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Tale of the Tait

KU’s Bill Self tapped by peers as one of the coaches they’d want their sons to play for

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his arm around guard Devonte' Graham (4) during the postgame interview with Holly Rowe of ESPN.

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his arm around guard Devonte' Graham (4) during the postgame interview with Holly Rowe of ESPN. by Nick Krug

When CBSsports.com’s Gary Parrish asked his latest Candid Coaches question of the summer, just three college basketball coaches received double-digit votes.

The question, asked of more than 100 college hoops coaches across the country, read: “Which college coach would you want coaching your own son?”

Answering under the condition of anonymity, 10 coaches voted for KU’s Bill Self, who, as you all know, already is coaching his own son, Tyler.

Self was joined by Michigan State’s Tom Izzo (18) and Virginia’s Tony Bennett (16) as the only coaches to crack double digits.

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (9), Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger (7) and Texas’ Shaka Smart (6), were the only other coaches to receive more than five votes.

As if the compliment of having that many of his peers vote to send their son to play for him was not enough of a nod Self’s way, Parrish included a section called, “Quotes that stood out,” and in it was a comment about Self.

"Bill Self doesn't take himself too seriously and understands the entire experience is supposed to be fun,” one coach said.

Talk about high praise. And talk about an absolute gold mine to add to his recruiting repertoire. Here another college coach, quite possibly someone whom Self recruits against, is laying out one heck of a reason why a young man should want to play at Kansas.

Add to that KU’s history and tradition, track record of winning and ability to put players into the NBA, and it’s easy to see why Self and the Jayhawks have been so successful on the recruiting trail in recent years and don’t appear to be slowing down.

Reply 20 comments from Joe Ross Jay Scott Koolkeithfreeze Glen Memhawk Dale Rogers Omari Miller Freddie Garza

Why KU freshman Josh Jackson wears No. 11 and how he got it

Blue Team guard Josh Jackson comes in for a dunk.

Blue Team guard Josh Jackson comes in for a dunk. by Nick Krug

If you’re like most fans, you occasionally find yourself wondering why some of your favorite athletes wear the numbers they wear.

It’s pretty much automatic to assume that a basketball player wearing No. 23 is doing so to honor Michael Jordan, even if that’s not the case. And there are certainly other numbers that trigger immediate thoughts of legendary athletes who wore that number once upon a time. Magic Johnson and No. 32. John Elway and No. 7. George Brett and No. 5. The list goes on and on.

It’s not always the case, of course, but before you can even begin to wonder what the reason is, the names and visions of those former greats often flood your mind.

That brings us to the current Kansas men’s basketball team, which will feature a strong group of returning veterans and one newcomer who comes with as much hype as just about anybody in college basketball.

We learned a few weeks back that freshman Josh Jackson would wear No. 11 and that senior Tyler Self, the former No. 11, would give up the jersey and switch to No. 20.

I haven’t heard yet why Self chose 20 — although someone did point out to me that his dad wore No. 20 at Oklahoma State, so that's as good of a guess as any — but I recently was able to find out why Jackson wanted No. 11.

“My favorite player is Jamal Crawford and Jamal Crawford wears 11,” Jackson recently told the Journal-World.

Jamal Crawford? Not exactly the Isaiah Thomas answer I was expecting to hear.

Although Crawford, now in his 18th NBA season with his seventh different pro team, hails from Seattle and, therefore did not play anywhere near Jackson’s hometown of Detroit, there is a connection. Crawford played his college ball at Michigan and was a lottery pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Although Jackson still would have been too young to truly follow Crawford’s Wolverines career, the 6-foot-5 guard is still talked about in Ann Arbor and it’s safe to assume that Jackson at least grew up hearing about him.

The love for No. 11 goes beyond Crawford’s time at Michigan, though. Jackson said he has long been a fan of Crawford’s pro game, as well.

“Just the way he plays,” he said. “He’s really exciting and, when he’s got the ball, there’s no telling what he’s about to. He’s so unpredictable.”

What was not predictable was the manner in which Jackson went about acquiring No. 11 from Self.

“I had to ask,” Jackson said with a grin.

After asking, though, KU’s latest likely one-and-done standout got no resistance from Self, who gladly offered to change jerseys for his final season on his dad’s squad.

“I do owe him dinner,” Jackson revealed. “But he was all right with it and let me go ahead and get it. He’d known I’ve been wearing this number for the past four years now, so he let me have it.”

Reply 7 comments from Memhawk Humpy Helsel Texashawk10_2 Greg Ledom Dale Rogers

Frank Mason set to fire first pitch at KU Day at The K

A glimpse at the Jayhawk-themed Royals hats that will be given out to the first 4,000 fans entering through Gate A at Sunday's game.

A glimpse at the Jayhawk-themed Royals hats that will be given out to the first 4,000 fans entering through Gate A at Sunday's game. by Matt Tait

KU senior Frank Mason Tweeted on Tuesday that he will be throwing out the first pitch at the Kansas City Royals game on Sunday.

Sunday is KU Day at The K and several Jayhawks from all across the athletic department, including players, coaches and administrators, will be in attendance when the defending World Series champion Royals take on the Minnesota Twins.

First pitch is set for 1:15 p.m. And, according to Mason, that won’t be the first chance fans get to see a strike.

“Throwing the first pitch at the Royals game Sunday. #GuaranteedStrike,” Mason Tweeted before adding, “Oh, and this is gonna be my first time attending a MLB game in my whole entire life.”

The latest KU Day at The K continues the long-standing relationship between the Royals and all three nearby universities. The Royals also will give away Jayhawk-themed Royals hats to the first 4,000 fans who purchased a special discounted ticket online and enter through Gate A at Sunday's game.

In 2014, KU football standout Ben Heeney, now with the Oakland Raiders, threw out one of the most memorable first pitches at KU Day, beaning KU mascot Big Jay with his pitch to the plate.

Reply 2 comments from Clara Westphal Bernard Gregory

It’s never too early for some preseason college hoops predictions

So here we sit, a little more than three weeks away from the start of football season and that means it’s time to start looking at preseason basketball predictions.... Wait, what?

As much as that might not be a reality anywhere else in the country, it certainly is the case here in Lawrence, where college basketball is a year-round passion and rankings, whether they’re posted in mid-April, the heart of the summer or the start of October, are taken seriously the minute they’re posted.

That’s why CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein caught the eye of Kansas fans on Monday when he dropped his early look at the Big 12 for the upcoming season, which actually will be here before we know it.

Technically dubbed Power Rankings, Rothstein’s picks did not cause any heart attacks — in other words, he properly picked Kansas to win the Big 12 again — but did create a little buzz at spots 2-10.

I’m actually good with a big chunk of his picks. I like Kansas to win its 13th straight Big 12 regular season title, I like West Virginia to be the Jayhawks’ biggest challenger and I think K-State and TCU will finish closer to the bottom than the top.

It’s the middle of the pack that I’d change up, at least as of Aug. 16, 2016.

So my late-summer Big 12 predictions would look something like this:

  1. Kansas, 2. West Virginia, 3. Iowa State, 4. Baylor, 5. Oklahoma, 6. Texas, 7. Texas Tech, 8. Oklahoma State, 9. Kansas State, 10. TCU.

Here's a look at Rothstein's order:

Next up, Rothstein Tweeted out some individual awards, including player of the year, which he gave to KU freshman Josh Jackson.

It’s a bold pick given Jackson’s age, but might wind up being one we look back on and say, “Of course.”

Joining Jackson on Rothstein’s first team were:

Given the departure of so many of last year’s stars, either to graduation or early entry in the NBA Draft (I’m still bumming over Isaiah Taylor’s decision to leave Texas), first-team all-Big 12 honors are a bit wide open going into the 2016-17 season.

I’m in agreement with Jackson, Morris and Evans but think I’d give the slight edge to Devonte’ Graham over Frank Mason, I think Graham will score more and shoot a higher percentage. Plus, Graham’s on-court demeanor tends to stand out a lot more than the stone-faced senior.

After that, I’d give the final spot to either Motley or OU’s Khadeem Lattin, who will have to have a much bigger impact for the Sooners on both ends of the floor than he did with Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins in the lineup.

Rothstein lists Oklahoma State as his sleeper team and it’s tough to argue with that given the presence of all-world point guard Jawun Evans and the return of senior guard Phil Forte along with the dawn of the Brad Underwood era.

If there were a team other than OSU that I’d consider for this honor, it’s Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns, which I’ve got sixth and Rothstein had seventh. They’re missing some key pieces, particularly at the point, but UT has some terrific athletes and should be much more comfortable playing Smart’s style, which can be a nightmare for opponents. Predicting Texas to crack the Top 3 would be a reach, but it’s definitely easy to make a case for a fourth- or fifth-place finish.

Rothstein’s next few categories featured a few Jayhawks in some less-heralded categories.

Both Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot landed on his list of 10 impact freshmen and big man Dwight Coleby landed on his list of five his under-the-radar transfers.

I was surprised to see Lightfoot included on the impact freshmen list — though I wouldn’t be surprised if that prediction came true. It’ll all come down to opportunity, if you ask me — and even though Coleby definitely has some potential to impact this team, I’m not sure this will be the year he does that.

His final category was 5 breakout Big 12 players and I’m a big fan of all of them, but was shocked to see KU sophomore Carlton Bragg left off the list.

Bragg also has yet to appear on DraftExpress.com’s 2017 Mock Draft and, when I inquired about his absence there, I was told that they’d probably add him if he got off to a hot start, otherwise he’ll be on the 2018 Mock Draft as soon as they post it.

While the idea of Bragg sticking around for his junior season might be music to KU fans’ ears, I’m not sure he’s getting the hype he deserves heading into his sophomore season — at least not nationally.

Just by being out there the amount of time he figures to be on the floor, Bragg stands to be an automatic threat for a double-double on any given night. He easily has the prowess to pour in double figures in scoring and if his added bulk is paired with another level of intensity, he should be able to hit the glass and do some damage on both ends of the floor.

While predicting a double-double average for Bragg is also a bit bold, the numbers say that if his 2015-16 averages of 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 9 minutes a game are projected over his more likely playing time of around 30 minutes a game in 2016-17, Bragg easily could wind up in the 12-point, 8-rebound range.

After all, with names like Mason, Graham, Jackson and Lucas out there on the floor with him, there will be very little pressure on the talented sophomore who, at least according to those you ask around here, sure seems to be headed toward a big time season.

Reply 14 comments from John Randall Len Shaffer Jay Scott Greg Ledom Fred Whitehead Jr. Mike Greer Pius Waldman Bryce Landon Jayhawkmarshall Rockchalk1990 and 2 others

Wiggins’ star continues to shine brighter with new shoe release

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, left, races down court as Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green gives chase in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, left, races down court as Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green gives chase in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Shortly after becoming one of the prized signings of Kansas coach Bill Self, former KU star Andrew Wiggins became one of the premiere spokesmen for Adidas basketball.

Earlier this summer, Wiggins took another step toward becoming a mega shoe mogul when he helped Adidas launch its newest basketball shoe, the aptly named Crazy Explosive.

“You haven’t seen adidas shoes like this before,” Wiggins said in a promo. “These shoes are dope.”

The shoes, which utilize Adidas’ latest Boost technology and are said to feature equal parts comfort, performance and style, come in seven different models and colors. The “solar red” version currently is available worldwide and additional color schemes, including the Andrew Wiggins Home PE, will be rolled out throughout the rest of the year starting in October.

“Adidas came to me with a shoe to make me more explosive on the court,” Wiggins said in a recent interview with footwearnews.com. “When I tried this shoe for the first time, I really felt the difference when attacking the basket. And we all care about style.”

Picked No. 1 overall by Cleveland in the 2014 NBA Draft, Wiggins debuted his first Adidas shoe — the Crazylight Boost 2.5 — shortly after joining the Minnesota Timberwolves via trade. The shoe came in three styles and color schemes and featured on the tongue the initials AW, with a maple leaf designed to pay homage to Wiggins’ native Canada inserted into the A. That feature is also included on Wiggins’ second shoe.

A quick look at the new Crazy Explosive shoe from Adidas.

A quick look at the new Crazy Explosive shoe from Adidas. by Matt Tait

His initial deal with Adidas was the largest signed by an NBA rookie in company history. Reports pegged the deal as a five-year commitment worth somewhere in the $12-13 million range. Wiggins’ agent Bill Duffy later went on record saying those numbers were inaccurate, leading many to believe they were low.

There’s nothing low about the Crazy Explosive, though, and, in June, several shoe buffs hammered the shoe on the Internet for looking more like a hiking boot or being something someone’s grandmother would knit.

The pairing of Wiggins and Adidas was a marriage that everybody knew was coming given KU’s association with the popular shoe brand and Wiggins’ status as both a bona fide college phenom and future NBA star.

With his pro career taking off — Wiggins averaged 20.7 points per game during his second NBA second, up four points a night from his rookie year — and Wiggins becoming one of the most popular and powerful young players in the league, Adidas certainly appears to be on the verge of cashing in on whatever investment it made in the former Jayhawk.

While he currently is known as an exciting and explosive scorer for an up-and-coming team, stunts like his recent attempt at a 720-degree slam dunk merely add to the buzz surrounding the young Canadian.

Like anything, though, Wiggins’ star will shine brighter if his team becomes more relevant. That, according to Wiggins, is on the way. During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, the third-year pro declared that the Timberwolves, “can make the playoffs.”

Getting there would take quite a jump, especially in the Western Conference. But with a young core of Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine, among other young and promising talents, it’s easy to see the T’Wolves improving on their 29-53 record from a season ago.

“I think we're going to have a way better season than we had this year,” Wiggins told SI. “We've got some new pieces. I think last year we could've beat any team on any given day. This year we need to be more consistent with it.”

Reply 2 comments from Matt Tait Marcus  Balzer

KU’s Jackson, Graham among most coveted players in the country

There’s no doubting that college coaches across the country would enjoy the opportunity to coach more than a few members of the Kansas men’s basketball team.

Year after year, KU coach Bill Self beats out a varying number of college coaches for some of the top talent in the country. And year after year, Self takes that talent and makes it the class of the Big 12 and a national title contender.

Self doesn’t get them all, of course. Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and many others have won recruiting battles for more than their share of players that Self and the Jayhawks tried to sign. But Self’s batting average with the players he targets as most important is among the best in college basketball.

As is common at most schools, I’m sure, Kansas fans believe their players are the best in the country and that any coach would be lucky to coach any one of them, from the top point producer to the key role player off the bench. With that in mind, and much, much more, CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander recently conducted a poll of more than 100 college coaches and asked them which player on another team they most would like to have on their team.

Two Jayhawks landed on the list, with freshman phenom Josh Jackson getting 5 percent of the vote and junior guard Devonte’ Graham getting 2 percent.

Those are good numbers but they pale in comparison to the feedback for Duke’s Grayson Allen (13 percent) and fellow Blue Devil Harry Giles (10 percent).

Without knowing the exact number or identity of the coaches CBS polled, it’s hard to know exactly what this means. But given the fact that he reached out to more than 100 of them, you have to think that at least half were of the Power 5 variety, so this isn’t just a case of mid-major coaches clamoring for the elite-level talent.

Speaking of elite-level talent, Duke actually landed a third player on list. Jayson Tatum tied with Jackson and received 5 percent of the vote.

The three Blue Devils marked the most for any team, with Kansas, Kentucky (Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo) and Villanova (Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart) all getting two players on the list. Those four teams also are ranked 1 through 4 in CBS’s preseason poll.

These types of polls and exercises obviously don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But they are fun and interesting and you can’t help but wonder which player Self picked if he were asked.

Reply 1 comment from Randy Maxwell Jayhawkmarshall

Bowlsby’s strong strategy helps Big 12 navigate latest expansion saga

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has faced recent criticism for being a commissioner that changes with the wind and not putting forth a strong enough presence to lead the conference through what only can be described as a crucial stretch.

While it’s true that Bowlsby has not presided over the Big 12 expansion talks like Castro running Cuba, the mere fact that the conference is in the position to get serious about expanding at all is a testament to Bowlsby’s leadership qualities.

We need look no farther than the recent past for proof of that, as previous men in the same post allowed the power brokers in the conference — most notably Texas — to steer the ship, creating an unbalanced power system that left some members seeking the exits and others holding on for dear life.

Allow that same scenario to emerge again and your expansion questions will be answered because no one will want to join that kind of conference.

As you probably have heard dozens of times already, Bowlsby and the Big 12 are finally to the point where they are seriously exploring the idea of adding schools to the Big 12. Whether that’s two, four or even zero newcomers remains to be seen and varies depending upon who you talk to, what you read and, really, what you want to hear. A source familiar with the conference’s stance on expansion told me Friday that two, four and zero are all still in play and that the number and plan often fluctuates. It's kind of hard to not change with the wind — in this case, the appetite of your current members — when it's blowing wildly and from many different directions.

Since Bowlsby and the Big 12 announced in mid-July that the conference would start kicking the tires on parties interested in joining the conference, it’s been a little like the Wild Wild West out there. University athletic directors and presidents are throwing themselves at the feet of the Big 12 brass, begging to be heard, and schools within the conference are flexing their muscles by endorsing the candidates that best fit their agendas.

As has been common in these sorts of situations, Kansas has remained publicly quiet, but both AD Sheahon Zenger and chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little continue to be involved with the talks behind closed doors.

If this expansion thing is going to work, it’s going to take a true consensus of the Big 12 schools to make it happen. And it’s worth pointing out that an argument could be made that television partners ESPN and FOX also could be added into that consensus, though I recently was told a little too much was made of their frustration with the pool of candidates from which the Big 12 may be choosing.

It’s hard to envision a school getting in simply because Texas or Oklahoma wants it added. We’ve been down that road before and it does not lead anywhere good. If things are going to go that way, the Big 12 would be better off (a) not expanding at all or (b) turning out the lights and closing the doors. None of the parties involved are interested in option B, however — at least not as a first and actively sought choice — so it makes sense to conclude that if the conference can’t reach a unanimous decision about which programs to add, it likely will not add any at all.

That’s not to say that people aren’t out there trying. The campaigning has been rich with this one and longtime administrators around the conference have told me that the whole thing is unlike anything they’ve ever seen in college athletics.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy on Friday reported that 17 different schools — SEVENTEEN!!! — would get video conference interviews with Bowlsby in the near future, therein giving each one a golden opportunity to make its strongest case for inclusion.

Among the 17 schools scheduled for the pseudo-face-to-face meetings with Bowlsby are Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, South Florida, Central Florida, UConn, Memphis, Colorado State, Boise State, Tulane, Temple, East Carolina, SMU, New Mexico, Northern Illinois and San Diego State, according to McMurphy’s report.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you already know that more than half of the schools on that list do not have any real shot of getting in. And their desire to make their pitch speaks at least as much to the desperation of the schools on the outside of the Power 5 looking in as it does the strength and attractiveness of the Big 12.

It’s hard, at this point, to even hazard a guess as to what is going to happen. But let’s not forget that none of this would be happening at all if Bowlsby had not forced the conference to focus and get serious about moving forward one way or another. Left to its own devices or guided by a weaker leader, the Big 12 likely would have dilly-dallied around for months, maybe even years, before reaching the point where it got serious about expansion.

That might not make Bowlsby look like the best leader in the world in the eyes of many. But in the context of what the Big 12 needs during this tumultuous time, laying down and sticking to any kind of plan or agenda is evidence of leadership at the highest level.

Now, if only we knew where it was taking us...

Reply 24 comments from Patrick Bryant Ben Kane Jay Scott Dan Burns Doug Wallace Len Shaffer Jayhawkmarshall Chris Gladfelter Michael Lorraine Bob Bailey

Further proof that Kansas, Missouri don’t mix

Tim Kaine, the democratic nominee for vice president and running mate of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has been in the news for a number of reasons since his name was announced on the ticket with Clinton.

But one of the most intriguing reasons, at least for readers of this site, is his position as a die-hard Kansas basketball fan and University of Missouri graduate.

Huh?

OK. I get it. There are people out there who cross allegiances from time to time and have no problem dealing with the wrath that follows. One of the most popular that I've heard is the native Kansan who's a KU hoops fan and a K-State football fan.

I'll admit it. I'm not a fan of that one either, but it seems to be a far cry better than the one that Kaine is trying to pass off.

Even if Kaine truly is some sort of strange Jayhawk/Tiger hybrid, he recently showed that he just doesn't quite get the hatred and bad blood that exists between the two when he responded to an article explaining that he's the perfect person to "finally melt the ice between the Jayhawks and Tigers." Those words came from Missouri governor Jay Nixon. And that sentiment, along with Kaine's response via Twitter, shows just how far out of touch the Missouri side is on this whole thing.

Here's a look at Kaine's Tweet.

Let me clear it up: Whether the Clinton/Kaine ticket wins the presidency or not, the Border War is not coming back any time soon.

The leaders in the Kansas athletic department — most notably head basketball coach Bill Self and athletic director Sheahon Zenger — have made it abundantly clear that it is their belief that Mizzou was the one that chose to end the rivalry by leaving for the SEC and Kansas does not owe the Tigers any sort of good will when it comes to the idea of bringing it back.

I'm sure Kaine does not truly believe that he can actually get this done. What's more, I hope he doesn't really care. For starters, reviving the Border War rivalry should be the least of his concerns as he tries to come up with a plan to defeat Donald Trump in November and deal with all of the problems currently plaguing the United States.

What's more, I would hope that he would feel that there is no real place in sports for politics. There are several examples from the past when the two have not mixed and this, at least to me, is just another example of that.

Yeah, it might sound good and win you some votes in the Show-Me State — God help those who base their vote for president on athletics — but it's not something a potential vice president of the United States should be spending any time thinking about, let alone making public those thoughts.

Add this to the list of crazy occurrences that have made this the wildest campaign/election season ever.

Reply 70 comments from Doug Wallace Ken Lassman Jay Scott RXDOC James Miller Michael Lorraine Stephen Young Dave Roberts Kent Richardson Adam Gerval and 16 others

Why it might actually be OK to get excited about KU football’s 2 Alabama transfers

I know you’re out there. I can hear you all the way over here. And I don’t blame you.

But I do think you should take a brief pause from the eye-rolling and exhaling that surely hit most of you after learning about the pair of Alabama football transfers that announced plans to come to Kansas this week.

It’s not your fault that your gut reaction is to be skeptical. Heck, after all of the seemingly-promising transfers that have passed through here and never quite panned out, I would think skepticism would be a gut reaction upon learning that more were on the way.

But there’s something different about Alabama’s Daylon Charlot and Charles Baldwin that you might want to consider before writing them off.

There’s a lot different, actually.

First of all, these are not the Dayne Crists, Mike Ragones, Anthony McDonalds, Jake Heapses and Justin McCays of the world. All of those aforementioned players, and a few others just like them, came to Kansas on the heels of some serious hype because of their previous recruiting buzz and the names of the universities from which they came. Notre Dame. Oklahoma. BYU.

Players good enough to land scholarships at those schools traditionally do not come to Kansas. In each of those instances there were extra circumstances at play that paved the way for them to land in Lawrence. And while each of them had good moments and gave everything they had, none of them really proved to be the caliber of player that KU fans were expecting to get. Because of that, KU fans then built up a wall that prompted them to first laugh and scoff at the news of any transfers coming this way in the years that followed.

As I mentioned above, I get it. I was duped too. And maybe if things were different in some ways or if they had come at a different time, those former transfers would have enjoyed terrific careers at KU and this narrative would be completely different. But that didn’t happen. So those guys and many others who followed in their footsteps immediately were labeled as busts, has-beens or never-would-bes because the guys before them didn’t quite pan out.

In almost every one of those cases, though, we already knew what type of player Kansas was getting. Sure, the idea that they had played at OU or suited up at Notre Dame sounded like a dream scenario for a struggling KU program. But each was deep into his career and had not really shown anything at the previous stop to make people here think things were going to be different. The excitement of the shiny name and the hope of better days blinded many of us to that fact.

That’s on us. Our expectations and preconceived notions created that. Not the players.

But, guess what? These guys who are coming from ’Bama are not proven — good or bad. And we don’t know that they couldn’t cut it in Tuscaloosa. All we know is that they want to try it somewhere else.

In the case of Charlot, that was after one season and, most likely, because he wants a better chance to get on the field or to play in a different style.

In the case of Baldwin, he was dismissed for violation of team rules, so we have to be careful there. And like current Jayhawk Anthony Olobia or former Jayhawk Marquel Combs before him, he was one of the highest rated junior college prospects in the country before heading to Alabama. While that part might sound familiar and surely leaves more than a little to be desired given the way things played out with Combs and Olobia, the big difference is this: Baldwin was a player Ala-freakin-Bama wanted. The best programs on Olobia’s offer list included Texas Tech and Utah.

Besides all of those facts, this is a different era of Kansas football. Much of the failed junior college experiment and transfer route took place under Charlie Weis, who was simply trying to crawl out of the mess made by Turner Gill and wound up creating a different kind of mess because of it.

Had the transfers mentioned above panned out, Weis would’ve looked like a genius and KU would’ve won a bunch more games. Neither happened and that led to the arrival of David Beaty.

Believe me, Beaty does not go into these deals lightly. If he’s taking a transfer, it’s because he thinks — maybe even knows — that adding that player immediately makes KU better. If he doesn’t believe that’s the case, he doesn’t take the player. It’s that simple.

Transfers are tricky and there is no guarantee that any of them are ever going to be what fans and coaches hope they will be. Many of them aren’t.

There’s no doubt that both Charlot and Baldwin will forever be labeled as the former ’Bama guys and, therefore, will both be held to that standard, especially in the eyes of KU fans desperate to see this program return to its winning ways. And the scenario exists that has these two playing good but not great or even being downright busts and becoming the next in a long line of promising transfers who went on to disappoint.

But I’d say the odds that they’ll succeed are at least as good as the odds that they’ll fail and probably better. Better, because they’re coming into a whole different set of circumstances than those players from the past.

So to write these two off just because of the past failures of so many others who came to KU and underperformed is a bit premature.

Things are different now. And maybe this time it will wind up being OK to be excited about this kind of potential good fortune happening to Kansas football.

Reply 9 comments from Dirk Medema Bryan Mohr Dale Rogers Pius Waldman Matt Tait Chris DeWeese Jonathan Briles Ashwin Rao

Self addresses KU football team on opening day of preseason camp

The start of preseason football camp always comes with a lot of routine, more than a little excitement and a vibe that speaks to both the promise and the pressure of the fast approaching season.

And while that often means a lot of the same for the players who have been through it before, every once in a while there’s something new that pops up.

The Jayhawks received a special treat at the beginning of this year’s camp on Wednesday, when KU basketball coach Bill Self addressed the team on Day 1.

I haven’t seen or heard much about the specifics of Self’s talk, but, judging by the first-hand accounts that popped up on Twitter, it seems like the 14th-year hoops coach emphasized the importance of the Jayhawk family and winning.

The football program, as you know, has not done much of the latter in the past several years. But Self on the other hand certainly has.

Obviously there is a dramatic difference between what it takes to win a game of basketball and what it takes to win a game of football, but the concept of promoting a winning culture can be strikingly similar no matter what program you’re talking about.

I’m guessing that was the focal point of Self’s speech and that he promoted things like attitude, character, effort, pride and passion and shared how he believed all of those elements, along with things like attention to detail, sound fundamentals and high standards, can impact a program.

With 385 wins against just 83 losses in his first 13 seasons at KU, few are as qualified as Self to talk about winning. And the fact that he took time out to address David Beaty’s football program says a great deal about the camaraderie and family vibe that currently exists in the KU athletic department.

Self has long been a strong supporter of Kansas football and has never shied away from sharing his beliefs about how important having a winning program is to both the university and the basketball program.

It’s cool to see him take an active role in trying to help create that instead of just expecting someone else to handle it and waiting for it to happen.

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