When you’re talking about a team in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the old chicken-or-the-egg question seems a little irrelevant.
After all, a loss is a loss, bad is bad and searching for silver linings is a waste of time. In KU’s case, week after week, the question sounds something like this: Which hurts first, the offense or the defense?
On Saturday, during a 41-14 homecoming loss to Texas Tech, it was the offense. And that’s the way things have been trending of late.
Sweet uniforms. Gorgeous day. No life on offense.
For what it’s worth, there’s probably no wrong answer here. But, at the risk of stating the obvious, you’ve got to score to be in a football game. KU has now done that exactly three times in its last eight quarters of football. And two of those scores came during Saturday’s final minute, when back-up QB Miles Kendrick led touchdown drives against a bunch of Red Raiders second and third stringers.
By then, the damage had been done. And even though Kendrick looked pretty crisp, it’s hard to say it mattered much in the big picture.
The Jayhawks should, though, be commended for fighting to the end. That, too, doesn’t mean much to most people. But it’s something that head coach Lance Leipold demands and believes needs to become a permanent part of the culture in this latest attempt at a turnaround. So, huzzah to that.
I’ve always been a big believer in the idea that defense wins, and countless teams — even at Kansas — have proven that to be true over the years.
But I also think there’s validity to the idea that offense keeps you in games. An effective offense also helps out a defense.
On Saturday, the Kansas offense did neither, even though there were plenty of opportunities to do both.
Despite the final score, this was not one of those brutal bludgeonings where the Jayhawks were outclassed from start to finish.
They had chances to score points, sustain drives and stay in the game. But the offense was unable to do it.
Quarterback Jason Bean continued to show that facing Big 12 defenses is a different animal. Consider his numbers against KU’s three non-conference foes compared to his numbers against Big 12 opponents.
Against South Dakota, Coastal Carolina and Duke, Bean completed 48 of 81 passes for 675 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added two rushing touchdowns in those three games.
Against Baylor, Iowa State and now Texas Tech, Bean has completed 29 of 58 passes for 257 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Add to that no rushing touchdowns and just 10 carries for 33 yards in the past two games combined, and you’re starting to see the point.
So much of KU’s hopes on offense are tied to Bean. Not only does he have to make good reads and get guys the ball, but he also has to be good enough through the air to open things up for the Kansas rushing attack, therein giving KU better balance and more of a chance.
None of what’s above are light-the-world-on-fire types of numbers. And Bean certainly should not be expected to change the funk that KU is currently in all by himself. But in this conference, against nine other teams who entered Saturday averaging 35.1 points per game, the offense has to find a way to keep up.
If it can’t, well, it won’t matter what the defense does then.
Welcome to the current conundrum for Kansas football. Maybe the question shouldn’t be which side of the ball hurts first, but rather which one will get better first?
For Kansas football fans, there was not much to like about Saturday’s 59-7 beatdown in Ames, Iowa, a lopsided loss to an Iowa State team that is far better than its record or lack of a national ranking suggested.
But if you cheer for the boys in crimson and blue and didn’t see something like this coming, I’m not sure how to help you.
Vegas saw it. The Cyclones were a whopping 34.5-point favorite over the Jayhawks, and, despite their two losses, are still regarded by many as a top-15-type team.
Sure, maybe the final score could have been better. Or perhaps Kansas could’ve hung around for a half again before breaking. But, as the previous three weeks had shown, those things really don’t mean much to the outcome.
With a bye week up next — talk about terrific timing — let’s evaluate where the Jayhawks are five games into the Lance Leipold era.
But instead of looking at stats or searching for signs of life, the evaluation can be boiled down to one word.
And to find it, all you have to do is drop the second R and change the G to a C.
Because it’s not progress that should be measured this season, it’s the process.
Any time major changes take place in sports, it’s human nature to look for signs of progress. But expecting those in Year 1 of a new coaching regime — in Lawrence, Kansas, of all places — is more than a little unrealistic.
So, focus on the process instead, as ugly as it may currently be. After all, these types of rough outings and the lessons that can — and absolutely must — be learned from them are a part of that process.
And it’s much easier to embrace that line of thinking than it is to search for tangible signs of progress with a roster that is simply overmatched in too many areas to compete in the Big 12 Conference.
A couple of months ago, the hope within the program, and certainly of the fan base, was that these types of ugly losses — the ones that really sting and stand out in bright, bold numbers on the scoreboard — would no longer be in play under Leipold.
Someday, that will be the case.
But the man is not a warlock. He didn’t come to Kansas with magic potions, secret spells and the ability to make 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebackers who run 4.3-second 40-yard dashes appear out of thin air.
He’s a football coach. And he has proven to be a good one. But expecting him to do what he did at Buffalo or Wisconsin-Whitewater in half a season at Kansas is not just putting the cart before the horse. It’s looking at a lumber yard and picturing the cart before the horse that will one day pull it is even born.
So forget measuring this season by progress.
Maybe Kansas will hold Oklahoma or Texas to fewer than 30 points. And maybe Kansas will cover the spread when it faces Kansas State or Texas Tech. Maybe Leipold’s Jayhawks will actually improve as the season moves on and wind up playing their best football in November.
Maybe, maybe, maybe. And maybe not.
This team has to get a lot better. And it’s on the coaches to make that happen. Period.
But as long as you can stand behind the approach Leipold is using and the culture he’s trying to create, then the here and now of it all will sting less and the process will be worth something.
If you can’t? Well, you’ll probably continue to be frustrated and perhaps even a little surprised when Saturdays the rest of the fall continue to play out this way.
Lance Leipold’s confidence is currently the most consistent thing about a Kansas football program trying to find its rhythm
Late during his regular Tuesday press conference at the Anderson Family Football Complex, Kansas coach Lance Leipold briefly interrupted a question from a reporter to set the record straight.
The question began: “As you’re trying to build this thing…”
The interjection went like this: “Oh, we’re going to build this thing,” Leipold said with a grin followed by a swig of water. “Not try. We’re going to.”
And Kansas fans should feel lucky to have a front-row, all-access look at how it’s going to be done.
The true turnaround still may be years away, if it comes at all. And the challenges that Leipold and his players and coaching staff face are too numerous to list here. But the confidence of the head coach does not appear to be one of them.
That’s worth noting because of Leipold’s demeanor in the aftermath of last Saturday’s 45-7 loss to Baylor. In his postgame press conference, Leipold was noticeably emotional and visibly upset about his team’s shortcomings and the way a 14-7 game at halftime turned into a bloodbath in the third quarter.
Kansas fans should want that. It’s good to see that losing a game like that affects him. If it didn’t, KU would be in jeopardy of walking down the same la-dee-da path of complacency after tough losses. No one has time for that.
Three games into his KU career, and coming off of a loss that he admitted “was a little bit more of a sting,” Leipold now has a better feel for exactly what he has gotten himself into.
And while life at Kansas is vastly different from what he experienced at Wisconsin-Whitewater or Buffalo, Leipold does not appear to have forgotten what it takes to build because of the success he enjoyed at his last two stops.
It starts with consistency. And while it may be a while before consistency of any kind shows up on the field on game days, we’re seeing it just about every time Leipold steps up to a microphone, win or lose.
He has proven to be very good at answering questions in a thorough manner and with the kind of explanations that help you see both what he’s talking about and what he visualizes down the road.
He has yet to face any real tough questions, but, at Kansas, aren’t they all tough in one way or another?
What makes his ability to answer them all the more impressive is that he’s answering questions mostly about issues he had no part in creating.
More important than any of that is the fact that Leipold always goes out of his way to remind anyone listening that the responsibility for everything that happens within this program now falls on him. Good, bad or indifferent.
“We have to do a better job coaching,” he said Tuesday. “It starts with us. We can’t be mad at the player whose on-the-job training is also on Saturdays.”
That concept of on-the-job training is a big part of this. Ask anyone in the program whether these players are willing to put in the work required to move Kansas football forward and they’ll say yes before you even finish the question.
But just because someone is willing to do something does not mean they’re ready to do it.
Think about how many 13-year-olds would happily hop behind the wheel of a car. And then think about what the streets in your town would look like if we let them. It probably would be the traffic equivalent of 45-7.
Leipold is rocking with a bunch of 13-year-old drivers right now. And while that may pay off at some point down the road, it also forces him to keep his focus on developing them the right way rather than expecting them to have it licked in a matter of a few weeks.
That’s why this coaching staff is so eager to push consistency and why that trait, if they can acquire it, might be the magic formula that brings about real change.
“It’s getting us to be consistent,” Leipold said Tuesday. “Individually and then within a unit and then a side of the ball and a team and all those things. Once we start seeing it more, confidence goes (up). And if you start stacking those (things) up, then you start playing better.”
KU’s next opportunity to do that will come at 3 p.m. Saturday in Durham, N.C., where the Jayhawks (1-2) will take on Duke (2-1) in their final nonconference game of the season.
Before we get too far into this column, let me start by saying that none of what you’re about to read should come as a surprise.
Yet, because of things like human nature and emotion and hope, there we were on Saturday morning, seeing and hearing from Kansas fans who genuinely believed that the Jayhawks not only could be in the game with Baylor but also could win.
They weren’t. They didn’t. Baylor 45, Kansas 7.
Roughly as many people showed up for KU’s Week 3 game and Big 12 opener as were there in the season opener. And by early in the fourth quarter nearly all of them were gone.
Just like that, a day and game that started with some excitement and optimism ended the way we’ve seen so many KU games end in recent years — with a lopsided outcome on the scoreboard and the cold, hard glare of concrete serving as the backdrop for the final meaningless minutes.
This is not the fault of the current coaching staff or even the players who were out there fighting on Saturday. This is the fault of reality. And the reality is KU still has a long, long way to go before it can expect to be competitive in the Big 12 Conference.
Remember, this was an unranked Baylor team that had not proven anything yet. Not only that, this latest Bears team to lay a beat down on Kansas wasn’t even one of the 21 teams that received votes in this week’s Associated Press poll.
You know who was? Five of KU’s final nine opponents, meaning that seven of KU’s nine remaining games will come against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes this week. Generally speaking, those aren’t the kinds of teams that this Kansas team can be or should be expected to beat.
It’s things like that, and outings like Saturday’s, that should — and now likely will — keep Kansas fans from overreaching for relevance the rest of this season.
Lance Leipold was hired to rebuild a program that was in the gutter long before he ever considered taking on the challenge. It was never going to happen overnight.
It was clear during the postgame press conference that this unfamiliar feeling is not one that Leipold is used to or willing to accept. That can only help. But even with that, the progress is going to be a slow-and-stalling sort of thing.
Leipold’s message to his team after Saturday’s game was simple: Own the beating, accept responsibility and come back more motivated than ever to improve.
It’s really all they can do. And it’s what Leipold and his coaching staff will demand, which, in the big picture, provides some long-term hope.
The hope that comes in the short-term, though, is just too fragile to be real.
Consider the most gut-wrenching part of Saturday’s blowout as proof of that.
After surviving an ugly first quarter and finding their way back into the game in the second quarter, the Jayhawks trailed just 14-7 at halftime and had all the momentum on their side heading into halftime. For that 20-30 minute portion of Saturday, KU appeared poised to make its believers look awfully good.
And then, just five plays into the second, it was over — the game, not just the momentum.
A three-and-out by the Kansas offense. A KU punt. And a 69-yard touchdown pass by Baylor on its first offensive snap of the half put this one on ice.
The rest was merely a formality and it set up an October and November that will test both this team and its fan base that proved through two home games that it was willing to show up to support this team.
We’ll see where things go from here.
Two games into the 2021 college football season, the Kansas Jayhawks sit at 1-1 and with an equal number of reasons to be encouraged and frustrated.
What that means to the long-suffering Kansas fan base that showed up in force for the season opener two weeks ago will be revealed at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, when the Baylor Bears come to town for the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
First-year Kansas coach Lance Leipold knows what he’s hoping to see. So do the players, first-year Athletic Director Travis Goff and the rest of the KU administration.
“It’s a chance for us,” Leipold said Tuesday. “I’m just glad to be at home again, and hopefully our fans — and of course the students — that were so impactful in the first game of the year come back out and watch. And hopefully they see that this group is working hard and that they can be an impactful thing for our conference opener.”
The Bears enter Big 12 play at 2-0, with a 29-20 win over Texas State in Week 1 and a 66-7 shellacking of Texas Southern in Week 2.
Given the opponents, those outcomes are almost as drastically different as KU’s first two outings, which produced a close-call win one week and a 27-point road loss to a ranked opponent the next.
Leipold said Tuesday was the first time he had even considered whether he wished KU had another so-called tune-up game before jumping into Big 12 play. But the numbers show in might not have been a bad thing.
KU will play at Duke (1-1) in Week 4 on Sept. 25, and the Blue Devils enter Week 3 ranked 77th in the FBS in total defense and 22nd in team offense.
KU, meanwhile, is 71st nationally in total defense and 103rd in total offense.
Baylor’s numbers? The Bears rank 16th in total defense and 11th in total offense. So, yeah, maybe that Duke game to close out the non-con schedule this week wouldn’t have been so bad after all.
Then again, this coaching staff and this administration are not wired to determine the health and hope of the Kansas football program by how things look today.
“We’re going to have positive things happening that aren’t always going to show up on the scoreboard that are going to be signs of progress,” Leipold said Tuesday, voicing a popular refrain from the past decade.
But then he added the key part.
“And we have to balance those and keep working on those but not get into moral victories and think that’s going to do it for us," he said.
Win or lose, finding a way to keep the stadium full and rocking the way it was during the opener into the meat of the season would qualify as a moral victory in its own right. And that would be one worth celebrating.
Now it’s time to see if there’s anything the Jayhawks can add to it.
Realignment Today: Reports indicate Big 12 planning to officially invite BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join the conference as soon as Friday
The Big 12 Conference could have a decidedly different look as soon as Friday, even if it won’t impact the schedules and competition for a couple of years.
According to multiple reports this week, including one from CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, the Big 12 appears to be on the brink of ballooning to 14 teams at least for the next couple of years.
The league would go back down — or is it up? — to 12 schools upon the departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, which, as of today, is still slated for 2025 at the end of the Big 12’s current grant of rights agreement.
According to Dodd’s report, sources told him that Big 12 presidents — not ADs or commissioners — were prepared to “rubber stamp” invitations to four schools at a Friday meeting.
The four schools who are expected to be added are BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida, a group that emerged as the leading expansion candidates early on in the aftermath of the bombshell news dropped by OU and UT.
According to multiple reports this week, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF have officially applied for Big 12 membership and are expecting to receive invitations. It is not yet clear whether BYU has made a similar request, but, according to several recent reports, the Cougars emerged as the Big 12’s top choice in the current expansion talks.
Because of its status as an independent in football, BYU potentially could join the Big 12 as soon as 2022, with the three other schools following a year later.
While the addition of these four schools will not entirely make up for the losses of big, bad national brands Oklahoma and Texas, reports have indicated that it could be enough for the Big 12 Conference to keep its Power 5 status.
That would be significant both in terms of annual revenue haul and the conference’s ability to keep its access to the biggest pay day of all as the other power conferences explore expanding the college football playoff from its current four-team format to as many as 12.
It also would bring some much-needed stability to the conference — temporary or otherwise — and could make current members less likely to feverishly look for landing spots elsewhere as had been the case a couple of weeks ago.
That’s not to say that a few of the conference’s remaining eight members could not wind up somewhere else a few years down the road. But it does likely mean that if a school like Kansas is going to end up somewhere else, like say the Big Ten, it will be because things changed in that conference and the Big Ten decided to expand and went after KU or whichever other schools it might consider adding.
If that were to happen, KU almost certainly would have to take the invitation. Because while the move to add these four today would help ensure the Big 12’s survival, the conference has proven twice now that it can become vulnerable at any moment.
Beyond that, the Big Ten pay day would still be far greater (nearly double) than what a revamped Big 12 will pull in from its new television deals/partners, even if that number winds up being $20-25 million per school per year.
If no other invitation comes, KU, and others, finding a way to salvage $20-25 million annually from TV revenue should be considered a major victory. Sure, it’s a dip from the current $35 million range that Big 12 members are enjoying. But it could have dipped way lower.
There’s still a long way to go before those numbers become reality. And perhaps there will be some new, innovative twists to what the Big 12 does moving forward that make it (a) more appealing long term, (b) more lucrative for its members or (c) harder for anyone to get out once they’ve committed to the revamped conference.
But all of that can and will be settled over time, which the Big 12 now appears to have thanks to its willingness to move quickly to add what appears to be the best of what was available.
Kansas coach Lance Leipold not apologizing for close-call win over South Dakota; just the opposite, in fact
Before diving into Kansas football coach Lance Leipold’s breakdown of KU’s Week 1 victory after watching it on film, let’s start with the most important thing Leipold said during Monday’s press conference.
“There’s not a position on our team that we can’t get better at,” he said.
If that does not give you a clear look at exactly how KU’s new coach hopes to build this thing, you might never get it.
There were plenty of players and even position groups that performed well during last Friday’s season-opening victory over South Dakota. But those performances are now yesterday’s news.
In order for those outings to matter, Leipold wants to see those same guys perform that well again. And again. And again. And again.
His players themselves and the rest of the coaching staff are seeking that, as well.
If KU gets to the point where enough guys are doing that enough of the time, then there may be reason for optimism in Lawrence.
Until then, the Jayhawks are still just one track into recording something they hope will sound more like a Top 40 hit and less like the kind of death metal that comes pouring out of an angry teenager's bedroom.
No one is going to brag about KU’s three-point win over an FCS program. More, bigger and better was the goal.
But when you consider that wins have been so tough to come by at KU in the past decade, the fact that Leipold and his program have openly embraced that 17-14 victory as a good first step is also a sign of how they plan to build this thing.
Humbly celebrate the successes, no matter how big or small. Work hard to fix and eliminate the failures. Do that until the tally marks in Column A far outweigh the number of tally marks in Column B. And then keep going.
In Week 1, the mere fact that Kansas found a way to win after going down 14-10 with 5 minutes to play is good enough for a mark in Column A.
“The thing that I was most proud of is the things that I maybe saw on film last year when things didn’t go right, and how we responded and overcame that,” Leipold said Monday. “And yeah, you can say. ‘It’s an FCS team’ or whatever. All those other things that I’m not going to worry about right now.
“The fact is, this team came from behind when it had to, and it had a fourth and 10 and other things, and we found a way to win a football game.”
Fans and foes alike speculated after the game that many Kansas teams in that same scenario in recent years would have found a way to not get it done.
Leipold was asked Monday if he saw anything specific on that last offensive drive that illustrated why this team came through in that situation last Friday night.
While acknowledging that he wasn’t in the huddle, the first-year KU coach pointed to a few things he believed were factors.
Quarterback Jason Bean’s composure and center Mike Novitsky’s positivity topped the list.
“Hypotheticals are always tough, to say whether or not it would have happened in another year,” Leipold said. “I'm just awful glad it happened Friday.”
The Jayhawks are going to have to improve a lot — remember that opening quote? — before anyone is going to predict them to be competitive the rest of the way. After all, Vegas listed Coastal Carolina as a 27-point favorite when the line for this Friday’s game first came out.
But Leipold and company are hoping that a little confidence from their early success combined with the new mentality of several fresh faces may expedite things a bit.
“There is enough newness in some of the personnel that hopefully can help change things as we go through this season,” Leipold said.
This week, KU travels to No. 17 Coastal Carolina on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff that represents one heck of a test and an even better opportunity.
Picking a starting quarterback for the Kansas football program in 2021 comes down to how much risk coaches are willing to take
First-year Kansas football coach Lance Leipold still has until Friday night to reveal the identity of KU’s starting quarterback, but it seems like several people following the race already have made up their minds.
So I figured why not join them?
For me, this battle has come down to two Jayhawks — senior Miles Kendrick and sophomore transfer Jason Bean.
Before I go any further, let me remind you that my opinion is based almost entirely on what I’ve heard and learned from talking to people and not from watching the competition play out in practices, the bulk of which were closed to the media.
All three QBs vying for the starting nod, including sophomore Jalon Daniels, have traits that make them appealing choices. You’ve surely read or heard plenty about those. On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki said he'd be comfortable with any of them playing.
But it’s two of those strengths that have me down to Kendrick and Bean.
Kendrick’s ability as a game manager could be ideal for the kind of offense KU wants to run in Year 1. Rely heavily on the ground game, ask Kendrick to throw it 12-15 times a game — high percentage throws at that — and allow him to use his maturity and poise to lead the offense and avoid trouble.
Bean’s speed and ability to hurt opponents by taking off and running make him an intriguing option, especially given the fact that KU is expected to feature its ground attack this season.
Highlighting those two is in no way intended to be a knock on Daniels. Remember, he’s still just 18 years old — he won’t turn 19 until Oct. 29 — and, in a sense, he’s still just a freshman.
The experience he gained last year, though important and real, came under such duress and took place in extreme circumstances that extended beyond just football.
Giving him a more natural chance to develop may benefit him a great deal in the future. And because of his age, he still has the potential to be a two- or three-year starter down the road.
Confidence and personality are not issues for Daniels. So let him spend the year competing, working, growing and improving while staying ready to roll in case he’s needed.
It’s entirely possible that he will be, even if he starts the season on the bench.
If you’re asking me to bet on who the coaches will go with, I might lean Kendrick. If you’re asking me who I’d go with, I’d probably lean Bean.
Choosing between the two is kind of like playing the lottery.
If you go big, and you go with Bean, hitting the right numbers could bring life-changing money. But if you’d rather play it safe and you want to go with a $5 scratcher ticket, don’t be surprised if even a win only brings you 50 bucks.
No matter which QB the Kansas coaching staff picks, none of the three probably changes the win/loss record all that much this season. So you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
But Leipold has talked a lot about getting games to the fourth quarter and being more consistently competitive than KU has in the recent past, win or lose.
Kendrick and Bean, in different ways, seem best suited to do that. And, of the two, Bean brings the more exciting skill set and greater potential to the field.
While Kansas football wins might still be tough to come by, better effort, execution in opener could be a sign of better days ahead
It’s game week for the Kansas football program, and we’ll know soon enough whether things really do look and feel different for the Jayhawks under first-year head coach Lance Leipold.
Up to this point, they certainly have. But hearing tales about things being done differently from one coach to the next is a tired exercise for KU fans.
They want to see it. And this team, with its new coaching staff and combination of new and returning players, has an opportunity to show Jayhawk Nation what it has been longing to see for more than a decade now.
The Jayhawks are a little more than a two-touchdown favorite against visiting South Dakota on Friday night. So it’s more than just the 100 or so players inside the Kansas locker room who believe that this team will start the 2021 season on a high note.
But it has to be about more than just winning the game.
Believe it or not, the Jayhawks are actually 7-4 in their last 11 season openers. But only once (2011) did a win in the opener lead to a 2-0 start.
And let’s not even talk about what season-opening losses to Coastal Carolina (2020), Nicholls (2018), South Dakota State (2015) and North Dakota State (2010) did to the hope for those seasons.
You can’t build momentum without getting off to a good start. And even in many of the games they won in the last 11 season openers, there were enough concerns that showed on game night that left doubt and leveled confidence heading into Week 2.
So, what constitutes a good start, one that might actually make fans feel like things are different with this program?
A 31-7 victory? You bet. Scoring 50-plus points? Maybe. Playing a clean game free of self-inflicted mistakes and miscues? Absolutely.
While those are the types of things both Jayhawk fans and Leipold and his staff will be watching for on Friday night, the players themselves will be focused on one thing and one thing only — doing their jobs.
If that sounds a little too Bill Belichickian for your liking, I understand. But, boy, that sure would be a good mantra for this program to follow as it officially opens up another try at rebuilding.
The players know that. This coaching staff has lived it. And, as the Jayhawks prepare to move to 1-0 for just the fourth time since 2015, there appears to be some synergy at work that hasn’t always been there in the past.
Junior safety Kenny Logan, who has charisma for days and is right at home in his role as one of the team leaders, says he can’t wait to get back out there in front of the fans on Friday night. But it’s not because of the energy and the excitement that he hopes will fill the stands. Instead, he wants to show them that this team is worth watching.
Senior linebacker Kyron Johnson is so motivated to do things differently during his last go around in college football that he has reverted to things he hasn’t done since his high school days — more work before and after practices, with or without his teammates.
That’s how much he wants this coaching staff to succeed and to be a small part of the reason it does.
There are dozens of other stories of buy-in with this bunch, aided in no small part by the addition of former Buffalo coaches and players who already have been to battle with Leipold in the past.
The tough schedule and the fact that this version of KU's rebuilding adventure is still just starting sounds like a 2-10 season to me. But there should be enough on display — perhaps as soon as Friday night — to make you think that better records are ahead under Leipold.
According to a Thursday report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, it appears that University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod is part of a sub-committee charged with looking into potential Big 12 expansion, as the winds of realignment blow back toward the middle of America.
In the report, Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt reportedly said he, Baylor AD Mack Rhoades and “presidents” from Iowa State and Kansas were on the committee.
Later in the story, Hocutt said the group had been expanded to include all Big 12 presidents.
A KU spokesperson did not immediately respond to a Journal-World inquiry about Girod’s spot on the committee.
It also has been reported by several outlets that the Big 12 has turned to former West Virginia AD and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck to serve as a consultant to help the conference work through its realignment options.
The news of the Big 12 moving forward with expansion exploration came just hours after the Pac-12 announced its plan to “stand pat” rather than expand.
“Right now, our complete focus is to make the Big 12 as strong as it can possibly be,” Hocutt told the Avalanche-Journal. “And I expect that Texas Tech will play a leadership role in that. We’re going to continue to be part of the power-five structure in college athletics.”
With the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten entering into an alliance that binds those three power conferences together — at least philosophically and perhaps even as voting partners — and with the SEC doing the powerhouse football thing in the southeast, the eight remaining Big 12 schools have some decisions to make.
From the day Oklahoma and Texas announced their plans to move to the SEC, the talk in the Big 12 has been about the remaining eight staying strong and loyal and seeing what options they might have next.
While it may seem on the surface like their hand has been forced and that expansion and salvaging some kind of TV deal for its future survival is the conference’s only move, that may not be the case for at least the next three to four years.
Remember, as things currently stand, OU and UT are not planning on leaving the Big 12 until the grant of rights agreement expires in 2025. That would give all 10 current Big 12 schools four more years of solid financial footing.
It’s important to remember that simply putting together a committee does not mean that expansion is inevitable. And it’s certainly not imminent. After all, the Pac-12 just proved that in a matter of a few days.
And while Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday that the conference had no plans to expand, it is also important to remember that, in today’s wild times, that plan is more of a “that’s how we feel right now” sort of thing rather than an “it’s etched in stone forever” deal.
Things change. They always have. Things change often in college athletics these days. More so than ever before.
Best to be ready, or at least ready for Round 2 after getting blindsided the first time around.
According to the Avalanche-Journal report, the Big 12’s expansion committee is slated to meet Friday morning before a round of “in-person meetings next week involving Big 12 athletic directors and media and television consultants.”
“We’re continually talking to (Big 12) commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby as well as Oliver Luck,” Hocutt said in the story. “(We) feel very fortunate to have Oliver engaged in our con-versations in helping us navigate the waters, as well.
“There is a lot of interest in the Big 12 Conference," he added. “There is a lot of interest for people to be associated with us, to join with us. So we will take our time, be diligent and make sure we make the right strategic decisions for the long-term fu-ture.”