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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.

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Comments

mgphill 2 years ago

How many injuries has Bourbon had by now?

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Richard Benson 2 years 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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Janet Scott 2 years ago

Sims in trouble for playing time? Doubt it, over time. If we're short RBs, bring John Riggins back, who played at KU while I was there: he looks like he can still play, even at the age of 63.

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Chris1955 2 years 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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BABBOY 2 years ago

Typical KU.

Matt tries to talk football and you idiots are more concerned with grammar and spelling......

Not a football school.....

By the way, KU will be fine on offense. Defense is the issue of concern.

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Mike Mainzer 2 years 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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OonlyBonly 2 years ago

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

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ejlumus 2 years 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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Andy Hess 2 years 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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Keith Hummel 2 years 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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John Myers 2 years 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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Matt Bowers 2 years 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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clevelandjayhawker 2 years ago

Where did Darian Miller end up going to school?

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Randy Maxwell 2 years ago

He'll be fine and starting by game 5

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andrewbary 2 years 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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april28 2 years 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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Alex Berger 2 years 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 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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2 years 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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Kevin Long 2 years 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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bville_hawk 2 years 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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kef104 2 years ago

Paragraph 4, since should be sense.

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andrewbary 2 years 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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