Tale of the Tait

List of Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists did not include KU’s Leipold; surprising or expected?

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold paces up the sideline during the fourth quarter on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold paces up the sideline during the fourth quarter on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The Football Writers Association of America released the eight coaches chosen as finalists for this year’s Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, and Kansas coach Lance Leipold did not make the cut.

There are probably a number of valid reasons why Leipold, who led KU to a 6-6 season and back to a bowl game for the first time in 14 years in just his second season with the program, was not chosen as a finalist.

But given the fact that the list was eight names long, it came as at least a little bit of a surprise.

After all, what Leipold did in his first 19 months at KU was nothing short of remarkable. The Jayhawks, who cycled through a number of head coaches and athletic directors in the past 14 years, had not won more than three games in a single season since 2009. Yet there Leipold was, leading the program to a 6-6 record in Year 2.

It wasn’t just the final record that made Leipold seem like a worthy candidate for the honor.

The fact that he had the Jayhawks 5-0 at one point, selling out Memorial Stadium for three consecutive weeks and inspiring ESPN’s College GameDay to come to town for the first time in the history of the program all made Kansas one of the stories of the first half of the college football season.

Kansas faded a little down the stretch, going 1-6 in its final seven games, but the Jayhawks did still reach a bowl game — they’ll play Arkansas later this month at the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 28 in Memphis — and they were at least competitive in most of the games they lost while finishing 3-6 in conference play and ahead of West Virginia and Iowa State in the Big 12 standings.

Here’s the deal; I don’t think Leipold’s name not being on the list of finalists is some great travesty. The historical context of what he accomplished this season certainly makes his case stronger, but there’s no doubt that several other coaches had better individual seasons with their teams in 2022. Many of them made this list.

One is TCU’s Sonny Dykes, who was an overtime away from leading the Horned Frogs into the College Football Playoff with an unbeaten record. Even TCU’s loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game did not keep the Frogs out of the CFP and they’ll play for a national championship in a few weeks. Not bad for a team that was picked seventh in the Big 12’s preseason poll.

Georgia’s Kirby Smart led the Bulldogs to a 13-0 season and they, too, are still alive in the hunt for a national title. So is Jim Harbaugh, at Michigan, whose Wolverines finished 13-0, as well.

Regardless of expectations or the overall health and status of their programs, it’s hard to argue with any of those three being on the list of finalists.

The other names on the list were all deserving, as well.

Tulane’s Willie Fritz led the Green Wave to an 11-2 season and a berth in a New Year’s 6 bowl. Lincoln Riley tied a USC record for most wins (11) by a head coach in his debut season and had the Trojans on the brink of the CFP. Jon Sumrall, at Troy, and Jeff Traylor, at UT-San Antonio, both led their programs to 11 wins this season.

Duke’s Mike Elko, whose Blue Devils were picked to finish last in the ACC (like Kansas in the Big 12) after going 3-9 overall and 0-8 in ACC play last season, was the last name on the list. It’s also the one that seemed to have Kansas fans the most upset given the fact that KU and Leipold defeated Duke this season in a head-to-head matchup.

I suppose there’s a case here, but finishing second in the ACC after going winless one year earlier and being picked last is, at least on paper, slightly better than finishing eighth in the Big 12 with six wins after being picked to finish last following a 2-10 season the year before.

Both were solid turnarounds. And both are deserving of major praise. But, in reality, neither guy was going to or should win the award this year, so while making the list of finalists is nice, it’s not exactly bringing home the hardware or the financial bonus.

If you had asked me before this list came out whether Leipold’s name would appear on the list of eight finalists for national coach of the year, I probably would have said yes without hesitating. And it still may wind up there. There are, after all, other coach of the year honors that are handed out annually.

But I also don’t think it’s highway robbery for Leipold to not be named.

No one’s taking anything away from what he and the Jayhawks accomplished this season. It will still go down as a magnificent year and a remarkable run from seemingly out of nowhere.

Beyond that, if you’ve been paying attention at all to Leipold, the players and coaches in the program and the KU administration, you know that they all believe that what happened in 2022 was just the beginning.

If that’s true, there’s plenty of time for Leipold to land on this list in the future, perhaps multiple times, and perhaps with a record that’s closer to what the rest of the finalists brought to the table this year.

For what it’s worth, I think this award should go to Dykes.

Whoever wins it will be a first-time recipient. And maybe that will help the Kansas fans who are struggling with it accept that Leipold’s name was not on the list. There are a few pretty big names in that group and it’s wild to think that at least a couple of them have not already won this award.

Reply 3 comments from Bryce Landon Michael Maris Len Shaffer

Kansas freshman Gradey Dick one of 4 current college players to sign new NIL deal with Adidas

Kansas guard Gradey Dick (4) puts up a three against Texas Southern during the first half on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Gradey Dick (4) puts up a three against Texas Southern during the first half on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Long before Gradey Dick arrived on KU’s campus, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said the five-star freshman from Wichita stood to benefit the most of anyone on KU’s 2022-23 roster from the abundance of name, image and likeness opportunities headed his way.

More than all the jerseys and T-Shirts he figures to sell because of his unique last name, Self thought the freshman guard would get some of the biggest and most lucrative opportunities because of his status as the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year and his huge following on social media channels.

On Tuesday, the freshman guard made arguably his biggest NIL splash to date, signing with Adidas along with three other Division I college basketball players — Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino, of Indiana, and Northwestern State’s Hansel Emmanuel, who has wowed millions with his highlight-reel dunks despite having just one arm.

Not surprisingly, all four currently play at Adidas schools.

Details about what signing with Adidas meant, or will mean, were limited Tuesday, but some reports indicated that the foursome will compete in upcoming campaigns for the brand. Earlier this year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Adidas signed similar deals with 15 women’s college basketball players.

According to Boardroom.TV, Dick’s more notable deals to date have come with Long McArthur Ford — you might remember seeing his television commercial — Neutrogena and Dolce & Gabbana.

Dick, who is represented by both KU’s collective, Mass Strategies, as well as WME Sports, has inked several other deals, as well, with some involving merchandising and others as part of community outreach programs for local charities., a fairly new sports analysis website started by founder Shannon Terry, has made tracking NIL a big part of its brand, and the site currently lists Dick with the 22nd highest NIL valuation in all of college basketball — $349,000.

KU junior Jalen Wilson, who has gotten off to a torrid start, ranks 10th on the list at $633,000. Dajuan Harris Jr. (28th at $242,000), MJ Rice (54th at $144,000) and Kevin McCullar Jr. (72nd at $112,000) are the other Jayhawks in the On3 Top 100.

According to the site, the On3 NIL Valuation is an algorithm that calculates the projected annual value of high school and college athletes’ marketability in the NIL space.

Included among the factors considered are the athlete’s brand value and roster value, both of which play a heavy role in the athlete’s appeal to third-party sponsors for NIL opportunities.

On the court, Dick is off to a solid start with the Jayhawks. He has started all nine games for No. 6 Kansas thus far and his 15.3 points per game lead all Big 12 freshmen 24 3-pointers are the second most in the conference to date.

Earlier this week, Dick was named the Big 12's Newcomer of the Week for the second time this season.


Report: Missouri not interested in facing Kansas in a bowl game

The Kansas defense celebrates an interception by Kansas cornerback Ra'Mello Dotson (3) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas defense celebrates an interception by Kansas cornerback Ra'Mello Dotson (3) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

We’re now just two days away from finding out who and where Kansas will play in its first bowl appearance in 14 years, but Action Network’s Brett McMurphy on Friday provided a clue into who it might not be.

According to a report from McMurphy, who has covered college football for years and been on top of bowl projections throughout the season, Missouri officials have indicated they do not want to play Kansas in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 28.

OK. Before you go off and after you stop laughing about how incredible that sounds, there could be a couple of real reasons for it.

• Missouri’s basketball team plays Kentucky at home that night (Dec. 28) and the Tigers undoubtedly would like to have a good home crowd for that game. With a KU-Mizzou bowl game on that same evening, it’s easy to guess that most Missouri fans would have their attention on that, if they weren’t at the game in Memphis.

• It’s also possible Mizzou prefers a different bowl game altogether, be it for locale or recruiting purposes. That one seems a little weird, though, given the fact that they’re a 6-6 team that didn’t become bowl eligible until the final week of the regular season and I’m not sure 6-6 teams have much weight to throw around when it comes to these things. McMurphy’s report did indicate that sources told him it’s common for schools to share their preferences on opponents or places with bowl officials. But it’s still kind of weird that the 6-6 Tigers would have their wish granted just like that. After all, a KU-Mizzou Liberty Bowl very easily could be a sellout. I’d wager good money that the game won’t be sold out otherwise.

Regardless of the reason behind McMurphy’s report and Mizzou’s desire to not play Kansas, it’s just a terrible look for the Tigers for this to get out. I mean, you'd think that stance would be protected like the nuclear launch codes. Yet, here we are. At this point, it's advantage Kansas and no one should be surprised if you see a billboard pop up in downtown Kansas City that references this. Heck, a case could be made for putting another one up in St. Louis and possibly even outside of SEC headquarters.

In the same report, McMurphy noted that sources told him that Kansas would not have been opposed to a matchup with Missouri. Those of us who cover the program certainly knew that to be the case long before that report. The Jayhawks are thrilled to be going bowling again and would play anyone, anywhere at any time.

Even if Missouri has real reasons — real, reasonable, understandable reasons — they have to know that they’re going to get crushed forever by Kansas fans and perhaps other fan bases as well for the perception that they’re dodging the Jayhawks. And how the heck would either side want that hanging over their head in this rivalry?

As of the posting of this blog, I still haven’t seen anything from anyone at Mizzou at least providing some spin for why this might have happened. You’d think at a minimum they’d want to put that out there, even if it’s something entirely made up.

Update: A response came from the Mizzou Football Twitter account around 12:20 p.m. on Friday, with a tweet that simply read, "Not true... looking forward to our bowl game against any team!"

At least they said something. Here's the thing, though. Putting that out doesn't really change much. They could still have requested not to play Kansas and that request can still be granted. Then, on Sunday, when the bowls are announced, if Missouri is not picked to play Kansas, they can simply say, "Well, they didn't pick us. What can we do?"

It's a decent job of saving face, but I'm not sure it makes McMurphy's report any less accurate.

Weird stuff for sure.

It’s still possible for KU to land in the Liberty Bowl — some might even say likely — but it looks like the opponent won’t be the Tigers.

That will have to wait until Sept. 6, 2025, when the two schools renew the Border War series with four games over a seven-year span.

Anyone think this bowl drama will come up then?

Kansas and Missouri have played 120 football games against each other, but have not met since 2011, the year before Mizzou left for the SEC. At that time, the Border War was the second-most played rivalry in Division I history, with 120 games being played over the span of 122 years, and the longest continuous series west of the Mississippi River.

According to KU’s records, Missouri holds a 56-55-9 edge in the series, which included a stretch of 93 consecutive seasons from 1919-2011. The first meeting came in 1891, when Kansas won 22-10. The Tigers won the 2011 meeting at Arrowhead Stadium, 24-10.

Official bowl pairings will be announced Sunday. Most projections have the Liberty Bowl in Memphis (Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m.) and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix (Dec. 27, 9:15 p.m.) as the two most likely landing spots for Kansas.

Reply 9 comments from Dirk Medema Doug Roberts Sae36 Len Shaffer Bryce Landon Keithii Dale Rogers Brian Skelly Njjayhawk

How Lance Leipold’s new contract at Kansas stacks up with his current and future Big 12 peers

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold before the start of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold before the start of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

It feels like it was just yesterday that former Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins forced the hiring of Turner Gill and then paid him way more than he was worth — or needed to come to KU — simply because he wanted to create the perception that the Kansas football job was a $2 million a year kind of gig.

Remember, this was back in 2009, when Alabama coach Nick Saban was making $4.7 million per year.

There’ve been a lot of wasted dollars and mind-numbing hires and contracts between then and now, but all of these years later, the Kansas football job is actually what Perkins so badly wanted to make it.

The fact that the office is occupied by a man who is regarded by many to be one of the best coaches in the game today is merely icing on the cake. And after the recent news that Lance Leipold had agreed to a new contract that will keep him in Lawrence through the 2029 season — details of which were released on Tuesday — the future for KU football suddenly became as bright as it has been in a long, long time.

Leipold’s new contract, which included a raise from an average of $2.86 million per year to roughly $5 million per year, more than doubled his total compensation.

It also was the latest sign by the Kansas Athletics administration that the commitment to football is finally real and not some abstract vision or hope that can be created and cultivated by throwing money in the wrong places.

One of the most interesting elements of Leipold’s new contract was the clause that said KU essentially would guarantee that his salary would remain in the top half of the Big 12 Conference. If at any point after April of 2025 it’s not there, they’ll increase the salaries for Leipold and his assistants to ensure that it is.

That’s big time commitment and would possibly be deemed foolish if not for KU finally having the right guy in the job.

With Oklahoma and Texas soon to be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC and BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF coming it to replace them, the clause left me curious about where Leipold’s $5 million per year number moving forward would land in the current landscape.

Turns out it’s pretty high up there.

Oklahoma’s Brent Venables ($7 million per year) and Texas’ Steve Sarkisian ($5.4 million) were two of the three Big 12 coaches slated to make more than $5 million during the 2022 season.

The other was Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who recently became the highest-paid coach in the Big 12 at $7.5 million per year.

Other than that, Leipold’s new $5 million annual salary is already higher than the four other Big 12 coaches whose salaries and contracts are made public. As private institutions, Baylor and TCU are not required to make public their head coaching contracts, so we don’t know for sure what Dave Aranda, in Year 3 at Baylor and Sonny Dykes, in Year 1 at TCU, made this year or are scheduled to make in the future. I did some asking around, though, and both are believed to be at or slightly above the same range as Leipold's new contract.

Matt Campbell made $4 million this year at Iowa State. Neal Brown made just under that ($3.975 million) at West Virginia and K-State paid Chris Klieman ($3.5 million) while Texas Tech paid first-year head coach Joey McGuire $3 million.

Klieman is scheduled to jump to $4 million in 2023, but even that is 20% less than what Leipold will soon be making.

What about the four new coaches coming into the league in 2023? Leipold’s already ahead of them, too.

Dana Holgorsen made $4.2 million at Houston this season and Gus Malzahn made $2.3 million at Central Florida.

Like Baylor and TCU, BYU is not required to make public its coaching contracts, but there has been speculation that BYU coach Kalani Sitake makes around $2 million per year.

And then there’s Cincinnati, which paid Luke Fickell $5 million for the 2022 season but just watched him leave for Wisconsin and $2.9 million annual raise. So it remains to be seen if Fickell’s replacement will make as much as he did in Year 1 and there’s plenty of reason to believe he won’t.

If he doesn’t, that likely will make Leipold the fourth or fifth highest paid coach in the Big 12 in 2023 and put him on the fast track to land in the top three or four in the conference when OU and Texas bolt.

When you add in the new salary pool for Leipold's assistants, now you're starting to see real progress.

In 2022, KU ranked dead last in the league in total compensation for the head football coach and staff at $5.5 million. That was roughly half of TCU's total at $10 million — fifth in the conference — and nearly a third as much as Oklahoma at the top at $14.2 million.

By committing the $5 million salary to Leipold and an additional $7.5 million to assistant coaches and staff, KU just vaulted its football compensation to fourth in the conference. When Oklahoma and Texas leave, that could move KU up to as high as second.

It sure doesn't seem like anyone will be able to question KU's commitment to football any longer.

It’s not hard to see Leipold and his staff staying there either, given the salaries and situations at the 10 other schools. Based on what was outlined in a contract that was very favorable for Leipold and his family, we know that he’ll always at least be sixth.

If he continues to win at the rate he has won so far and builds Kansas into the consistent winner that he believes it can become, even that seems low.

Don’t worry about the buyout numbers or the fact that the contract gives Leipold several outs if he doesn’t like what he sees with regard to stadium renovations, facility upgrades, NIL opportunities and even who’s sitting in the AD chair.

He’s earned all of that and then some. And getting him to sign this second contract wasn’t the case of university leaders trying to tie up a coach on their terms. Instead, it was a clear effort by KU’s administration to try to give Leipold and company all of the resources, support and commitment they need to build Kansas into what they all believe it can become.

That makes this deal a win-win for both parties, regardless of what any of the specific wording of the contract says.

• Here’s a look at the 2022 salaries for the other football coaches currently in the Big 12 Conference and those at the four schools that will be joining the conference next season:

• Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State — $7.5 million

• Brent Venables, Oklahoma — $7 million

• Dave Aranda, Baylor — Undisclosed but believed to be $6 million

• Sonny Dykes, TCU — Undisclosed but believed to be $5.5 million

• Steve Sarkisian, Texas — $5.4 million

• Luke Fickell, Cincinnati — $5 million (recently left for Wisconsin at $7.9 million per year)

• Dana Holgorsen, Houston — $4.2 million

• Matt Campbell, Iowa State — $4 million

• Neal Brown, West Virginia — $3.975 million

• Chris Klieman, Kansas State – $3.5 million (will increase to $4 million in 2023)

• Joey McGuire, Texas Tech -- $3 million

• Gus Malzahn, UCF — $2.3 million

• Kalani Sitake, BYU – Undisclosed but believed to be $2 million

Reply 1 comment from Inteldesign Garry Wright

Kansas drops to 9th in latest AP poll which features wild risers and fallers

KU guard Dajuan Harris Jr. falls out of bounds at the Bad Boy Mower’s Men’s Battle 4 Atlantis at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas. (Photo by Tim Aylen)

KU guard Dajuan Harris Jr. falls out of bounds at the Bad Boy Mower’s Men’s Battle 4 Atlantis at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas. (Photo by Tim Aylen) by Photo courtesy of Bahamas Visual Services

The Kansas men’s basketball team fell six spots to No. 9 in the Week 3 Associated Press Top 25 poll, but the Jayhawks’ fall was just the sixth largest of the week.

No. 1 North Carolina fell 17 spots to 18th while Duke dropped nine spots to 17th, Gonzaga eight spots to 14th, Michigan State eight spots to No. 20 and San Diego State seven spots to No. 24.

On the flip side, there were some serious risers in this week’s poll, as well, with Purdue jumping 19 spots to No. 5 after wins over Duke and Gonzaga, Arizona jumping 10 spots to No. 4 and UConn climbing 12 spots to No. 8.

Alabama (from 18 to 11) and Tennessee (from 22 to 13) also made big jumps this week, with the Volunteers using their win over Kansas in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament to move back up the polls.

Things were calmer at the top, where Houston moved up one place into the No. 1 overall spot in this week’s poll and Texas and Virginia each moving up two spots to Nos. 2 and 3. It marks the first time since 1983 that Houston has claimed the top spot in the AP poll.

After Arizona and Purdue, Baylor, Creighton, UConn, KU and Indiana rounded out this week’s Top 10.

The Week 3 poll includes four Big 12 teams, with Iowa State jumping into the poll at No. 23 after a win over North Carolina and a 5-1 start. The Cyclones join Texas, Baylor and Kansas in the poll, and TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech are all among the first six teams receiving votes on the brink of cracking into the poll.

Oklahoma and Kansas State also received votes this week.

Here's a look at the complete poll...

1 – Houston, 6-0 – 1,534 (45)

2 – Texas, 5-0 – 1,467 (8)

3 – Virginia, 5-0 – 1,408 (2)

4 – Arizona, 6-0 – 1,341

5 – Purdue, 6-0 – 1,307 (8)

6 – Baylor, 5-1 – 1,111

7 – Creighton, 6-1 – 1,100

8 – UConn, 8-0 – 1,099

9 – Kansas, 6-1 – 990

10 – Indiana, 6-0 – 938

11 – Arkansas, 5-1 – 860

11 – Alabama, 6-1 – 860

13 – Tennessee, 5-1 – 848

14 – Gonzaga, 5-2 – 845

15 – Auburn, 7-0 – 733

16 – Illinois, 5-1 – 643

17 – Duke, 6-2 – 614

18 – North Carolina, 5-2 – 541

19 – Kentucky, 4-2 – 472

20 – Michigan State, 5-2 – 469

21 – UCLA, 5-2 – 346

22 – Maryland, 6-0 – 282

23 – Iowa State, 5-1 – 198

24 – San Diego State, 4-2 – 189

25 – Ohio State, 5-1 – 108

Others receiving votes: TCU 45, Iowa 31, Charleston 20, West Virginia 14, Mississippi State 12, Texas Tech 11, Michigan 8, Wisconsin 6, UNLV 6, Arizona State 6, Miami (FL) 5, Ok-lahoma 2, Missouri 2, New Mexico 1, Kansas State 1, St. John's 1, Virginia Tech 1

Reply 2 comments from Len Shaffer Andy Godwin

An overview of the 6-6 Kansas football team’s 2022 bowl prospects

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold and the Jayhawks wait to take the field on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold and the Jayhawks wait to take the field on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

There has been some question, concern and confusion among Kansas fans surrounding whether the 6-6 Jayhawks are a lock to play in a bowl this postseason.

They are. And we’ll officially know which bowl they’ll be playing in one week from today, when the bowl pairings are announced on ESPN.

Not every 6-6 college football team has always played in a bowl game after becoming bowl eligible. Few programs know that better than Kansas, which was left out of the bowl picture back in 2006 despite finishing with a 6-6 record.

But there are more bowls than ever today (41) and the Jayhawks will safely land in one of them. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm reported Sunday that 79 of the 82 slots needed to fill the 41 bowls had been filled. That means it’s still possible that a 5-7 team or two makes a bowl this season.

The Big 12 has eight bowl tie-ins and eight teams that are bowl eligible. So there will be a seat at the table for everyone.

TCU and Kansas State will fill the top two spots, with the Horned Frogs still vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff. If TCU gets there, Kansas State will be headed to the Sugar Bowl.

After that, the Big 12’s bowl partners get their pick of the rest of the pack in the following order:

Valero Alamo Bowl

Cheez-It Bowl

TaxAct Texas Bowl

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Guarnateed Rate Bowl

Servpro First Responder Bowl

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

At 3-6 in Big 12 play, Kansas finished tied for seventh with Oklahoma (6-6, 3-6) and West Virginia (5-7, 3-6).

The Sooners had a horrible year but likely would still be considered a huge get for one of those lower-tier bowls. The Mountaineers are not eligible to go bowling.

Texas (8-4, 6-3), Texas Tech (7-5, 5-4), Oklahoma State (7-5, 4-5) and Baylor (6-6, 4-5) all finished ahead of the Jayhawks in the final Big 12 standings, but that does not guarantee that those teams will be picked ahead of KU in the bowl selection process.

In fact, given that the Kansas fan base has been dying to see its team qualify for a bowl game for more than a decade, KU quickly could become a pretty attractive option for several of the Big 12 Conference’s bowl tie-ins because the Jayhawks figure to bring quite a crowd with them wherever they wind up playing.

Palm currently has KU pegged to play BYU in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Dec. 27. The 247 Sports bowl projections currently have the Jayhawks playing in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Maryland on Dec. 27. A pair of ESPN college football analysts have the Jayhawks pegged for the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 22, against Memphis or UCF.

There’s been some hope and speculation among Kansas fans that longtime rivals KU and Missouri, which both are 6-6, could meet up this postseason.

In order for that to happen, it would have to come in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 28 or the Texas Bowl in Houston, also on Dec. 28. Both of those automatically pit a Big 12 team against a team from the SEC.

Of the two, the Liberty Bowl is much more likely, though, because of the Texas Bowl’s position in the pecking order, where Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and possibly even Texas Tech could look more attractive. That’s assuming Texas is not chosen for the Alamo Bowl, which seems like a virtual lock.

We’ll know soon enough how it all shakes out. No matter what happens, though, the Jayhawks are officially bowl bound in Year 2 under Lance Leipold, which is no small feat no matter how or when the six wins came.

“I mean, obviously the second half's been disappointing,” Leipold said of his team’s 1-6 record after a 5-0 start following Saturday’s 47-27 loss at Kansas State. “But again, if you'd sat here at any other time (and said we’d be) a 6-6 football team, I'm proud of this group, proud of the staff.”

Reply 2 comments from Matt Tait Len Shaffer

Whether frustrated or encouraged, Saturday’s loss at K-State underscored Lance Leipold’s claim that Kansas football is still “ahead of schedule”

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6)looks for a receiver during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6)looks for a receiver during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

The better football team won on Saturday night in Manhattan, in large part because 12th-ranked Kansas State made fewer mistakes, played with more discipline and dominated on special teams in a 47-27 win over Kansas.

Depending on how you chose to look at it, Saturday’s game was either wildly frustrating or fairly encouraging.

Believe it or not, both points of view are signs of progress for Kansas football. Here’s how.

If you’re frustrated, it’s because you thought Kansas had a chance. How long has it been since we’ve said that about the Sunflower Showdown football matchup?

Either you thought the Jayhawks had a chance to win going into the game or you thought it at halftime, when, despite shooting itself in the foot plenty of times during the first two quarters, KU trailed by just nine at the break and was getting the ball to start the third quarter.

You might’ve even thought KU still could win late in the game, when the Jayhawks took possession, down 40-27, needing a touchdown to make things awfully interesting.

They didn’t get it, of course. But Kansas State, which will finish the season ranked in the Top 10 and play in a big time bowl game, had more than a little to do with that. Nothing new there.

If you came away encouraged, it’s because you understood all of that and chose to look at Saturday’s loss — and the season as a whole — with some perspective rather than in the passion of the moment.

It’s not a reach to say that this Kansas team played tough well into the fourth quarter with the two teams that will meet in the Big 12 Championship game next weekend in Arlington, Texas.

You might not have expected that to be TCU and Kansas State when the season began, but both of those teams showed throughout the 2022 season just how far consistency can take you.

The Jayhawks are striving to realize that. If they do, they will have laid enough of a foundation this season for their consistency to pay off in a big way in the future.

It will take time, and KU’s depth and player development need to continue to improve. But, for the second year in a row, the Jayhawks played meaningful games in November.

A year ago, the November win over Texas sparked the fire that led to the breakout season in 2022. This time around, the one game in which KU looked great in during the month of November ensured that the Jayhawks will still be playing in December.

That’s not nothing. Not by a long shot. And this team knows it. Saturday’s loss notwithstanding, that should be blatantly obvious to the KU fan base, as well.

Leipold said after Saturday’s game that he liked the direction the program was headed and that, despite closing the regular season at 1-6 after the 5-0 start, he thought the program was still “ahead of schedule” in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t know how you can argue with that.

In Year 2 of Leipold’s time at Kansas, he has the Jayhawks back in a bowl game, 40,000-plus fans filling the stadium each week and his team competing hard on pretty much every snap.

More important than the six wins, the fan support or any of the upcoming practices before the bowl game is the fact that, this program no longer has to wonder or worry whether everything it has gained under Leipold will disappear as quickly as it arrived.

Leipold’s here for the long haul. He made that clear when he agreed to a new contract earlier this week.

The Jayhawks know that now. Future Jayhawks know that now. And the stability that his presence brings gives the Jayhawks a real chance at becoming the kind of consistent program with a sustained culuture of winning that Leipold said he could deliver when he took the job.

“We will win here. I promise you.”

Those were the words Leipold greeted his team with when he was first hired 19 months ago. Eight wins later, he appears to be well on his way to making good on that promise.

So much so that now people want and expect more.

That’s the best sign that you’re doing it right. If you weren’t, they wouldn’t care.

Reply 10 comments from Rodney Schulz Koolkeithfreeze Garry Wright Rodney Crain Len Shaffer Brett McCabe Brian Skelly Dale Rogers Bryce Landon

A closer look at everything — good & bad — that went into Bobby Pettiford’s wild game-winner for Kansas

The Jayhawks line up to shake hands with Wisconsin after Bobby Pettiford (0) hit a wild shot to win it with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime at the Bad Boy Mower’s Men’s Battle 4 Atlantis at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas. (Photo by Tim Aylen)

The Jayhawks line up to shake hands with Wisconsin after Bobby Pettiford (0) hit a wild shot to win it with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime at the Bad Boy Mower’s Men’s Battle 4 Atlantis at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas. (Photo by Tim Aylen) by Photo courtesy of Bahamas Visual Services

So, Bobby Pettiford’s first basket of the game, second basket in the Bahamas and 10th field goal of the 2022-23 season to date was a pretty big one.

There’s no denying that a shot like that could wind up being huge for a young player like Pettiford and his confidence, but there’s also so much more that happened on that game-winning play and it’s worth unpacking all of it here.

You can’t draw up a play like this, so 99.9% of what happened during the wild sequence that won Thursday’s game for third-ranked Kansas was about instinct, effort and natural reaction.

KU coach Bill Self said as much after the game, adding that, even though the Jayhawks were probably not the better team on Thursday, he’ll take the win, because it shows that his team has guys who, even on their not-so-hot days, can make winning plays to save a game.

Here’s a quick look back at the play. I know you’ve probably watched it a dozen times already. But be ready to watch it a dozen or so more while we look at some of the obvious and also not so obvious elements of what made this happen and the aftermath.

None by Kansas Men’s Basketball

• First, let’s examine the effort by Pettiford. It’s not enough to just talk about his athleticism to catch the ball and shoot an extremely tough shot all in one motion with the game on the line. We also have to take into account the mental side of this play. For most of his KU career — if not his life — Pettiford has had it drilled into his head to get back on defense when a shot goes up. With time winding down and the game on the line, he obviously didn’t need to worry about defense in this moment. But, still, to think through it that quickly, in real time, and to sprint from well above the 3-point line to get to the rim to make the play is big time stuff.

• Now, let’s look at Wilson on this play. Already thwarted on his chance at a game-winning drive earlier in the play, Wilson didn’t quit. Once the shot by Zach Clemence goes up, he immediately goes to the glass and gets enough of the rebound to affect it and push it to Pettiford. Wisconsin’s Tyler Wahl had the position and the ball was coming right to him. All you have to do to understand how close he was to ending it is watch his reaction when he sees what happens. You don’t routinely get 10-plus rebounds per game the way Wilson does without having a nose for the ball and putting forth great effort. Wilson didn’t hit the game winner but he had a huge part in who did.

• Take one more look at Wilson after he gave the ball up to Clemence. This was the part of this play that I absolutely loved. After passing out of trouble, you can see Wilson look at the clock at the other end of the floor. From there, he points up, presumably telling Clemence to shoot it. Obviously, anyone in that situation would like to see the shot go in, but I think Wilson’s heady play here was as much about hoping Clemence got the shot up in time to give KU a chance at a rebound as anything. It worked. And it was pure genius by a veteran player who’s been out there for a lot of big moments.

• OK. Now back to Clemence. It’s been a weird year for Clemence so far. He’s missed a few games because of injury, wasn’t playing much before that and then was one of the first players off the bench on Thursday. Not that it led to much on the stat sheet, but his impact was big. Plugged into the game at the end of regulation to give Kansas another 3-point shooting option with the Jayhawks down by three in the final 30 seconds, Clemence came up firing from the corner without hesitation. He missed the shot that would have tied it but hustled after the miss and fired the rebound out to an open Kevin McCullar Jr., who drilled a 3-pointer to tie it. From there, Clemence started the overtime and looked to be ready for the moment, but he still could not find his jumper. He finished the day 0-for-6 from the floor — 0-for-5 from 3-point range — and made one of those shot fakes and put it down on the drive to the rim that just don’t seem like they’re in his game. At least not at this level. It led to a turnover. With all of that said, you have to give Clemence credit for being unafraid of the big moment. It’s hard to say how happy the Kansas coaches were with his decision to shoot that deep 3 late in overtime. But at least it gave KU a chance. How many times have you seen teams in that situation not even get a shot up? Clemence played 13 minutes and got a real chance in this one. And, like it or not, his decisions late helped lead KU to victory. He still needs to get comfortable and to find a role that suits him, but there’s time for that.

• Finally, take a look at the KU bench after Pettiford’s bucket. The Jayhawks might’ve dodged a bullet here, and there’s no doubt that this is something the coaching staff will point out during film review in case this type of moment pops up again down the road. It would be a tough whistle to blow, but there’s no doubt that a few players left the bench area and spilled onto the court in celebration and could have been called for the violation. Ernest Udeh Jr. and MJ Rice appear to be the biggest offenders. Hard to blame them, of course. The moment was electric and that kind of game winner is not something you see every day. Kansas coach Bill Self called Pettiford’s shot probably the best finish of the college basketball season so far and one of the best finishes he’d ever seen. That sure would’ve been a tough way to wipe it out, though. And given the fact that the two guys who ventured farthest out onto the court were both true freshmen, you can bet this will be used as a teaching moment to remind the entire roster how to handle itself in those types of situations.

None by Battle4AtlantisOfficial

Reply 8 comments from Micky Baker Andy Godwin Ted Hume Surrealku Garry Wright Dale Rogers

Jayhawks jump to No. 3 in latest AP hoops poll

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) celebrates a three against Southern Utah during the first half, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) celebrates a three against Southern Utah during the first half, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas basketball team’s ability to remain unbeaten during a week that saw perennial contenders Duke, Gonzaga, Baylor and UCLA all lose was enough for the Jayhawks to jump into the top three in this week’s Associated Press Top 25.

Up three spots from No. 6 a week ago, KU (4-0) now sits at No. 3 in the Week 2 AP poll. The Jayhawks also received one first-place vote this week.

KU’s week included wins over No. 7 Duke at the Champions Classic and a tough home win over Southern Utah.

Jalen Wilson continued to lead the way in both games for the Jayhawks, setting career-high scoring totals in each, first with 25 against Duke and then with 33 in the win over SUU.

North Carolina (4-0) held onto its top spot and received 47 of the 63 first-place votes. Houston (4-0) also stayed unbeaten and jumped into the No. 2 spot.

Texas, which throttled Gonzaga in its only loss to date, jumped seven spots from No. 11 to No. 4 and Virginia, which has roared out to a 4-0 start with Top 25 wins over Baylor and Illinois, jumped 11 spots from No. 16 to No. 5 in this week’s poll. The Cavaliers also received one first-place vote. Texas, meanwhile, received five votes at No. 1.

Gonzaga, Baylor, Duke, Arkansas and Creighton rounded out this week’s Top 10, and the Big 12 Conference as a whole had six teams mentioned in this week’s poll — four ranked and two more receiving votes.

Texas Tech jumped up two spots to No. 21 and TCU and West Virginia each landed in the others receiving votes category.

Kansas is headed to the Bahamas this week and will open play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament against North Carolina State at 11 a.m. Wednesday on ESPN.

This week's AP Top 25 men's college basketball poll

This week's AP Top 25 men's college basketball poll by Matt Tait

Others receiving votes: TCU 82, Saint Mary’s (Cal) 59, Ohio St. 56, Michigan 24, Xavier 22, Coll of Charleston 17, Toledo 16, Miami 10, Dayton 9, Villanova 7, Saint Louis 5, UNLV 5, Arizona St 5, Virginia Tech 5, Oregon 4, West Virginia 3, Texas A&M 2, Penn St. 1, Utah St. 1, Mississippi St. 1.

Reply 2 comments from Matt Tait Lonnie Ross Dillon

Leipolds pushing for one more packed house to close out Kansas football’s 2022 home schedule

Kansas wide receiver Quentin Skinner celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against TCU Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Lawrence, Kan. TCU won 38-31. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas wide receiver Quentin Skinner celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against TCU Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Lawrence, Kan. TCU won 38-31. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas football coach, Lance Leipold, and his wife, Kelly, are doing everything in their power to make sure David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium is as full as possible this weekend for the Jayhawks’ home finale against Texas.

Already the benefactors of three sellouts this season, the Jayhawks have responded well to playing in front of a full stadium.

Kansas is 4-1 at home this season, with the lone loss coming all the way back on Oct. 8, by 7 points to TCU. The Horned Frogs are still unbeaten and firmly in the middle of the hunt for both a Big 12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The Leipolds’ push for another large crowd started simple enough last Sunday, with KU’s coach tweeting a photo of a full Memorial Stadium with the words Pack the Booth Saturday attached to the image.

Makes sense. That rallying cry has been bigger than ever in 2022, and Kansas fans have started to take it to heart and follow through on its message.

Then, a couple of days later, the campaign grew in intensity, when KU announced that the Leipolds were treating any KU students who did not yet have a ticket to Saturday’s game to a free ticket. That message, which was also sent out on social media, included the words, “Be early. Be loud. Bring the energy like you have all season long.”

In order to get the free ticket, students are being asked to visit a web site where they can register with their email address, student ID and password.

Kelly Leipold added her own plea to the KU student body, tweeting, “Hope to see all the students there! YOU ALL make a huge difference to these players!”

KU’s home crowds this season have been far and away the best in the post-Mark Mangino era. And while that has more money for the university through ticket sales, concessions and merchandise sales, it also has helped the program show anyone watching that Kansas does have a passionate football fan base and can be relevant in the college football world.

What once was a challenge for television cameras to show creative angles to make the stadium look less empty than it was was a piece of cake this season, with fans and emotion filling the stadium throughout the season.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s on Saturday, which may or may not impact how many fans show up to Memorial Stadium for the Senior Day finale.

Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. on FS1. Kansas will close out the 2022 regular season on Nov. 26 at Kansas State with a 7 p.m. kickoff on FOX.

The Jayhawks then will turn their attention toward Dec. 4, the day that they learn their postseason fate and the destination of their first bowl game since the 2008 season.

Reply 3 comments from West_virginia_hawk Jeff Coffman Phil Leister


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