Provided that the mental gains achieved through repetition and physical gains acquired via natural growth and weight-room work outpace the wear and tear on the body that comes with increased exposure to hits and injuries, it’s generally safe to assume that experience makes a football player better.
In that regard, Kansas should be able to field a more competitive football team than it did a year ago, when they Jayhawks went 1-11 and were outscored by opponents by an average score of 43.4-18.7. In conference play, the disparity (46.4-14.3) was even worse.
The obvious question: Why is it a good thing that so many players return from a squad that was so overmatched, week in and week out?
Fair question, but the fact is it’s better than if the Jayhawks had to replace most of the roster. If nothing else, it gives Kansas experienced depth. Several recruits from junior college will compete for starting spots, so having so many players back gives the coaching staff options.
Since 11 players start on offense and 11 on defense every game and there were 12 games, that’s 264 starts for the season. Players on this coming season’s roster accounted for 210 starts and 54 were made by players who won’t participate this coming season. So, 80 percent of the starts are back.
A look at the players who made starts last season who are not back:
The Florida Marlins chose hard-throwing Kansas closer Zack Leban in the 12th round with the 357th overall pick of the Major League Baseball draft, the Oakland A's selected Jayhawks right fielder Devin Foyle in the 17th round with the 503rd overall pick, and the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Brendt Citta as a catcher in the 38th round.
Leban, whose 95 mph fastball was the chief reason he was tracked closely by scouts, walked 12 and struck out 36 in 39 innings and had 12 saves his junior season. He was declared academically ineligible to compete in the Big 12 tournament.
Foyle hit .330 with 17 doubles and 10 home runs in 206 at-bats as a junior for Kansas. Playing in the outfield in his lone season at Kansas, Citta hit .316.
Right-hander Jackson Goddard was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round Tuesday, becoming KU’s highest draft pick since 2003.
The Arizona Diamondbacks chose Kansas junior right-hander Jackson Goddard with the 99th overall selection in the Major League Baseball draft Tuesday.
A native of Tulsa, Goddard missed six weeks this past season with a strained abdominal muscle, but finished the season strong enough to be selected late in the third round. The 99th pick has a salary slot of $565,100.
Goddard, 21, became KU's highest pick since Tom Gorzelanny was chosen in the second round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003.
Goddard wasn't the first player with KU ties chosen in the draft. Texas high school shortstop Jordan Groshans, brother of Goddard's catcher this season, Jaxx Groshans, was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 12th selection of the first round Monday night. He had committed to play at Kansas. That pick comes with a salary slot of $4.2 million, downgrading the chances of him ever playing for Kansas from slim to none.
Unless he lasts longer than most expect, University of Kansas right-hander Jackson Goddard will become the highest draft pick since 2003 Pittsburgh Pirates second-round draft choice Tom Gorzelanny, a left-handed pitcher.
"Is that right?" Goddard said by phone from his family's home in Tulsa. "I didn't even know that."
Gorzelanny, 35, is pitching for the New York Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, has a 50-53 career big-league record and has pitched in the big leagues for parts of 12 seasons for six different clubs (Pirates, Cubs, Nationals, Brewers, Tigers, Indians).
Up to this point, lefty Wes Benjamin is KU's highest draft pick since Gorzelanny. Benjamin, selected in the fifth round by the Texas Rangers in 2014, is in Double A. He's 3-4 with a 3.91 ERA and has 18 walks and 53 strikeouts in 53 innings.
Since Gorzelanny who pitched for KU in 2002 and transferred to a junior college for his final semester in 2003 for academic reasons, KU has had six players chosen in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft:
|Player||Years at KU||Pos||Birthplace||Drafted by (round)|
|Don Czyz||2003-06||RHP||Overland Park||Marlins (7th)|
|Sean Land||2004-06||LHP||Kansas City, Mo.||Twins (9th)|
|Tony Thompson||2008-10||3B||Reno, Nev.||A's (6th)|
|Wes Benjamin||2012-14||LHP||Winfield, Ill.||Rangers (5th)|
|Michael Tinsley||2014-16||C||Palo Alto, Calif.||Indians (7th)|
|Blake Weiman||2015-17||LHP||Wheat Ridge, Col.||Pirates (8th)|
The seven Jayhawks who have made their major-league debuts this century:
|Player||Yrs at KU||Pos||Birthplace||Yrs in MLB||Drafted by (round)|
||LHP||Muskogee, Okla.||2003, 2006-08||Cardinals (13th)|
|John Nelson||1998-2001||1B||Denton, Texas||2006||Cardinals (8th)|
|Tom Gorzelanny||2002||LHP||Evergreen Park, Ill.||2005-16||Pirates (2nd)|
|Mike Zagurski||2004-05||LHP||Omaha, Neb.||2007, 2010-13||Phillies (12th)|
|Sam Freeman||2008||LHP||Houston||2012-present||Cardinals (32nd)|
|Colton Murray||2009-11||RHP||Overland Park||20015-16||Phillies (13th)|
|Brett Bochy||2008-10||RHP||Poway||2014-15||Giants (20th)|
In most sports, a college coach receives a commitment from a high school prospect, tracks his or her progress, and is delighted to see he just keeps getting better and better and better. College baseball is not most sports in the area of recruiting, which brings us to the case of phenom shortstop Jordan Groshans from Magnolia, Texas.
Groshans made a verbal commitment to attend Kansas to join his brother Jaxx, KU’s starting catcher.
The younger Groshans stands 6-foot-4, weighs 190 pounds and is known for his power bat and power arm. As a pitcher, his fastball reportedly has been clocked at 91 mph. Various websites that project the baseball draft have him going anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the third round. The draft takes place Monday through Wednesday.
So in all likelihood, in order to attend KU, Jordan Groshans would have to walk away from a seven-figure signing bonus. That would be quite a gamble, although since he projects as a shortstop, not as great a risk as if he were a pitcher because the chances of injury aren’t as great for a shortstop as a pitcher.
Perfectgame.org lists five other commitments for Kansas: Outfielder Casey Burnham (Grand Island, Neb.), catcher Jackson Cobb (Topeka Seaman High), left-handed pitcher Hunter Freese (Edmond, OK), right-handed pitcher Marc Mendel (New York, NY) and right-handed pitcher Stone Parker (Kailua, Hawai).
Is the University of Kansas willing to pay its athletic director $1 million a year?
If so, then it’s worth starting at the top to see if the superstars of the AD field might be interested in taking on the challenge of turning KU into more than a basketball school. If not, don’t bother because that’s how much money it would take simply to engage one of the heavyweights in the field in a serious conversation.
It might take more than that to land the big fish, but a million would be a nice starting point.
For the purposes of illustrating what it might take to pique the interest of an A-list AD, let’s look at the contract details of Clemson’s Dan Radakovich, published in the Post and Courier on Nov. 22, 2016.
That’s when Radakovich signed a six-year, $4.854 million contract extension through 2021-22.
He also will receive retention bonuses of $200,000 if still on the job Aug. 15, 2019, and $225,000 on Aug. 15, 2021.
Plus, he receives a $30,000 bonus if the school participates in the College Football Playoff and $20,00 if it earns a spot in the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament.
His salary increases $25,000 per year, which would place the figure at $796,500 for this coming school year and $871,500 in the final year of the deal, plus incentives.
If Radakovich, 59, leaves Clemson for another school, the buyout is a mere $125,000. Considering he would be walking way from those retention bonuses amounting to $400,000, and incentives, that means in order for Radakovich to break even financially, his deal elsewhere would have be about $1 million a year.
Why make a lateral move?
Assuming he would even have an interest in leaving a machine that he has up and running so smoothly for a steep challenge, it would probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2-to-$1.5 million a year to lure him from Clemson, S.C. to Lawrence.
Since Clemson likely would make a counter offer to keep him, the figure probably moves closer to $1.5 million.
So the question then becomes is Kansas willing to pay $1.5 million for its next AD?
What, other than a pay raise, might interest Radakovich in leaving the second-hottest football juggernaut (behind only Alabama) in the country for the worst power-five program?
He had success heading renovation projects for basketball arenas and football stadiums.Maybe he enjoys doing that? No, that can’t be it. Who enjoys asking for money?
Radakovich, who took the Clemson job in 2012, hasn’t hired a football coach since 2008, when he wooed Paul Johnson from Navy to Georgia Tech.
Maybe he thinks he works with the next great college football head coach and wants to see what he can do because he knows he’ll never get a chance to do so at Clemson, where Dabo Swinney, 48, might still be coaching in 20 years.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables makes $1.8 million a year, is a native of Salina and played for and graduated from Kansas State.
Venables, 47, worked at his alma mater under Bill Snyder for six years and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops for eight years. He left his DC position at OU when Mike Stoops returned to join his brother’s staff in 2012.
Venables inherited a defense that ranked 81st in the nation in points allowed. The rank of his six Clemson defenses, starting in 2012: 46, 24, 3, 24, 10, 2.
KU’s next AD won’t necessarily have an obvious connection to KU’s football coach in 2019, in the event David Beaty does not turn around the program this coming season and a change is made.
Still, as soon as the AD is hired, the guessing game as to the next football coach will come into clearer focus.
Someone of Venables’ ilk would demand somewhere in the range of $2.5-to-$3 million to leave the secure, exciting job he now fills.
How much KU is willing to spend on an athletic director will be the first indication of how much it will pony up for the next football coach.
These are potentially exciting times for Kansas Athletics. The negative momentum, at least for the moment, has shifted into neutral, which counts as progress.
Even though Kansas hasn’t signed many Texas high school football recruits in the past two seasons, the roster still has a distinct Lone Star flavor to it.
Since offensive tackle Charles Baldwin and defensive end Josh Ehambe still are listed on the roster, even though they won’t play this coming season and no longer practice with the team, we’ll include them in this regional breakdown of the KU roster.
(Only players who originally came to Kansas on scholarship count. For example, linebacker Keith Loneker spent one year as a redshirt before going on scholarship.)
South Carolina: 1.
Stillwater, Okla. — Illustrations of the punitive nature of Karsten Creek, site of the NCAA championship, are easy to find.
First, consider that Northwestern, which led the first day after stroke play with a team score of 8-under 280, didn’t make the first cut, blowing up to 308 in the second round and finishing at 296 in Sunday’s third round.
The Wildcats tied for 16th with Stanford and only the top 15 advanced to today’s final round of stroke play. The top eight advance to match play.
Second, consider that Kansas which did not have anything higher than a double bogey on a card en route to winning the three-round Pacific Regional and had just four doubles, had 12 doubles and seven triples in three rounds at Karsten Creek.
Third, realize that the more Oklahoma State players compete on their home course, the more the point that conservative golf is the smart way to go.
“This course is so demanding you can’t really force anything out here,” said OSU’s Matthew Wolf, who shot 69 Sunday. “As soon as you force things and go after pins, that’s when you start making high numbers and mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make. I think we really had a good game plan sticking with being conservative.”
Karsten Creek has been OSU’s home course since 1994.
“That’s such an advantage we have knowing the course,” Wolf said.“Things might look pretty easy from the fairway, but if you miss it in one direction you’re probably making par or bogey. We stuck to our game plan well, aimed for the middle of the green and took advantage of the par 5s.”
A look at each of KU's players' score breakdowns from the NCAA finals:
|Daniel Sutton, Sr.||1||9||34||7||2||1||219 (+3)|
|Daniel Hudson, Sr.||0||9||34||9||1||1||221 (+5)|
|Harry Hillier, Fr.||1
|Andy Spencer, So.
|Charlie Hillier, Jr.||0||4||31||14||2||3||239 (+23)|
||2||40||156||52||12||8||+30 (Counting top four
scores each day)
A week earlier, at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton, Calif., crooked numbers were far more rare. The five Jayhawks combined for only four doubles and didn't have any doubles en route to the winning the Pacific Regional.
|Andy Spencer||15||32||7||0||208 (-8)|
|Daniel Sutton||15||30||8||1||211 (-5)|
|Charlie Hillier||11||35||7||1||214 (-2)|
|Daniel Hudson||11||33||10||0||215 (-1)|
|Harry Hillier||11||35||6||2||215 (-1)|
The players' combined breakdowns for both the regional and the finals:
|Daniel Sutton||1||24||64||15||3||1||430 (-2)|
|Daniel Hudson||0||20||67||19||1||1||436 (+4)|
|Andy Spencer||0||22||62||21||3||0||437 (+5)|
|Charlie Hillier||0||15||66||21||3||3||453 (+21)|
Rare is the athletic director who is the face of the athletic department. They hire the face of the athletic department and in some cases that hire even evolves into the face of the university.
The job tends to have a high turnover rate either because the AD's hires flop and the AD pays with his job or because the ambitious AD takes a higher-paying, more prestigious job.
Once Kansas hires a new AD — it's a good time to be in the market since the only real deadline is having a one in place before the start of next school year in mid-August — that will mean 40 percent of the conference's athletic directors will be in positions occupied by others as recently as the end of the 2016-17 basketball season. That's assuming no other vacancies come about before KU makes its hires.
A look at Big 12 athletic directors, listed in order of their hiring dates.
|Big 12 school
||Previous position||Date hired|
||Joe Castiglione||Missouri AD||April, 1998|
|Oklahoma State||Mike Holder||OSU golf coach
|Iowa State||Jamie Pollard||Wisconsin Deputy AD||Sep., 2005|
|Texas Tech||Kirby Hocutt||Miami (Fla.) AD
|West Virginia||Shane Lyons||Alabama Deputy AD||Jan., 2015|
|Baylor||Mack Rhoades||Missouri AD||July, 2016|
|Kansas State||Gene Taylor||Iowa Deputy AD||April, 2017|
|Texas||Chris Del Conte
||TCU AD||Dec., 2017|
|TCU||Jeremiah Donati||TCU Deputy AD||Dec., 2017
Oklahoma City — Kansas closer Zack Leban is unavailable for the remainder of the season because he is academically ineligible, according to Jayhawks baseball coach Ritch Price.
Ryan Cyr earned the save in KU’s 3-2 victory vs. Texas in the opener of the Big 12 tournament.
Leban (4-3, 4.62), a junior from Bellevue, Washington, has 12 saves and 36 strikeouts in 39 innings.
The loss of Leban stresses an already thin pitching staff that has two of the conference’s top starting pitchers in Jackson Goddard and Ryan Zeferjahn, but lacks depth beyond that.
Cyr (4-3, 4.37) moves from a setup role to closing and Tyler Davis, a breaking-ball specialist, slides into the setup role.
Kansas faces Baylor 4 p.m. today at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. If Kansas wins, it will have an off day Friday and play Saturday at 9 a.m. against whichever of the three other teams (Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma) from the upper bracket has just one loss. If the Jayhawks lose to Baylor today, they will play Oklahoma, 3:15 p.m.
The Sooners eliminated regular-season champion Texas from the tournament with a 3-1 victory today.