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Monday Rewind: K-State

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Kansas head coach Turner Gill watches his team fall to Kansas State from the sidelines during the third quarter, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill watches his team fall to Kansas State from the sidelines during the third quarter, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Allow me to take you back a few days to Oct. 2, 2010.

My colleagues and I are sitting at Floyd-Casey Stadium, in Waco, Texas, watching the Jayhawks get trounced by Baylor. None of us saw it coming. None of us could believe it was happening — at least not in the way it was happening. And, come on, definitely not to Baylor.

But it was. As the third quarter turned into the fourth and the game turned into even more of a laugher, I looked at one co-worker and said something along the lines of, “That’s it. They won’t win another game. Not playing like this.”

I, of course, was talking about the Kansas University football team and, at the time, I meant it. Kansas looked overmatched, out of sync and overall like a team that just wasn’t ready to compete against Big 12 talent.

The Jayhawks were angry that day and so were many of their fans. But not all was lost. After all, it was a road game, it came against a team on the rise and, perhaps most importantly, the Jayhawks had a bye week ahead, which meant extra time to prepare for Kansas State.

As the days moved along and KU coach Turner Gill continued to talk about his team in a positive light, the tide started to turn. At first I was skeptical but the more I heard from Gill and Co., the more I started to believe that KU could win again this season. When Nebraska reduced Kansas State to a high school JV team in front of a national television audience, my thoughts reached a new high. Not only was I believing again that the Jayhawks could win another game, I was starting to believe that victory was going to come against Kansas State. My colleagues were on board, too, with all but one of us picking the Jayhawks to win last week’s game.

Twelve days after I sat in Waco and proclaimed that the Jayhawks would not win another game this season, I was preparing for the Sunflower Showdown with the firm belief that KU would beat K-State.

Oops.

And here we are again.

I hate making these things about me because, as we all know, I have nothing to do with it. But I chose to do so for this week’s “Rewind” segment because I think the roller coaster ride that I’ve been on lately — as a neutral observer who’s just been doing his job of covering this team — illustrates exactly how crazy things have been for the Jayhawks during Gill’s up-and-down first season.

If even I (and especially even Tom Keegan) came around to believe that KU would win again after the Baylor beating, imagine how the KU players must have felt. I mean, coach Gill was not attempting to lift our spirits after the losses. But he was doing that with his players — in a big way.

However, just by being around it and by hearing the coaches and players talk about how things were going to be different, we found ourselves picking KU over K-State. So, if we believed again, I can only imagine how fired up the Jayhawks were after 12 days off, a bunch of spirited practices and their in-state rivals coming to town.

Obviously, none of that mattered, as KSU punished KU, 59-7, in what was, statistically speaking, the second worst beating in the 108-year history of the Sunflower Showdown.

So where do things go from here?

Well, this week’s opponent, Texas A&M, opened as a 13.5-point favorite over the Jayhawks for this Saturday’s homecoming contest at Memorial Stadium. I don’t know for sure, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that none of the guys I work with — nor many KU fans — will be picking the Jayhawks to knock off the Aggies this week.

However, if Gill, his coaching staff and the team’s leaders are doing their jobs, the Jayhawks will take the field on Saturday with the belief that they’re going to beat A&M.

The question now is: Which shoes are better to be in — ours or theirs?

Comments

Sam Brockert 9 years, 4 months ago

Ours, because we can prepare for the slaughter.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 4 months ago

I have to say that my outlook on the rest of the season is "if about a million things go right, we could win two more games!" How sad!!!

Ashwin Rao 9 years, 4 months ago

Ours shoes are better to be in... (I would hate to be in their shoes, because we have less skin in the game (and not because BB season is here! :-)).

After seeing our performance in the last two games, it seems to be a HUGE up-hill battle. I am neither giving up on them, nor am I backing them to win... I just want it to be competitive!

d_prowess 9 years, 4 months ago

I would definitely rather be in our shoes instead of the players! As fans we may get emotionally tied to the success and failures of our team, but we still always have a certain amount of distance from it all. The players though are in it. They are the ones working at it, trying to get better, and are responsible for the outcome. Their highs and lows are always going to be to a greater degree than the fans. And in this case, some of the fans have the option of backing away from being so invested, while the players still have to play and still have the responsibility for the outcomes.

kureader 9 years, 4 months ago

Matt, I'm interested in your continued comments about the attitude of the team and coaches. I'm not in agreement with those who believe we don't have good players. We may not have big play makers, and we may have some young players, but we also have some quality athletes on this team. Our players proved they're good enough to play against quality competition when they beat Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has continued to play well after losing to us. Likewise, I certainly don't believe that our loss to North Dakota State happened because NDSU's athletes are better than ours ... or even close to ours.

But most of our players and coaches seem way too relaxed on the sidelines. I sit on row 13, pretty close to the team. There was no fire, excitement or a sense of urgency last weekend ... in the players or coaches. They walked around on the sidelines like they were at a practice scrimmage. If we can't get pumped up and ready to play Kansas State at home, we won't be able to beat anybody.

And, though many head coaches let their coordinators call the shots, I'm growing more skeptical that Gill is competent as a "thinker" or as a game day coach. He seems completely detached from his team and his coaches during the game. He doesn't talk to the press box either. He may as well be home watching the game on TV. And, unfortunately, his post game press conferences don't engender any confidence either. I'd expect a coach at this level to be able to express himself.

I'm hoping you'll continue to gage the attitudes of our players and coaches and report them and you did in this article. I like reading your stuff.

Kenneth Hillman 9 years, 4 months ago

Agree on all points. Why are we paying this guy $2mm??? Gill may have been recognized as an up-and-coming coach but that is a coach you get at a discount. And now that his contract is in place, I see an underachieving coach who needs to visit Toastmasters in the off season...a lot. Maybe take some summer communications courses at KU. I just cannot get my head around where we stand and how we look on the field. We have talent and it is being under-utilized on the offensive side of the ball. We need to scheme better on the defensive side of the ball to make up for our weakness, which seems to be team speed. I know the job is MUCH tougher than it looks but C'MON MAN! (said like Chris Carter)

Ashwin Rao 9 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you completely. The post-game interviews are a joke. You could record one and play the same one after every game.

Coach definitely needs some lessons on how to manage the fan base. We need to hear what when wrong, why it went wrong (details), and how it will be fixed. No general comment like that from someone who just got off his couch after watching the game and actually forgot the details of the game!

John Beck 9 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Matt for writing something different than total gloom and doom.
I see a couple of things: As kureader pointed out, I don't see many coaches at any level as detached at gametime as coach Gill, so are the players fired up to perform for him, their leader.

There doesn't seem to be repercussions for blown assignments, not suggesting a HCMM tirade, but being pulled and coached before getting back on the field and giving the next guy on the depth chart a chance to make a play.

Play callling looks very much in question in working with what we have. Your thoughts Matt?

deathtomizzou 9 years, 4 months ago

I was at the game as a guest of one of the players. I was sitting about 7 rows up behind the KU bench and what i saw out of the players said it all. Players were laughing and joking, looking up in the stands, for who knows what, and a whole group of players that looked liked they could care less on what was going on. I don't see how this team can win another game this season. This team is not good enough to commit stupid penalites, turn the ball over, and shoot themselves in the foot as much as they do and expect to beat a pee-wee team. Coach Gill has plenty of work to do and he might start by looking at his coaching staff that he so much praises. He and his staff is responsible for this defense that couldn't stop a good high school football team! Get it fixed coach we deserve a better effort from you and your staff!

JayhawkBigXII 9 years, 4 months ago

I'd rather be in our shoes. They are bright white, not used very much and hardly have any skuffing.

Clarence Haynes 9 years, 4 months ago

Our start has been like a recurring nightmare! We commit all kind of stupid penalties, get behind, and become demoralized! I would just like to see what would happen if KU were to escape a rash of penalties during that first series and perhaps show some level of being competitive!

hawksince51 9 years, 4 months ago

Last week I commented that our best chance for another win was CU at home. While it still is our best remaining chance, I do not hold out much hope for another win by this team.
I do not happen to think it would have been any different if MM were still the coach. He went 1 and 7 in the conference last year, had a poor D last year, lost his 3 best offensive weapons, and obviously did not recruit very well his last couple of years. Now that we have hired Gill and his staff, they deserve at least 3 years to show what they can do with their recruits and system. TG for basketball.

Pbbut 9 years, 4 months ago

We've had poor teams in the past, but I've rarely seen them play with this kind of effort. It honestly looks like the players have quit on this coach. I've always given players the benefit of the doubt, they're 20 years old. It's the staff's responsibility to get them back and get them to buy in. On an different area, are these guys in condition? How do you let a back-up QB who looks like he's carrying a piano out run you 50 yds. to the end zone? Pitiful speed or pitiful shape?

Mike Nicco 9 years, 4 months ago

Matt, I'm also interested in your continued comments about the attitude of the team and coaches.

Do you think Turner Gill is a coach or a CEO?

Local media in the Bay Area have been tossing around this debate for a few weeks about Michael Singletary and the 49ers. I see a lot of similarities between the two, not only their coaching style but also their records. Maybe Gill is not an X's and O's guy.

Is he then giving his coaches too much game-day control? What about practice? I think it would be fascinating to see the inner workings of the coaching staff.

I believe part of the fans' mindset stems from watching Bill Snyder and his success. He is into every facet of HIS program and holds each coach and player accountable.

Mark Lindrud 9 years, 4 months ago

I liked the article and I do want to hear more about the heartbeat of the team. My concern is this team is not playing with passion. It seems like we are going through the motions and not playing to the whistle. I don't see 110% that I saw before. I am not saying to bring back MM, but the team that won the Orange Bowl overachieved because of the heart, passion and coaching.

I don't see those things and yes it maybe the players and system do not fit yet, but I have yet to see a team with hunger to win every down, every play and to let teams know that when they play KU they are going to have a battle throughout the game. Even if we got beat the other team would say we are a tough team and we bring it. Right now we look slow, out of place and confused. I hope things change and this team figures things out, but it starts with the head coach. Coach Gill seems like a good man that wants these boys to become quality men, but he needs to bring more to the table than he has if things are going to change for the better anytime soon.

Stephen Johnson 9 years, 4 months ago

Coach Gill is a good person, but he was hired to be a good football coach. So far, he is failing miserably.

JayhawkBigXII 9 years, 4 months ago

baldjedi.... "I am not saying bring back MM, but the team that won the Orange Bowl overachieved because of the heart, passion and coaching."

That has to be the quote of the year. It is the coaches job (at several million $ per year) to create passion and heart. To get these 2 and 3 star kids to over-achieve and compete against 4 and 5 star athletes means pushing the envelope, and hovering on the line of ethecs. That is what got MM in trouble, but it also got these kids motivated... and over-achieve they did. It requires focused, unwavering dicipline, and plenty of it to develop these kids into men. Without it, KU will never be a contender in the BIG XII or anywhere else. And the scholarship athletes at Kansas will never have a chance to take part in the big money NFL. Say what you want, but MM helped several athletes to get what they really wanted... the passion and heart to over-achieve on and off the field.

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