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What the James Sims suspension means for KU football

Kansas running back James Sims rushes against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back James Sims rushes against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Memorial Stadium. by Richard Gwin

I’ve never been accused of being a doom-and-gloom kind of guy. More often than not, people say I’m a little too sunshine and rainbows.

And while that might not have much relevance for you in terms of everyday life, I think it’s important to share that before I give you my thoughts on what the James Sims suspension means for Kansas University football.

First off, I don’t think Sims' suspension will be crippling for the program. Sure, the Jayhawks for three games will be losing their top rusher from the past two seasons and the one guy on the roster who has proven to be reliable both in terms of moving the pile and hanging on to the football. But depth is plentiful at running back for Kansas, and there are four guys behind Sims who can, and likely will, use this as a chance to shine and move into a more prominent role in the Jayhawks’ offense.

For Sims, the outlook is not as sunny. And that stinks. In just about every way possible, Sims is a great young man. He’s polite, well spoken, respectful and genuine in every sense of the word. He made a mistake. People do it. But few people pay for their mistakes the way Sims will for his.

Three games might not seem like that many, especially for a junior who still will have at least 21 games to play after his suspension is lifted following the TCU game in Lawrence this fall. But this is not about sitting out of three games. This is about trust and a new coaching staff and missed opportunities. And it starts today.

With KU coach Charlie Weis — remember, he’s also the offensive coordinator — now operating with the knowledge that Sims will not be available for the first three games of the 2012 season, it’s entirely likely that Weis’ practice routine will reflect that. Maybe not so much during the final nine spring practices, when Sims and sophomore Tony Pierson will be the only healthy backs in camp, but definitely when August rolls around and Brandon Bourbon is full strength and reinforcements Taylor Cox and Tevin Shaw are on campus.

You can’t blame Weis for this. What coach in his right mind would give practice reps to a guy he can’t even use for the first three games of the season? The answer is no one, and it becomes NO ONE — all caps — when you’re talking about a coach at KU, which simply cannot mess around with must-win, non-conference games.

So that puts Sims at the bottom of a big hole looking up and without much of an opportunity to climb his way out. I have no doubt that the young man will be a model student-athlete from this point on. I’m sure he’ll do everything in his power — and then some — to prove to his coaches and teammates how sorry he is for the mistake he made. That’s admirable. It will help. And it says a lot about who James Sims is as a person. As for who James Sims is as a college football player? Sadly, we may already know the answer to that. He may go down as one of just a few bright spots during two terrible seasons of Kansas football.

There are, of course, alternative outcomes to this story. Some of them even feature Sims returning to his spot in the KU backfield and continuing to use his size, strength and vision to carve out yardage. But based on one bad decision, whether we get to that point or not no longer is up to Sims. He’ll play again if the other backs ahead of him fumble too often or can’t stay healthy. If not? He might be done.

;

Comments

andrewbary 2 years, 3 months ago

"since" should be "sense"

"Sims is a great young man. He’s polite, well spoken, respectful and genuine in every 'since' of the word."

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Matt Tait 2 years, 3 months ago

We must've caught that at the same time. Just fixed it. Thanks.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 3 months ago

Matt, you are an amazing gentleman. With the grammer police lurking behind every post and every article, most folks would have left a "corrected" if they respond at all.

Perhaps that is why you are so well liked. Appreciate your efforts.

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WTF 2 years, 3 months ago

While you're at it fix the "offesnive" coordinator in paragraph six.

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kef104 2 years, 3 months ago

Paragraph 4, since should be sense.

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bville_hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Quote: "If not? He might be done."

Matt, with all due respect, I think you are over playing the dramatic here. James Sims is way too good a back to stay at the bottom of the heap once he has served his suspension. I predict he will get a few carries in the 2nd quarter of the first game he is eligible to play in. From there it will be how well he performs compared to the competition (now, if he fumbles on one of those carries all bets are off!).

Just my two worthless cents of opinion.

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Matt Tait 2 years, 3 months ago

Was not my intention to be dramatic.... I just think that with a new coaching staff and a new offense, any time away can be detrimental to a player's ability to pick it up and be trusted by the coaches.

As I said, I know Sims will do everything in his power to make up for it. But he's got a severe uphill climb ahead of him.

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KGphoto 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't think it's overly dramatic at all. If Bourbon stays healthy, with his power and speed, it might be hard for Sims to stay on top regardless of the suspension. Obviously Taylor Cox is a player Weis is high on as well. Either one of these guys would be pushing him for PT as it is.

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Kevin Long 2 years, 3 months ago

Why does everyone on here feel the need to be an editor? Everytime I look comments are either complaining about a headline that they thought was bad or spelling or something! Just read the damn articles and comment on the content! Jeez!!

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andrewbary 2 years, 3 months ago

I just like to help out when I can. God knows I'm not smart enough to offer in depth sports analysis... but I'm pretty dad gum good at engrish!

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bville_hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

andrewbary! Smarts aren't a pre-requisite to offering in-depth sports analysis. Everybody on here is proof of that. You already have everything you need: 1) internet connection, and 2) a device to connect to the internet.

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Jayhawk444 2 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't correct a poster. But words do matter, especially to those who make their living using them. So I have no issue calling out mistakes by the professionals.

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Phoghorn 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't point out spelling errors either. I just laff at them.

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doctorWho 2 years, 3 months ago

Why does everyone on here feel the need to edit the comments of other posters? Everytime I look comments are either complaining about the complaint expressed in someone else's post, spellling or something! Just read the damn posts and comment on the content of the articles! Jeez!

I see an endless loop starting here . . .

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2 years, 3 months ago

“The answer is no one, and it becomes NO ONE — all caps — when you’re talking about a coach at KU…”

Matt, does the all caps filter affect you guys when posting stories as well, or was that a light-hearted jab at some of us posters? :-)

Appreciate your insights regarding Sims!

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Matt Tait 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm not 100 percent sure but I believe the all caps filter is just for comment... I really don't know much about it.

As for my use of all caps, it was for emphasis... not a jab.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Alex Berger 2 years, 3 months ago

Good insight into the situation. This could be a character defining situation for Sims. No longer is he protecting his spot as the starter but now must work even harder to prove he should be the starter above the rest. If he shows the same grit that he has shown the last 2 years then I think he will rise to the occasion and work his butt off.

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Alex Berger 2 years, 3 months ago

Good insight into the situation. This could be a character defining situation for Sims. No longer is he protecting his spot as the starter but now must work even harder to prove he should be the starter above the rest. If he shows the same grit that he has shown the last 2 years then I think he will rise to the occasion and work his butt off.

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John Boyle 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for posting twice. I almost missed the first one.

Just joking, don't hate on me.

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Alex Berger 2 years, 3 months ago

I was scared people would ignore my first post so I posted it again hoping that they would accidentally read my second one.

Jk, I don't even know how it posted again. I only clicked post comment once.

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april28 2 years, 3 months ago

Tough to know how to feel about this situation. The guy has been a rock on two of the worst teams in NCAA history. I almost wish he could be given a pass on this one.

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John Boyle 2 years, 3 months ago

No way anyone gets a "pass" if we are going to turn this thing around. Everyone and I do mean everyone has to be held accountable. He did something wrong and now he must pay the price. It is a great life lesson. Driving under the influence isn't like skipping a practice. I for one am glad Weis is setting the standards high.

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april28 2 years, 3 months ago

Note the word "almost" in my post. Some guys have earned additional consideration.

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andrewbary 2 years, 3 months ago

Matt, is there no talk out there of him transferring out to get some guaranteed playing time? A lot of schools out there would be happy to have him.

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Matt Tait 2 years, 3 months ago

Haven't heard talk of a transfer and I don't expect we will...

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clevelandjayhawker 2 years, 3 months ago

Where did Darian Miller end up going to school?

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april28 2 years, 3 months ago

Man what a waste. The most talented back we've had here in a long time.

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Matt Bowers 2 years, 3 months ago

Matt, any word on McCray? I thought we were supposed to find out yesterday? Good article and insight to the consequences of a bad decision.

Rock Chalk

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Matt Bowers 2 years, 3 months ago

Justin McCay...my fault.

Rock Chalk

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Andy Tweedy 2 years, 3 months ago

You weren't imagining things. Everyone keeps saying the news could come down any day. But I am fairly pragmatic, and my experience with the NCAA tells me he'll be fully eligible to play this coming 2012 football season...and the announcement will come in week 11!

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John Myers 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry he won't be playing the first few games, but I don't feel the slightest bit sorry for him. You made your bed, James.

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april28 2 years, 3 months ago

Be careful not to get injured falling off your high horse. A DUI is serious, no doubt, but he is a kid who has worked his rear end off at KU.

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John Myers 2 years, 3 months ago

What high horse? If I got a DUI, I wouldn't expect people to feel sorry for me, either. It's a stupid, boneheaded thing to do no matter who you are, but especially when he's "worked his rear end off" at KU to get to where he is.

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 3 months ago

Interesting perspective, but I'm not sure I agree. This is undoubtedly a major setback for Sims, but the doom and gloom nature of this article caught me a bit by surprise.

James Sims has been such a dependable and all-around good running back. He runs hard, protects the ball, blocks well, catches well out of the backfield, and has been relatively durable. He has been one of the few bright spots and genuinely seems like a good guy. We don't currently have another running back like him. Yes, Pierson is electric and has blazing speed, but he can't take the pounding Sims can. And while Bourbon has all the tools, he has been surprisingly injury prone. Taylor Cox and Tevin Shaw look like studs, but until they actually get here and prove something they are a huge question mark. None of them has proven they can block as well as Sims, and with Crist as our QB that's a very important skill. I agree the other backs will only get better, and it's certainly possible someone will establish themselves as the featured back in 3 games. But I doubt we will have a back with the all-around skills and experience that Sims has in that time. Just my gut feel.

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Ron Prichard 2 years, 3 months ago

I tend to agree with you. I was a huge fan of Darrian Miller and wanted him running it more, but it always seemed like Sims made his yards even though he didn't seem to have the same flash as Miller. I was constantly amazed after games when I would say, "Did you see that Miller run?" and then would look and Sims would have the most yards. He's consistent, dependable, and blocks well. I think we'll see him playing a major role by mid-season despite the suspension.

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 3 months ago

Yea - Miller was an amazing athlete. Very unfortunate he couldn't stay in the program. But like you said, Sims was often the unsung hero of that backfield. Despite playing on a horrible team he still ended up as the 9th best back in the Big-12 with 60 yards per game. Miller ended up with around 50 yards per game. But the truly impressive thing about Sims is he was also our fourth best receiver and led the team in touchdowns (9).

Despite all that I think Sims' most important quality is his blocking. It would make me absolutely sick if Dayne's career was ended in the first 3 games because some running back muffed a block on a blitzing linebacker (not just for KU's sake, but because Dayne Crist deserves better). I hope and expect Coach Weis and Coach Miller will be spending allot of time teaching the other running backs how to block.

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Andy Hess 2 years, 3 months ago

looks like Marquis Jackson is getting moved to RB. Weis is planning ahead already to be without Sims, it appears.

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ejlumus 2 years, 3 months ago

James Sims should transfer. He will never play a role at KU. He kicked his career out the door with the new staff. Stupid stupid move..

and now James, you need to move on and free a schollie for players that are willing to do the right thing to get an education and play football.

grammer police should also move on ....................

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bville_hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Stupid post. Brady Morningstar's carreer at KU didn't go down the tube when he made a similar mistake and served a similar suspension. It all depends on how he responds to his punishment.

BTW, the word is "grammAr" and sentences should begin with a capitalized letter.

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ejlumus 2 years, 3 months ago

hey grammeer ... you are the stupid post

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ejlumus 2 years, 3 months ago

and Brady should have been kicked off the team. If you had a relative killed by a drunk you might feel different about drunks driving!

Period end of the efn story. Go ahead and correct the spelling on efn ... do you get the picture???????

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Ron Prichard 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm not going to call this a stupid post because everyone is entitled to their opinion, but jeesh...hate much? If you want to hold a kid to a standard that he can't make a mistake (I'm not condoning his actions), serve his punishment and then get a second chance, so be it. Hopefully you never make a mistake and need to ask for a second chance. That would suck if you did and the arbiter was as angry as you.

We also need to remember this is not the only punishment Sims is getting. This is the punishment from the coach. He still has to abide by whatever punishment our judicial and criminal system lays at his feet. I'm guessing he will pay a fairly steep fine, have to serve some community service, and maintain a clean record for a certain period of time to fulfill his side of any plea or sentence.

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BainDread 2 years, 3 months ago

So, ejlumus wants a scholarship football player to leave the program because he didn't perform his job properly (follow rules), but then he wants everyone to give a pass to the LJW writers when they don't do their job properly (use proper grammar). Hmmm.

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ejlumus 2 years, 3 months ago

You can't be serious ... maybe you are ..... and that is really sad.

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OonlyBonly 2 years, 3 months ago

Gotta be kidding me. Great article and all the early posters can do is worry about grammar.

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Mike Mainzer 2 years, 3 months ago

The reality is that Weis has emphasized the need to compete for every position. Sims' (is it 's or s' - I'm sure the grammar police will come after me) numbers from the previous two years don't mean anything and competition is great for the football team. He has four months to absorb the new offense, show up to voluntary workouts and be seen in the workout room by the staff to prove he's sorry and wants a shot at starting. The decision to be first team is still in his hands. He'll get the interview on his first eligible game back - its up to him to earn the job.

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april28 2 years, 3 months ago

I hope that Sims is getting the support, encouragement and direction that will help him overcome this situation. If he does, it will be one of the highlights of his life. Overcoming adversity - self inflicted or not - is one of the hardest things to do in life. It is way underrated.

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Chris1955 2 years, 3 months ago

In the original article I read, I believe that the term used was Operating Under (the) Influence OUI, not Driving Under (the) Influence DUI. Is there a legal difference in these terms? Are they the same offense? Could OUI mean that the car was not being driven? Perhaps it was parked and he was playing with the radio?

It's probably a moot point, but I had never heard of OUI before. Can someone clarify this please?

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Richard Benson 2 years, 3 months ago

On its face, the three game suspension is a setback. But James Sims is far too good a football player to keep on the bench on a longer-term basis. Unlike Mr. Tait, I do not know Mr. Sims personally and cannot attest to his character, although who among us (especially at his age) never drove impaired? Not that that is acceptable or an excuse. Its one of those things you learn from. Or you don't, and at best you spend time in jail on and off for the rest of your life and you hope nobody gets killed.

While I do not know Mr. Sims personally, I really like his personality on the field. Surely everyone who has ever played football at any level who has watched him play would agree that they want to be on the field with "that guy." Most especially every offensive lineman.

In the real world of college football, what the three game suspension will mean most of all is a three week no-injury, no wear-and-tear guarantee. Granted KU simply cannot mess around with must-win, non-conference games. But if the Hawks can win some games in Big 12 conference games this year under any combination of circumstances, one of those circumstances will be James Sims on a roll.

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mgphill 2 years, 3 months ago

How many injuries has Bourbon had by now?

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