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Tale of the Tait

OU president David Boren taps the brakes on Big 12 expansion talk

Leave it to Oklahoma president David Boren, to date the loudest and most adamant opinion sharer in the Big 12 expansion saga, to flip this thing on its head the other direction.

Talking with reporters on Thursday in Norman, Oklahoma, Boren gave a very feet-on-the-ground, rooted-in-reality indication of exactly where the Big 12 Conference stands — at least through his eyes — concerning the idea of expansion.

His message, in short: "I think we kind got out ahead of ourselves," Boren told reporters. "Somehow, the speculation got out ahead of the reality."

CBSsports.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote this terrific recap of Boren’s meeting with the media, and, although the OU president’s comments don’t by any means put an end to the idea of expansion, they certainly bring things back a level or two and further promote the idea that nothing, perhaps other than more discussion, is imminent.

During the past week or so you’ve read a lot about the universities who have done the most “campaigning” for a spot in an expanded Big 12. ESPN.com revealed that representatives from Memphis, Colorado State, Houston and Central Florida all recently contacted leaders in the Big 12 about the idea of joining the conference and went out of their way to explain what they could offer the Big 12 if selected.

However, one of the most interesting aspects of Boren’s Thursday briefing was his claim that as many as 25 universities have contacted the Big 12 in some way, shape or form to make known their interest in joining the conference in the future.

For a conference that so many claim is so vulnerable, that’s an awful lot of interest. Sure, all of those schools currently reside outside of the Power 5 — at least I presume that’s the case — but it’s clear that all of them see great value in the Big 12. Even if many of them also are reaching out to the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and ACC, it at least has to be considered a good sign that the Big 12 is still seen from the outside to be on the same level as those other conferences. And why wouldn’t it be? Uncertain future or not, the Big 12 still includes some serious power players in college athletics and has growing television deals worth big bucks with the nation’s biggest networks.

Just as Boren’s comments about the need to expand did not make it happen overnight, his most recent words of caution about putting the cart before the horse do not mean that expansion talk is going away.

What those words do mean, however, is that, before this thing is all said and done the Big 12 may actually wind up stronger than ever before.

There’s still a lot of work to be done and plenty of wrinkles to smooth out before getting to that point — expansion still looms, the Longhorn Network/Big 12 Network issue is very real and talk of bringing back a Big 12 title game in football doesn't figure to go away quietly — but if a guy like Boren can come around like this in a relatively short period of time, there’s no reason to think the Big 12 Conference’s other most pressing issues can’t be taken care of as well.

"This is the kind of decision that has to be reached by consensus," Boren said of expansion. "It's not the kind of thing you say, "OK, by a vote of 8-2, we're going to do this.’”

Bingo.

I know the 80 percent vote, though a lot, is all it would take to get certain items crossed off of the Big 12's potential to-do or want-to-do list. But, if you ask me, it would be a wonderful show of solidarity if the conference demanded — either in writing or otherwise — that all issues up for a vote require unanimous support to pass.

That not only would ensure that any changes would be of an all-for-one-and-one-for-all mentality, but also would put the conference on more stable footing than ever heading into the future.

Reply 20 comments from Dannyboy4hawks Brett McCabe Len Shaffer Michael Lorraine Jack Joiner Chris Paradies Michael Maris Kyle Sybesma Vernon Riggs Matt Tait and 6 others

Five Jayhawks who helped themselves the most during spring football

Team wide receiver Keegan Brewer (17) puts a move on cornerback Colin Spencer (26) and cornerback Nathan Miller (47) after a catch during the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Team wide receiver Keegan Brewer (17) puts a move on cornerback Colin Spencer (26) and cornerback Nathan Miller (47) after a catch during the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It’s been a few weeks since the end of Kansas football coach David Beaty’s second round of spring football, but there’s still plenty to sort through in terms of what we heard and learned from the players and coaches this spring.

As the years have gone on, I’ve grasped a better understanding of the fact that we really don’t learn that much about a program during spring ball. Yeah, you might get to see a new addition to the program or check out the infant stages of a new offense or defense, but, for the most part, the hard work and the serious movement comes over the summer and during preseason camp.

Spring ball is just a time to jump back in, work on some fundamentals and see how much players retained from what you wanted to do last season.

That does not, however, mean that players don’t make themselves noticed and, from time to time, enjoy some serious strides in the spring.

Here’s a short list — in alphabetical order — of a few Jayhawks who did just that, at least the way it looked through my eyes.

• Jacob Bragg, sophomore Offensive Lineman

The third-year sophomore may very well have found a home on the offensive line and he spent most of the spring running with the first unit at that position. That’s good news both for the player and the program, because after his first couple of years in Lawrence, the once-highly-touted center was in danger of being passed over at his position of choice and falling into the category of another promising player who never panned out. With three years of eligibility still remaining and a home at his new spot (right guard), Bragg has a chance to more than pan out. Bragg played in 10 games a year ago and spent some of that time at both right and left guard, but he was not on the two-deep depth chart heading into the final game of 2015 and, with 10 extra pounds and much better mobility now appears ready to compete up front.

• Keegan Brewer, freshman Wide Receiver

I know I wrote about him a little this spring, but I don’t think you can say enough about the impact this Texan made. He’s lightning quick and also fast and appears to have great command of his routes and good hands. Beyond that, he also is extremely elusive. He plays at a deep position, but, with all of that talk last year about the Air Raid Offense using 8 or 9 receivers each game, you can’t convince me for a second that this newcomer is not one of KU’s Top 8 or 9 receivers. He’s going to play and I think he’ll be one of the more pleasant surprises in 2016.

• Tyrone Miller, sophomore Free Safety

For the most part, Miller is the same player he was a year ago. Like many Jayhawks, he added some muscle and improved in several areas in the weight room, but it’s not as if he suddenly grew four inches or switched sides of the ball. What he did do, however, is return to his natural position of safety, a move that should help both Miller and the KU secondary. Whether it’s Miller or senior Bazie Bates IV who starts alongside Fish Smithson at safety, the Jayhawks have upgraded the position — either through depth or a first-string stud — with a quality athlete who can compete with the athletes many other Big 12 programs send streaking down the field 60-70 times a game.

• Mesa Ribordy, red-shirt freshman Center

I remember Beaty first talking to me about Ribordy as an under-the-radar guy to watch this offseason. Evidently the offensive lineman who came to KU as a walk-on is very much on the radar these days. Everything I heard from a handful of people I talked to said that the 6-foot-4, 300-pound athlete was one of the better offensive linemen in the program this spring. He’s pushing for reps at center and also is versatile enough to play guard. His development is just one piece of good news at a position of major need with this team. And whether he winds up starting or provides quality depth at three different positions, Ribordy figures to be an important part of KU’s future and may be a factor as soon as 2016.

• Jace Sternberger, red-shirt freshman Tight End

Like a bunch of players in the program, Sternberger added some serious weight/muscle this offseason and now, at 6-foot-4, 236 pounds (up 11 from last year’s roster) looks like an absolute beast. The best part about the Oklahoma native’s new look is that it did not appear to do anything to his mobility, quickness and speed. Remember, this was a guy who also played D-End in high school and he is very strong and has some very good feet. We did not get to see much in terms of the way he was used in scrimmages this spring, but what little we did see showed a guy who I believe will be very active in this offense. He also looks like a dream to coach. During every drill I saw, when he was not the one running the drill, he was right there by the coach, waiting and taking instruction. What’s more, when they did show some live offense, he never strayed too far from Beaty’s side and Beaty always seemed to be looking for him. He’s not a true tight end in the way that Ben Johnson is so there’s room for both of them on the field and I think they’ll use Sternberger more like a hybrid H-Back/Tight End, which could be quite a weapon if the O-Line can protect the QB and those fast receivers can clear some room.

Reply 7 comments from Michael Maris Tim Orel Dirk Medema Jack Joiner Matt Tait Kent Gaylor

TV sets, as much football programs, fueling Big 12 expansion talk

Let’s face it. By now we all know that any talk about Big 12 expansion or even conference realignment as a whole throughout college athletics is focused on one thing — football.

Taking that one step further, however, leads to the conclusion that, really, this whole thing is about television dollars and a relationship that can be formed between a conference and its television partners.

If it weren’t, and it were truly just about football, a program like Boise State would be a red-hot commodity, drawing attention from at least the Big 12 and Pac-12. But because Boise and the surrounding areas don't deliver a ton of TV sets, the Broncos can’t get so much as a sniff from anyone.

As it stands today in its 10-team form, the Big 12 Conference already has a pretty good television deal. Last year, the 10 members split more than $250 million in TV dollars, giving each athletic department a pretty nice chunk of change. And that number is expected to rise steadily through the end of the grant of rights agreement in 2025.

So when it comes to the idea of the Big 12 expanding — and whether it should or shouldn’t — the argument goes something like this: No way are we going to add a couple of teams and split the pie 12 ways instead of 10. That just doesn’t make good business sense.

Well, neither does self-destruction or, worse yet, extinction.

Reports have indicated that the Big 12’s TV partners have said that they would be willing to renegotiate their current deals in the event of expansion. But, as common sense would suggest, the more attractive the addition, the more likely the dollar amount is to go up. And, right now, there just aren’t enough ultra-attractive schools out there that would command a big increase in television dollars.

That’s why, if it’s me in charge, I look seriously at becoming the first to jump to 16 instead of just getting back to 12. We’ve seen in the past that 12 is vulnerable and making the jump all the way to 16 would show, at least on some level, that the Big 12 learned from its mistakes and would like to move forward as a more aggressive and pro-active conference.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the markets of the handful of schools that seem to come up most often in the chatter about Big 12 expansion. All population numbers are courtesy of the 2010 Census.

BYU

One of the most popular picks to be included if the Big 12 were to go from 10 to 12, BYU brings a national following because of its Mormon roots, but also just the 33rd best television market (Salt Lake City) according to stationindex.com. Still, with interest in the Cougars spreading from coast to coast and the opportunity to jump back into the Rocky Mountain region, it’s easy to see why BYU makes sense. Enrollment: 29,672. Population: No. 124, 186,440

Cincinnati

Believe it or not, Cincinnati actually ranks below Salt Lake City at 34th nationally. The Bearcats bring respectable football of late, a historically solid basketball program and inroads into a strong football recruiting base. Beyond that, the geographic advantage that comes with being close to West Virginia (308 miles) also helps Cincy’s cause. Enrollment: 43,691. Population: No. 65, 296,943

Memphis

Memphis is interesting in so many ways — solid basketball, football program on the rise, good geographic location, high-dollar support from FedEx — but only brings the 48th best television market to the table. That, along with the loss of red hot football coach Justin Fuente following the 2015 season (Virginia Tech), could put the Tigers on the outside looking in. But it sure sounds like Memphis is still a very viable option. Enrollment: 20,585. Population: No. 45, 646,889.

Colorado State

I spent some of my time growing up in Fort Collins and I’ll admit it; I just don’t see the Rams being the Big 12’s choice. For one, Colorado as a whole is just not that big of a college sports state and, with so many other things to do in terms of outdoor recreational activities, I’m not sure that’s changing any time soon. The talk is that CSU would deliver the Denver market, which comes in at 18th on the stationindex.com list. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt. But, even when Colorado was in the Big 12 the Buffs didn’t really deliver Denver. Colorado State is in a great college town and has made some serious strides to improve its facilities, including breaking ground on a brand new football stadium. It wouldn’t be the worst pick, but if TVs and travel partners for WVU are important, I can’t see the Big 12 going this direction. Enrollment: 32,236. Population: No. 159, 143,986.

Central Florida

UCF may not be the sexiest addition on paper, but it does get the Big 12 into Florida, which both puts the conference in one of the country’s biggest states population wise and most fertile football recruiting grounds, and infiltrates ACC and SEC territory. It also brings big time eyeballs and bodies. The Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne market ranks 19th nationally. Making the move into Orlando would be more of a bet on UCF’s future than a sure-fire victory today. Of course, with this round, are there any sure-fire victories? Enrollment: 60,767. Population: No. 73, 238,300.

Houston

If it’s bodies and televisions you want, Houston is an absolute home run. The issue here is that it’s known largely as a commuter school — an image it is trying to change — and it resides in Texas, where the folks in Austin who bleed burnt orange already are saying their beloved Longhorns carry enough of the Houston market. That may be true. But you can’t argue with Houston’s size and recent show of serious commitment to football. The Houston market ranks 10th on the stationindex list and, obviously, the school would be a fit geographically. Enrollment: 42,704. Population: No. 4, 2.1 million.

SMU

SMU is a little like Houston without all of the enormous upside. The Mustangs have some decent history in both basketball and football and appear to be serious about getting their football program going strong again. The problem is, SMU resides in Dallas, which is home to the Big 12 headquarters, and while that might seem like a big time advantage, it actually hurts SMU because the Big 12 does not gain much by furthering its presence in a city it already calls home. Enrollment: 11,643. Population: No. 9, 1.2 million.

UConn

While the Huskies deliver a couple of things that are important in this whole deal — expansion east, a big name and recent football success — the biggest thing they claim to deliver might be a reach. New York City. There’s no denying that the Big Apple has its share of UConn backers. And, with Storrs being just 140 miles northeast of NYC, the proximity claim is legit. But let’s be realistic here. Even if there’s something to be gained in NYC by adding UConn, it’s not as if the Huskies can claim that they’re bringing the entire New York market with them. That’s what makes this one tough to gauge. Heck, Boston, which sits just 85 miles northeast of Storrs, is closer than NYC but you don’t hear a ton of talk about a UConn addition delivering Bean town. There’s some intrigue here. And getting into the New England areas is not the worst idea (even if it is still 524 miles from West Virginia). But UConn is far from a slam dunk. Enrollment: 31,119. Population: If we’re counting New York, it ranks No. 1 at 8.2 million. Boston ranks No. 24 at 617,594. But I'm not sure UConn truly delivers either.

South Florida

USF is in a great city and is a school on the rise, but it would likely only gain consideration if the Big 12 were to go beyond 12. Would you believe, though, that Wichita actually is larger than Tampa? (Remember that if/when we ever get to the point where we’re talking about where KU might land in a world where the Big 12 no longer exists). That said, according to stationindex.com, Tampa is a far better television market, ranking 13th in the country. Pairing South Florida with Central Florida (the 13th and 19th best TV markets in the country) might give you a decent shot at laying a serious claim to TV sets in Florida and, from there, anything is possible, especially when you consider what joining a Power 5 Conference could do for the growth of both schools. Enrollment: 48,793. Population: No. 53, 335,709.

For comparison’s sake, the average enrollment of the Big 12’s 10 current schools is 28,554, with Texas (50,950) and Texas Tech (35,893) holding down the top end and TCU (10,323) and Baylor (16,787) sitting at the bottom. Kansas (27,983) and Kansas State (24,766) are right around the average and in the middle of the pack.

It should be noted, however, that nearly every Big 12 school resides in a true college town, which merely adds another wrinkle to the idea of expansion. Would the conference want to keep with that and expand only into other smaller, college towns or is now the time to branch out and start bringing some major metropolitan areas into the conference?

Yet again, the answer likely comes down to television dollars and little else.

Reply 18 comments from Jason Rogers Jim Stauffer Matt Tait Doug Longstaff Paul Poyfair Jayhawkmarshall Mark Kostner David Robinett Michael Lorraine Josh Galler and 2 others

Thunder fans show off college atmosphere vibe

Remember those times during the past few years when KU basketball coach Bill Self was asked about jumping to the NBA and responded with something about the situation in Oklahoma City, with their beloved Thunder, being as close as there is to a college atmosphere in the NBA?

Well, the Thunder fans were at it again on Tuesday night. And after a road game, no less.

Playing Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Spurs in San Antonio, the Thunder gritted out a 95-91 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. All-world point guard Russell Westbrook went off for 35 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists and fellow member of the all-world squad — and former Longhorn — Kevin Durant touched the Spurs for 23, 6 and 5.

The come-from-behind triumph was a huge victory and put the Thunder in position to close out the series at home on Thursday night.

But it was when the Thunder returned home, after the short flight from San Antonio to OKC, where the Thunder fans started showing off their college spirit. Hundreds of energized Oklahoma City fans showed up to greet the team at the airport and several members of the Thunder roster documented the scene on social media.

This kind of thing is all but unheard of in the NBA and it happens every year in college, particularly in March after teams make good or deep runs in the NCAA Tournament.

To see it happen at the NBA level was incredible and merely added credence to Self's claim about OKC being as close to a college environment as there is in the league.

Cool stuff.

Reply 1 comment from Len Shaffer

Did Brannen Greene make the right decision in leaving Kansas?

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pumps up the crowd during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pumps up the crowd during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

With the NBA combine kicking off today, we already know that former Kansas University sharp-shooter Brannen Greene did not receive an invitation to the event, which runs today through Sunday in Chicago, and, therefore, will have to go about earning a spot in the NBA through team workouts and the old school grind.

The news came as no real surprise, and leaves Greene, who hired an agent and is not eligible to return to school, on the outside looking in when it comes to hoping for an NBA future.

Those facts got me thinking: Did Greene make the right decision in leaving Kansas?

Let’s take a look.

Invites to the combine were sent out to a little more than 70 players regardless of age. We learned Tuesday that an injury will keep Wayne Selden out of the combine, leaving former Jayhawks Perry Ellis and Cheick Diallo as the only KU players competing. And some fantastically talented college players — namely Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell — were not invited. Like Greene, those players will be hoping to catch the eye of the right team at the right time through pre-draft workouts.

What’s more, the NBA announced recently that 162 early-entry players had declared for this year’s Draft — June 23 in New York — with 117 of them being from the college ranks and 45 being international players.

That’s 162 players, not counting college seniors. And there are only 60 selections in the NBA Draft.

Needless to say, that makes the chances of landing a spot on an NBA roster a long shot for roughly 75 percent of those players hoping they’ll hear their names called in this year’s draft.

OK. So now that we’ve established all of that, let’s get back to Greene. Did he make the right choice in leaving?

The numbers above might suggest no, but the correct answer is yes. Why? Because it was simply time for him to leave.

Greene had three years to earn a regular spot in the rotation and, outside of a stretch here or a stretch there, did not do it. What’s more, he seemed to be in constant conflict with KU coach Bill Self — that’s rarely the way to go about getting more playing time — and, with the arrival of freshman phenom Josh Jackson, likely would have been, at best, the fifth man in KU’s perimeter rotation next season, behind Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Jackson and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.

Would there have been minutes for Greene next year? Probably. But would they have been consistent? Probably not. And would he have made the most of them? To that, too, you’d have to say probably not.

During his three-year career at Kansas, Greene recorded more suspensions than starts. In all, he played in 93 games and averaged a little more than 11 minutes per contest. That’s barely a quarter per game and anyone who watched those three seasons closely knows that he played single-digit minutes in roughly half of those 93 appearances. To think any of that was going to change next year is a reach.

I’m betting Greene knew that. Give him credit for that. A naïve player would’ve returned with the false hope and misguided belief that said, “Hey, it’s my senior year and it’s time to really make it count.” With Wayne Selden departing and the Josh Jackson commitment coming after he made his decision to bolt, Greene easily could’ve thought that way. But he’s too smart for that and clearly knew better.

He also could’ve believed that, because he would’ve been a senior, Self would’ve leaned on him for experience and that fact alone would have increased his minutes. But it’s not so much experience that gets you on the floor for Self as it is trust. And there’s no two ways about it; Self never trusted Greene.

That is merely one more factor that made leaving Kansas, regardless of what his pro basketball future becomes, the right move for Greene. He’s going to make it — or not — based on his ability to shoot the basketball at a world-class level. And nothing he would have done during one more season at Kansas was going to change that.

As stated above, Greene is one heck of a shooter and the NBA has proven that it has a place for players with that kind of specialized skill.

Nobody’s going to sign him for his defense or attitude or leadership. If Greene makes it, it’s going to be because he can square up, flick his right wrist and knock it down with the best of them.

So let’s say Greene gets picked up by an NBA team as a free agent and winds up making a roster after lighting up the summer league circuit. If that happens, he clearly made the right decision, that whole right place, right time thing, you know? From there, he begins an NBA career, that, with his skill set, could last a number of years and deliver big time bucks.

But even if that doesn’t happen and Greene is forced to give up his NBA dream and heads overseas to shoot the rock, he’s still going to be better off than he would’ve been playing 11 minutes off the bench at Kansas. He’ll be getting paid to play basketball and travel the world and he’ll actually be playing.

Greene needed a fresh start and KU needed a break from Greene.

Combine invitation or not, both the program and the player got what they needed from Greene making the decision he made and it should be interesting to see where Greene takes things from here.

Reply 21 comments from Navyhawk Chuck Holder Bobby Nightengale Yonatan Negash Robert  Brock Janet Olin Jeff Coffman Ben Kane Mike Greer Greg Lux and 11 others

Denver Broncos add another former Jayhawk

Kansas defensive end Toben Opurum reaches up to touch the recently installed bronze Jayhawk outside the Anderson Family Football Complex before kickoff against McNeese State on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas defensive end Toben Opurum reaches up to touch the recently installed bronze Jayhawk outside the Anderson Family Football Complex before kickoff against McNeese State on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Denver Broncos’ GM John Elway’s love of former Kansas football players has been well documented throughout the past several years.

Dating back to the addition of former Kansas cornerback Chris Harris as an undrafted free agent in 2011 to the addition of linebacker Steven Johnson a year later and the signing of Harris’ KU running mate, Aqib Talib, via free agency, it’s clear that Elway appreciates what former Jayhawks can bring to the roster.

Tuesday, that list grew by one when the Broncos claimed fullback Toben Opurum off of waivers from the New Orleans Saints.

Opurum, a former KU running back under Mark Mangino who was switched over to defense by Turner Gill and his staff, spent the past couple of seasons of his college career playing the Von Miller role for the Jayhawks. Opurum improved each year but never fully got his footing on defense and switched back to fullback prior to the 2013 NFL Draft in an attempt to make a roster on offense.

It worked. After signing with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Opurum was picked up by the Houston Texans later that year and then spent 2014 and 2015 with the Saints. He cracked the active roster with both the Texans and the Saints and spent the rest of the time on the practice squad.

Opurum’s road to making the Broncos’ 53-man roster this summer figures to be a long one, but there’s no question that this opportunity represents his best shot to make and stick with an NFL franchise full-time.

Recent events indicate that Denver head coach Gary Kubiak is very interested in operating with a fullback full-time in the Broncos’ post-Peyton Manning offense. Expect the Broncos to carry one fullback on their final 53-man roster, and Opurum was brought in to compete with 2016 sixth-round draft pick Andy Janovich, of Nebraska.

Janovich may have the advantage in that Denver invested a draft pick in him, but Opurum brings to the table the advantages of NFL experience and the ability to lean on Harris, Johnson and Talib for a better understanding of what it takes to play for the Broncos.

What’s more, all of that adversity that Opurum battled through at Kansas could wind up serving him well now, just as it did Harris during his quest to make the Broncos’ 53-man roster. That time spent on defense should have him prepared to shine on special teams and everybody knows that the fastest way to make an NFL roster is to excel at your position and stand out on special teams.

It should be fun to see how Opurum fares, but there’s no doubt that this is his best shot at truly sticking with an NFL franchise. The fact that it’s with the KU-football-loving Broncos should come as no surprise.

Reply 6 comments from Michael Lorraine Lcjayhawk Pius Waldman Michael Maris

KU football coach David Beaty visits the Mile High City

Throughout his time as the head coach at Kansas, head football coach David Beaty has been a master at getting out and visiting fans.

From Kansas City to Dodge City, Wichita to Topeka and a bunch of areas in between, Beaty and some of his staff have pounded the pavement to meet and shake the hands of as many KU football supporters as they could possibly find and their interactions always have gone over very well.

Fans who entered the meet-and-greets frustrated by the recent struggles of KU football have come away excited about the future and fired up by Beaty's words, message and plan.

Monday night in Colorado, Beaty joined former KU great and current Denver Bronco Chris Harris at a sports bar in Denver, where both the coach and the former KU cornerback talked to the fans that showed up about the state of Kansas football entering 2016.

Beaty talked about how much his team had improved thus far under his leadership and emphasized how the team's focus has remained on getting better every day and was fixed on the season opener against Rhode Island on Sept. 3.

Having Harris participate in the event was no doubt a big pull and it also should have come as no surprise. Even though he has been gone for several years now, Harris has remained a strong supporter of his alma mater and continues to bang the drum for Kansas football on Twitter, by returning to games and practices and in NFL locker rooms.

"We believe in him," said Harris of Beaty. "All the KU guys, all the alumni guys that played at Kansas, we all believe in him and we loved him when he was there. He gave us so much energy."

The following, courtesy of Kansas Athletics, is a quick video that gives you a feel for how Beaty operates during these outings, which will continue throughout the offseason as the Jayhawks work with strength coach Je'Ney Jackson and his staff to get better in the weight room and Beaty and company prepare for preseason camp in August and continue to hit the recruiting trail.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

There are all kinds of numbers and statistics in the game of baseball that stand alone and are universally recognized as milestones that dozens of baseball players chase year after year.

Few are as powerful as the .406 batting average delivered by legendary Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams in 1941, the last time a Major League Baseball player finished a season above .400.

Kansas City Royals legend George Brett came close in 1980, finishing that year at .390, but the quest for .400 has remained elusive and, with pitchers only getting more powerful, seems to more of a longshot than ever.

That’s at the Major League level. In college, although hitters top .400 on a much more regular basis because there are fewer games, fewer at-bats and fewer top-quality pitchers, hitting the milestone is still something to write home about, and, this season, the Kansas baseball team has one guy chasing the mark.

His name is Michael Tinsley, he’s a junior catcher from Menlo Park, California, and, with a 2-for-3 effort in a losing effort against Texas Tech on Saturday, he brought his average to exactly .400 for the season.

Tinsley followed that up with a 2-for-4 effort against Tech in the series finale on Sunday and pushed his average to .402 with seven guaranteed games remaining.

KU plays a three-game series at Kansas State this weekend and then will play one game at Wichita State next week before closing the regular season with a three-game set at Oklahoma State.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .402

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 2-for-4 in 6-3 home loss to Texas Tech on Sunday, May 8.

Details: Tinsley, who has worked hard on going to the opposite field all season, singled to left on a 2-2 count in the bottom of the first inning. In the bottom of the fifth, Tinsley repeated the feat, singling to left on a 2-2 count with one out. Tinsley also walked in the seventh and grounded out in the fifth and ninth.

Up next: Friday night at Kansas State.

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2017 Texas offensive lineman prospect Grant Polley de-commits from Kansas

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

While the Kansas University football coaching staff continues to mine the country for talent and send out offers to athletes in the Class of 2017 and beyond, one previously committed KU target has decided to go a different direction.

Class of 2017 offensive lineman Grant Polley, of Denton, Texas, this morning announced on Twitter that he was de-committing from Kansas.

"After further careful consideration, and many weeks of prayer I have decided to de-commit from the University of Kansas and open up my recruitment," Polley wrote. "I will not be entertaining any interviews concerning this as I just want to finish this school year strong, enjoy the recruiting process and focus on the upcoming season."

Polley, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman who initially committed to Kansas last January following the commitment of fellow-Class-of-2017 lineman Jared Hocker, has started to receive more and more interest from several big-name programs, including Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and others.

Because his commitment to Kansas was merely an oral pledge, Polley is free to re-open his recruitment and, though it probably is not likely, could choose to re-commit to Kansas down the road.

Polley ranks as the 65th best prospect in Texas by Rivals.com and is ranked as the 39th best offensive tackle in the nation.

His change of heart leaves KU with three oral commitments in the upcoming recruiting class — Hocker, Dallas running back Dom Williams and Louisiana athlete Travis Jordan.

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10 reasons why Bill Self is not leaving Kansas for the Houston Rockets

ESPN’s Marc Stein sent a jolt through the Kansas University basketball world on Wednesday when he Tweeted that the Houston Rockets are “intrigued” by the idea of Bill Self as their next head coach.

As many have mentioned on Twitter already, just because the Rockets are intrigued by Self does not mean Self is intrigued by the Rockets’ opening. What’s more, Stein has a long list of names on the Rockets “wish list” and most of them are guys with NBA experience, which the Rockets seem to value in their search.

Sure, it’s possible that Self could one day explore the idea of coaching in the NBA. Many believe that it’ll happen eventually in San Antonio, where his good buddy R.C. Buford runs the team. And even Self has talked about what a special situation Oklahoma City is, in his home state, with a couple of world-class talents like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But those jobs are not available at the moment and I just can’t imagine Houston being the situation that makes Self jump.

So, without further ado... 10 reasons why Bill Self is not leaving Kansas for the Houston Rockets:

1. Josh Jackson – There’s no way Self worked as hard as he did to land Jackson to say goodbye before he ever gets the chance to coach him. Especially not in exchange for the roster the Rockets have.

2. Big 12 title streak still in tact – We all know that it’s March success that gets remembered, but this Big 12 title streak is a big deal and there’s no reason to think it’s going to end any time soon. It’s not like he’ll stay to see it through the 27 in a row (or will he?) but I think passing UCLA and putting that kind of stamp on the history books is meaningful.

3. Have you seen James Harden “play defense” – Enough said. The guy is an amazing offensive talent, but he has no interest in playing defense — or even faking it — and I can’t imagine Self or anyone else getting through to him and changing that. And we all know how Self feels about players who don't play D.

4. More hardware, please – I’ve always thought (and heard) that winning a second national championship means a lot to Self. And until he gets one, I can’t see him going anywhere. There have been a lot of college coaches who have won one title. A lucky run, a hot streak or one strong recruiting class or player can deliver the trophy. But the coaches who have won multiple NCAA titles put themselves in elite company and I believe Self wants to be and belongs in that group. Add to that the fact that KU is positioned to be right there again at the end of the 2016-17 season and it’s easy to see him sticking around.

5. Tyler Self – It’s not as if Self’s son still being on the roster would prevent the coach from taking an amazing opportunity elsewhere. But it is a factor and this is not an amazing opportunity. Tyler has come this far and I can’t imagine Self choosing to bail during his son’s final season on the team.

6. Dwight Howard has to be a factor – Self loves big guys, but I don’t think he would love Howard. The Houston center has been a big time problem everywhere he’s been for the past several years and, even though he possesses all the talent and physical skill in the world, there’s just something missing there and I can’t imagine adding the Howard headache to your daily duties would be something anyone who already has a great job would want to take on.

7. Seniors matter – Much the same way Roy Williams had a hard time saying goodbye to Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison the first time he was offered the job at North Carolina, I think it would be tough for Self to say goodbye to guys like Frank Mason and Landen Lucas. Those two might not be as talented as Hinrich and Collison, but Self has been through a lot with both of them and respects them so much. Ditching them would be tough to do.

8. Money – I’m not sure what the Rockets could or even would offer to pay Self, but you can bet Kansas would do everything in its power to get close to that number to keep him around. So don’t think that this decision — if and when it ever happens — will be about money.

9. Big fish, little pond – Self likes being the man and as long as Kansas is winning he always will be the man in Lawrence, not to mention college basketball. Moving to Houston puts him in the position of having to compete — in a much bigger market — with the likes of the up-and-coming Houston Astros and the Houston Texans. Sure, Houston will support a winner in any and every sport, but those two programs are in great shape right now and definitely steal some of the thunder from the Rockets on an annual basis. There’s nothing stealing Self’s thunder in Lawrence and it just keeps rumbling louder and louder year after year.

10. Because he’s the friggin head coach at Kansas – Year after year, people love to discuss Self heading to the NBA. And it may happen some day. But it also may not. Self has a great gig, is king of the world in Kansas and has this thing rolling. Besides, just last year he talked about how he thought the program was on the verge of turning a corner for landing a ton of big time recruits. Why would anyone leave a situation like that?

Reply 23 comments from Dirk Medema Jay Scott Rick Link Texashawk10_2 Mike Greer Cosmic Pius Waldman Steve Macy Brett McCabe Shaun Battles and 1 others

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