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New era for Kansas football brings new era for KUSports.com

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There were a million ways I could have played it but I decided to just come right out and say it.

My name is Matt Tait. I’m a 31-year-old Kansas University graduate and 22-year Lawrence resident and I run a 5.31-second 40-yard dash.

I realize that last bit of information might not seem all that important. And to college coaches and professional scouts it’s probably not. But to me — and for the sake of this blog — it is because I think it illustrates, in some small way, that I was born to cover football, which I will begin to do exclusively for the Lawrence Journal-World and KUSports.com beginning today.

Let me explain.

Last Thanksgiving some friends and I were sitting around watching the Denver Broncos play the New York Giants on the NFL Network. We were full from a fine feast and were enjoying the company of friends and football. Midway through the game a commercial for the NFL Combine came across the screen and got our blood flowing. Husbands and wives alike began to joke with each other about what our 40 times would be. We gawked at the thought of how much fun we would have being let loose in a combine-like setting to test our speed, strength and agility, much the way former Jayhawks Darrell Stuckey, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier will do in Indianapolis beginning Wednesday.

Some day, we pledged, we’d put our bodies to the test. As it turned out, “some day” came the very next day, when my wife and I headed to Free State High to time ourselves on the turf. Knowing what goes into fast times and flawless runs, I wore the lightest clothing I could find and warmed up profusely. My goal was simple. I wanted to run a respectable time and, probably more importantly, I wanted to walk away free of injury.

I nailed the injury-free part. And based on the reactions of most people I told, the time was at the very least respectable.

The point is this. You don’t often hear about 40 times in basketball or baseball. The 40-yard dash is irrelevant in sports such as volleyball and tennis and nobody who wrestles or golfs cares a lick about a 40 time. But football fans do. And I definitely am one.

As the Journal-World’s newest KU football beat writer, I hope to bring some of that same passion to the beat. I hope to provide as much information as you desire and, beyond that, I hope to engage in several interesting and informative discussions about all things Kansas football. We’ll have all the news you can digest, we’ll have regular blogs and on-line features that you can get involved with and we’ll turn it up a notch in recruiting. In short: We’re going to have a blast.

Throughout the last 10 years of my life people often have asked me what sport I enjoyed covering the most. Without hesitation, the answer was always football. There’s just something about the game that I’ve always loved, something special that makes me want to submerge myself in its stories. I’ve even gone as far as to embellish the story of my birth — in Boulder, Colo., in 1978 — to say that the first thing I saw outside of the Boulder Memorial Hospital window after being welcomed to this world was Colorado University’s Folsom Field.

If there’s one thing I’ve been told I do well in this line of work, it’s communicate. And now that I’ve reached this new level it’s time for me to show that off. I’m not just talking about telling good stories or writing interesting articles. I’m talking about listening, too. If you have ideas, I want to hear them. If you have questions, I want to answer them.

As you all know, KU has a new football coach in Turner Gill and will have a largely new team with a host of fresh faces on the field this fall. I’m looking forward to beginning my college football coverage with this new group and hope that I, too, can add to the excitement surrounding Kansas football.

Comments

John Beck 12 years, 11 months ago

Now that you are officially on the football beat, welcome. How about updating the roster for us out of town grads? THX

Tony Bandle 12 years, 11 months ago

Welcome aboard..how about

Matt " The Great" Tait, or, Matt "Never Too Late" Tait, or, Matt "I Can't Wait" Tait, or, Matt "Fish Or Cut Bait" Tait, or, Matt "Oh No, Another Post from Jaybate" Tait, or, Matt "Fair Dinkum Mate" Tait, or, Matt " I Can't Swim I Just Ate" Tait, or, Matt " I Can't Remember What I Did On Our Date" Tait, or, Matt " It's Fate" Tait, or, Matt " At the Pearly Gate" Tait or, Matt " If All The Other Posts Are Like This One, I'll Be Out Of A Job At This Rate" Tait

KU 12 years, 11 months ago

Poor Dugan. May he rest in peace.

I'm looking forward to an exciting season with the new staff in place, Matt. Give us lots of spring football stories and we will all be ecstatic.

Rock Chalk.

d_prowess 12 years, 11 months ago

Now everyone will be going out to Free State or LHS to run the 40 and see if they are faster than a sportswriter!
Nice first blog and I can't wait to see some increased football coverage!

12 years, 11 months ago

Welcome to your new gig, Matt. Can't wait for you to get started on your exciting new endeavor.

In the meantime, a parting tribute for our dear friend, and 5DecadeHawk's favorite beat writer:

We've known lots of pleasure, At times endured pain, We've lived in the sunshine And walked in the rain.

But now we're separated And for a time apart, But I am not alone- You're forever in my heart.

Death always seems so sudden, And it is always sure, But what is oft' forgotten- It is not without a cure.

There may be times you miss me, I sort of hope you do, But smile when you think of me, For I'll be waiting for you.

Now there's many things for you to do, And lots of ways to grow, So get busy, be happy, and live your life, Miss me, but let me go.

  • Author Unknown

hirschtodd 12 years, 11 months ago

WHAT?!?!? No more Dugan?!?!??! OMG! Its like Hannukah all over again for me! Its like opening a fortune cookie to read "your great white whale will swim away soon". Please tell me Doogie was banished to cover middle school volleyball. ...wait...that might be a little over his head too,...

Welcome Mr. Tait! Rule #1: If you are going to use humor...make sure that its actually funny AND topical. Rule #2: WE ARE STARVING FOR FOOTBALL COVERAGE!! FEED US!

...and man up and have the testicular fortitude to admit that your wife beat your 40 time. Come on Tait. Don't lie to us.

Jonathan Kealing 12 years, 11 months ago

Dugan's still here. In fact, you'll still see his work on KUsports.com regularly, but he'll be able to spend more time working on features and other long-form journalism that he's particularly good at and that he particularly enjoys. He'll also pick up some of the high school coverage that Matt used to do.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 11 months ago

Welcome. It is exciting to think of the KU FB journo world getting amped up right along with the new coaches and team.

Suggestion #1 - Talk to Jesse. That guy is rocking LJW BB into the 21st century. Suggestion #2 - If you don't have RockChalkTalk.com and SBNation in your favorites, be sure to get there. It is real good material, even if by a bunch of amateurs. Suggestion #3 - Is listing your 40 time your attempt at creating the FB version of Kream Keegan? You realize this could very well be your trade mark going forward, and not a bad one at that. Is there a way developing Matt Tait's 40 challenge? A place for people to post their times. Rank them by age group, etc. Track progress. This could be the greatest thing to happen to the health of a nation since the president's fitness challenge of the 70's or whenever they started that stuff. Along those lines, whatever happen to the rest of the combine testing?

ps Not much to worry about Jaybate. He's pretty exclusively BB.

Ryan Gerstner 12 years, 11 months ago

Awesome! You can never have too much KU Football coverage!

Jonathan Kealing 12 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we could do a summer challenge, where we get KUsports.com users together to do a series of athletic challenges against Tait. 40, high-jump, what else? Tait, what do you think?

Matt Tait 12 years, 11 months ago

I'm in for the idea, I just don't know if high jump would be involved!!! I think we could have a lot of fun with this, though. Maybe we kick field goals, run 40s, have an accuracy throwing challenge, etc. Could be a lot of fun.... and very comical.

d_prowess 12 years, 11 months ago

Love the challenge idea!! Maybe even Coach Gill and two or three players could list their times as baselines (not saying Tait isn't, um, athletic!). Here is what is run at the combine:

40 yard dash 20 yard short shuttle run Vertical jump 225lb bench press (how many times in a row)

5DecadeHawk 12 years, 11 months ago

I suggest running the Oklahoma Drill.

I know a bunch of people that would pay money to face off against Keegan.

minnhawk84 12 years, 11 months ago

Uh, you're not from that place which has six columns in front of its administration building, are you?

Ryan Goodwin 12 years, 11 months ago

I happen to know Matt Tait and his wife and have heard the story. I don't believe his wife beat his 40 time but I do know she would whoop his *** in any other sporting event!!!

KIBBYHAWK 12 years, 11 months ago

Matt- Welcome aboard man. This is great to know there will be alot more football coverage on this site and I look forward to reading your articles...

few things I would be interested in reading.....

  1. Recruiting of course 2.What Turner Gill is doing differently than Mangino and how the program has changed
  2. QB Battle
  3. Updates on the Stadium upgrades 5.Offseason activities

Once again I look forward to getting on here every day like I always do and reading articles about Football by "Tait the Great"

CrimsonPhoenix 12 years, 11 months ago

LOL, the guy's posted one blog up here and all of a sudden he's "Tait the Great"? Dude's gotta prove himself first (and no, running around on the Free State track doesn't do that, lol).

kumax 12 years, 11 months ago

Matt... That was a great start! Welcome. Looks like we switched places. I left Lawrence as a KU grad in 1978 and now live just blocks away from Boulder Community Hospital. Its kinda tough to be a Jayhawk football fan here in Boulder. I only get to see them play (live) every other year. So, nice to know that you're planning some improved coverage in the coming year/s. God knows we need it ;) Good luck!

Ted Toulouse 12 years, 11 months ago

Matt, First of all, I'm very much looking forward to the LJW having a Gary Bedore of football. Therefore, I hope we can expect that level of coverage leading into the Spring and in the Fall. I'm guessing that the media will have a little more access to the team than they did under Mangino, so hopefully that translates in to more articles!

Speaking of Mangino, I think enough time has passed that I would like to get some follow-up on how he's is doing. I know we need to move on, but he was a significant part of KU football history and I would like to hear his perspective on the situation at some point. I'm hesitantly optimistic on Gill because I still think it's pretty remarkable what Mangino was able to do despite what happened last season.

Thanks and congrats on the "promotion."

Rivethead 12 years, 11 months ago

Best of luck Matt!

The one topic I wish LJW or someone would touch is Coach Gill's high salary. I'd love it if you could point blank Lew Perkins on it. Did KU really HAVE to quadruple Gill's salary to get him to move from Buffalo, NY to Lawrence, KS (from the MAC to the Big 12)?

Plus, they didn't put any meaningful buyout in his contract. That seems odd to me.

It all just seems strange to me.

MitchumMan 12 years, 11 months ago

This is awesome news! I've been waiting on more football coverage for quite some time. I'm with you in your thinking Matt, football is the one sport out of all others that I could sit and talk about forever.

What I would like to hear about: 1. Recruiting 2. The freshmen and redshirt freshmen (what we can expect from them) 3. Recruiting 4. Any key position battles 5. Recruiting 6. Anything that deals with KU football 7. Recruiting

Looking forward all of the articles/blogs!

kugrad93 12 years, 11 months ago

Tait will be the J-W's sixth KU football beat writer in 12 years. Meanwhile, Bedore has been covering KU hoops for 22 years. Wow.

Jonathan Allison 12 years, 11 months ago

There are enough people telling you that they want more football coverage, and telling you what they want to hear about in the offseason.

All I'm gonna say is that you're gonna need a good name for your football blog. It could take time. It could take some investigation. Maybe some soul searching. Wood had a good one in Sawin' Wood. Dugan' A Man... not quite as much meaning there...

Jonathan Kealing 12 years, 11 months ago

Rivethead--

I've talked to Perkins about his philosophy on buyouts before (though, admittedly not in a while). He always told me that he didn't want to use money to keep a coach from leaving, he'd rather use money to reward a coach for staying. That's why he uses retention bonuses and such. Like I said, never discussed his philosophy on the Gill contract specifically, but we discussed that back when he switched Mangino from a buyout to a retention payment.

Cheers, Jonathan Kealing Online editor

meremy 12 years, 11 months ago

In addition to what's been mentioned, I want to hear about what offensive and defensive schemes we can expect to see out of the new football administration.

Queen_Krenda 12 years, 11 months ago

Pretty sure I could win the 40 yard dash competitition. I won the district championships 3 years in a row in high school. Also not a bad jumper.

Kettlesworth 12 years, 11 months ago

I could dunk on a 9-ft. baksetball goal until I was 30. We should play some time.

trentdean 12 years, 11 months ago

I love this! Matt's a great writer and a hard worker. He's going to bring J-W's KU football coverage to a professional level just like he did with the high school stuff. Tough loss for the two city high schools but a huge gain for KU football fans.

Kettlesworth 12 years, 11 months ago

Matt, you should write a story about Banks Fleming.

Doug Merrill 12 years, 11 months ago

Matt congrats on the new beat... Recommendation: note the morons above who treat(ed) Dugan like dirt. Do not come here searching for approbation or appreciation, even if you do a good job. Philistines and other teens abound. Those of us who enjoy your writing will often not think to write and say "good work", so don't count up the good mail and total it against the bad. Good news is you get to do something everyday that you enjoy... Again, congrats!

kugrad93 12 years, 11 months ago

Hopefully the change in coaches will make the team easier to cover.

bayareajhawk 12 years, 11 months ago

I'm just glad that the Jayhawk football beat writer is no longer a Mizzou fan. That was painful.

Ben Kliewer 12 years, 11 months ago

Matt, you should wright an article examining the connections between Kansas football uniform changes and puffered claims of giant octopi.

Ben Kliewer 12 years, 11 months ago

I would like to apologize...my last comment was ridiculous.

hoopsdr 12 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone know when the spring game is?

Kevin Kelly 12 years, 11 months ago

Did Keegan interview you by asking you to answer every question during the interview while also tieing said answer to baseball?

How did you do? Did it go over the plate like a fast ball from Runelvys Hernandez?

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