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Should Les Miles change his offensive strategy in his return to Big 12 football

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium. by Mike Gunnoe

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.

None by Randy Bombardier

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.

None by Bradley

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.

None by Fewer Miles

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.

None by Andrew Taylor

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.

Reply

How the presence of Les Miles impacts various factors within KU football

Newly-hired Kansas head football coach Les Miles sits next to his wife, Kathy, as they listen to Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long tell a story about hiring Miles during the "Hawk Talk" radio show on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Johnny's West in Lawrence. Miles was announced as the head coach earlier in the day.

Newly-hired Kansas head football coach Les Miles sits next to his wife, Kathy, as they listen to Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long tell a story about hiring Miles during the "Hawk Talk" radio show on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Johnny's West in Lawrence. Miles was announced as the head coach earlier in the day. by Nick Krug

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.

None by Bradley

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.


None by robert dooley

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.

None by Benton Smith

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.

None by TheRealCmoney11

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.

Reply 5 comments from Mike Hart Dane Pratt Dirk Medema Dale Rogers Brett McCabe

A Les Miles’ recruiting tracker, Tony Hull staying or going and more in today’s “Ask Us Anything”

University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, right, and new football coach Les Miles shake hands during a press conference Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.

University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, right, and new football coach Les Miles shake hands during a press conference Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium. by Mike Gunnoe

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.”

None by Slices Akimbo

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.

None by David Pope

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?

I suppose.

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.

None by Japan Jayhawk

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.

None by Beachlife

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.

None by Ty Briggs

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.

Reply 6 comments from Hawkfan9675 Ben Berglund Dirk Medema Layne Pierce Mlbenn35 Dillon Davis

Picking a fictional coach to lead the KU football team

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 21-17 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 21-17 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan. by Nick Krug

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 sportsdesk@ljworld.com and make sure you put #AskKUsports in the subject line.

On to today’s questions.

None by Books 'N Basketball

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.

None by Chris Kurtz

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.

None by Frank Saunders

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.

None by Chris

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.

None by Dave

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.

Reply 4 comments from Dane Pratt Pius Waldman Halogenlampss

KU football’s ongoing coaching search, home run hires and 2019 basketball title hopes

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long looks up into the stands late in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 27-3 loss to Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long looks up into the stands late in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 27-3 loss to Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

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 sportsdesk@ljworld.com and make sure you put #AskKUsports in the subject line.

On to today’s questions.

None by The Fitz

“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.

None by Dillon Davis

Oh, boy.

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.

None by Kyle Sybesma

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.

None by Douglas Holtzman

I thought this was a football blog.

Kidding.

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.

None by Jordan Elo

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.

Reply 9 comments from Dane Pratt Shorte3355 Forever2008 Surrealku Len Shaffer Dirk Medema Jerry Walker Halogenlampss Scott Burton

KU basketball and coaching search chatter kick off new blog

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa watches warmups alongside assistant coach Norm Roberts, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa watches warmups alongside assistant coach Norm Roberts, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Hey KU fans, welcome to the first edition of our new regular feature here at KUsports.com, “Ask Us Anything.”

We really wanted to call it, “G’head, Ask Us Anything,” but the more I wrote that, said it out loud and realized how long it really was, the more we realized the best idea was to drop the contraction and the made-up word and keep things simple.

Speaking of simple, the premise of this blog is just that. Each week we’ll ask for your questions about anything — hence the title — and we’ll do our best to have one of our staff members answer them.

We’re expecting that most of the questions we get will be KU-sports-related — probably mostly KU basketball and football — and that’s great. But we’re willing to answer (or at least try to answer) whatever you want to throw at us.

Have a question about KU volleyball or tennis? Bring it. Want to know our thoughts about KU’s next opponent? No problem.

You can even venture outside of the world of KU athletics and ask us about anything else going on in sports, say maybe how good we think Duke really is, what we’re predicting for the rest of the Chiefs season or if Tiger will ever win another major.

No need to force any of those. And we’d love most of the inquiries to be about KU. But we really are up for answering anything. It’s just a way to have a little fun and get you guys in on some more of the action.

So how can you ask your questions? Easy. 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 sportsdesk@ljworld.com and make sure you put #AskKUsports in the subject line.

With that in mind, let’s get to the first handful of questions. We received a ton of good ones last week and will break them into five or six answers for each blog entry to get started. You’ll also hear answers from our entire staff throughout the week, so go easy on Benton and Shane.

For starters, we’ll post these on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but if we keep getting enough questions we could expand in the future.

For now, let’s get right to it.

None by Evan Phillips

This is such a tough question to answer because you have to consider a few different things when doing it.

Is the NCAA going to go case-by-case with this thing and deal with schools on an individual basis? Or will it wait until more of the total picture is out and try to address college basketball as a whole?

Early indications are that the NCAA will start looking into some of the schools mentioned throughout the recent trial that led to the conviction of two former Adidas employees and a middleman, and Kansas certainly qualifies as one of those.

Having said that, KU was not on trial and the trial itself did not produce any concrete evidence of any rule-breaking or wrongdoing on the part of Kansas or its coaching staff. There were some things released that could cause you to scratch your head or might have led to more questions. And the NCAA may very well be moving on to finding answers to those questions as we speak.

Since you asked for what the investigation is most likely to result in for KU, I’ll give you my best guess as of today.

I think De Sousa continues to sit and the NCAA deems that punishment enough. The best case scenario for KU would be that Silvio sits out the first semester, pays back the $2,500 that his guardian received to enroll him in online classes and is back on the court in January.

And the worst case scenario that’s still in play involves De Sousa being done, KU vacating wins and possibly even someone losing his job. That’s worst case, though. And probably a stretch. The punishment would only become that extreme if the NCAA, which will use federal evidence for its review, elects to do an extensive investigation of its own and turns up evidence that, as of today, has not surfaced yet and may not even exist.

I can’t see them taking the time — or having the resources — to do that, so I think they’ll be good with the something is better than nothing result, which will show that they don’t let things go unpunished without creating a ton more work on their end.

None by You call that pizza???

You’ve all seen him do it and most of you probably even know why.

But for those of you who don’t, here’s a quick history lesson.

When Self first arrived at KU for the 2003-04 season, the Allen Fieldhouse you know today looked a literal different. For starters, there was still a portion of the building that was not connected and when the doors would open it would let in the cool or cold air from the outside, making the walk from the locker room to the court a little chilly.

Self, without even thinking about it, merely blew into his hands on one of those walks and the image was caught on the video board.

As he recalled last year during one his Hawk Talk appearances, Self’s squad played pretty good for those first couple of games and the superstition was born.

Today, even on warm days — or on the road — Self still cups his hands and blows into them as he makes his way to the bench for another game. And the KU coach now in his 16th season, who is as superstitious as any person ever to come through KU, doesn’t figure to be stopping any time soon.

None by Jordan Elo

At this point, I think you have to take Miles.

There’s simply too much chatter around him becoming the next Kansas football coach to ignore it.

Usually I’m a field guy in these deals. I’ve even been known to think that taking the NBA field vs. the Golden State Warriors in recent years was a good bet. Oops. I just think the field gives you every advantage if even the slightest thing goes wrong for the favorite.

Who knows if something could still go wrong here or if the Les Miles to KU is all but a done deal already. But if it’s my money and I’m making the bet today, I’m putting it on Les.

I do believe KU AD Jeff Long has done his due diligence and talked to plenty of people about the opening — some candidates and others in more of a consultant manner — but it’s no secret that Long has long been a fan of Miles’ and he probably arrived at KU with the former LSU coach at the top of his potential coaching candidates list.

No need to deviate from that list if the man at the top is interested.

Stick with us over the next several days. Benton Smith is all over the day-to-day goings on of the search and I’m putting out as many calls as possible to see if anyone knows or can say what’s going on.

Fun times for Kansas football.

None by Jeffrey

I’m guessing you’re asking this because of what Dick Vitale said during last week’s broadcast of KU’s win over Michigan State.

Totally fair question. And I didn’t hear Vitale that night but I was told he said that 96-97 team that lost to Arizona in the Sweet 16 was the best or his favorite or perhaps both.

It’s hard to argue. In Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz, you had two incredible talents who went on to become lottery picks. Add to that the toughness and tenacity of Jerod Haase, Scot Pollard, who had a long career in the NBA, and point guard Jacque Vaughn, who is one of the all-time greats at KU and also carved out a lengthy NBA career.

That starting five was loaded and they absolutely crushed people. Their fate was a cruel reminder of just how unfair and difficult the NCAA Tournament can be.

If KU and Arizona play 10 times that year, I’m taking KU to win seven or eight of them. The Wildcats were damn good, but KU was better. They just played Arizona on the wrong night and went down.

As for where that team ranks among the best of all time at Kansas, that’s tough because there have been so many good teams. I can’t speak to the 1952 title team, though I’ve had the pleasure to meet a few of its members and know they were absolutely loaded, too. And I don’t know where to rank any of Wilt’s KU teams other than to say they belong way up there because they had Wilt.

But if you’re looking for more current teams that belong in the conversation, you obviously have to look to the 2008 title bunch. So much talent, so much balance and so many quality players. Plus, they won it all.

I also think that 2010-11 team that lost to VCU in the Elite Eight belongs in the conversation. Depth for days. Thomas Robinson couldn’t even get big time minutes. Veterans. Shooters. Defense. The Morris twins. Tyshawn Taylor. That’s another team that definitely could’ve and maybe even should’ve won it all.

And I also think the team from two and even three years ago, first with Mason, Graham and Josh Jackson and then the year before that with Mason, Graham, Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis, are also worthy of mention.

And then there were those Roy Williams Final Four teams, both in 2003, with Hinrich and Collison, and the early years when guys like Mark Randall, Adonis Jordan and Rex Walters led the way.

It’s so tough to pick just one. But if I had to rank the Top 5 that I’ve seen, mine would look like this. Take it for what it’s worth.

1 – 2001-02, with Hinrich, Collison and Gooden, plus Boschee, Miles, Simien, Langford that lost to Maryland in the Final Four

2 – 2007-08, with Rush, Chalmers, Arthur, Collins, Jackson, Russ Rob, Kaun, Aldrich and others who won it all

3 – 1996-97, with Pierce, LaFrentz, Vaughn, Haase & Pollard that finished 34-2

4 – 2010-11, with Morris twins, T-Rob, Tyshawn, Reed, Morningstar and more that finished 35-3

5 – 1992-93, with Rex Walters, Adonis Jordan, Richard Scott, Steve Woodberry, Greg Ostertag that lost to UNC in the Final Four

None by James Horton

It’s probably time for Bowen to move on. Heck, it might be time for just about everybody in the program to move on.

But there’s still a part of me that wonders if Bowen, who absolutely loves Lawrence and would love to keep his family happy and thriving here, would stick around if he were offered a spot on the new staff.

Maybe not as defensive coordinator. Perhaps just a position coach. That would come with a pay cut and a bit of an ego hit, but it would keep him employed — he probably could make at least $200,000 to coach DBs — and it would keep him and his family in Lawrence.

There are few people alive who love KU as much as Bowen so walking away, if he has a choice, might not be easy.

If he is not retained, I’d still look for him to find a way to stay in Lawrence. Maybe now’s the time for him to make a jump to the NFL and see if he can catch on in some capacity with the Kansas City Chiefs.

There are some who think he should look into the head coaching job at Free State High now that Bob Lisher has retired. I think he’d be outstanding there and he’d get to coach his sons. But talk about a huge pay cut.

The last option for Bowen is to simply take another job, perhaps a DC job, at another school. He’s had no shortage of suitors during the past several years and is highly respected throughout college football.

I’m with you in thinking it’d be cool to see Clint have some success and get the credit he deserves for being a damn good coach. But it would be equally cool, at least in my mind, for him to stick around Lawrence.

Should be interesting to see what happens.

Reply 8 comments from Brjam Michael Maris Hawkfan9675 Tomhawk26 Chandleraccipiter Eeakins1

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