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Completed chat with KU football beat writer Matt Tait

May 17, 2012

Matt Tait

Check out the latest edition of our "30 for Thursday" KU football chat with beat writer Matt Tait.

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Moderator

Hello and welcome to this week's "30 for Thursday" KU football chat with beat writer Matt Tait. It looked for a few hours earlier this week as if the interest was dying down because there weren't many questions right away. But that didn't last long at all. Tons of good questions yet again, so let's jump right in, shall we?

Matt Tait

Love to hear that. Keep 'em coming!
I'm ready whenever.

sawman3333

There's been a lot of chatter about continuing the Border War in basketball, but not as much in football. Any thoughts or rumors out there?

Matt Tait

Good choice to kick things off, seeing how the KU and MU baseball programs are playing a series this weekend in what could go down as the final time these two rivals compete in anything for a long, long time.

As for your question, there are a couple of reasons you hear it talked about with hoops more often than football.

First, the basketball program schedules a lot more games and has a lot more flexibility to work Mizzou in if they were interested in doing so. Doesn't sound like they are, though, and I expect it to stay that way for quite a while.

Second, I think the fact that the football program has been in transition these past few years has also impacted it. Turner Gill had not been here long enough to understand the rivalry or comment much on it. Charlie Weis likely will never participate in it. So those guys aren't going to be the ones talking about it as much as Bill Self might.

Beyond that, the KU football schedule is tough enough because of the Big 12 without adding an SEC school as a non-conference opponent.

I know a lot of people think both sides will meet in the middle eventually here, but I'm telling you, that's not going to happen for a long, long time, if at all.

HotToddy69

Are you surprised we only have 3 oral commitments for the class of 2013 at this point?

Matt Tait

I'm not.

For one, it's early and I know Coach Weis and his staff are still in the transition mode where they're trying to find out exactly what they need/want and probably will be for several more months.

In addition, I think this staff, more than most we've seen, really likes to evaluate and analyze guys before throwing offers out there. Don't get me wrong, they realize the importance of being in early on guys and they are in early with a ton of guys right now. But Weis said from the beginning that he wasn't going to take guys just to pump up the numbers. He wants his kind of guys, guys he believes can play his kind of football.

I'd expect to see a bunch more offers go out in the next few weeks and I'd also expect to see several commitments during the summer months.

No need to panic yet.

kumax

hi Matt... Thanks for all the hard work you do on behalf of KU Sports. My question is about how you see the keys to Kansas being competitive in the Big 12 moving forward. With the addition of WVU & TCU (and maybe some other high profile programs thru expansion) the road won't get any easier. Improved recruiting will obviously help, but are there other factors you see (ass't coaches, program changes, etc..) and how do you think we're progressing?

Matt Tait

All of the things you mentioned are definitely factors here. And, no matter how things shake out, KU is always going to be fighting a bit of an uphill battle in football just because it's not Texas, Oklahoma, etc., yet it is expected to compete with those schools year in and year out.

I think KU is taking the right steps toward becoming more relevant and consistent and I think the biggest factors are:

1. Stability - 3 coaches in 4 years does not help
2. Player development - Weis knows how to get guys to play and he's hired a strength staff that knows how to get their bodies ready for Big 12 football.
3. Facilities - KU's football facility is second-to-none and people across the country know that. Now it's time to do some minor work at Memorial Stadium. I know there are plans in the works but some other things have to happen before they can get the ball rolling.
4. Talent - It sounds simple, but it's true. And it's not just about better talent winning more games. Better talent makes other top talent want to come to KU and when that happens, then you can talk about stacking some impressive recruiting classes on top of each other instead of just having one every few years.

mikehawk

What is the status of John Williams and his recovery from the serious knee injury suffered last season?

Matt Tait

Williams was limited a little this spring, but more as a precaution than anything else.

I asked Buddy Wyatt about him a few weeks ago and he said Williams was in good shape and was recovering nicely from the injury. He'll have more competition than he's ever seen, but I'd expect him to be in the defensive line rotation. Wyatt even went as far as to say he believed Williams could return better and stronger than he was before the injury.

That's a great sign for both the player and the program.

Bangkok_Jayhawk

Will you discuss what you believe the red shirt policy will be with Coach Weis? A lot of our true freshman last year seem to have wasted a season of eligibility only to have minimal roles. It seems like a waste of eligibility to have a guy playing as a true freshman unless he has a big role.

Matt Tait

Awesome question. It's one we haven't really jumped into a whole lot yet, but I definitely plan to.

Here's my early read.

Weis has said all along that he will play the best players. DC Dave Campo has said the same thing. If they're freshman, great. If they're fifth-year seniors, great. Doesn't matter. The best players will play.

So, with that in mind, I'd be willing to bet that any freshmen (or even juco guys) that do find their way onto the field this fall will do so because they will have a key role on the team, be it as a starter or a back-up.

The only way I could see Weis "burning" guys' red-shirts for limited action is if injuries force his hand.

Of the 27 guys that are coming in with the Class of 2012, I'd expect well over half of them to play. But there are guys, particularly at the deeper positions like running back, wide receiver and offensive line, that seem to be good red-shirt candidates already.

Like any coach, Weis understands the importance of depth, and I think that being smart with your red-shirt decisions can really help add that.

VaJay

Hi Matt!

How balanced do you see our offense being next season? (subject to the usual finding out early on if our line is better at run block or pass protect). I think it'll be 60/40 pass/run.

Matt Tait

I think a lot of people think that Charlie Weis' pro-style offense means that KU is gonna throw it all over the field. Makes sense, right? I mean, QB Dayne Crist might be the offense's best player and the pro game has become all about the passing game.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that's what Weis is going to do.

He's got tons of experience with power, clock-eating running games and he also realizes that he's got a solid stable of running backs that can help take some of the pressure off of Crist and the unproven WRs.

Because of that, I'm expecting the split to be closer to 50-50, with maybe a slight lean toward the pass.

Remember, though, the situation often dictates the plays that are called. If the Jayhawks play from behind a lot and the defense can't stop anybody, they may have to pass more than Weis would like.

pbouldenv

Matt, you do a great job and I appreciate all the coverage you give to KU football. Keep up the good work! What are your top three must see KU home games for 2012. I live over 8 hrs away, so I probably won't be able to make all the home games.

Matt Tait

Thanks for the kind words. Here are the top three, as I see 'em.

1. South Dakota State, Sept. 1 - It's the season opener, the first game of the Charlie Weis era and should be a victory. It should be as fun a season opener as KU has had in years.

2. TCU, Sept. 15 - First Big 12 game of the season, first Big 12 game for TCU ever and KU could be sitting at 2-0 with a little confidence and the chance to move to 3-0 with an upset. Should be an awesome atmosphere.

3. Iowa State, Nov. 17 - KU has been right there with the Cyclones in each of the past two seasons. The Jayhawks get them at home this season and that should increase the odds of a victory. Beyond that, if you're one who believes that KU has a chance to make a bowl game this season, that will be a must win game and could be the all-important sixth victory.

Enjoy!

1_Jaydoc_1

Thanks for all of the great information and hard work you do here.

I know a larger article based on this idea may be coming but if you were to rank this new coaching staff (in terms of overall coaching talent) against the other teams in the Big 12 where would it fall? And, aside from Weis and Campo, which coach raises the level of this staff the most?

Thanks.

Matt Tait

I'll start by saying this.... I think it's a really good coaching staff and I think that's because Weis took his time and did his homework when putting it together.

The one thing that may hurt them in terms of their standing in the Big 12 is their inexperience. A lot of young guys, Weis only has a handful of years as a college coach under his belt and Campo last coached college ball a long time ago.

I don't think that's a huge factor when determining who can coach and who can't, but in the wild and wacky offensive world of the Big 12, it has to be mentioned.

I think getting Clint Bowen back in the capacity that they have is huge. He knows the league, he's been a coordinator at this level and he knows how to relate to players. He was a great pick-up.

I also think Scott Holsopple will go down as an absolute steal someday, much the way that Andrea Hudy has been dubbed a steal for Bill Self's men's basketball program. Holsopple knows what he's doing, he walks the walk and he has made a major difference already in just a few months.

Again, though, I really think all of these guys are solid coaches. One of the key factors in determining how successful they will be might be how they grade out as recruiters.

Time will tell on that one.

HotToddy69

Is current high school commit Montell Cozart from Bishop Miege going to be a QB at KU or play a different position?

Matt Tait

I had Cozart pegged as a position switch immediately after hearing that he had committed to KU. But then I did my homework and it sounds like they legitimately recruited him to play quarterback.

That could change for a number of different reasons, but I think he'll get a fair shot at QB before anything else happens.

Other schools are still trying to pull Cozart away from KU, though, so that's worth keeping an eye on.

Bangkok_Jayhawk

Which is more likely to happen: Kansas having a 1000 yard rusher or a 1000 yard receiver?

Matt Tait

I like this question a lot. But keep those others coming, Bangkok... We'll get to them one of these weeks!

I'll say WR.

Here's why:

There are simply too many running backs who will demand touches that I think that hurts any one back's chances of going for 1,000. If I had to bet on a RB to do it, I'd bet on Pierson because he can knock out huge yardage chunks with limited carries. But I still think Bourbon, Sims, Cox, Jackson, whoever, will get enough carries along with Pierson to keep this as a more balanced group instead of one with a star at the top.

I also think WR is the smart pick here because of the conference KU is in. People love to pass in the Big 12 and if you want to keep up, you better be passing, as well.

Not sure who I'd pick as my choice for a 1,000-yard receiver, but maybe that's a blog for a different day.

Altercations_with_a_shovel

Thanks Matt for doing such a great job covering everything KU.

Growth is fun and all, and it's nice to hear about how much this team is developing. But what people really want to know is how many games are we gonna win this year? How many wins would be a successful football season? How many would be a disappointment and how many times do you think KU will win this season?

Matt Tait

I've said throughout the past several weeks that it's too early to predict how many wins they'll get, and I still think that's true. But I like the way you worded this and I'm gonna try to answer parts of it.

How many wins would be successful? 4 or 5. I think that's the likely total anyway and I think it's a great step in the right direction. Anything more would be overachieving.

How many wins would be disappointing? I'd say less than three. It's no guarantee that KU will sweep the non-con games, but they should have a good chance to do so. Let's say they don't. Even if they only win two, I still think you have to expect that they'd find a way to win at least one Big 12 game. Going 0-fer in the league again this season would be a major disappointment, even with the Big 12 being as stacked as it is.

Moderator

How about we hit a few realignment questions real quick...

Matt Tait

Oh boy! Let's see 'em.

poet008

How can public employees like university presidents discuss conference affiliation behind closed doors?

Shouldn't these conversations be public with an opportunity for tax payers to weigh in?

Matt Tait

Any time these conversations take place at official meetings, the meeting body has the right to go into executive session to discuss anything it wants.

That's happened a lot here, but what's happened even more has been the under-the-radar, behind-the-scenes, Deep-Throat-esque phone calls, emails and text messages between university officials.

Some of that can be obtained via requests from the media and some of it has been. I'm thinking particularly of some email exchanges involving OU's president and others last summer. But it's not always easy to get and it's not all available.

Some of it is, though, and, especially if it concerns KU, we'll make sure we're on top of that.

kustrong

Should the Big XII expand to 12 or 14 teams? Who are the teams you would go after? Has anyone asked HCCW what he thinks of all of this expansion talk? Thanks for all the hard work and excellent reporting.

Rock Chalk

Matt Tait

I think the Big 12 should get back to 12. Makes sense in so many ways and would add even more stability to the league, which appears, for now, to be on as good a footing as it's been in years.

As for going beyond that, I think answering that question depends on who the teams are that would get you to 14 or 16.

If you can add Notre Dame or Florida State and you have to go beyond 12 to get them, pull the trigger. If it's a matter of adding Cincinnati or Tulane or someone like that just to add, I'm not sure it's the best idea and I, personally, would stay away from it.

We haven't had a chance to talk to Weis about it yet, but I'll see what I can do. I know it's going to be awfully quiet over the summer and our access to the players and coaches is going to be very minimal, but it can't hurt to check.

Personally, I think there are some quality teams out there worth adding and I think Louisville, Florida State, BYU, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and perhaps Rutgers are at the top of my list.

I know it's a pipe dream and I know I've been on it for two years now, but until someone shows me definitely that Notre Dame has no interest in joining the Big 12, I'm going to hold onto the dream of finding a way to add the Irish.

baldwinjhawk

Ok Matt percentage wheel time! Let's assume Florida State accepts an offer and moves to the Big XII for 2013. Who is their companion school to put the conference back to 12?

Matt Tait

This could go down as the worst wheel ever, but here goes nothing...

1. Clemson 31%
2. Louisville 29%
3. Georgia Tech 15%
4. Rutgers 13%
5. Other 12%

Matt Tait

I'll try to stay on top of things as much as possible regarding conference expansion and am waiting on some phone calls to be returned to get a better handle on where things are at right now.

Stay tuned...

Let's take a couple more questions for today.

pbouldenv

If you could only rank one item, what would you rank as the #1 reason why KU will be more competitive this year (i.e. strength program, organization, Off or Deff scheme, etc.)

Matt Tait

Another solid question!

I gotta go with the improved strength and conditioning program, hands down. And I say that while believing strongly that KU will be a better team because of the coaching staff, organization, schemes, etc.

I just think there's a lot to be said about getting these guys physically ready to compete in the Big 12. It looks and sounds as if they're getting there and that can only help.

Not only do they look bigger and stronger, but they also should be more prepared to play in the fourth quarter, where, hopefully, the games will be closer and the outcomes up in the air.

OPJayhawk

New uniforms/helmets? Any word?

Matt Tait

Haven't heard much other than the names returning. But I'll check again soon.

d_prowess

From a KU fan's perspective, who are the top 5 people we should be following on twitter? (Besides you of course! - @mctait)

Matt Tait

These guys are rock solid, very active and provide a real good look at what's going on.... I hate to leave anybody out, though, so I'll try to throw together another blog on this topic sometime this summer.

Daymond Pattersson - @DP2Nice

Coach Weis - @CoachWeisKansas

Toben Opurum - @TOTrey5

Michael Reynolds - Bigmike_JHawk55

Greg Brown - @G_B_LOCK5

Moderator

All right. Thanks again for another great chat everyone. We'll call it a day here and get back after it again next week. If we didn't get to your questions, fire away next week. Thanks again! And thanks to Matt for another solid chat.

Matt Tait

Absolutely! My pleasure, as always. I'll look forward to next week. Thanks again for your contributions, everyone. Have a great weekend!!!

Comments

Jeff Coffman 10 years ago

My question: What is your favorite quote from HCCW been since his announcement as KU Coach? It didn't make the cut, but I would be interested in what others have to say about his quotes.

Mo Mosallaei 10 years ago

"we are gonna recruit, recruit, recruit, beat Missouri,"',,,, oops never mind, wrong coach.

baldwinjhawk 10 years ago

Hopefully we get new Unis! The numbers on the old ones look like they were taped on by my niece.... lol New font please!!!!!!

Kyle Rohde 10 years ago

yeah...there's no new font coming. Do you not remember all the uproar when KU switched to the Trajan font in the first place?

HawkDigestCom 9 years, 12 months ago

Re: Memorial Stadium Improvement comment:

"I know there are plans in the works but some other things have to happen before they can get the ball rolling."

What other things have to happen? Can you please tell me there is plan to ditch the blue chain link fence at the south end for something that better fits the stadium architecture?

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