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Posts tagged with Ku Football

2 years after calling out KU, Baker Mayfield is back in the middle of a handshake controversy

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws over Kansas linebacker Osaze Ogbebor (31) during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws over Kansas linebacker Osaze Ogbebor (31) during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It’s been nearly two years since Joe Dineen Jr. and the rest of the Kansas football captains walked to midfield at Memorial Stadium and refused to shake hands with the Oklahoma Sooners and future Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield after the opening coin toss.

Evidently, that’s long enough for Mayfield to forget how he felt about that move.

After that game, a 41-3 drubbing by the Sooners in November of 2017, Mayfield was asked about the pregame snub and said he had no idea where it came from.

“If that’s how it’s going to be, that’s how it's going to be,” Mayfield said that day. “Competitive games. I love that kind of stuff. But it’s just kind of funny that they wouldn’t shake our hands.”

Fast-forward to Monday night, with Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in San Francisco for an equally lopsided Monday Night Football game with the 49ers, and you’ll find something that doesn’t quite add up.

This time, it was Mayfield and his team on the opposite end of both the drubbing and the handshake controversy.

Rather than shaking hands with the Niners to open the game, Mayfield chose the route taken by Dineen and the Jayhawks two years ago, drawing the ire of San Francisco’s all pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

"That's some college (expletive),” Sherman told reporters after the game, according to NFL.com. “It's ridiculous. We're all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent — that's NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that's disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that's gonna get us fired up.”

“Respect the game,” Sherman added. “You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment — especially when you’re young. He hasn’t earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He’s acting like he was the MVP last year. If (Patrick) Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.”

Wednesday Update:

Throughout the day Tuesday, as Sherman's comments made the rounds, videos from that pregame coin toss began to surface.

Several of them, from different angles, actually showed Sherman and Mayfield shaking hands before the coin toss. Mayfield appeared to shake hands with all of the 49ers players gathered on the field for the toss.

When asked about the videos, Sherman immediately apologized, saying, "Sometimes you remember things a little differently than it happened. Obviously it still motivated me the same way."

Here's the full apology:

"It's definitely my bad," Sherman told the Pat McAfee Show. "I never want anybody to have to deal with some stuff that they didn't do. And so, you know, the questions that he's gonna get and the annoying, nonsense questions about some stuff that happened in a game that's already been done, you know, sure he'll get an apology for that. I'll probably reach out to him via text or social media to actually get ahold of him and talk to him ... on the phone. He definitely deserves an apology, and that's my bad on that."

Reply 4 comments from Doug Wallace Forever2008 Ashwingrao Titus Canby

If this is the end, Khalil Herbert’s Kansas career closes with a sour taste

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert runs into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert runs into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. by Mike Gunnoe

This new college football rule about playing four games and still being able to redshirt — now in its second year of existence — is great for the players when used properly.

And it’s an absolute disaster when it’s not.

Although there has been no official word from the University of Kansas or senior running back Khalil Herbert, that certainly appears to be what’s happening with the 2-3 Jayhawks right now.

After rumbling to 384 yards in four games and averaging 8.9 yards per carry, Herbert said thanks but no thanks to his team less than 24 hours before kickoff in Week 5.

The move preserved Herbert’s ability to redshirt the 2019 season, leaving open the potential for him to play in 2020 as a graduate transfer with a different program.

It also drew the ire of a few notable former Jayhawks and left his current teammates hanging heading into a 51-14 loss at TCU last Saturday.

I’m not in the business of calling out kids for decisions they make about their personal lives.

But it’s hard not to look at what’s happening with Herbert and not be at least a little bit disappointed.

Disappointed for the Jayhawks, disappointed for the fans, disappointed for the coaching staff and disappointed for Herbert himself.

If Herbert is, in fact, headed toward redshirting the rest of the 2019 season, that’s an incredibly bad look for a player who has been nothing but team-first and great to be around throughout his KU career.

For proof of that, look no further than the support he has received on social media from a handful of the teammates he appears to be suddenly saying goodbye to.

Truth be told, those posts, from players like Kyle Mayberry, Codey Cole III and others, are more of a nod to their maturity and team-first mentalities than anything else.

What Herbert is doing is baffling.

Even if it is the right thing for him personally — debatable — and even if his teammates are OK with it — I’m not sure they all are — you just don’t see something like this happen very often.

Taking away a team's leading rusher and most experienced offensive skill player is no small blow.

Beyond that, it's just not something you'd expect from someone who has been so all-in on supporting the rebuilding and grinding that it takes to be a Kansas football player with his head held high in the current climate.

As recently as Sept. 20, one day before what looks like it will go down as Herbert's last game as a Jayhawk, he was on Twitter, urging fans to #PackTheBooth and come out and support his team.

And now this?

Herbert’s a senior. He served as a captain for that West Virginia game and twice has been asked to represent the program at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

He’s KU’s leading rusher and enters Week 6 as the fourth-leading rusher in the Big 12. In many very positive ways, he also has been the face of this program for the past couple of years.

And, just like that, he’s out.

KU head coach Les Miles said Monday that the full story would eventually come out and, in no uncertain terms, Miles made it clear that he spent his fair share of time trying to talk Herbert into staying.

Former KU captain Ben Heeney, who was as bleed-crimson-and-blue as they come while winning just nine games during his four-year Kansas career, was not as understanding.

“Quitting on your team minutes before kickoff with the intent to redshirt and transfer is a losers mentality anyways let the kid transfer," Heeney tweeted on Sunday. "I don’t wanna hear all that ‘kid is doing what’s best for him.’”

When the rule change was announced in August 2018 — before then, appearing in even a single game eliminated a player’s redshirt options — the belief among players and coaches was that the new system would be best for freshmen and would allow them to get four games of valuable experience and development without costing them an entire year of their precious eligibility.

This is not that.

Herbert very well could go on to enjoy a strong 2020 season, priming him for a shot at the NFL and giving him a chance to win a few more games than he’s been accustomed to in college. There are still many people in and around Lawrence hoping he does just that.

And it’s hard to blame him for wanting either of those things. But there’s a right and a wrong way to go about getting them.

And quitting on your team midseason does not fall in the “right way” column. That’s a lesson many of us learned as far back as kindergarten, when you first started playing T-ball or youth soccer and wanted to quit when the ball didn’t bounce your way.

You and I didn’t get to then (thanks, Mom and Dad), and it’s hard to give Herbert a pass for doing it now.

Reply 8 comments from Barry Weiss Kall3742 Greg Ledom Dane Pratt Bship15 Cora Smith Steve Corder Dale Rogers

Darrell Stuckey one of a kind among KU football greats

Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey forces Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones to fumble during the second quarter. The ball was returned to the Sooners because of a penalty.

Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey forces Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones to fumble during the second quarter. The ball was returned to the Sooners because of a penalty. by Nick Krug

There were dozens of Kansas football players who embodied everything former KU coach Mark Mangino was about as a football coach.

But few of them did it with the likable blend of character, class, passion and dogged pursuit of safety Darrell Stuckey.

On Thursday, KU announced that Stuckey would be added to the school’s Ring of Honor at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium during a ceremony on Oct. 26, when the Jayhawks welcome Texas Tech to town for homecoming.

In two career games against the Red Raiders, Stuckey racked up 12 tackles, including one for loss and a sack. Too bad he won’t be playing.

There’s no doubt that he still could, but Stuckey’s adult life always has been rich with things beyond football.

That’s not by chance, but by design, and it is the foundation of the life Stuckey has built for himself with the help of friends, family, teammates, coaches and so many others.

You see, Stuckey’s is the type of personality you just want to be around. And it doesn’t matter where. Sporting events? Fine. Church? You bet. Dinner? Absolutely. The next pump over at the gas station? I bet you’d remember the moment.

Let me share with you a little glimpse into the Renaissance world of Darrell Stuckey.

The last time I saw him, Stuckey and I talked architecture over lunch. And by “talked architecture” I’m not talking about a discussion of our favorite buildings, stadiums, museums or monuments.

Instead, Stuckey, the former San Diego Chargers pro bowler who recently retired from the NFL, had pictures on his phone of blueprints and designs for the home he was building and shared all of them with the excitement and enthusiasm you might expect after a big hit or victory.

A one-time NFL Man of the Year nominee who received numerous college honors (including 2010 Big 12 Conference Sportsperson of the Year), spent five seasons as the Chargers’ special teams captain and was a fan favorite in San Diego – the city and the franchise — Stuckey’s life has always been about building up others and empowering them to be their best – particularly children.

Don’t get me wrong, he did his share of taking guys down on the football field. Never was there a better example of this than during the 2008 season, when Stuckey raced the length of the field to catch a Louisiana Tech player from behind to preserve a shutout in a game the Jayhawks won 29-0.

During his Kansas career, the local prospect from nearby Washington High in Kansas City, Kan., started 42 of 45 games, finished second among KU defensive backs in career tackles, with 295, and 10th on KU’s all-time interception list with eight.

As a pro, the fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft racked up 94 tackles, forced four fumbles, recovered four more and scored one touchdown while earning one trip to the Pro Bowl (2014) and playing in two playoff games.

He has hosted dozens of free football camps and clinics for young athletes in the area, runs a website — Living4One.com — designed to both interact with his fans and fellow humans and inspire the kind of positive acts that benefit all corners of society.

If the Ring of Honor were solely about character, Stuckey would have been up there the minute he graduated. Heck, his teammates probably would have sprinted up the stadium steps to write his name up there themselves.

In the news release announcing his inclusion, the former Jayhawk who continues to make himself visible and available to the program and the university said he was “humbled to be honored alongside those who came before me and those who are yet to be honored.”

That’s a nice sentiment and needed to be said. But it’s KU football that should be humbled and honored to call Stuckey one of its own and so clearly is.

In addition to his former teammates, Chris Harris Jr., Todd Reesing and Aqib Talib, who all went up on the Ring of Honor before him, Stuckey will be joining Gilbert Brown, Larry Brown, Anthony Collins, Nolan Cromwell, Bobby Douglass, Ray Evans, John Hadl, David Jaynes, Bruce Kallmeyer, Curtis McClinton, Mike McCormack, George Mrkonic, Willie Pless, Gil Reich, Gale Sayers, Otto Schnellbacher, Oliver Spencer, John Riggins and John Zook in the Kansas football Ring of Honor.

Reply 3 comments from David Kelley-Wood Tim Orel Dirk Medema

Just how good were KU and West Virginia’s wins over ACC teams last week and what does that mean for Week 4?

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) carries the ball against the Boston College Eagles during the first half of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) carries the ball against the Boston College Eagles during the first half of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019. by Chris Evans

Quick question for the group: Did Kansas and West Virginia figure things out in time to turn around their seasons last week or is the ACC simply down?

The answer to that is not yet known, nor will it be for several weeks.

After all, Clemson is still in the ACC, so it’s kind of hard to trash the entire conference, and 3-0 Virginia is also currently ranked in the AP Top 25.

Beyond that, though, there’s not much to write home about on the Atlantic coast. At least not yet. Traditional powers Miami, Fla., and Florida State, which each entered the season with high hopes, are off to 1-2 starts, with their lone wins coming over Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana Monroe.

After that, Boston College, Wake Forest and NC State appear to be the toughest challengers in Clemson’s division, and two of those three (BC and NC State) were rocked by Kansas and West Virginia last week.

And Virginia Tech, which lost to BC in Week 1, along with Duke and North Carolina, appear to be among the tougher teams in Virginia’s division. So, yeah.

Don’t take this blog to be the end-all-be-all of a Big 12 vs. the ACC breakdown because comparing the two is not exactly clean and easy. Not only does the ACC have four more teams but it also already has had a few schools play conference games this season while the Big 12 opens its conference slate this week.

Just for fun, though, let’s take the top 10 teams in the ACC and all 10 teams in the Big 12 and compare their standing in the latest Sagarin Ratings.

The Big 12, which is led by OU, Texas, Okie State, K-State and TCU all sitting in Sagarin’s Top 25, comes in with a total of 348 or an average ranking of 34.8. That’s even with KU sitting in 95th.

The ACC’s top 10, which includes just Clemson and Miami, Fla., in Sagarin’s Top 25, has a total of 365 and an average ranking for the entire 14-team conference of 49.4, with Boston College setting the low bar for both leagues at No. 96.

Per RealTimeRPI.com, the Big 12, through three weeks, ranks third nationally, with an overall record of 22-5 while the ACC ranks fifth with a 26-16 mark.

To be fair, the ACC’s strength of schedule as a whole ranks No. 1 in the nation right now while the Big 12’s ranks sixth. What’s more, four of those five Big 12 losses came to Power 5 foes, with the only one not residing in the Power 5 being KU’s home loss to Coastal Carolina.

Again, this is not designed to be a head-to-head comparison of teams in the Big 12 and ACC, and none of this will matter even a little bit the rest of the way. Even if the Big 12 and ACC find themselves squaring off in postseason bowl games, the only time people will truly care is if that comes in the College Football Playoff semifinals or title game.

The reason behind this blog was to examine just how good those recent wins by KU and West Virginia really were. Both teams obviously played quality football. There’s no denying that. And both were fairly substantial underdogs going into those games, with NC State favored by a touchdown and BC favored by 21.

Forget covering. Both ACC teams lost. And, mind you, we’re talking about two Big 12 programs picked eighth and 10th in this year’s Big 12 preseason poll pummeling them.

Not only did the Jayhawks and Mountaineers beat BC and NC State, but they beat them by an average of 21 points and combined to score 92 points in the process. This against teams picked to finish third and fourth (of seven) in the Atlantic Division in the preseason polls. One of them (NC State) even received two first-place votes before the season began.

Comparison or no comparison, it is interesting that KU and West Virginia are facing off the very next week after they both picked up big wins over ACC programs. Maybe the result of this week's Big 12 opener will tell us which team had the better win a week ago.

Either way, confidence is likely sky high for both teams and the Jayhawks and Mountaineers no doubt are preparing for this week’s Big 12 clash — 3:30 p.m. on ESPN+ Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium — with the idea that this is a winnable game, partly because of who their opponent is on Saturday and partly because of the teams they just beat.

Moving on from the ACC, here’s a quick look at how the Big 12 has fared thus far against other Power 5 programs:

vs. ACC: 2-0 – KU and West Virginia both handed out beat downs against ACC foes in Week 3, with Kansas winning at Boston College last Friday and the Mountaineers knocking off NC State at home.

vs. Big Ten: 1-1 – TCU took care of business with a convincing win at Purdue, but Iowa State dropped a one-point, lightning delayed game to in-state rival Iowa with ESPN’s College Gameday in town.

vs. Pac-12: 2-1 – Oklahoma rolled at UCLA and Oklahoma State knocked off Oregon State on the road. Texas Tech, meanwhile dropped a low-scoring game at Arizona in Week 2.

vs. SEC: 1-2 – K-State knocked off Mississippi State last week in Starkville, but Texas dropped a home game to LSU, 45-38, before that and West Virginia was drubbed at Missouri in Week 2.

Reply 1 comment from Jeff Coffman

Jayhawks’ beat down of Boston College a real attention grabber

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks fullback Hudson Hall (49) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Boston College Eagles during the first half of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks fullback Hudson Hall (49) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Boston College Eagles during the first half of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019. by Chris Evans

OK, Kansas Jayhawks. You have our attention.

Now what?

For the first time in who knows how long — years if you’re going by the calendar, 1,000 lifetimes if you’re measuring in heartache — the Kansas football team stepped onto the field and thoroughly dominated an opponent to the tune of Friday night’s where-did-THAT-come from 48-24 road win at Boston College.

When is 2-1 a better record than 2-0? When the 2 comes in convincing fashion just six days after the 1 that nearly sent everybody running for the exits.

Maybe it’s appropriate that this is the first year of the no re-entry, beer sales experiment at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Maybe this will be the year that Kansas fans won’t care where the exits are.

Maybe.

That word is important right about now because, through three games of the Les Miles era, we’re not quite sure what to make of this KU football team.

We know they’re imperfect. Miles likes to use that word himself.

We know that they’re tough. You don’t respond to a brutal home loss to Coastal Carolina one week with a stellar effort like Friday night without being tough as hell.

And we know that, against all odds, they’re coming home, with an extra day of rest and preparation, for a chance to move to 3-1 with a home game next Saturday against West Virginia.

If there’s a disappointing part about Friday’s wild win back east it’s what it wasn’t. Had Kansas taken care of business against Coastal Carolina in Week 2, the win over BC would’ve made the Jayhawks 3-0. Heads really would’ve been spinning then.

Then again, had they taken care of business against Coastal Carolina, they may not have had the drive of disappointment, embarrassment and anger to carry them to Friday’s victory.

Imperfect.

But alive. And interesting. At least for now.

Big 12 play promises to bring new challenges, tougher opponents and even less room for mistakes and miscues. The Jayhawks know that. Miles certainly knows that. And things are only going to get harder from here.

So let’s hold off on the bowl talk and win predictions for a little while longer. After all, things have not changed enough yet for anyone to know for sure that more days like Friday are ahead for this football team.

It’s possible, of course. However improbable that may be. And the kind of confidence a team can take from handing out a beat down like the one the Jayhawks delivered on Friday can be significant. In many ways, it felt significant while the Jayhawks were running all over the Eagles, like a turning point of sorts or, at the very least, a game and date you might want to circle to come back to if things really do finally turn.

There is, of course, a long way still to go before any real declarations about a turnaround can be made. Years, perhaps. After all, if a team can flip the switch and transform so dramatically in a positive direction like KU did from Coastal Carolina to Boston College, can’t it bounce the other way just as easily?

Time will tell on that. And while we wait for the verdict, Miles and company will continue to work to do the one thing that hasn’t been done in a decade around here: find a way to sustain success.

Friday night provided a glimpse of what’s possible. The question now is: When will we see it again?

If the answer is next Saturday against West Virginia, people may really start to believe things are happening.

Points. Pride. Fight. These were all things the KU football fan base needed to see from their team on Friday night, and KU delivered with its strongest sign of real progress in who knows how long.

The Jayhawks have our attention again. How long can they keep it?

Reply 16 comments from David Robinett Dannyboy4hawks West_virginia_hawk Brian Skelly Chuckberry32 Dane Pratt David Friend Runningbeakers84 Barry Weiss Mallory Briggans and 4 others

KU football’s 1-1 start not in sync with high bar of hope, expectations

Kansas head coach Les Miles talks to his team during a timeout against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.

Kansas head coach Les Miles talks to his team during a timeout against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. by Mike Gunnoe

Kansas football head coach Les Miles said all the right things after Saturday’s disheartening, haven’t-we-seen-this-before 12-7 home loss to Coastal Carolina.

From calling the setback painful to making it clear he was “unhappy” and even explaining that the rough result was an obvious sign that he and his program still had serious work to do, everything Miles said was both right and reasonable.

That is, for a coach who had not set the bar too high before he said it.

I sympathize with Miles and the position in which he finds himself. This job isn’t easy. And history has shown that most coaches don’t realize that until they get here and are in the teeth of the beast.

That’s why Miles should have, and easily could have, set the bar much, much lower than he did from the outset instead of letting words like “great” pass his lips far too often.

By lower, we’re talking about the kind of bar that would make the high jump in the Ant Olympics a compelling event.

Here’s how simple it could have been: From that mid-November day when he was introduced as the replacement to David Beaty, through two signing days, spring football in March and April and preseason camp in August, Miles could have uttered the following words and gotten away with it.

“This isn’t a very good football team and we have a lot of work to do. My hope is that we can find a way to improve each day and continue to get a little bit better to the point where we’re competitive more often than not. If we can do that in Year 1, win or lose, we’ll consider it a step in the right direction.”

That approach might not have sold a ton of tickets, but winning does that.

In fact, Miles could’ve said that and only that — or some variation thereof — for the past 10 months and nobody would have blamed him. Would it have been a bore? You bet. But Bill Snyder was always pretty boring over in Manhattan and that never hurt his team’s ability to play football.

The fact that Miles did not do that, and instead talked up how talented his team was and how strong specific position groups looked, is more a product of circumstance than naiveté.

Remember, this was a guy who watched football on television for the past two seasons after being fired by the school where he won a national championship.

Getting back in the game was no small moment in his life and his excitement, enthusiasm and overall joy about being back in charge of a college football team again — hearing it, seeing it, smelling it, tasting it — may have been so great that he lost sight of the reality of the situation.

Why fan the flames of expectation when nobody’s demanding that you do it?

Miles’ brand and the promise of a new direction for the long-suffering KU football program likely would have been enough to reclaim at least a good chunk of the fan interest needed to rebuild things.

I’m not saying Miles should not openly like and praise his players. That’s a great trait for a head coach to have. And I’ve now talked to a dozen or so Jayhawks who absolutely love the way he treats them, coaches them, cares about them and seems to do all of it with a genuine touch. That, too, is a necessary part of a rebuild and can do wonders in the big picture.

But in the here and now, Miles could have done most of that behind closed doors while doing his part to keep expectations in check when the cameras were rolling.

After a 1-1 start that was four minutes away from being 0-2, no one’s expecting much now. And you can’t help but wonder how many people will be around to watch the rest of the season unfold.

Kansas is an 18.5-point underdog at Boston College this week and will see betting lines in that neighborhood or higher most of the rest of the way. It seems like the only place to go is up. But it has seemed like that around here before and, well, you know the rest.

Miles and the Jayhawks still have 10 weeks of football left and should be judged on the total body of work of the season, not just the troubling start.

But the biggest question left now is not how many wins the Jayhawks will end up with this season, but where that bar will rest when the final horn sounds.

Reply 16 comments from Joe Baker Darin  Bradley Robert  Brock Layne Pierce Steve Corder Kevin Millikan Len Shaffer Phil Leister Matt Tait Joe Ross and 3 others

KU football player greeted with show of support at local burger joint

Kansas defensive tackle Charles "Codey" Cole takes questions from media members following head coach David Beaty's National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Kansas defensive tackle Charles "Codey" Cole takes questions from media members following head coach David Beaty's National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 at the Anderson Family Football Complex. by Nick Krug

Thursday night, after playing a little basketball with some friends, I stumbled onto a pretty cool moment at Five Guys while grabbing a hard-earned burger on my way home.

While I waited for my food, KU defensive lineman Codey Cole III walked in and approached the counter to place his order.

Well aware that Cole was a Jayhawk and wildly interested in just how big his order might be — after all, Cole, a senior defensive end from Ypsilanti, Mich., stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 275 pounds and probably can eat a lot — I started paying a little closer attention to what Cole was up to.

I’m glad I did, too. In the moments that followed, Cole was approached by not one but two different people about his status as a member of the KU football team.

The first, an older gentleman in a blue KU polo, asked him if he played for the team, shook his hand and told him what a big fan he had always been.

The second, a young kid who must have been 9 or 10 years old, also walked up to Cole near the beverage machine and started telling him that he played football, too.

Cole ate it up. He asked the kid how he did, what position he played and if his team was any good. It was clear that the moment was a little full circle for Cole, who no doubt grew up looking up to older athletes when he was young.

So there, in a small restaurant on the south side of Lawrence, not two minutes apart, two Kansas fans separated by roughly 50 years in age made it a point to say hello to Cole and wish him well.

It might have been just two fans, but the fact that they were from such different walks of life seemed to be a strong indication of the appetite for successful football in Lawrence. We saw it during the Mark Mangino years, and there’s little doubt that Jayhawk fans are clamoring for it again. With the team off to a 1-0 start and Les Miles bringing new buzz to the program, it’s evident that people are more hopeful about the future of the program today than they have been in recent years.

That includes Cole, but you didn’t have to ask him or even talk to him to understand that. Maybe it’s a product of the new coaching staff or the 1-0 record and the hope for the team’s first better season in a long time. But whatever it is, the second-string defensive lineman who recorded one tackle in KU's season opener carried himself with pride on Thursday night and seemed genuinely proud to claim his status as a KU football player.

On his way out, the older gentleman stopped and talked to Cole one more time.

“Good luck on Saturday,” the man said. “But not just Saturday, the whole season.”

“Thanks,” Cole said with a smile. “Really appreciate the support.”

He meant it.

So did the man.

Maybe this time really can be different — for everyone.

Reply 5 comments from Dirk Medema Gdkadjayhawk Marty Clark Michael Maris David Robinett

Say What? Tait’s weekly appearance on Rock Chalk Sports Talk

After a busy week in New York City, it was time to jump back into the routine, with a regular chat with Rock Chalk Sports Talk host Nick Schwerdt.

Among the many things we talked about during this segment were:

• A discussion about who is KU's third big man right now and what that means for Bill Self's rotation.

• Where KU sophomore Silvio De Sousa might fit into the mix if KU ever learned that he was, in fact, eligible to play in the eyes of the NCAA.

• Les Miles' recruiting practices and whether he should lay off high school players who are already committed.

• And a discussion about what Les Miles' first KU recruiting class needs to look like, from total number to positions of need and types of players it includes.

Give it a listen below and be sure to also look for Tait's regular weekly appearances with Kevin Kietzman on Thursday afternoon's on 810 WHB in Kansas City.

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Connecting the dots on a quiet Friday during the 2018 KU football coaching search

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion. To his left is University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and at his right is former

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion. To his left is University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and at his right is former by Nick Krug

3:35 pm update:

Well, it was a quiet day. But that changed quickly about an hour after I posted this, when a Sports Illustrated report surfaced that said Miles & KU we’re finalizing a contract.

Obviously that’s big news for KU and a huge deal for Long. It’s also in line with what we’ve been hearing all along and how Long has conducted himself during this search.

We’re working to confirm more and find out details now and will provide updates as we get them.

But it seems safe to start planning the celebration, Kansas fans. Now more than ever it looks like Les Miles is coming to Lawrence.

Original post:

Although I’m continuing to hear from people who believe Les Miles eventually will be the next football coach at Kansas, it appears there is nothing doing today.

In the eyes of Kansas fans who were energized and excited by yesterday’s news of Miles’ settlement with LSU, that has to be a bit disappointing.

Twitter, message boards and various other places have been full of grand plans of Miles being introduced tonight at the Kansas basketball game and, unless things change in the next few hours or are being wildly hidden, that does not look all that likely.

Here’s a connect-the-dots reason why.

For one, a morning check with KU officials said no announcement regarding KU’s search for a new football coach had been scheduled for today.

Later, a source with knowledge of KU’s search told me that nothing had been “done” and no announcement was pending.

Obviously those two things match up pretty well. Add to that the fact that most of the rumor chatter last night was about a noon announcement today and Miles being introduced tonight and it’s clear that half of that equation is now impossible since it’s past noon.

The final tell in Friday’s fun came just before 1 p.m., when KU AD Jeff Long Tweeted out a picture from the KU bus en route to the airport for the KU football team’s weekend trip to Oklahoma. Hard to imagine Miles being introduced at tonight’s game with Long in Oklahoma.

And I hear all of you conspiracy theorists out there who are wondering if Long had the picture sent to him from someone on the bus and then Tweeted it out as if he were on there, as well.

I’ll give you that Long’s had some fun with Twitter during the past couple of weeks — and, really, throughout his carer — so you can’t completely rule that out. But we’re talking like a 0.05% chance of that being the case.

And if those are the lengths that Long is going to to drop the surprise introduction of the century on Allen Fieldhouse tonight, good for him. To quote Vermont basketball coach John Becker when asked this week about Lagerald Vick’s explosive night, “Sometimes all you can do is tip your cap to a guy.”

I know many of you have mixed emotions about Long's exploits on Twitter, but I'm a fan. And I think KU is lucky to have a leader who's willing to be out there and engage with the fan base on an informal level. It's still college athletics, right? It should still be fun.

Just this afternoon, Long responded with the crying/laughing emoji face to a Tweet that joked that Doobie Brother Michael McDonald was taking over Kansas football.

I mean, if you can't laugh at that, why are you even on Twitter?

Trust me, just because Long spends 12 seconds Tweeting out a decoy photo of a Los Angeles sunset does not mean he's not taking this thing seriously. He's a pro. He's as sharp as they come. He has confidence, charisma and connections. And he's been in control of this whole thing from Minute 1.

So the search goes on, or at least the waiting does.

With Thanksgiving next week, it’s hard to know how that might affect the timeline here, and, according to a recent Sports Illustrated article about Miles’ settlement with LSU, the former Tigers coach is in no rush.

Kansas is and should be. But if you can land a guy like Les Miles, you don’t blow it by being pushy at the finish line.

It’s possible that Miles wants to take one more trip around the college football rumor mill to see if there are any other jobs/schools out there who want to make a run at him. And who could blame him? Just because only a couple of jobs are open today does not mean more vacancies are not coming in the near future. Miles' patience could be in play here, as well.

That’s not to say he doesn’t like KU. And the delay could be a negotiating ploy. Or it could just be that Miles truly is in no rush and will only say yes to whatever job he wants to take when he’s ready.

We’ve got a call into Miles’ agent — wouldn’t that be a fun conversation to have right now — and Benton just got back to the office from the Lawrence airport, where he formed a one-man welcoming crew for the arrival of a flight from Lafayette, La.

Could it have had Les Miles on it? Sure. Louisiana’s Louisiana, right? Did it? Nope. Just some Ragin’ Cajun fans coming up for tonight’s game — as expected.

I'll let you know if they introduce themselves at halftime.

None by Jeff Long

Reply 6 comments from Dale Rogers Halogenlampss Dustinku34 Curtis Hedrick Steve Corder

Say What? Tait’s weekly appearance on Rock Chalk Sports Talk

With the Kansas men's basketball team now in the full swing of another season and the KU football coaching search ongoing, there was no shortage of topics to discuss during this week's appearance on Rock Chalk Sports Talk with Nick Schwerdt on KLWN.

Included among them:

• Lagerald Vicks' 32-point explosion in KU's home-opening win over Vermont on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

• Where that performance ranked among the all-time offensive games during the Bill Self era.

• What playing 30 minutes (or more) per game means for Udoka Azubuike and Kansas.

• And, whether the Jayhawks will alter their strategy of playing through Azubuike every trip down on offense.

• More Les Miles talk

• And our predictions for whether an announcement on a new KU football coach comes in under or over 6.5 days.

Give it a listen below...

Reply 1 comment from Michael Maris

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