For most of their childhood, brothers Kwamie Lassiter II and Kwinton Lassiter dreamed of one day playing in the NFL and following in the footsteps of their late father, Kwamie, a former standout safety at Kansas and with the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
And then the other day, Kwinton saw a short video clip on Twitter of his older brother catching a pass from Joe Burrow at training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I didn’t even realize it was him at first,” Kwinton said during KU’s annual media day session at the team’s indoor facility on Wednesday.
The catch was like so many the middle Lassiter made at Kansas. It came after a perfect route, was caught in traffic and helped Burrow’s offense move the sticks.
There remains a long way to go for the undrafted wideout who led the Jayhawks in receiving last season to earn a spot on the Bengals’ 53-man roster or even the practice squad, but Kwinton believes his brother is right where he belongs.
So does Kansas coach Lance Leipold, who is friends with Burrow’s dad, Jim.
“He sent me a text that Kwamie was doing really well and he said Joe likes him and that’ll be good,” Leipold said Wednesday of Jim’s recent message.
Regardless of how much he and his family believed that Kwamie would get his chance in the NFL, Kwinton admitted that hearing things like that and seeing his brother catch a perfect pass from a Heisman Trophy winner who led the Bengals to the Super Bowl last season was still something to celebrate.
“I talk to him every day and knowing that he’s catching balls from Joe Burrow is real cool,” Kwinton said. “He’s working hard. He was meant to be there, though. Everything he’s doing right now he worked for. That’s just part of his story. I think it’s very cool that he’s playing in the league and working hard to earn a spot on the team, but it’s nothing that surprised me.”
As for his own plans at Kansas and beyond, Kwinton, who wears the same number his brother and father wore (8), said he, too, is just trying to earn the opportunity to contribute in some way.
Whether that’s in the secondary or on special teams — Kwamie continues to emphasize the opportunity that exists on special teams — he’ll be happy with whatever comes his way. The chance to represent his family and the Jayhawks simultaneously is already a dream come true.
“It means a lot,” Kwinton said. “It’s just the legacy. The Lassiter legacy. Knowing that my dad was here, my brother was here and now I’m here, it’s amazing.”
The Big Ten, in conjunction with television partners CBS, NBC and FOX, agreed to a 7-year, $7 billion media rights partnership that will begin in 2023 and run through 2030.
The deal is the largest in the history of college football and it further cements the conference as the king of the castle in all of college athletics when it comes to broadcasting dollars.
It’s also no surprise whatsoever.
According to reports, the powers that be who brokered this deal believed this kind of money could be there even before the conference added USC and UCLA earlier this year. Once it did, therein bringing in the Los Angeles market to the conference’s already vast footprint beginning in 2024, it became a no-brainer that big money was on the way.
This deal, among other things, is the biggest reason why so many universities on the outside looking in have tried to position themselves to become more attractive to the Big Ten should it desire to expand further.
As it stands today, the Big Ten will grow to 16 members when the two L.A. schools join, and it’s entirely possible that the conference could look to add more — be it one, two or four schools — in the not-too-distant future.
This kind of money makes anything possible, and only further enhances the desire for everyone not already in the Big Ten to at least explore whether there’s any way they can join or be invited.
Universities in both the Pac-12 and Big 12 have been linked to potential Big Ten expansion, and there’s still independent power Notre Dame, which has its own television deal with NBC.
As for what this deal changes for Kansas, the answer may be very little.
KU still should do everything in its power to make itself an attractive option for the Big Ten — major improvements across the board with football will be the key here — and, short of getting in, Kansas should be as proactive as possible in positioning the Big 12 to be the third best conference in the Power 2 world.
Those two things were present before Thursday and will remain important well into the future.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from the news about the Big Ten’s 7-billion-dollar deal:
• At roughly $1 billion per year in Tier I television revenue, there’s more than enough money there for the Big Ten to expand. Whether it wants to or not is akin to the Big 12 deciding it preferred to split the pie just 10 ways for the past several years instead of just expanding to expand. But there’s no doubt that the money is there. Once the Big Ten adds the two Los Angeles schools to get to 16, the math works out to $62.5 million per member. Again, that’s just for Tier 1 television dollars. The overall haul per school likely will be much higher than that with College Football Playoff dollars, NCAA Tournament money and Tier 3 rights also factoring into the big picture. Even when just considering the football TV money, though, that $62.5 million payout is roughly $20 million more than the Big 12 paid out in 2021 when it distributed a conference record $42.6 million to its 10 members. If the Big Ten wants to add more schools, money will not stop them. At 18 teams, that $1 billion pie becomes $55.6 million per school. And expanding to 20 teams — which likely is KU’s only shot of getting into the Big Ten — still leaves the payout at $50 million per school. There’s also the reported escalator clause in the deal, which allows for compensation to grow if the conference expands. Without having seen the contract, the guess here is that clause creates a cushion for expansion that would make room for each member to receive roughly the same amount ($62.5 million annually) that the 16 schools are slated to receive as of today.
• While the money is massive, the more interesting part to me is the television windows Big Ten games will fill in the future. There’s a standing Saturday night game, a Friday night option and countless other Saturday afternoon and evening games. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren told the Associated Press the structure was modeled after NFL Sundays, with three consecutive games shown on three separate networks, and that’s a reminder that, like the NFL on Sundays, the Big Ten has plans to dominate and saturate the space. ESPN is not involved with the conference, so there will still be plenty of time slots for the rest of the conferences, but the Big Ten will dominate network cable.
• The exact dollar value of the new Big Ten deal may not have any direct significance to the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 — we all knew they weren’t going to be able to keep up with the Big Ten and SEC anyway — but it’s still a scary time for those conferences. Here’s why. I read somewhere the other day that the Big Ten and SEC could be interested in expanding to the point where they relegate those three other Power 5 conferences to Group of 5 status. If both went to 20 schools, therein taking the 10 best from those other three conferences — six to the SEC and four more to the B1G — it would leave those other conferences looking a look like the American or Mountain West. That, so I’ve read, would open up the potential for the Big Ten and SEC to take up to 90-95% of the College Football Playoff money on a yearly basis, bringing to reality those conference’s dream of creating their own exclusive club that dominates financially and competes for the national title each year, outside of whatever the NCAA may or may not want to see happen. It’s possible that Kansas could crack that list of 10, but here’s a quick list of the schools that are all but certain to be on it, be it for the strength or their football, the size and splash of their media market or a combination of the two: Notre Dame, obviously; Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia from the ACC; and Colorado, Oregon and Washington from the Pac-12. That leaves a long list of other schools fighting for the final one or two spots. Again, that’s if both the Big Ten and SEC elect to expand to 20, but that’s still not good odds. Kansas is probably on that list, along with Arizona, Stanford, Louisville, possibly Boston College, TCU, maybe Texas Tech and West Virginia, Houston and Central Florida.
Stadium survey sent out to Kansas fans on Wednesday an important part of the big picture of where the project might be headed
It wasn’t exactly breaking ground on a new facility, but it might have been an important step all the same.
If nothing else, at least it was something.
Kansas Athletics Inc. on Wednesday sent out a survey to tens of thousands of fans designed to collect feedback on the fan experience at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Specifically, the survey sought input on how to make gameday “unforgettable” and the stated goal is to make “our stadium a second home for all Kansas residents and a landmark destination.”
The survey took roughly 15-20 minutes to complete and covered topics ranging from gameday satisfaction, seating experiences, fan benefits and more.
Sample questions included inquiries about your connection to KU and why you attend games to what seats you typically sit in, how you view dining and parking at KU games and whether you would recommend an event at Memorial Stadium to friends.
A large section of the survey focused on input and opinions about high-dollar, premium seating options, which can only lead you to believe that the survey is being done now so that KU officials have a better idea of exactly what to move forward with in those areas when the time for a renovation or rebuild comes.
Included in those options were:
• A newly renovated Champion Suite, which mirrors the current luxury boxes
• Loge Box seating, a private, open-air section of 2-8 seats with cushioned chairs, charging stations and tables to rest food and drinks on
• Table Top seating, which accommodates four people and includes access to a premium club for concessions
• Field Club seating at field level with access to premium food and beverages and the ability to come and go as you please throughout the game
• Limestone Club seating for Williams Fund donors and suite holders
• A Corner Landing Bar, an outdoor, end zone bar area billed as a way for fans to continue tailgating mere steps away from their seats.
The pricing options given for the Loge Box range from $6,000 to $12,000+ for four seats for a full season. The pricing options given for the Field Club seats range from $100-$700+ for one ticket for one game. The pricing options for single-game access to the Corner Landing Bar range from $50-$350+. Pricing options were not provided for the other seating areas.
While the construction of any of these likely remains years away, it’s fair to call this survey is a step in that direction.
For one, it’s public acknowledgement of the process being under way. For two, it seems to be collecting important information. It may not seem that way to the casual fan who doesn’t want to shell out more than a few hundred bucks for season tickets. But it’s still valuable because I can’t think of anything worse than a shiny new facility full of premium seating sections that no one is using. Talk about a waste of space and money.
At least this way — and there certainly will be other surveys and more discussion in the future — the powers that be at KU can move forward with a better feel for what people want.
This wasn’t just some Survey Monkey thing that you or your uncle could throw together either. This survey was created by Elevate Sports Ventures, a leader in the sports world that specializes in landscape studies, market survey and focus group studies, strategy and execution and predictive analysis for teams, leagues, venues and properties throughout the world.
I know that surveys have been done before. Many of you might have even taken them and seen nothing come of them. But for those of you who are anxious about the future of Memorial Stadium and KU’s plans for it, the fact that KU has sought assistance from a third-party with as much of a proven track record as Elevate seems to be at least something of a good sign.
Where it goes from here remains the most important part, but you can’t get shovels in the ground without an understanding of where you’re headed.
And this survey seems to be designed to give Kansas Athletics a better idea of exactly what that is.
Upgraded roster just one part of the ongoing culture change taking place within the Kansas football program
For the entirety of the 16 months since he took the head coaching job at Kansas, Lance Leipold and many around him have talked about changing the culture of Kansas football.
Thanks to a couple of his comments at Wednesday’s annual media day, we now know what at least part of that process looks like.
Early on in his 25-minute news conference at Mrkonic Auditorium, Leipold was asked how returning players who were “recruited over” had responded to that challenge and their new reality. Specifically, the question mentioned running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. and linebacker Taiwan Berryhill, both third-year players in the program.
After raising his eyebrows in reaction, Leipold cut the question short and asked, “How did you word that?” When the phrase “recruited over” was repeated, Leipold listed off a bunch of reasons why that was not the case and is not the idea.
“Nobody got recruited over,” he said. “Guys got recruited to help make this roster better. I want to make sure we understand that. And when those guys are recruited, they’re coming in here to compete. Nobody was promised anything.”
Furthermore, defensive coordinator Brian Borland said the need to upgrade the talent on the roster from Year 1 to Year 2 was not exactly a secret.
“We all know that we need to improve our team and we need to improve it in every way,” Borland said Wednesday. “And one of those ways is just the quality of players at every position. I think everybody’s embraced that and I’m really happy about that.”
The concept of earning it has been kicked around at Kansas for a long time now — so much so that it even became mocked in some circles. But with this coaching staff, and for this group of players, the idea of earning what they get is about more than just playing time.
It’s about time and attention from the coaches. It’s about respect from their teammates. It’s about support from the fans. And, ultimately, they hope and believe it will be about wins.
Leipold said he did not mean to sound defensive when responding to the question on Wednesday. But he also noted that the concept of recruiting being used to replace inferior talent was “part of the mentality that we have to keep changing, inside our program and outside our program.”
As much as recruiting is a never-ending process, it’s not always the only answer. Player development is a key part of any successful program, and Leipold and his staff want the culture of Kansas football in the future to be as much about guys getting better after arriving as it is about better guys coming through the door.
Regarding Hishaw, who Leipold said has had as good a camp as anybody, Leipold said it was ludicrous to think that just because he was here or just because Devin Neal was entrenched as KU’s starter that the coaching staff would not go out and try to add the best running backs it possibly could.
Doing that, and not limiting the pool of talent from which they could pick, led to KU landing Minnesota transfer Ky Thomas, who is expected to play a key role for the Jayhawks this fall.
“Premier programs in college football keep recruiting. Why wouldn’t we do the same,” Leipold asked.
They obviously are. KU’s 12-man transfer class which was ranked in the top 25 nationally by some outlets, is expected to make an immediate impact.
While adding that many new faces invites the potential for some of the returning players to feel like they’re being pushed out, Leipold and his assistants said Wednesday that had not been the case.
“I think all of us would feel a bit of a threat,” Borland said. “But we’ve really tried to help guys see it differently and we have not had those kinds of issues. We don’t have guys here that are bitter or resentful or going against the flow because of that.”
Added Leipold: “If you don’t like competition, I don’t know if Power 5 football’s for you, or college football in general.”
One thing working in KU’s favor here is that many of the newcomers sensed that would not be an issue.
Defensive back Monte’ McGary, a super-senior cornerback from Utah State, said his first impression of the culture at Kansas was that it was rooted in urgency.
“Guys didn’t want to sit around and wait,” McGary said Wednesday. “It’s a sense of urgency, but it’s also take action. Don’t just talk about it, actually be about it. Even on the little things. I kind of felt that as soon as I walked in.”
It remains to be seen how successful this coaching staff will be in its quest to change the culture at Kansas and get the program back on the winning track.
But one thing is already known. The coaches are not going to change who they are or what they believe in to make players of any age or experience level feel more comfortable.
The fact that Leipold and company already have inspired 100-plus players to embrace that says a lot about the culture change that already has taken place.
New facilities & plans for renovations, both in and out of the Big 12 Conference, popping up at a rapid rate
For at least the past few decades, and probably a lot longer, college athletics — particularly football — has been more or less defined by a facilities arms race.
Bigger, better, nicer, newer has been the currency for national relevance and a requirement for competitive programs. And coaches, athletic directors and big money donors have worked hard to make sure their universities can keep up.
The toughest part about the facilities arms race is that the minute you open a new building or stadium it starts getting old. There’s always another school building something, and those somethings often fall in line with the bigger, better, nicer, newer mantra.
As the University of Kansas continues to search for ways to address a much-needed overhaul of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium — and, at this point, it's a matter of when not if — the powers that be at KU are suddenly seeing other programs collecting shiny new things all around them.
San Diego State’s opening a new $310 million stadium this season. Boise State recently announced an athletic facilities master plan totaling more than $300 million — $129.4 million of which is going to the Broncos’ football stadium. And UAB opened its brand new, $175 million stadium last season.
Those are just three of the smaller-profile programs who currently reside outside of the Power 5. But there are other moves — big ones — that hit even closer to home.
You might recall that Texas Tech recently announced its new $200 million stadium project, and, just last week, Big 12 newcomers-to-be BYU and Central Florida announced new projects for the near future, as well.
BYU’s project at LaVell Edwards Stadium is designed to enhance the gameday experience for fans. It features three major elements — a sponsor hospitality area, a champions terrace and the gridiron grill — that are expected to be ready for the upcoming season. And in 2023, upgrades to the sponsor hospitality area, Club 22, will include booth seating, a fireplace and a candy wall. A freakin’ candy wall!
“The game is still the main attraction, but how people experience the game at the stadium has evolved,” said BYU associate athletic director for corporate sponsorships, Casey Stauffer, in a news release announcing the plans. “We don’t want to just deliver a product. We want to offer an experience.”
UCF’s football stadium upgrades, which are part of a bigger campus-wide improvement initiative in Orlando, now have an architect, with the school announcing the selection of AECOM Technical Services, Inc., for its $125 million football renovation project.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Knights’ upcoming project will include the construction of a south tower as well as the addition of more seating on the north side of the stadium; renovations to the Wayne Densch Sports Center and relocation of UCF’s practice field.
And that’s to say nothing of the massive collectives announced by Texas Tech and SMU. Tech’s Matador Club is slated to pay every TTU football player $25,000 annually. And, at SMU, the Boulevard Collective will pay SMU basketball and football players $36,000 per year, totaling $3.5 million annually.
There’s also the state-of-the-art football practice facility that just went up at Florida. Granted, that’s tradition-rich Florida, but the Gators did go just 14-11 during the past two seasons and have a 4-7 blemish on their record as recently as 2017.
We’ve officially reached the point where the state of your facilities is a better indicator of the health of your program than wins and losses.
And none of this is new to Kansas. Remember 2008, when KU was fresh off of its Orange Bowl championship? Of course you do. Besides all of the euphoric memories and cool gear you collected, do you remember what else that win delivered?
The Anderson Family Football Complex.
Just like that, KU was a part of the cool crowd and the envy of much of college football. There was a time when KU’s football building was among the nicest in the country. And it’s still a very nice building. But it’s old and getting older, and the program is starting to outgrow it, as well.
For a little perspective, consider this: Florida’s new facility is a 142,000-square-foot, $85 million training center. KU’s football complex cost $33 million in 2008 ($46 million today when adjusted for inflation) and covers 80,000 square feet.
Kansas football needing more is a good thing, by the way. Because it shows a certain level of commitment from the university to the football program already exists. After all, if Kansas football wasn’t adding staff members and creating plans for bigger and better production in all aspects of the program, more space would not be needed.
All of the improvements, both taking place around the country and being dreamed up at KU, are designed to enhance the fan experience and attract talent to the schools. KU is eager to do both.
One of the biggest issues currently facing KU is the scope of what’s needed. The stadium needs to be redone yesterday. The football facility is aging, now 14 years old and counting. And the creation of a collective that keeps KU on the front lines popped up as a critical piece of the equation seemingly overnight.
To address all of that at once would be incredibly difficult. And that could be part of the reason that nothing official has been announced or started yet. But it's coming.
KU officials know too well how important all of this is, so it has to be. The fact that so many programs around them are announcing big moves by the week is simply another reminder that KU will have to do something in the near future.
Former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland saved his best for last at the St. Jude Championship, site of the first round of the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs.
But it was not enough to advance Woodland to Round 2 next week.
After back-to-back 1-under 69s to just make the cut on Thursday and Friday, Woodland shot 73 on Saturday to fall toward the bottom of the leaderboard. He followed that up with a 4-under 66 on Sunday and finished in a tie for 51st.
Unfortunately for the Topeka native, his overall performance at St. Jude, along with that of others in the field, bumped him to No. 75 in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List through Sunday. Only the top 70 qualified for next week’s second round at the BMW Championship.
Perhaps sensing he had to go for broke, Woodland came out on fire on Sunday morning. He birdied four of his first five holes, including No. 1 and a three-hole stretch from No. 3 through No. 5.
He gave two of those back before making the turn, with bogeys at Nos. 7 and 9 and then ripped off another stretch of three consecutive birdies on holes 12, 13 and 14.
In all, Woodland hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation on Sunday and carded seven birdies, three bogeys and eight pars, leaving him at 3-under for the tournament.
Here's the complete list of the 70 golfers who advanced to Round 2.
Former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland shot a 3-over 73 in Round 3 at the St. Jude Championship on Saturday in Memphis.
The 38-year-old former Jayhawk just made the cut on Friday and did nothing on Saturday to push himself up the leaderboard and into contention.
He finished Saturday at 1-over for the tournament in a tie for 66th place, 14 shots off the lead. His third round featured three bogeys, two birdies and a double bogey to go with 12 pars.
Woodland, who entered the week ranked 77th in the FedEx Cup standings, will need a solid effort Sunday to earn a spot at next week’s second round, which will feature the top 70 players remaining competing at the BMW Championship.
From there, the top 30 advance to the FedEx Cup finals in Atlanta.
The 2019 U.S. Open champion and Topeka native will tee off in Round 4 at 7:20 a.m. on Sunday.
Former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland is still alive in this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs, thanks to a second-round 69 at the St. Jude Championship on Friday in Memphis.
After putting himself on the brink of elimination with back-to-back birdies at the first two holes on the back nine, Woodland survived the cut and advanced to the weekend with birdies at No. 13 and No. 15.
That gave him an even-par 35 on the back and he played Friday’s front nine one stroke under par after a birdie at No. 3 and pars on the other eight holes.
Woodland also shot a 69 during Thursday’s first round — two birdies, one bogey and 15 pars — to sit at 2-under for the under for the tournament.
Woodland finished his round nine strokes off the lead, but the chance to stick around for the weekend gives him an opportunity to move up and improve his standings entering next week’s second round of the FedEx playoffs.
Woodland, 38, has now made 11 cuts in 23 starts during the 2021-22 PGA Tour season. He has produced five top-10 finishes, seven top-25 finishes and entered the week just shy of $2 million in earnings for the season.
Kansas football assistant Jim Panagos’ approach to recruiting about much more than just wooing the player
When you’ve covered Kansas football as long as I have, you’ve heard about, seen and written about all kinds of different recruiting approaches from the long list of head coaches and assistants that have come through Lawrence.
From a Kansas-first approach or heavy reliance on junior college prospects to starting with positions of need, emphasizing high school talent or targeting specific areas and regions outside of the state, we’ve seen it all.
And most of it, in one way or another, has worked to some degree. None of it has worked well enough to change the trajectory of the program, but recruiting alone has not been the problem at KU during the past decade.
The issue with KU’s recruiting efforts in recent years has not been the approach as much as it has been a lack of consistency. Changing head coaches is one thing, and KU has done plenty of that. But assistants have come and gone at an even faster rate, and the resources that the various administrators have signed off on also has been inconsistent and even handcuffed at times.
All of that is what made a recent conversation about recruiting with first-year KU defensive tackles coach Jim Panagos one that caught my attention.
Panagos came to KU after stops at five other schools and a stint with the Minnesota Vikings. He’s a veteran of the industry and his early work in bringing defensive linemen to KU has been one of the bright spots in an already solid start to recruiting in the Lance Leipold era.
Class of 2023 linemen Blake Herold and Marcus Calvin are two of the more promising prospects in the class. And it seems as if Panagos is just getting started.
It could be coincidence or it could be a sign of KU’s immediate needs at that position. It also could be that Panagos’ approach to recruiting is paying off.
It’s certainly slightly different, and more in-depth, than most that I’ve heard.
The gist of Panagos’ plan for getting players is centered on recruiting more people than just the player. He says you have to recruit the whole family when you’re going after a prospect and oftentimes that extends beyond the family, too.
“It doesn’t mean mom and dad,” Panagos said. “It’s who is the most important person in their life? And you recruit them harder than the player.”
“I call it circle of influence,” he added. “Who is their key circle of influence and how can we go attack them so when they have a bad moment you can call that person and say, ‘Listen, man, what’s going on here?’ I think that’s really important.”
That “listen, man,” part of the approach is the most critical element because it gives Panagos a way to continue to recruit players — and connect with them — even when he’s not actively involved or around him.
“When they have a bad day or they’re with their friends and (they hear), ‘You’re going to Kansas? I can’t believe you’re going to Kansas,’ (when) they go home, they need somebody to tell them they made the right decision,” Panagos said.
If the right relationships are built, Panagos said those people, whether they’re friends, coaches, family members or mentors, can help keep him up to date on what a prospect is thinking or when their eyes might be starting to stray.
“Recruiting is about hard work,” Panagos said. “The harder you work, the more results you have.”
He also said that recruiting to Lawrence has made his job easier. In fact, after recruiting dozens of junior college players from the Jayhawk Conference at his previous stops, Panagos had a picture of what he thought Kansas was.
After being hired by Leipold, his arrival in quickly changed his mind. And that, too, has helped him on the recruiting trail.
“With Kansas, it’s easy,” he said. “I love Lawrence. This is totally better than I was expecting. Lawrence is a great town. Hundred thousand people. It’s got everything here you want. We just have to get people here. And once you get them here, it’s easy to sell.”
All of it, from the circle of influence to his love of the latest college town he calls home, falls in line with the recruiting wisdom his former boss, George O’Leary, for whom Panagos worked at UCF, taught him a long time ago.
“The key is getting one good player at a time and don’t worry about the players that you lose,” Panagos said. “Worry about the ones you get, not the ones you lose. Because the ones you get help us win games.”
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self visits KU football practice, believes Jayhawks are ‘gaining on it’ in quest to climb Big 12 ladder
Fresh off of a family vacation, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self made a visit to KU football practice on Wednesday morning to chat with coach Lance Leipold and get a look at the team.
According to the Kansas soccer team's Twitter account, Self also stopped by Rock Chalk Park to talk with Mark Francis' club before its exhibition opener on Wednesday night.
Ever a supporter of KU’s group of gridiron warriors, Self spoke with optimism about the future of the program and emphasized its importance to all of KU’s athletic programs.
“We haven’t seen the potential of this place until football gets going like it can,” Self told Brian Hanni during Kansas Athletics’ live coverage of preseason camp. “Of course, it can’t get going unless people buy in. Lance has got all the players to buy in, the administration, the staff, but until the fans also buy in, it’s going to be a much more difficult process.”
“It’s chicken or the egg,” Self added. “Do you wait until (they) win until you come or do you come to help them win? I think the latter’s definitely the way this program needs it in order to build it quicker.”
A regular at KU’s home games throughout his time in Lawrence, Self said he was impressed by what he had seen from Leipold during his first 16 months in charge of the rebuilding program.
Self called Leipold’s organization, positivity and energy “big positives” and said the improvement the Jayhawks showed down the stretch during Leipold’s season was a clear sign that the players were on board with what Leipold and his coaching staff are trying to accomplish.
“Being able to get 100 guys to move around and be organized all the time, you know, I struggle with 12 or 13 so I’m impressed,” he said of Leipold’s organizational skills.
Self also said he thought the 12 transfers and incoming recruiting class would aid the team’s improvement, but he also noted that there were plenty of returning players who fans and coaches should be excited about, most notably sophomore running back Devin Neal and senior safety Kenny Logan Jr. Self said he thought those two, along with a few other Jayhawks, could start on most Big 12 teams.
“We’re gaining on it,” he said. “We’re not going to be outworked and we’re not going to be outcoached.”