College football has more awards than Alibi Ike had excuses.
One day someone will come up with the idea for another trophy and won’t have any trouble figuring out what to call it: The Gary Patterson Comeback Coach of the Year Award.
TCU did not make college football’s preseason Top 25 for the very reason that it should have been included: The Horned Frogs were coming off of a 6-7 season.
TCU in 2004: 5-6. TCU in 2005: 11-1, Mountain West Conference champions.
TCU in 2013: 4-8. TCU in 2014: 12-1, Peach Bowl champions, No. 3 in final AP poll after not appearing in preseason poll.
The Horned Frogs (6-0) take a No. 4 national ranking into Saturday's 7 p.m. kickoff against Kansas and did not appear in the preseason poll. That makes Patterson’s record 29-2 in seasons his team was coming off a losing record.
At Big 12 Media Day, Patterson offered an interesting explanation for the blame for the disappointing 2016 season.
“I felt like I hurt my team a little bit. I got my knee replaced, maybe didn't give them as much energy,” Patterson said. “Again you have to blame yourself before you blame anybody else.”
That statement rang true with many who have had knee replacements, followed by grueling rehabilitation and lingering discomfort.
A bigger factor: The Horned Frogs have 21 scholarship seniors on the roster and had just seven a year ago. (Kansas, by the way, has six scholarship seniors in uniform now, not counting injured Bobby Hartzog and apparently suspended Derrick Neal, and could have as many as 21 scholarship seniors next season, 22 if Isi Holani is granted a medical redshirt and 23 if Charles Baldwin still is on the roster. Baldwin hasn’t dressed for a game in several weeks.)
Plus, Kenny Hill, protected by a more experienced, better offensive line and more experienced, better receivers, has improved greatly in his second season at TCU. As a junior, Hill completed 61.1 percent of his passes, averaged 7.3 yards per attempt and threw 17 touchdown passes with 13 interceptions. This season: 69.8 percent, 8.0 yards per attempt, 10 touchdowns, three interceptions.
In sports, opinions that start with a snowflake can turn into an avalanche because so many hear a viewpoint, run with it as their own and don't ever stop to think whether it's fair.
In the case of Bill Self, who has led Kansas basketball to seven No. 1 NCAA tournament seeds in the past 11 seasons (seeded No. 2 three times in that span, No. 3 the other) and has had at least a share of the Big 12 title for 13 consecutive years and counting, the rap on him is that he's not the same coach in the tournament. Much of that stems from a 2-7 career record in Elite Eight games, including a 2-5 mark at Kansas, which he has taken to the Elite Eight in 50 percent of his seasons.
In an attempt to capture tournament success with a formula, I decided to award one point for every victory, two points for each Final Four appearance and 10 points for a national title to see where Self stacks up among active Div. I basketball coaches.
Based on my research, which does not include the work done by Jim Calhoun at UConn, Billy Donovan at Florida and Rick Pitino at Louisville because they are not active college coaches, Self placed fourth, which pokes holes in the theory that his teams routinely disappoint during March Madness. The Elite Eight remains his Achilles heel and he doesn't hide from that, talks about needing to burst through the door instead of just knocking on it, and each year holds himself up to that standard, but it's not accurate to term a coach who places fourth among active coaches in tourney success a disappoint.
A look at active college basketball coaches' NCAA tournament success since 2003-04, Self's first at Kansas, based on the aforementioned formula:
|1 - Roy Williams
|2 - John Calipari
|3 - Mike Krzyzewski
|4 - Bill Self
|5 - Tom Izzo
|6 - Jay Wright
|7t - Jim Boeheim
|7t - Mark Few
|9 - Ben Howland
|10t - John Bielein
|10t - Sean Miller
|10t - Kevin Ollie
|13 - Bob Huggins
|14t - Dana Altman
|14t - Gregg Marshall
|16t - Rick Barnes
|16t - Jamie Dixon
|16t - Frank Martin
|16t - Bruce Weber
Kansas chancellor Dr. Doug Girod and athletic director Sheahon Zenger addressed the state of Kansas football once this season and that was at a Sept. 22 press conference centering on the campaign to raise $350 million to upgrade the facilities.
Girod, based on the information he had at his disposal at that time, stood behind Zenger and football coach David Beaty. We'll see if he changes his mind on that based on new evidence entering the equation each week, but nothing has changed with at least one statement Girod made that day.
“I think we know that we started this rebuild in a pretty big hole,” Girod said. “I think we would all agree with that comment.”
Can’t dispute that. I don’t know the new chancellor, but those who do know him say he is a knowledgeable sports fan. But did he follow the Charlie Weis era closely enough to understand that Weis’ win-now recruiting philosophy that brought so many four-year and junior-college transfers to Lawrence was at the center of the hole Weis dug?
I bring this up because most coaches in Beaty’s situation, a 3-27 record with the tougher half of the schedule remaining, would not be able to resist the temptation to slip into win-now recruiting mode, making every recruiting decision based on what gives you the best shot to win games next year in order to survive.
That’s where a strong athletic director has to come in and put a limit to the number of transfers the coach can include in his recruiting class. That’s not Zenger’s style. He likes to let his coaches coach. Plus, Zenger, whose football hires, Weis and Beaty, have gone 5-55 vs. FBS competition, also is in survival mode because his longevity is tied directly to Beaty’s because surely Girod would not allow Zenger to make another football hire.
If Zenger doesn’t step out of his comfort zone and do what’s best for the future of Kansas football, the hole grows deeper, uglier.
Some of Weis’ junior-college transfers, such as defensive back Cassius Sendish, worked out well. Too many others came and went before either playing a single down or completing their eligibility: Andrew Bolton, Jocques Crawford, Marquel Combs, Chris Martin, Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Kevin Short, Pearce Slater.
Scholarships that went to graduate transfers who were solid if unspectacular in their one season at Kansas (Corey King, Joshua Williams) or injury-weakened (Mike Ragone, Anthony McDonald) could have gone to high school prospects who would have four or five years to blossom. Weis recruited three quarterback transfers (Dayne Crist, Jake Heaps, T.J. Millweard), and a tight end (Kent Taylor) whose performances didn’t justify wasting a scholarship that could have gone to a high school prospect. Receivers Nigel King and Nick Harwell upgraded the position greatly, but only played one year.
Beaty also has not hit the jackpot on transfers from four-year schools (receivers Quincy Perdue and Joshua Stanford, who combined for three receptions and didn’t stay a whole year). It’s too early to make a call on Alabama transfer wide receiver Daylon Charlot, but halfway into the season, he has one catch and it was for no gain. Right tackle Charles Baldwin, who participated in spring football at Alabama after playing two juco seasons, has not been in uniform for several weeks.
Beaty used 17 scholarships in his first three recruiting classes on junior-college players. Running back Octavius Matthews had star potential, but had to retire because of a heart condition.
The other Beaty juco recruits:
Offensive linemen: D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes.
Defensive linemen: DeeIsaac Davis, Jacky Dezir, Isi Holani, J.J. Holmes, Willie McCaleb, KeyShaun Simmons.
Defensive backs: Antonio Coles, Hasan Defense, Stephan Robinson, Brandon Stewart, Shakial Taylor.
Offensive linemen: D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes.
Quarterback: Peyton Bender.
Running back: Ke’aun Kinner.
Wide receiver: Kerr Johnson.
Kinner and Banks were the best of the bunch.
Kansas fourth-year junior reserve center Jacob Bragg didn’t think much of a quick comment offensive line coach Zach Yenser made at the start of a practice during bye week.
“You ready to run some routes and do some fullback blocking?” Yenser asked without stopping.
“At first I thought he was kidding, but as practice started, he put me back there,” Bragg said.
By "back there" he meant at blocking back. Bragg showed enough in practice that he swapped out his No. 55 for No. 1 and made his fullback debut with a decent amount of playing time in Saturday's 65-19 home loss to Texas Tech.
To Bragg’s recollection, it was his first action in the backfield since he was a running back on short-yardage plays in middle schools.
Technically, fullback falls under the running back umbrella, but Bragg is not likely to ever run the ball or catch it, leaving pouncing on a fumble his only opportunity to touch the ball.
As a center for his high school team in Nacogdoches, Texas, Bragg once swelled to 340 pounds. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 291 pounds on this year’s roster.
No. 1 generally goes to football players who burn their way into open space, not to players whose knuckles swell from working in crowded places.
Guys like Harrison Hill and Isaac Byrd, John Randle and Jake Sharp, Rodriguez Coleman and LaQuvionte Gonzalez looked appropriate wearing No. 1. Bragg looks big.
That’s fine with Bragg.
“I’m so happy right now just being able to get back on the field, contribute to our team and make a difference,” Bragg said. “I cherish every play I get to be out there. It’s a dream come just to get back out there and try something new that probably no other lineman in the Power Five gets to do.”
It’s doubtful his dreams ever drifted to the backfield, but now that he’s there, he does imagine running the ball and catching passes, plays for which he is eligible. Not all dreams come true.
Bragg’s move to the backfield made bye-week practices more interesting for his fellow offensive linemen.
“They were charging me up all week: ‘You’ve got to knock somebody out.’ They’re all supporting me right now,” Bragg said. “They’re all wishing they were in my shoes right now, getting a full head of steam going.”
Bragg’s days at center and guard aren’t necessarily over.
“Himer (equipment manager Jeff Himes) was telling me they have my pads and 55 all ready and loaded on the sidelines, so if anything happened I can take my jersey off and get put together on the sidelines and be good to go,” Bragg said.
His extra-large defensive back pads are much smaller than the ones he has worn the rest of his career. He's fine with that. Dogged by injuries early in his career and with others ahead of him on the O-line depth chart this season, Bragg doesn't care what number or which pads he wears. He just wants to play football.
There is a website for everything. For example, fortunecookiemessage.com exists. I recommend it for those stressed out by the inability of Kansas to field a competitive football program.
Read the fortune-cookie messages and then add “except with Kansas football,” at the end.
Here goes: “A friend asks you only for your time, not your money, except with Kansas football.”
And: “Your high-minded principles spell success, except with Kansas football.”
Or: “A dream you have will come true, except with Kansas football.”
Plus: “A new voyage will fill your life with untold memories, except with Kansas football.”
And then there is this cruel fortune: “A short stranger will soon enter your life with blessings to share, except with Kansas football.” Oh, he did all right, for four years and then he went back to Austin and took all that good karma with him.
“It’s better to be alone sometimes, except with Kansas football.” Tell that to the guy sitting alone at the top of the stadium.
And: “You will conquer obstacles to achieve success, except with Kansas football.”
This one fits too: “Happiness is an activity, except with Kansas football.”
Plus: “The only certainty is that nothing is certain, except with Kansas football.”
Another: “Failure is the mother of all success, except with Kansas football.”
True: “A new wardrobe brings great joy and change to your life, except with Kansas football.”
Perfect: “You will make many changes before settling down happily, except with Kansas football.”
Pluperfect: “A lifetime of happiness is in store for you, except with Kansas football.” Try it at the end of your next meal at a Chinese restaurant.
Jack Trice Stadium, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, expanded from 46,721 to 55,000 in 2007 and in 2015 expanded to 61,500. The Cyclones sold out their first two games of the season, so the expansion isn't going to waste.
Memorial Stadium's listed capacity is 50,071. Since KU hasn't drawn a crowd that big since 2009, we won't hold the Cyclones' capacity advantage against them in comparing crowd sizes for this decade between the schools.
Both schools have had 49 home games so far this decade.
Iowa State has drawn 2,605,352 spectators, an average of 53,170. Kansas has drawn 1,736,83, an average of 35,446.
A year-by-year look at attendance for the two Big 12 schools this decade:
I learned in my years of covering baseball that umpires often had keen insights into players and managers. They saw them perform up close, under pressure, night after night. Many umpires, in off-the-record conversations, would share opinions on what impressed them about players and managers.
Based on his ability to hire successful football coaches at Kansas, not an easy thing to do, Ernest Cosmos Quigley must have been one of those umps who knew what made successful men tick. Born in Canada in 1880 and reared in Concordia, Quigley played basketball for James Naismith at Kansas. Quigley was a college basketball referee and Major League Baseball umpire for decades. He also served as AD at KU, where he hired George Sauer and J.V. Sikes, two winning football coaches.
Quigley might not have been as good at keeping a coach happy as he was at identifying the right one to hire. After going 15-3-3 in two seasons at KU, Sauer bolted for Navy, where he went 3-13-2 in two seasons. From there, he went to Baylor and posted a 78-55-9 record.
Of the 14 men to hire a KU football coach or coaches, Quigley ranks first with a .636 winning percentage compiled by his hires. Current AD Sheahon Zenger ranks last with a .154 winning percentage. The good news for Zenger is that if the Jayhawks can finish the season strong enough to become bowl eligible, he could tie or even pass Lew Perkins to move into 13th place. If KU goes 5-2 the rest of the way, Perkins and Zenger will be tied with a .208 winning percentage. If KU goes 6-1 or 7-0, Zenger drops Perkins into last place, but a 4-3 mark the rest of the way would still leave Zenger behind Perkins.
By cross-referencing the list of athletic directors and football coaches, here is what I came up with for the combined records of each AD's football hires at Kansas.
||1944-49||George Sauer, J.V. Sikes
||1911-19||Ralph W. Sherman, Arthur Moose, H.M. Wheaton, Herman Alcott, Jay Bond
||Tom Hays*, Mark Mangino
||1919-37||Leon McCarty, Phog Allen, Potsy Clark, Franklin Cappon, Bill Hargiss, AD Lindsey
||1964-72||Pepper Rodgers, Don Fambrough (first term)
||1950-63||Chuck Mather, Jack Mitchell
||1987-2001||Glen Mason, Terry Allen
||Don Fambrough (second term)
||1982-87||Mike Gottfried, Bob Valesente
||2011-present||Charlie Weis, Clint Bowen*, David Beaty
Saturday's 65-19 home loss to Texas Tech marked the 18th time, a 45-0 loss at Iowa State the 19th time this decade in the 82nd game vs. an FBS opponent that the Kansas football team has lost by a margin of at least 40 points, which translates to 23 percent of the games.
The Iowa State humiliation was third-year head coach David Beaty's eighth such loss in his 27th game vs. an FBS foe, which calculates to 30 percent. It happened under Gill six times in 22 games (27 percent) and under Weis four times in 25 games (16 percent), under Bowen once in eight games (13 percent).
Some might argue that a loss is a loss, but the hope was that this season more games would be contested closely and right-off-the-bat blowouts would not happen. KU still has six games left to grow more competitive.
A look at the 19 losses by margins of 40 points or greater this decade:
|11/19/11||at Texas A&M
|12/01/12||at West Virginia
|10/24/15||at Oklahoma St.
|10/14/17||Iowa State||45-0||45||David Beaty
|09/17/11||at Georgia Tech
|10/08/11||at Oklahoma St.
|10/06/12||at Kansas State
When Kansas sophomore running back Khalil Herbert takes the field Saturday for the 11 a.m. kickoff vs. Texas Tech, he will have had two weeks to rest from the hits he took during a 36-carry, 291-yard, two-touchdown day against West Virginia in Memorial Stadium.
Even though Herbert carried the ball just once the first week of the season and twice the week after that, he remarkably ranks second in the Big 12 with 109.5 rushing yards per game. Herbert rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the loss at Ohio, a great day and not even half as productive as his monster game of two weeks ago.
“His problem early in the year was he was kind of down there on the depth chart and he just didn’t practice very well," offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said. "He just seemed timid and unsure. He just didn’t give you a lot of confidence to put him in there, based on what you saw in practice. We're making decisions based on practice. I hadn’t seen him in a game, but I had seen him in practice a lot and he just didn’t look very good. But there are those guys who are gamer-type guys. Apparently, he’s a gamer. But he has practiced a lot better, I think because he has more confidence now.”
Herbert has the look of a back who could lead the conference in rushing and earn first-team All-Big 12 honors.
A look at how Herbert stacks up against the rest of the Big 12's top rushers:
|1 - Justin Crawford (WVU)
|2 - Khalil Herbert (KU)
|3 - Darius Anderson (TCU)
|4 - Justice Hill (OSU)
|5 - David Montgomery (ISU)
|6 - Jesse Ertz (KSU)
|7 - Abdul Adams (OU)
|8 - Trey Sermon (OU)
|9 - Kennedy McKoy (WVU)
|10 - John Lovett (BU)
The Texas Tech-Kansas 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday at Memorial Stadium will be ignored by most of the college football world. Five years ago, KU head coach David Beaty and Tech's Kliff Kingsbury were on the same sideline in the most memorable college football game of this decade.
ESPN.com, in a story under the headline "When Johnny Football Mania took over the world," spoke to both Beaty and Kingsbury for their memories of the Nov. 10, 2012 game in which Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M to a victory against mighty Alabama. Kingsbury was offensive coordinator for A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Beaty was receivers coach.
"Johnny was the kind that if he felt he could just go into the game and do his deal, there wasn't a lot of extra put into it, if you can imagine that," Kingsbury told ESPN.com. "But that was [a week] where he was spending some more time watching film. I think he understood the magnitude."
Said Beaty: "One of the biggest memories for me was just how electric that place was. It was unreal. That's why you want to play college football, right there."
Kingsbury addressed what the game did for Johnny Mania: "(Manziel) was already going pretty good down in College Station, prior to that. ... (The Alabama win) took it to a whole other level. We show up and there's I don't know how many thousands of people waiting -- and here comes the rock star. They had to have police security literally walk him through these masses of people to get him to his car."
The world won't be watching Saturday's game, but that doesn't mean it won't be extremely entertaining, which it has a chance to be for football fans who like high-scoring games.