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Posts tagged with Ku Football

Keeping Emmett Jones at Kansas a key offseason win for KU football

Kansas wide receivers coach Emmett Jones talks with reporters following head coach Les Miles' Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Mrkonic Auditorium.

Kansas wide receivers coach Emmett Jones talks with reporters following head coach Les Miles' Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Mrkonic Auditorium. by Nick Krug

A couple of months removed from winning three games during Les Miles’ first season in charge, the Kansas football program last week picked up a key offseason victory that should be celebrated every bit as much as any of those in-season wins were.

KU’s decision to promote Emmett Jones from receivers coach to passing game coordinator last week — read: make sure he sticks around Lawrence instead of leaving for other opportunities — was by far the biggest and most important news of the offseason to date.

Keeping arguably the best assistant coach on staff and one of the top recruiters in the Big 12 Conference in town made last week a win for all kinds of reasons.

Continuity is key and Jones’ contract is also now guaranteed through the 2022 season. Jones’ recruiting skills are second-to-none. And his ability to both motivate and hold players accountable is a crucial part of the steep climb Kansas football is facing.

Clearly, the reasons Jones is so important to this program go well beyond his coaching chops. But to look past those would be a mistake.

What he got out of a largely unproven group of wide receivers during the 2019 season was rock solid. And it significantly upgraded the production of the Kansas offense.

Remember, it was Steven Sims Jr., (now killing it with the Washington Redskins) and Jeremiah Booker who had done most of the heavy lifting at the position for the three previous years, and both were gone when the 2019 season began.

Sure, there were bodies there and plenty of potential, but players like Andrew Parchment, Stephon Robinson Jr., and Kwamie Lassiter II were just that — potential. Yet Jones pulled something significant out of each one of them.

And don’t even get me started on the work he did with senior receiver Daylon Charlot. That, to me, was the biggest sign of just how talented Jones is as a coach and a human being.

In just a few months, he reached Charlot in a way that two other coaching staffs — both here and at Alabama — could not. And through equal parts love and compassion and hardcore expectations, he turned Charlot into the player Kansas fans expected to see when he transferred from Alabama in the first place.

As a group, the numbers put up by the KU wideouts in 2019 went up in every important category — more receptions (184-178), more yards (2,387-1,909), more touchdowns (20-15) and a higher yards-per-reception average (13-10.7).

And, remember, those numbers were recorded without the luxury of having two proven seniors, like Sims and Booker, who were both solid throughout their KU careers. They also came in Jones’ first season coaching these guys and first season under Miles.

KU’s head coach, offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon and quarterback Carter Stanley all had key roles in elevating the production in the passing game. But it was Jones who worked with the receivers day in and day out. And it was Jones who tapped into what it took to make each one of them more prepared, more aggressive football players.

He did so by connecting with them as people first and then by removing the fear of failure and replacing it with confidence and swagger.

Jones would be the first to tell you that it’s the players who deserve the credit for their production last season. They put in the time and the work required to be ready to deliver and then went out on Saturdays and did just that.

The players themselves would tell you that they could not have done it without Jones.

He just has a special way of reaching people. Whether watching film and breaking down coverages or joking around before drills or at media sessions, Jones always seems to know the temperature of the room and makes sure everyone is comfortable in his presence.

Not only that, but rare is the instance when you walk away from a conversation with Jones without having learned something of value.

Retaining him does not guarantee that Kansas will win a bunch of games next season. But trying to do that without him — both next year and into the future — would have been much more difficult.

Reply 1 comment from Dale Rogers

High school-heavy 2020 recruiting class the latest reason to be intrigued by the future of Kansas football

Kansas head coach Les Miles walks off the field after a timeout during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Les Miles walks off the field after a timeout during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The two most important letters on the list of the 18 December signees announced by the Kansas football program on Wednesday were the H and S sandwiched next to each other to the far right of each new Jayhawk’s name.

The letters stand for “High School,” of course, and the fact that every player signed by Les Miles in the 2020 recruiting class to date is from the high school ranks represents a significant shift in philosophy from what Kansas fans have seen for the past decade.

Consider it choosing development and big picture over panic and temptation. And consider it the perfect move for a program at the early stages of its latest rebuild.

For years, KU fans have heard numerous head coaches talk about wanting to sign and develop high school prospects only to see them audible in the months ahead to fill their recruiting classes with a mixture of more-mature junior college prospects and players from the prep ranks.

Don’t get me wrong; some of the junior college prospects that KU has brought to town have panned out and gone on to become key contributors.

The complete list from the past decade of those types of juco home runs is too long to list, but one of the most recent is current wideout Andrew Parchment, who started at Northern Illinois and came to KU in the class of 2019 after one year at Iowa Central Community College. All he did last season was lead the Jayhawks in receiving yards (831) and receptions (65).

But it’s important that coaches walk down that path only when absolutely necessary and not as the foundation for the future of their program.

“It depends on how severe the need is,” Miles explained Wednesday when asked if it was hard to lay off of the juco prospects. “If there’s a guy that fits you specifically, maybe a quarterback, maybe a wide receiver some, some real specific skill that you have to have and you don’t have on your team, we understand. But we’re not building that way. And that doesn’t appeal to us. What appeals to us is the opportunity for (players) to come on campus, improve, take steps, take time. (In) two years, he’s probably played at least a piece of one of those two, and now he’s got two solid years left to play. That is, to me, the recipe for success here.”

With Steven Sims Jr., and Jeremiah Booker both graduating after the 2018 season, Kansas was in need of playmakers at the wide receiver position. Parchment not only fit the bill as a prospect but also backed it up as a player.

However, for every Parchment that KU has found throughout the years, there have been two or three junior college gambles that either did not stick around or, perhaps worse, failed to impact the product on the field, eating up valuable scholarships in the process.

It’s OK to miss on one or two juco or transfer prospects here and there. But when large chunks of your recruiting classes are made up of those types of players, the risk and potential long-term damage is just too high.

Miles, who signed mostly high school prospects during his time at LSU, understood that long ago and appears to be determined to follow a similar plan at Kansas.

All but three players in his first recruiting class at KU (2019) were high school prospects, and north of 90% of the players signed by Miles to come to Kansas thus far have been high school seniors.

That’s a terrific ratio and that number, more than the speculation over which of Wednesday’s signees might pan out, is the real reason for fans to be excited about the future of Kansas football.

With 18 players in the 2020 class signed and six other high school seniors committed to KU but waiting until February to sign, Miles and the Jayhawks are looking at the real possibility of having a class almost completely full of high school prospects.

With that as the foundation, the KU coaching staff now has options for what it can do with the few spots left to fill.

After talking to offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon on Wednesday, it’s clear that there are certain positions at which KU would take a player no matter where he’s enrolled in school today. Quarterback, offensive tackle, elite pass rusher and lockdown cornerback are those positions.

And even if KU were to add one of each of those from the juco or transfer markets in the months ahead, the 2020 class still would grade out well even if none of the non-high school prospects panned out.

There’s no doubt that you have to have talent and you have to get lucky a few times along the way. But building blocks is the name of the game. And Kansas football has more young ones today than it has in years.

KU Football's juco or transfer signees per class in the past 10 years

2019 - 3

2018 - 11

2017 - 10

2016 - 7

2015 - 7

2014 - 11

2013 - 16

2012 - 15

2011 - 1

2010 - 1

Reply 8 comments from Brjam Dane Pratt Dirk Medema Brett McCabe Greg Ledom Michael Maris

Year In Review: The pessimist’s take on the 2019 Kansas football season

Kansas offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon watches a replay on the video board during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon watches a replay on the video board during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Editor's Note: Before the 2019 Kansas football season began, I took a stab at a couple of different viewpoints on what was to come.

The first belonged to the optimist and was a look ahead at KU’s first season under Les Miles from the perspective of those who believed there were plenty of reasons to be hopeful. The second belonged to the pessimist and was just the opposite.

Now that the run is over and Miles and the Jayhawks have put the finishing touches on their 3-9 season, it’s time to do the same by looking back at the season that was and all that came with it.

After examining the optimist’s view first, we’re looking at the year in review from the eyes of the pessimist today.

__

If the ho-hum, same-old 3-9 record wasn’t enough to leave you pessimistic about the state of the Kansas football program, there were plenty of specific moments during the 2019 season that likely did the trick.

And, no, I’m not just talking about last Saturday’s 61-6 beatdown by Baylor in the season finale.

The 38-10 loss to Kansas State, the 31-13 loss at Oklahoma State and, yes, everyone’s favorite, that 12-7 home loss to Coastal Carolina in Week 2, all factored into how this season would be remembered.

But whether you focus on the win total, the moments of offensive ineptitude or the opportunities to win that just weren’t captured, the most difficult part about the latest Kansas football campaign in the eyes of the pessimists is that it left them with the same two-word question that they’ve had for the past decade — now what?

Was enough of a foundation put in place in Year 1 of the Les Miles era to make people think better days are ahead? Who will play quarterback for the Jayhawks next season? And can Kansas score enough points on a consistent basis to compete in the Big 12 Conference or win on the road?

All of those have been common questions during the past nine years and they all still exist today. Anyone who thought they wouldn’t was probably five slices deep into a little pie in the sky. But the fact that they remain heading into the 2020 season is not exactly encouraging.

There were plenty of reasons and plenty of players to get excited about during the past few months. But there never were quite enough.

What’s more, just about every time the Jayhawks did something to get the fan base fired up and ready to see what came next, they fell flat the following week and snatched away the enthusiasm as quickly as it arrived.

In short, no matter what they thought was going to happen, Kansas fans sat by scratching their heads while watching the opposite unfold — both good and bad.

No one saw the Boston College win coming after the Week 2 effort against Coastal Carolina. But after it did, everyone thought West Virginia was there for the taking one week later. The result? A Mountaineers team that finished 5-7 walked into Lawrence and won an uninspired game by both teams.

Later, after nearly upsetting Texas in Austin (again, no one saw that coming) and beating Texas Tech at home, Jayhawk fans were fired up to finally see a competitive Sunflower Showdown. So much so that they sold out KU’s home stadium for the first time in a decade. The result? Well, it looked an awful lot like so many other KU-KSU clashes in recent years, with the Wildcats winning easily in a game that was nowhere near as close as the 38-10 final score indicated.

It wasn’t all bad, of course. And there was a genuine sense around the program that it was worth tuning in each week because at least you were going to get a team that was capable of competing. They didn’t always do that. But this season’s struggles were as much about not finishing as anything else.

Of course, for every KU fan who likes to point out that the Jayhawks were 26 points away from being a 7-5 football team, there’s another one who realizes that they also were 10 points away from being 1-11. So it goes with Kansas football, year after year after year.

And if that type of inconsistent uncertainty doesn’t bring out a little pessimist in everyone, more power to those who can avoid it.

KU’s special teams were anything but special. The defense took a major step backwards, from being one of the top turnover-producing units a year ago to tied for last in that category this season and 122nd (of 130) in total defense. And the offense, as much as people wanted to believe it was, at times, as explosive as any in college football, still had too many quarters, halves and games of nothingness, which put the group 91st in the nation in total offense.

That’s not going to get it done. And while the possibility certainly exists for KU to improve and build from here, a quick look at the key players departing from this year’s roster illustrates that improvement of any kind in Year 2 might be tough to expect.

Now what, you ask? Brace yourselves for more of the same.

Reply 12 comments from Foofan1315 Layne Pierce Brett McCabe Dirk Medema Jayhawkinaustin Titus Canby Kall3742 Steve Corder Dane Pratt Len Shaffer

Year In Review: The optimist’s take on the 2019 Kansas football season

Kansas head coach Les Miles points to a fan as he walks off the field Saturday afternoon at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019.

Kansas head coach Les Miles points to a fan as he walks off the field Saturday afternoon at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. by Mike Gunnoe

Editor's Note: Before the 2019 Kansas football season began, I took a stab at a couple of different viewpoints on what was to come.

The first belonged to the optimist and was a look ahead at KU’s first season under Les Miles from the perspective of those who believed there were plenty of reasons to be hopeful. The second belonged to the pessimist and was just the opposite.

Now that the run is over and Miles and the Jayhawks have put the finishing touches on their 3-9 season, it’s time to do the same by looking back at the season that was and all that came with it.

First up: The year in review from the eyes of the optimist. We’ll run with the pessimist’s point of view tomorrow.

___

Despite the final record, this one’s actually pretty easy.

If you’re the type who can ignore the final scores and believes that the puzzle of a rebuilding project is put together not of individual moments but by snapping together notable accomplishments, you probably think Year 1 went pretty well.

And in some ways it did.

Let’s take a quick look back at the three most notable achievements by the Kansas football team during Year 1 under Miles. None of the three have been anything close to a given during the past decade. And all three not only happened but also happened in the same year.

First, the Jayhawks won a road game. Remember when that used to be basically impossible?

And before you scoff and think back to how bad that Boston College team that KU beat 48-24 was in mid-September, you might be interested to know that the Eagles are bowl-bound after finishing the season 6-6.

Any Kansas football season that includes the Jayhawks winning away from home is one worth remembering. And the Jayhawks not only won their first road test of 2019, but they also had late leads in the fourth quarter of two other road games that went down as losses — at Texas and at Iowa State.

A 1-4 record away from home doesn’t sound like much. But it does when put in the context of a 1-49 road mark in the nine seasons that came before it.

Second, Kansas won a Big 12 game.

This accomplishment has a similar ring to KU winning on the road, with the Jayhawks picking up just their sixth Big 12 Conference win in the past 10 seasons.

That, of course, came when the Jayhawks followed up their near-win at Texas with a wild victory over Texas Tech at home, and that two-game stretch was by far the Jayhawks’ best football of the season.

For context, Texas Tech finished the season 4-8 yet won two Big 12 games — vs. No. 21 Oklahoma State and by 21 at West Virginia.

The third thumbs-up for 2019 came on the heels of the close call in Austin and the home win over Texas Tech, and even though it did not result in a victory it was nearly as impressive.

For the first time in 10 years, Memorial Stadium was full on a Saturday in the fall. And while the visitors in purple accounted for 20-25% of the sellout crowd, Jayhawk fans certainly did their part to fill the stadium. And it was some sight.

The game itself did not live up to the buzz surrounding it, as the Wildcats rocked the Jayhawks 38-10 in a contest that really wasn’t that close.

But the mere fact that Kansas football could generate enough excitement in early November to inspire fans to pack the stadium can only be viewed as positive.

The bottom line is this: KU’s overall record in Les Miles’ first season was not any better than what we’ve seen for the past decade. But the path to 3-9 featured higher highs than many expected and seemed to come with folks paying more attention than in recent years, expecting Kansas to at least be competitive week in and week out.

The Jayhawks didn’t always live up to those expectations and there were certainly some duds, none worse than the 61-6 drubbing by Baylor in the season finale.

But whether it was because people tuned in to see if KU could win or because of the excitement brought on by the move to Brent Dearmon as offensive coordinator, this was the first season in a long time that featured so many Kansas fans paying attention to KU football deep into November.

They talked it, watched it and were frustrated by it. Isn’t that a step forward from the annual apathy that we’ve seen in years past?

Reply 9 comments from Brjam Curtis Blankenship Brett McCabe Dirk Medema Dale Rogers Brian Hosfelt Michael Maris Layne Pierce

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

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