Sunday, September 4, 2011


Squares ruining athletics


KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger comments on the uncertain future of the Big 12

KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger comments on the uncertain future of the Big 12 during halftime of KU's game against McNeese State on Sept. 3, 2011, at Memorial Stadium.

It looks as if the days of Kansas University playing in the same conference as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are numbered. Based on the pass defense’s performance in Saturday’s season opener, it’s evident the Jayhawks already are not in the same league as the Sooners and Cowboys.

Pass rush? No. Sound coverage of screens? Nope. Secure deep coverage? Not consistently.

The newcomers generating excitement all played on the offensive side for Kansas. True freshman running back Tony Pierson showed he can run faster than a conference can blow up. OK, maybe not that fast, but the guy’s a burner. Classmate Darrian Miller has the knack for evading tacklers as adeptly as college presidents trick their own athletic administrators. Receiver JaCorey Shepherd, also fresh out of high school, flies, and it doesn’t take him nearly as long to reach his destination as it will take the OU women’s soccer team to reach that all-important game against Washington State.

The three freshmen are the sort of athletes who have what it takes to develop into All-Big 12 selections once they put a year of experience in their brains and a year of muscle on their bodies, except for one problem: There won’t be a Big 12 by then.

The good news as far as improving the pass defense that was the most troubling aspect of a 42-24 victory against McNeese State is that KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will trust her head football coach, Turner Gill, to fix the problem, and Gill will trust his defensive coordinator, Vic Shealy, to take care of it.

That’s the proper way to do things, and that’s the way all levels of college athletics used to work. Then in 1989, some stuffy, starched-collar clod who used to get picked last on the playground came up with the idea of forming the Knight Commission, which brought presidents into ruining, er, running athletics. They had higher grades in school than athletic directors, so naturally they’re smarter on all topics.

If the presidents had taken care of the more important areas of college, such as, you know, fostering a learning environment, and let their administrators administrate and their coaches coach, schools actually would remain in conferences that enable their loyal alumni to travel to games and keep their non-revenue athletes sitting in classrooms instead of airports making connections for flights from Oklahoma City to Pullman, Wash.

Instead of trying to figure out which school deserves the blame in triggering the dominoes, trace it back to the Knight Commission empowering presidents, demanding they meddle in athletics. That opened the door to egos. To hell with the loyal alumni and the student-athletes, I want to be able to say I rub elbow patches with the top brains at Cal-Berkeley and Stanford, and, man, won’t my friends be impressed? Me, me, me, me, me.

Why is everybody so shocked that this conference realignment fad makes no sense. Why should it? The decision-makers don’t know the first thing about forming sensible athletic conferences.

So Kansas fans can’t just revel in a season-opening victory, warts and all, and reminisce about sweet, hilariously funny old football coach Don Fambrough, who was set to attend the game with his son Preston, but died in the morning. No, they had to make room in their stressed minds for conference uncertainty because the square pegs think they can fit into round holes and don’t have the slightest concept of just how square they really are.


manginorh00lz 10 years, 11 months ago

I think Keegan has lost his marbles. This makes two incomprehensible articles in a row.

1957 10 years, 11 months ago

Just because it is incomprehensible to you doesn't mean it is incomprehensible.

Steve Gantz 10 years, 11 months ago

I like your 2nd line there manginor, but I agree with 1957 in general.

Jock Navels 10 years, 11 months ago

i think this is actually one of his more comprehensible better written articles that addresses grass roots issues. Nebraska for, it's closest league game is Iowa City. It's "rivalry" game is in central Pennsylvania. Nebraskans won't be able to jump in the van on saturday morning and tool on down to Manhattan, Lawrence, or Ames for the game. Or for those out west, the 4 hour drive to Boulder is history. The new leagues are TV$ leagues. The fan in the stands and the loyal alumni are out. What KU, KState and Iowa State should do is form a new league, totally, with the likes of colorado state, wyoming and air force, maybe smu, tulsa and tcu. The NCAA basketball tournement and championhship will still be there, travel will be reasonable, football will be competitive, let others chase the never catchable extra $$$$.

Mike Mainzer 10 years, 11 months ago

That's possibly the most naive drivel I've read yet. Why not just drop football and join the MIssouri Valley. Without TV $$$ expensive sports like football stagnate, you can't update facilities, you have no recruiting chips to bargain (national exposure, top class competition, state of the art facilities) you lose the 4 star recruits and hope for 3 star. It would hurt basketball as well, since those schools do not provide regular season tune ups for the tournament, which has hurt us the past two seasons.

FlintHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Huh? I think it's a great column. What's not to understand? We're gonna get lost in the shuffle, and it won't make a difference how well we play. All this because the wrong officials are running college athletics. I think Keegan was p****d, and so am I.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

While rather acerbic, I thought this was a pretty decent argument. Keegan seems to be asserting the emotions of many Kansas fans at the moment. It may be caustic, but that doesn't mean it isn't correct.

xfitter 10 years, 11 months ago

Keegan is NOT a Kansas fan, his job is simply to cover Kansas sports and he does a half-ass job at it. Most articles(like this one) are thrown together with him trying to be witty and/or funny and it doesnt work. That and way too much bashing on the talent we acquire without reason and favortism towards a certain high school with snobby parents. Keegan, once again, YOU SUCK!!!!

Ryan Shelton 10 years, 11 months ago

It's an editorial, not an article. This is just another example of a poster hiding behind a keyboard. Anyone ever read the lyrics to "Online" by Kenny Chesney?

FlintHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Ding, Ding, Ding!! So wrong! Did YOU think before you wrote this comment? Excuse me, but why would he be here in Oz, working his "half-ass" off when he could have a cush job closer to family? You truly don't know what you're talking about.

Michael Maris 10 years, 11 months ago

Actually, Keegan's writing in this article is very informative. Perhaps, the bashers of Keegan (on this article) need to re-read the story and truly understand what Keegan is attempting to tell the individual people who comment on this website.

Keegan, thanks for the information.

selfishhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Agreed that the article is pretty good. My only retort is that it was just 3 days ago that Keegan was telling us that KU should continue to remain loyal to the Big 12 and that we should all feel really safe because we have Coach Self.

FlintHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

A lot has changed in the past three days.

Marc Frey 10 years, 11 months ago

I agree: Our Defense needs some work or it will be a long season for them, and a short one for the Offense. Secondly, I agree that a room full of "suits" who have never played on a Varsity team sport, have taken over college sports. Jayhawk Nation better be praying that those "suits" deem us worthy of a major conference invite.

KU_Alumn_2000 10 years, 11 months ago

No pass rush equals less pass protection. We got to get some talent on the D-Line.

Phillbert 10 years, 11 months ago

Really? It is the ego of university presidents that is causing realignment? Not the hundreds of millions of dollars the TV networks are throwing at schools?

bradh 10 years, 11 months ago

We all talk about the dollars, but I don't think there is $2 million difference in the tv payout per school between the SEC, Big 10 and Big 12 (not sure on PAC 10, but I think they are less than the others). The tv portion is like a third of the entire athletic budget at Kansas, presumably less for the teams switching conferences. The tv contracts therefore don't seem to be the main impetus of conference realignments. For the Big 12 traitors it seems to be a combination of stability and academic prestige. Colorado talked about the perception that the Pac 10 was better academically than the Big 12, same with Nebraska on the Big 10. I believe the only ones in the mix that are worried about academic prestige are the university presidents. So at least part of the movement to leave seems tied to the university presidents' egos.

Hank Cross 10 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, why should a University President be concerned with that university's athletic department and millions of dollars it generates? The downward spiral of Keegan's ramblings continues apace. BTW how does TK earn his (hopefully low) wages? Writing about college sports of course! With all that's going on, Keegan's collumns are a waste of cyberspace.

KU_Phogified 10 years, 11 months ago

It's all pretty simple:

Football is the pimp. The NCAA/college presidents, the prostitutes. TV is the john.

And, there you have it.

SCHNBALL 10 years, 11 months ago

Phill, you said, money, money money. Keegan, another wasted article, sure blame it on someone, but a wise man once told me, men only fight over 2 things, money(power) and women. I really lost all respect for Keegan when he wrote the article about Selby after his selection in the draft. Sure he wrote before the draft, he might go at this pick or that pick bla bla bla, but he did not have the huevos to do so before, he has been sitting on the sidelines forever!! Somehow I do hope if the conference collapes we end up in the SEC, this is the closest as far as travel and you have Kentucky in the conference to start up a duke-unc match up each year.

jgkojak 10 years, 11 months ago

You dopes - Keegan is right on the money here -

Remember how we laughed at Mizzou's audacity in trying to force itself into the B10?

It had nothing to do with what's best for the athletes. Remember, while we may be able to justify KU in the Pac 16 to play bball and football - there is a bowling team that's gonna be flying to Spokane instead of driving to Manhattan (=2 days out of class). There is a volleyball team that will be flying to LA instead of driving to Stillwater. And all that costs $$$ - meaning its likely KU drops some of these sports OR simply joins the MIssouri Valey to compete in everything but Fbal, bbal and basebal. Its why we no longer have a gymnastics team.

Matt Bowers 10 years, 11 months ago

Why does everyone think the Pac is the answer? The Big 10 or Big East is the answer if you want a national audience for basketball games. In the Big 12 the games start at 9pm eastern during the week and afterward the West Coast games. I know that football is the driver here, but I believe that you will lose a good amount of the fan base here in the East. Unless I'm mistaken and the Pac splits into an east/west and espn is still willing to put the games on at 9pm.

Rock Chalk

FlintHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Great piece, Tom!! Now if the "me-me-mes" would only listen to your wisdom. I'm pretty sure Coach F. would've wholeheartedly agreed. And I'm totally confident that he'll be looking over our shoulders, shaking his head at what's happening to our beloved school.

Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

142466 10 years, 11 months ago

They will split into east & west divisions, based on geography. So it's a great outcome for their 5 former B12 schools. 16 is now the magic number across the land.

Steve Gantz 10 years, 11 months ago

Keegan is right. A lot of poor decision making here by college presidents making their AD's lose sleep at night. Why in the name of James Naismith would anyone want KU playing in a west coast, or east coast conference, or even the Big 10? A conference is supposed to be local, right? We want our team playing in a longitude that stretches from Texas to Kansas, straying a little east and west of it. We don't want our team playing in places like Corvallis or Syracuse, or Tucson or Piscataway. Nothing else makes sense other than KU playing their brethren up and down I-35.

troutsee 10 years, 11 months ago

Keegan writes an article, any article, and half the posters write about the journalistic abilities of Keegan, rather than the contents of his articles. How irritating. Many of his articles are very relevent and many of his poiints are quite logical. And, guess what? A new day is dawning, and if we want to be one of the players on center stage, we best realize that fact. The Big 12 is dying and will be dead in a few weeks. It's every man for himself and I hope the leaders of our university are trying their best to get us into another conference as soon as possible. Personally, I hope it is the Pac 12 but that seems like a long shot if TU and OU are headed in that direction. Our only hope is that our BB prowess will get us in over TT.

Yeah the old days were great. But that is all in the past. And the past is over.

kellerman411 10 years, 11 months ago

Oh! bravo bravo Keegan. We all love the way you have woven together your fifth grade report on the Kansas opener and your insightful diagnosis of the Big 12's "presidential" problem. Right now, the average Kansas fan doesn't give a damn what is happening with the conference. Obviously, we want the Big 12 to stay intact (because of course any type of change at all must be for the worse), but those are off-season topics.

Jack Wilson 10 years, 11 months ago

I have to agree with Keegan here. The point of his column is that the pin-heads .. the ivory tower elitists .. the school presidents .. have been the biggest contributors to this conference realignment baloney.

He's right. It's dollar signs. They want to fund their research projects. They want the millions of dollars to pay some professor in a 1970s suit, who couldn't make it in any competitive environment, to write a research paper on the effects of inner-city school lunch programs on the psyches of our nation's underprivileged.

This has nothing to do with football, or basketball. But the pursuit of the dollar to fund the school presidents' whims.

Look, I'm all for the pursuit of the dollar. It makes the world go around. And I'm not saying it's wrong, necessarily. Theoretically, I'm ok with it .. it's just when it messes with KU basketball that I no longer unconditionally subscribe to capitalizism.

djhawk75 10 years, 11 months ago

But there's the rub, isn't it? Capitalism is good until the effects of it are detrimental to one's interests. Just as socialism is bad until one can benefit from it.

djhawk75 10 years, 11 months ago

I think that Keegan's anger is slightly misplaced here. He is assuming that if the presidents had not taken over the athletic departments then the TV stations would have left college athletics as it was. He further assumes that if the athletic directors were in control then they would have been too judicious (or too ignorant if that's your point of view) to take the money that the stations would have offered. I guess Keegan is just a little envious that these university presidents got the best grades. Aren't we all?

Kookamooka 10 years, 11 months ago

Laugh at the people who gave the OK to uproot the Campanile, take over parking spaces and pave over lush lawns all in the name of a game you only get to enjoy 4 months a year.

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