norm, and there always was that fleeting chance that you would see a football coach getting off a plane.
R.I.P., flight tracking season. (I won't be sending flowers.)
Email from Sam Bruning: Have you heard anything about Lance Legendre keeping interest in KU and do you see Miles going after him or a trying to get Graham Mertz late?
Based on conversations I’ve had with those who cover recruiting, including Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant and Scott Chasen of 247 Sports, I don’t think there is any reason at this point to believe former KU commit Lance LeGendre will hop back on board.
It’s a good question, though, because LeGendre, a four-star dual-threat QB, is from Warren Easton High, in New Orleans, where KU running backs coach Tony Hull first made a name for himself as a high school head coach. And LeGendre has offers from various SEC programs, including Alabama. Miles paid attention to the high school scene in Louisiana these past two years, often attending games. He surely knows of LeGendre and has opinions about the prep QB’s abilities.
We’ll have to see in the weeks ahead whether Miles has any interest in trying to get the Louisiana QB re-interested in KU.
As for Graham Mertz, even though he is from Overland Park, he has been committed to Wisconsin for more than a year. He chose the Badgers over KU back then and has since picked up offers from college football powerhouses such as Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson, among others. If he for some reason decided to back out of his pledge to Wisconsin, he would have better options than KU. I don’t see it happening.
Doug Stewart: What do you think the #kufball recruiting class looks like under new head coach? Best case? Worst-case? If Miles can get his coordinators and assistants in place quickly, and all of them have been active college coaches this past season, I think that’s the best possible outcome for a 2019 recruiting class, which Miles told the Journal-World he expects to include 15 signees.
Miles already has gotten out in front with recruiting, too. Jayhawk Slant reported KU’s next head coach already reached out to three-star cornerback Jayden Russell, a top 2019 prospect in the Sunflower State, from St. Thomas Aquinas.
That’s a great place to start and, if all goes perfectly for Miles and his first staff, Miles’ reputation will make it easier for Kansas to land quality prospects, such as Russell.
Worst case scenario: There is such little time between now and the early signing period in late December that KU misses out on its biggest recruiting targets and has to settle for leftovers in the Class of 2019, because the players at the top of KU’s list already have longstanding relationships with other college staffs.
It’s too early to know for sure whether Bowen would be retained by Miles.
But I think Bowen would be open to doing so. Miles most likely wouldn’t ask Bowen to remain defensive coordinator, though. If Bowen sticks around and helps with the transition, he would probably be a position coach — cornerbacks, safeties or linebackers.
David Beaty is out of here. I’m sure he will be happy to join the staff of some other Power Five program, even if it is just as an analyst or recruiting coordinator in 2019.
I’m guessing we’ll start hearing official news on Miles’ assistants early next week.
In the meantime, I don’t think we should completely rule out the idea of Jedd Fisch, who met with Jeff Long during his coaching search, being an offensive coordinator with Miles. And Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant had an interesting defensive coordinator to consider: John Papuchis, currently the D.C. at UNC. Papuchis worked with Miles for a few years when he first took over at LSU.
Hey, KU fans. After a wild week and a crazy Sunday, it’s time for another edition of “Ask Us Anything,” and what better way to kick things off than by starting with a Les Miles question?
Miles, you surely know by now, was officially introduced as the newest Kansas football coach on Sunday evening.
The response from the KU fan base has been overwhelmingly positive and there is a real feeling around the program that Miles will be the guy to finally get things going in the right direction again.
Kansas does, of course, close out the 2018 season with Texas at home on Friday. And even though the Longhorns are on the verge of playing for a Big 12 title, one more strong effort from the home team — like they showed at K-State and at Oklahoma — could be just what Miles and company need to hit the ground running and capitalize on some on-field momentum for a change.
Even though the opportunity to really make it count won’t arrive until next September, a strong finish, win or lose, could go a long way toward setting the tone for the offseason ahead.
Beyond that, the Jayhawks have a cool opportunity to be doubly energized in this one, playing hard to honor David Beaty on his way out and maybe just a little harder to show Les Miles they’re happy to have him.
We’ll see what happens. While we wait, here’s this week’s first “Ask Us Anything.”
This is such a good question because it cuts to the core of what will define whether Miles is successful at Kansas.
We know the man knows football and we know he can coach talent. But can he get that talent at a place like Kansas?
He sure seems confident in his ability to do so and it sounds like he’s going to jump on it right away. Getting his coordinators in place quickly is a high priority so Miles and his new staff — or at least the most crucial parts of it — can get out and start pitching players to join the 2019 class.
The early signing period arrives Dec. 19 and we’re now roughly 20 hours removed from the end of Miles’ introductory presser.
I won’t break it down to hours, but I’ll say Miles and company have their first KU commitment by Sunday. Maybe more than one.
I get the reason behind this question, but I’m not seeing it.
Could KU Chancellor Doug Girod be a little more aggressive with his comments and/or actions about the ongoing issues surrounding the FBI and NCAA investigation into corruption in college basketball?
But would it behoove him to do so? Probably not. Girod and the Jayhawks have been cooperating fully with the feds from the very beginning and there’s no reason to think that they won’t give the NCAA the same courtesy and respect.
For one, they have to. In some ways the fate of the program — at least as it pertains to any fallout from this latest mess — is in the NCAA’s hands.
Beyond that, it just makes sense to do it that way. The easier KU makes it on the NCAA, the better the chances are that the NCAA will be a little more understanding of the whole picture here.
So, no, I don’t think it makes Girod look like an idiot to wait for direction from the NCAA, I think it makes him look wise.
Having said that, I do think KU, if it wanted to, could begin looking into its own internal investigation of the recruiting practices and problematic things that brought KU into the heart of the college hoops trial. But that’s another question altogether and could be something Kansas plans to get to after the NCAA has its turn.
Time will tell.
Good point about Vick’s recent highs being followed by some pretty memorable lows. But this, to me, feels different.
It’s clear, even though it’s only been three games, that Vick understands his place on this team and how important his veteran status is. This team has absolutely needed someone to take the bull by the horns in the past couple of games and Vick, through his play and personality, has done that to perfection.
That kind of result from Vick making a move that many weren’t sure he could even make surely will add to his confidence and leave the KU senior feeling better than ever about his all-around game.
I loved how Vick used the words, “extreme confidence” after the Louisiana game when asked about his mindset right now. And I’m sure that he’s ready to keep that rolling from here.
It will be interesting to see how he fares in New York City, given the fact that it’s a slightly bigger stage in a big time environment and Vick no-showed in the season opener in a similar setting.
But I think he’ll play well. I’ve never believed that Vick was one to back down from the bright lights and after the way he’s played these past two games, I would think he’ll be all the more ready for them in Brooklyn.
The more he puts quality outings together now — with consistency on both ends leading the way — the more likely it is that he’ll be able to sustain it into Big 12 play and beyond this time around.
I make one comment about how Dedric Lawson could go for 40 against Michigan State and I’ve got people out there who won’t let me live it down.
I know it was a bit ridiculous to throw the 40-spot out there for a guy who had never played a regular season game for the Jayhawks, but he was 5-of-18 in that game and still finished with 21. Imagine if he had made just four more shots — therein shooting 50 percent from the floor — and climbed into the 30s.
Anyway, I don’t know Lawson’s vertical but I know it’s not among the best on the team. It doesn’t need to be. The Memphis transfer is not the type of scorer who jumps over people and puts highlights on film. He’s more of an efficient scorer who quietly but surely puts together pretty solid games even when it doesn’t seem like it.
And he needs to start becoming more efficient and get out of his own head a little bit. As soon as he does that, things will become easier for him and the scoring will come. This guy’s too good to stay in a funk for too long.
Lawson today reminds me a little of Malik Newman during the first couple months of last season. It took him a while to get going, he had a little trouble finding his place and getting comfortable, but once he did, there was no looking back.
If I’m the one making the call, he does. And if you’re asking me if I think he will, I do. In fact, I don’t think there’s much question about it.
Miles said Sunday that he was open to retaining members of the current staff and Hull, the running backs coach and associate head coach from New Orleans with all of those Louisiana connections, is the most obvious and logical assistant to keep.
He played an enormous role in bring Pooka Williams and Co Harris to town — along with a few other Louisianimals — and should vibe great with Miles’ philosophy and system.
Hull’s a laid back, easy-going type of guy who does not have trouble getting along with anyone. Given a chance to sell himself as an important piece of KU’s future, which Miles will do, it’s easy to see Hull making a good first impression and sticking around town.
Miles said Sunday that he did not know Hull personally but he knew of him and admired his production and reputation from his days recruiting New Orleans back at LSU.
Crazier things have happened, but I’ll be very surprised if Hull’s not a part of Miles’ staff at Kansas.
Email question from "LLFrost"
Why do so many “fans” leave the KU Men’s basketball games early? Close game, blowout, early game, late game makes no difference…the expensive seats are more than half empty by the end of the game. Is there anything that can help them stay? And in a related question; Just how few student seats can the athletic dept. provide for basketball games before it turns the best home court advantage into a blasting recorded music, half empty parody of what it used to be?
These are tricky to answer because I have to speak for thousands of people to do it. But I have a couple of thoughts.
The leaving early part is easy to me and you don’t have to like it. But the reason so many do leave early is to get a jump on traffic and get home to get to bed. Remember, not everyone who attends KU’s home games lives in Lawrence. A lot of people have to drive, some great distances, to cheer on the Jayhawks so it makes sense for them to want to get home before midnight. Especially with KU playing so many 7 and 8 p.m. games.
I get why that doesn’t excite the die-hard fans who stay to the very end no matter what, but I’m willing to give these folks a break. As for what can keep them around, a close game is probably the best answer.
And regarding your question about student seating, I know KU takes that issue very seriously and does not want to do anything to limit the number of student seats avaiable.
In fact, during a recent story I wrote about a reorganization of some of the sections, associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said, “...as always, we will accommodate every student that wants to attend a game...” and I believe him.
I haven’t seen the full reports, but I have heard rumblings that student attendance has steadily gone down during the past 5-10 years. Not drastically, but going down is the opposite of going up and if trends show that those seats aren’t going to be filled by students, it makes perfect business sense for Kansas Athletics to try to fill them with people who will cough up some cash to get them.
It’s a wild time of year for Kansas fans, what with the basketball season just underway and the university’s athletic director, Jeff Long, searching for the football program’s next head coach.
So there couldn’t have been a better time to fire up a new feature at KUsports.com, the “Ask Us Anything” blog.
We’ve had great inquiries already and we know there are innumerable more to come, and we encourage you to keep sending them our way.
You can respond to our tweets calling for questions each week — @Kusports — or you can send us your own Tweet using the hashtag #AskKUsports. You also can email us, if that’s easier. Just send your questions to email@example.com and make sure you put #AskKUsports in the subject line.
On to today’s questions.
First off, I want to admit how much I love Coach Taylor’s character in Friday Night Lights. It made me want to pick him initially when I saw this question.
But I have my doubts that he would succeed at a program like Kansas in 2019 and beyond. Sure, he went 47-15 with four playoff appearances and two Texas state championship rings and deserves at least an interview with Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long.
However, fans need to take a deeper look at the candidate. His teams nearly always came out flat in big games before a thrilling finish, almost as if it was scripted. Quarterback Matt Saracen, not Coach Taylor, actually suggested the hook and ladder to secure a state title in the first year.
That miraculous play saved Coach Taylor from being fired, because it would be hard to explain not winning one state title during the two seasons with Smash Williams and Tim Riggins in the backfield.
Coach Taylor demonstrated the ability to build up a program when he took over at East Dillon, though I’d argue he was fortunate to land a talent like Vince Howard at quarterback. Even with Howard as the signal caller, Coach Taylor did not show the ability to adapt to a modern offense, which would be apparent in the Big 12.
At East Dillon, Coach Taylor continued to run a majority of his plays under center. In fact, Luke Cafferty is the one who suggested moving to shotgun when he filled in at quarterback after Coach Taylor benched Howard. Coach Taylor eventually won a second state title on a hail mary touchdown pass, which again seemed almost too good to be true.
If you made me pick one on this list, I’d have to say to Coach Boone from Remember the Titans, though I’d have my doubts about his ability to adapt to the modern age of college football as well. After all, he did claim he hates trick plays and only keeps six plays in his offensive playbook.
A wildcat candidate that did not make this list is actually Coach Porter from Gridiron Gang. He demonstrated the ability to take over a completely new program and lead those players to a championship game in the first year. If Long wants a coach who has shown they can rebuild a program, he could do worse than Coach Porter.
I like the premise of this question, because I thought it was one of David Beaty’s smartest coaching decisions during his KU tenure to take that safety against TCU.
But the situation against Kansas State was much different. The Wildcats needed just 2:16 to travel 60 yards on six plays and score the go-ahead touchdown. If KU takes a safety, K-State just needs a field goal to secure the win and it would probably have needed to go about 60 yards to do so.
Not to mention, the Jayhawks certainly had their opportunity to end that drive. On fourth down, K-State turned to the Wildcat on the opposition’s 48-yard line to pick up the necessary two yards. Alex Barnes had to bounce outside to pick up the yarage and keep the drive going. That play was more detrimental than anything else.
If KU takes a safety, K-State would have likely milked as much clock to set up a game-winning field goal. Yet the Jayhawks had a chance on their final drive to make something happen. The screen to Pooka Williams on the final offensive play certainly looked like it would have worked, if quarterback Peyton Bender doesn’t lose the ball.
Obviously this is all hypothetical, but I do think KU not taking the safety was the right call. I just hope that we are analyzing more decisions like this in the years to come, because it is far more interesting than tracking airplanes like our guy Benton Smith has been doing the past 10 days.
This is a fair question, and speaks to why Long took action after nine games in 2018.
But I’d argue that the fact that this is even a question is a testament to the impact of having Long as an athletic director. In the most recent coaching search, KU is probably not fishing in the same pond with programs like Louisville and Maryland. It is why the Jayhawks ended up with a candidate with no head coaching or coordinator experience.
The fact that prominent candidates, like Les Miles, have even shown interest is credit to Long’s history in administration and athletics. Because of that alone, I think there should be less concern regarding other coaching vacancies.
Of course, the longer the coaching search continues, the competition for these candidates will increase.
If anything, I think finding a coach sooner rather than later is necessary due to the impact it will have on recruiting. The race to find KU’s guy and then get started on the 2019 class should be far more concerning than competing with other programs for Long’s man.
Based on everything KU coach Bill Self has done as of late, I would imagine he did not know that Silvio De Sousa’s name would come up in the trial. Self made sure to hold out Billy Preston, and is currently keeping De Sousa out of competition this season.
Self has been proactive throughout much of this situation, so I find it hard to believe he heard anything about De Sousa until recently.
Yet it is worth mentioning that Self rolling with De Sousa last year was mostly by necessity. Kansas was depleted, particularly in the frontcourt last year, which was why it was so important to Self that the NCAA cleared De Sousa at the time. And De Sousa was a big factor in the team’s run to the Final Four.
This season, Self is able to be more flexible with his newfound depth, and that’s probably the biggest difference.
Maybe I’m being naive, but I’m not sure why KU fans are so keen on dragging other programs like Duke into this. As a fan of college basketball, I’d like to see the best schools competing at the highest level.
This could certainly be just getting started, and if the NCAA really wants to fix things it may take a good look at some of the biggest names.
That being said, my current thinking is that it won’t end up coming down to that. I subject to the theory that if the NCAA came crashing down on someone, it would not be the big-time programs. I might be wrong, but it just makes sense from a financial standpoint.
I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying that you are right, the NCAA may not want to dig into Zion’s recruitment. After all, this year’s Duke team is going to be must-watch television all season and the NCAA certainly won’t be complaining about the revenue and positive attention that should bring.
It’s a wild time of year for Kansas fans, what with the basketball season just underway and the university’s athletic director, Jeff Long, searching for the football program’s next head coach.
So there couldn’t have been a better time to fire up a new feature at KUsports.com, the “Ask Us Anything” blog.
We’ve had great inquiries already and we know there are innumerable more to come, and we encourage you to keep sending them our way.
You can respond to our tweets calling for questions each week — @Kusports — or you can send us your own Tweet using the hashtag #AskKUsports. You also can email us, if that’s easier. Just send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure you put #AskKUsports in the subject line.
On to today’s questions.
“Home run hire” is a good way to put it, because Jeff Long would feel good about the immediate future of the football program if he were able to convince Les Miles, Dave Doeren, Seth Littrell or Jason Candle to sign on with the Jayhawks.
But if I had to choose one I’d go with Doeren. He’s in the prime of his career at 46. He’s from the K.C. area. He worked as an assistant coach for Mark Mangino from 2002-05, when the program was on its relative rise, playing in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl and 2005 Fort Worth Bowl.
Doeren was great at Northern Illinois in the MAC and he’s doing really well in the ACC, with the Wolfpack already assured of its fifth straight winning season.
He knows how to win and he knows it actually is possible to do so at Kansas, because he’s experienced it.
I think Doeren would do a phenomenal job. But I don’t know that he’s the candidate Long is after. Or that Doeren would want to leave a program he has in a good spot for one that will need its next coach to take on a massive reclamation project.
Well, it’s obviously too late to go the other direction. But it definitely would be nice to have a peek at that alternate reality in which Long goes with an interim head coach instead.
Saturday’s loss at Kansas State was obviously winnable for the Jayhawks. But too many in-game issues typical of David Beaty’s time at KU kept the Jayhawks from actually winning a Big 12 road game for the first time since 2008. Two. Thousand. Eight.
Quick aside: Shoutout to the fans who stick with this program week in and week out, year after year, losses upon losses. I don’t know how you do it.
Anyway, I think it would have been interesting to see how the offense operated if someone such as Clint Bowen or Bill Miller or Tony Hull were named interim head coach and Garrett Riley became the offensive coordinator.
As Dillon alluded to in his question, having Hull in charge in the interim may have helped in recruiting, but only if Hull was given some sort of assurances he would be retained on the next staff and he were able to hint as much to players back in Louisiana.
Obviously Hull wasn’t placed in charge, so we’ll have to see how quickly Long can assemble the next staff — and whether the next head coach will want to keep Hull around to help recruiting. Either way, the next staff will really have to hustle to build a 2019 signing class.
This is a good question and one I’m hoping to be able to expound upon further in the future.
Obviously Long wasn’t talking about on-field position coaches when he brought this up a little over a week ago. He was referencing the numerous support staff positions that exist at Power Five programs.
There are analysts, recruiting directors, video coordinators, personnel directors, quality control staffers and other positions that help make a football program function. According to the numbers Long cited, other Big 12 programs — and not just Oklahoma and Texas — have “anywhere from eight to 13 to 15” more employees in their football program than KU.
It’s tricky to find the exact numbers for all the programs, because you can’t just open a staff directory and count the names. As one person in the KU athletic department put it to me, Texas has far more strength coaches working for its team than what comes up on a published list of employees.
I’m guessing Long’s righthand man, Mike Vollmar, senior associate AD for football administration, called around to speak with staffers and/or administrators at the Big 12’s other nine schools to find out what type of deficit KU has been operating from.
I thought this was a football blog.
Man, it’s the second week of November, so I’ll have to base my answer on what I’ve actually seen up to this point.
While KU obviously has a nice mix of depth and talent all over the floor, does this Bill Self team have enough athleticism to match up with say, Duke?
(Did I just answer a question with a question?)
It’s definitely possible that Kansas could reach the Final Four and deliver the program’s first title since 2008. But if you made me pick a champion right now I’d go with Duke.
Holy hell, the Blue Devils embarrassed Kentucky at the Champions Classic, putting up 118 points. Between R.J. Barrett, the freaky Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, Duke could have three of the top four picks in the 2019 NBA Draft — that’s if they don’t go 1-2-3.
I’m just going to assume Duke wins it all until I see something that makes me think otherwise.
And Dedric Lawson eventually rounding into his preseason All-America form might be one thing that would change my mind.
Disclaimer: I haven’t even seen Gonzaga or North Carolina or Virginia or Tennessee or numerous other teams play, so I would describe my opinion on the winner of a March tournament that ends in April as fluid.
Does Les Miles still want to coach football? Yes.
Is Les Miles at least interested in the idea of doing so at Kansas? Yes.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.
The longer this coaching search goes the less likely it is KU gets Les. If it’s over today or tomorrow, it seems that Miles would be the guy.
While nothing is concrete, I’d say this is trending toward taking a few weeks (from the start of this search on Nov. 4, the day Beaty was fired, to its conclusion). If Miles really wants to take on the burden of coaching at Kansas and Long really wants to hire him, they should be able to hammer out the details and make it official with a contract before the Jayhawks’ season is even over.
If you made me guess right now, though, I’d take the field.