The Big 12 has a remarkable 80 percent of its members heading to a bowl game. Baylor (1-11 overall, 1-8 in Big 12 play) and Kansas (1-11, 0-9) are the lone exceptions.
A disappointing season extended KU's bowl drought to nine years. No other school from a power-five conference has a drought of longer than four years and Oregon State and Syracuse are the lone schools to go that long without the extra game and practices that go with it.
KU's attendance dropped for the ninth consecutive year, to 25,165, despite Kansas State and Oklahoma drawing a large number of fans to Memorial Stadium.
At what point does the school's conference affiliation become jeopardized by the football program's inability to compete?
“That’s not something that’s ever been (a concern)," KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger told me in an interview in his office last week. "We’re a strong institution in many, many, many ways, and strong in this athletic department. Granted, we don’t have the wins in football right now, but all else is going well.”
Kansas last participated in the postseason on New Year's Eve 2008, when the Jayhawks defeated Minnesota, 42-21, in the Insight Bowl in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. That improved Mark Mangino's bowl record to 3-1. His 2006 team also was bowl eligible but was not invited to a game.
A look at the bottom 20 power-five schools in terms participation in bowl games during the length of KU's drought:
|School||Bowls since 2009 season
|1 - Kansas||None||Nine years
|2 - Colorado
|3 (tie) - Virginia
|3 (tie) - Indiana
|5 (tie) - Purdue
||2011, 2012, 2017
|5 (tie) - Wake Forest
||2011, 2016, 2017
|5 (tie) - Cal
||2009, 2011, 2015
|5 (tie) - Illinois
||2010, 2011, 2014
|5 (tie) - Oregon State
||2009, 2012, 2013
|5 (tie) - Syracuse
||2010, 2012, 2013
|11 (tie) - Iowa State
||2009, 2011, 2012, 2017
|11 (tie) - Kentucky
||2009, 2010, 2016, 2017
|11 (tie) - Maryland
||2010, 2013, 2014, 2016
|11 (tie) - Vanderbilt
||2011, 2012, 2013, 2016
|11 (tie) - Washington State
||2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
|16 (tie) - Duke
||2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
|16 (tie) - Texas Tech
||2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017
|16 (tie) - Ole Miss
||2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
|16 (tie) - Rutgers
||2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
|16 (tie) - Tennessee
||2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016
Obviously, no two situations are alike when coaching changes are made in college football. Some coaches inherit worst situations than others. David Beaty inherited a tough challenge in large part because predecessor Charlie Weis recruited too many transfers and left the cupboard bare, particularly at offensive line.
Still, I thought it would be interesting to see how other schools that made coaching changes after the 2014 season have fared.
All computer rankings have flaws, but I've always considered the Sagarin predictor to be the best in both college football and basketball.
|*Coach no longer at that school.
The magic for the Kansas volleyball program started when the Jayhawks made a thrilling run into the 2015 Final Four and continued through winning the 2016 Big 12 title, a pair of program firsts.
Kansas has a number of quality victories since then, but the magic is on hiatus.
Creighton bounced KU from the 2016 NCAA tournament in a second-round, five-set match in Horejsi that went to extra points. Kansas (22-7 overall, 11-5 in conference) finished this season’s Big 12 schedule tied with Iowa State for third, five games behind Texas and two games behind second-place Baylor.
One thing hasn’t changed from the 2015 Final Four team that advanced to Omaha with an extraordinary comeback from a 13-9 deficit in the fifth set of its match against No. 1 overall seed USC: All-Americans Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne and fellow senior Madison Rigdon, an all-conference player, remain the key trio for the Jayhawks.
Can they rekindle the magic?
KU made the tournament field for the sixth consecutive season. In the previous five, the Jayhawks played the first two rounds at home. This time, they travel to Wichita State and have a first-round match at 6 p.m. Friday against Missouri. Wichita State faces Radford at 8 p.m. and the winners of those two matches meet at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“Last year, I just thought we were maybe a little emotionally gutted because we want to win the Big 12 so bad,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “We played a lot of five-set matches at the end of the year, so we really backed off our training. I think it being the first time having gone through that process we could have handled that a bit better.”
The inevitable exhale after claiming the first conference title in school history put the Jayhawks at risk of not regaining their edge. It was a different feel from 2015.
“Two years ago we were on a pretty good run (heading into the tournament),” Bechard said. “We were disappointed we didn’t win the Big 12 and we had a lot to prove in the tournament. I think that would resemble this year, the fact that the regular season didn’t work out in some ways like we had hoped.”
Kansas went 30-3 overall and 15-1 in the Big 12 in 2015.
“I’m not sure people remember we didn’t win the Big 12 in 2015,” Bechard said. “They remember the great run that we went on.”
Texas won the Big 12 in 2015. In the Final Four, Nebraska defeated Kansas in four sets and then swept Texas in the national-title match.
Kansas was ranked No. 19 in the AVCA poll released Monday; Wichita State (28-3) No. 20. Missouri (20-11) and Radford (25-4) are not ranked.
The home-court advantage gives Wichita State the favorite role.
KU's refusal to play Wichita State doesn't sit well with Shockers fans, which could lead some in the crowd for Friday's Missouri-Kansas match to root against the Jayhawks.
“I would like to think they’d root for somebody from Kansas, but that’s up to them," Bechard said. "They’re good volleyball fans. We have a good relationship with Wichita State in volleyball, respect what they’ve done. We’ve met, butted heads a couple of times the last few years in the NCAA tournament. We’ve had mixed results, won one of those and lost one. Coach (Chris) Lamb has done a great job and I’m sure the city of Wichita is very excited about the opportunity to host.”
It might not take magic to survive two matches in Wichita to advance, but it will take better volleyball than Kansas played in its final regular-season match, a five-set loss to West Virginia in Horejsi.
You hang around a sports department office long enough and you’re bound to hear some interesting numbers and not all of them have dollar signs in front of them.
Some of the more compelling statistics produced by the Kansas football team during a 1-11 2017 campaign:
Scott Chasen pointed out on the KU Sports Hour that Khalil Herbert rushed for five more yards (291) against West Virginia than any teammate gained for the entire season. Taylor Martin rushed for 286 yards.
Bobby Nightengale noted that Kansas finished 130th (last) with an opponent punt-return average of 18.3 yards.
True freshman Earl Bostick, who started the season at offensive tackle and converted to tight end, had as many catches as Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot, who started the season at receiver and converted to safety.
Charlot caught one pass for no gain. This was one example of hype for which coaches can’t be blamed. The coaches consistently threw water on the media’s excitement, but we didn’t listen.
Bostick made his first and only catch a memorable one. Bostick’s 8-yard touchdown reception from Carter Stanley cut Texas’ lead to two touchdowns early in the second quarter.
Four schools surrendered more than the 296.8 passing yards per game allowed by KU and one school might come as a surprise: 130 - UConn (333.9); 129 - Kansas State (310.3); 128 - Louisiana-Monroe (308.5), Texas State (297.3).
Stanley had a hand in K-State’s ranking by throwing for 418 yards against the Wildcats.
Another indictment of the KU secondary: Tied for 123rd with four interceptions. KU ranks 128th with a -1.42 turnover margin and 126th with a 28.86-percent success rate on third down. Opponents were successful on 40.11 percent of their third-down plays.
KU averaged 3.1 yards per rush and 5.91 yards per pass attempt. Opponents averaged 4.2 yards per rush and 9.32 yards per pass.
The longest stretch of offensive ineptitude didn’t come in a 38-9 loss to Baylor, which lost its other 11 games, rather in a nine-and-a-half quarter streak that started midway through the third quarter of the 65-19 loss to Texas Tech and dragged on in back-to-back shutouts against Iowa State and TCU. The Jayhawks were outscored 118-0. They gained 129 yards in nine quarters.
On the positive side, Kansas ranked 15th in the nation with 7.42 tackles for loss per game.
Gabriel Rui was responsible for the team’s biggest area of improvement. He made 17 of 20 field goals and nailed a career-high 50-yard kick, one of 10 field goals of 40 or more yards.
Kansas ranks 17th in the nation with a 43-percent accuracy rate on 3-point shots.
The hot shooting in part can be attributed to tremendous ball movement, rare for November basketball.
When asked to assess his team thus far, 15th year Kansas coach Bill Self pointed to that strength first.
“I can tell you I’m pleased the majority of the time with how the ball moves,” Self said. “I’m pleased that for the most part, other than Kentucky, we’ve gotten the ball to the open man and we’ve also played through (center Udoka Azubuike) more, so I think that’s a positive offensively. But when you play that small you need to shoot the ball well and for the most part other than one game we’ve done that.”
KU’s top 3-point-percentage shooters so far: Mitch Lightfoot .667 (4 of 6), Lagerald Vick .542 (13 of 24), Svi Mykhailiuk .515 (17 of 33), Malik Newman .468 (22 of 47).
Devonte’ Graham hasn’t found his touch yet and is shooting .286 (8 of 28) from long distance.
“Defensively we’ve just been average at best and we don’t rebound like we’re capable of,” Self said. “The key to us rebounding well is going to be Lagerald and Udoka. They’ve got to do better than what they’ve been doing.”
Vick and Garrett share the team rebounding lead with 7.2 per game and Azubuike is third with 7.0 rebounds per game.
Vick and Garrett share the team lead in defensive rebounds (27) and Azubuike has the most offensive rebounds (15).
Charlotte upgraded its football program from FCS to FBS at the start of the 2015 football season. As expected, it hasn't been an easy baptism for the 49ers, who went 1-11 this season for a three-year record of 7-29.
Even so, that doesn't place Charlotte last among the 128 schools that have been in the FBS division since 2015. That dubious honor belongs to Kansas (3-33).
A look at the 25 FBS schools with the worst records in the past three seasons:
|1 - Kansas||3-33, .083||1-11|
|2 - Charlotte||7-29, .194||1-11|
|3 - Kent St.||8-28, .222||2-10|
|4 (tie) - Ball St.||9-27, .250||2-10|
|4 (tie) - Rice||9-27, .250||1-11|
|4 (tie) - UTEP||9-27, .250||0-12|
|7 - UMass||9-26, .257||4-7|
|8 (tie) - Illinois||10-26, .278||2-10|
|8 (tie) - UL Monroe||10-26, .278||4-7|
|8 (tie) - Rutgers||10-26, .278||4-8|
|11 (tie) - E. Carolina||11-25, .306||3-9|
|11 (tie) - Purdue||11-25, .306||6-6|
|13 - New Mex. St.||11-24, .314||5-6|
|14 - San Jose St.||12-26, .316||2-11|
|15 - UConn||12-25, .324||3-9|
|16 (tie) - Hawaii||13-26, .333||3-9|
|16 (tie) - Syracuse||13-26, .333||4-8|
|16 (tie) - Tulane||12-24, .333||5-7|
|16 (tie) - UNLV||12-24, .333||5-7|
|16 (tie) - Virginia||12-24, .333||6-6|
|21 (tie) - E. Mich.||13-24, .351||5-7|
|21 (tie) - Maryland||13-24, .351||4-8|
|23 (tie) - Buffalo||13-23, .361||6-6|
|23 (tie) - Iowa State||13-23, .361||7-5|
|25 - Miami (Ohio)||14-23, .378||5-7|
Kansas rushed for 12 more yards in the first two games of the Big 12 schedule, vs. West Virginia and Texas Tech, than in the next six.
KU totaled just 467 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging 2.1 yards per carry, in games vs. Iowa State, TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma.
The Jayhawks (1-10, 0-8) opened Big 12 play with a 367-yard rushing game against West Virginia, Khalil Herbert leading the way with 291 yards. The next week, the Jayhawks rushed for 112 yards vs. Texas Tech.
Since that game, KU has averaged just 77.8 yards rushing per game.
Back when Herbert had his huge day against West Virginia, he was healthy and so was the entire starting offensive line.
Herbert’s 10-carry, 65-yard effort vs. Texas Tech wrapped up a three-game stretch in which he rushed for 493 yards and four touchdowns and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.
In five games (he didn’t play against Iowa state) since, Herbert has rushed for 155 yards, a 3.1 average, and hasn’t scored a touchdown.
“Khalil’s just been kind of beat up,” KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said last week. “He had a couple of really good games, then he just hasn’t been the same physically. He’s had shoulder. He’s had hamstring. He’s had stuff.”
The same is true of Herbert's blockers.
KU hasn’t had its starting offensive line in tact since the Texas Tech game. That’s the last time that, from left to right, Hakeem Adeniji, Andru Tovi, Mesa Ribordy, Chris Hughes and Zach Hannon, formed the starting lineup.
Ribordy missed the Iowa State and TCU games. Hannon didn't play vs. Kansas State and Baylor. Chris Hughes was sidelined for much of the Texas game and all of the Oklahoma mismatch, replaced by Larry Hughes. Similarly, Tovi missed part of the Texas game and didn’t play at all vs. Oklahoma.
Adeniji is the only first-string offensive lineman who has not missed a game because of injury.
How much is Herbert’s performance dictated by the performance of the offensive line?
“That has a lot to do with it,” Meacham said. “And then in that West Virginia game we did some things a little different than we had shown and that kind of hurt them.”
Kansas has a good back in Herbert when he’s healthy and running behind a healthy line, so if those two factors twin up far more often in 2018, he could have a big junior season.
It takes a lot to please 15th-year Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, but even he sounded impressed at the ease with which the Jayhawks handled Texas Southern, 114-71, Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
“They’ve got four legitimate guys, 1, 3, 4 and 5, those guys can all play,” Self said of the Tigers. “We just played so efficiently offensively. They had a chance to beat Ohio State. They had Syracuse down int he second half. They had Washington State down 23 in the second half. Really, Gonzaga’s the only one that’s handled them with ease, so certainly I was pleased with the outcome. I thought we played pretty well.”
Even so, Self remains on constant guard against bad habits developing in games against less talented teams than Kansas will face in the Big 12.
“I think our defensive rebounding’s a bad habit," Self said. "We haven’t rebounded very well in my opinion since the first half of Kentucky, (in) which we were great, but second half we didn’t rebound defensively and certainly we didn’t against South Dakota State like we should have and didn’t (vs. Texas Southern).”
He also pointed to defensive flaws.
"I think bad habits would be big guys going for blocked shots on guards outside their area," Self said. "Then all you have to do is throw the ball at the rim and catch it and dunk it. It’s not that complicated. We want people to do that to us. That’s something that Dok (Udoka Azubuike) and Mitch (Lightfoot) have to get better at. I also think that we play to the score too much defensively. I don’t think there was the same energy level midway through the second half as there was to start the game in most cases. Competition hopefully will keep that from happening as much.”
Far too often, athletic directors seeking head football coaches put “hot name” on the list of qualifications.
They do so because they place winning the press conference above building a winning football program on their list of priorities.
So if the hot name of the moment is the coordinator from a national powerhouse program, they like that. If Art Briles before his fall from grace happens to be the coach drawing the most praise at the moment and he used to be a high school football coach in Texas, then having high school football coach in Texas on your resume heats up your name.
Typically, “hot name” takes precedence over the three-word combination that should trump all else: good football coach.
Every time I write about good football coaches who wanted the Kansas job when the last three vacancies surfaced, I remember another, or someone reminds me of another.
Consider the blind resume of, we’ll call him John Doe before revealing his name later in the blog.
In his first assignment as a head coach, at the FCS level, his team’s went 4-7, 5-6, 11-1, 11-2. He stayed for one year at his next job, an FBS school, and then earned a promotion to an SEC program.
Coach Doe inherited an SEC program that made it to two bowl games in the previous eight seasons. He took that same school to bowl games in each of his first six seasons. His team played in three New Years’ Day bowls in a five-year period.
He coached two different schools to victories over LSU in Baton Rouge, once when LSU was ranked No. 1, the next time when the Tigers were No. 8. He moved to another SEC program, had two good seasons, two bad ones and was fired.
Houston Nutt, who played quarterback for Lou Holtz at Arkansas and was head coach for Murray State, Boise State, Arkansas and Ole Miss, wanted the Kansas job when it went to Charlie Weis and again when it went to David Beaty.
He’s working as a broadcaster now and turned 60 last month and last coached in 2011.
Nutt most recently made national news when he gained a settlement in his favor in court. He wasn’t suing Ole Miss for money. He was suing for an apology to restore his good reputation. Nutt alleged a smear campaign designed to pin the Rebels’ NCAA violations on him instead of successor Hugh Freeze.
Nutt won, receiving the following apology last month: “Certain statements made by university employees in January, 2016, appear to have contributed to misleading reports about Coach Nutt. To the extent any such statements harmed Coach Nutt’s reputation, the university apologizes, as this was not the intent.”
Good football coach.
Why do I continue to write about coaches who wanted the KU job in the past? Because I don’t believe the contention of many that the Kansas job is not an appealing one. Don’t buy that for a second. It's a very difficult one, but many good football coaches, Nutt included, would embrace the challenge.
Baker Mayfield will not start and for a game not serve as team captain in Oklahoma’s regular-season finale vs. West Virginia on Saturday, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley announced at his Monday press conference.
The punishment stems from him twice grabbing his crotch and sending F-bombs across the field at the Kansas sideline.
Kyler Murray, who in a 41-3 victory over Kansas averaged 11 yards on three rushes and completed 3 of 5 passes for 55 yards, will start in place of Mayfield.
“This program has very high standards and when they’re met, there are going to be consequences,” Riley said.
When talking about the qualities he finds special in Mayfield and how proud he is to coach him, Riley grew teary-eyed and needed to take a 30-second break from talking to compose himself.
Kansas coach David Beaty holds his weekly presser on Tuesdays. It will be interesting to see how he answers questions about whether his three captains will be disciplined in any way for not shaking Mayfield’s extended right hand during the pre-game coin toss.
Beaty did not appear overly concerned about the snub after the game, but during Monday’s Big 12 conference call the third-year coach (3-32 overall, 1-31 vs FBS schools) apologized on behalf of his team and shared that he believes Dorance Armstrong, Joe Dineen and Daniel Wise “care deeply” about representing KU and the football program in a “classy” manner and that they’re “great men” who made a mistake.