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Early over/under college football win totals are out; is KU’s number too high, too low, just right?

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) throws a pass against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) throws a pass against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Earlier this week, the gambling site, BetRivers.com, came out with the first set of college football over/under win totals for the 2022 season.

As per usual, Kansas had the lowest number in the Big 12 Conference. But the Jayhawks’ number for 2022 was also higher than it has been in a little while.

BetRivers put the number at 2.5 wins, meaning the Jayhawks have to win 3 games for you to win on an over bet and they have to win zero, one or two games for you to hit the under.

As usual, it’s a tough number.

I’d imagine the general consensus among most Kansas fans here is that the over is a pretty good play. After Lance Leipold led the Jayhawks to two wins in Year 1, surely he can get to three or four victories in Year 2, right?

Based on the momentum and trajectory of the program at its current state, that definitely seems logical. But the fact of the matter is, last season’s results have absolutely nothing to do with what will happen this year.

Sure, there was some late momentum, but the bunch they put on the field in 2022 will be a different team with a lot of new faces. While many of the same leaders return, it’s far from automatic that the Jayhawks will just pick up where they left off, when they played three of their best games in a while in November, beating Texas on the road and playing TCU and West Virginia to within one score.

Having said that, there’s still a lot to like about the over.

For starters, the opener’s a virtual lock and this team absolutely should open the season at 1-0. That in and of itself could create some momentum.

The question is: What will Kansas do with it?

Week 2 takes them to West Virginia. While the Mountaineers were just 6-7 a season ago, they recently added a pretty important quarterback transfer in former USC and Georgia QB JT Daniels, and going on the road that early, with a new team — for a conference game, no less — will be no easy task.

After the early conference clash, KU then travels to Houston for Game No. 3. The Cougars are tough and were 12-2 last season, and you’re looking at another early game away from home. Don't be shocked if KU winds up getting out of this game because of Houston's impending addition to the Big 12 Conference. Nothing official has happened on that front yet, though, so, for now, we have to take it into consideration.

From there, the Jayhawks return home for three in a row against Duke, Iowa State and TCU. With four of the final six games coming in conference and on the road, that three-game stretch in October could be massive for both this team’s confidence/psyche and for those who might choose to bet the over.

The Blue Devilis are still adjusting to a new coach and, as of today, don’t know who their quarterback will be. Beyond that, they were winless in the ACC a season ago, even after beating Kansas 52-33 in Durham, North Carolina in Week 4. It’s hard to know exactly what any of that means for this year’s matchup. Reports from down south suggest that the Blue Devils are reenergized and ready to bounce back from a tough 2021 season by setting the tone early in 2022. That started this spring and figures to continue well into August.

Regardless of how things progress on Duke’s campus, it seems fairly safe to say that, at Kansas, those who take the over will really need KU to beat Duke to feel good about their bet.

If the Jayhawks do — and even if they lose at West Virginia and at Houston — they’ll be just one win away from the 3-win mark one month into the season.

From there, it just takes one more win to cash the ticket. Sure, that win will have to come against a Big 12 foe. And, yeah, those have been tough to come by. But a 2-2 start at KU would be significant and likely would give this group a fairly good-sized surge of confidence. It would not be impossible to see them winning one more game in their final eight after a 2-2 start.

Lose to Duke, though — therein starting the season at 1-3 — and things quickly get a little dicey.

If the number were set at 2, I think you’d have to bet the over, feeling comfortable that you can always get your money back with a push after a 2-10 season. At 2.5, you’re basically counting on KU to win the two games it could be favored in and then still hoping for a Big 12 win after that.

Doable? Absolutely. In fact, I’d say with absolute certainty that the players in crimson and blue this fall would all tell you that going over the 2.5-win number is a lock. And you’ve got to like that confidence.

Do you have to like it enough to make the over bet? That’s a different question. I think they could get there. Even four wins would not really shock me. But when you’re talking about a wager, you have to look at things through a slightly different lens. That’s why, to me, the over bet for Kansas football feels like it might still be a year away.

I don't doubt that the Jayhawks will be better this season. It seems as if the culture has changed for the better, Leipold continues to upgrade the talent on the roster and Year 2 figures to be a smoother ride than Year 1. But this is still a massive rebuild that's taking place and while steady improvement can occur, I'm not sure the program is in position to skip any of the steps that are required when trying to go from doormat to bowl contender.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Big 12 numbers:

• Oklahoma – 9

• Baylor – 8.5

• Texas – 8.5

• Oklahoma State – 8

• Iowa State – 7.5

• TCU – 7

• K-State – 6

• Texas Tech – 5.5

• West Virginia – 5.5

• Kansas – 2.5

Reply 7 comments from Micky Baker Dave Roberts David Robinett Alex Berger Andy Godwin Dirk Medema Dale Rogers

Current NIL chaos a clear sign that college athletics still has a long way to go and needs to get there fast

Villanova and Kansas tip off their college basketball game during the semifinal round of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Villanova and Kansas tip off their college basketball game during the semifinal round of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

After years of people lining up to fight for college athletes to get a piece of the pie, talented players in all sports across the entire country are finally getting paid.

Chalk that up on the good side of the ledger.

There is a bad side, though, and it appears to be tied directly to the fact that, while paying athletes seems to be a good thing, doing so in an unregulated environment has led to significant chaos and confusion.

This is not about whether these athletes should be paid. You know that argument. For decades, college athletes have made millions of dollars for their universities — and billions for the NCAA — without getting so much as a single cent for their efforts.

I know that a free education is nothing to scoff at, but we’re so far past that point today.

Now, we’re staring down a situation where athletes are actually getting what they deserve and yet people on both sides of the coin are struggling to decipher how that should look, how much is too much and how to monitor and manage the whole situation.

Yikes. It can’t be this hard.

And it can’t include retroactive rulings and real time enforcement that changes with the wind.

If it does, that may be the strongest case yet for a new leadership model in college athletics.

I’ve been a fan of name, image and likeness compensation from the beginning. Nothing wrong with a college athlete attaching his or her name or smile to a brand and having that company kick them a little cash to say thanks. Win-win.

What I’m not a fan of is NIL deals that read like professional contracts. The first such situation that gave me pause in my support of NIL deals came when former K-State guard Nijel Pack agreed to a two-year deal for a whopping $800,000 — and a car! — when announcing his move to Miami.

What?

This is Nijel Pack we’re talking about. Solid player. Bordering on great. But is he a star?

If a guy like that can command that kind of deal, imagine what the Zion Williamsons and Andrew Wiggins of the world would have been worth in the past or will be worth in the future.

Not long after Pack’s deal was announced, reports surfaced that Miami guard Isaiah Wong was considering entering the transfer portal if his NIL deal wasn’t sweetened. Ugh.

I get it. Free market. Get what you deserve. Take as much as they’ll pay you. I’m all for that in theory. But if we’re going to continue to call this amateur sports, and if these competitors are going to continue to be called student-athletes, then there has to be a trade-off.

For me, the solution is simple. You cap it.

Regardless of sport — or maybe even by sport, given that basketball and football tend to bring in way more money than the rest of them — student-athletes are only allowed to make so much money in any given school year.

Put the cap up there pretty high so these guys and gals can cash in on the business owners and investors willing to shell out big bucks. But don’t make it so ridiculous that it encourages a haves-versus-have-nots situation any more than we already have.

Let’s say $100,000 per year. That’s nearly a half a million dollars over a college athlete’s four-year career and that, on an annual basis, is far better than most college graduates would make in their first year in the work force.

I understand that there are people out there who don’t like this idea. I even get that lawsuits could come into play in defense of these athletes. But both of those camps could be placated if the rules are strong and clear.

Again, it’s all about the trade-off. If you want to play as a college athlete and play college athletics, your earning potential is capped.

But what about the coaches who sign crazy contracts and make all kinds of money? They’re professionals. If you want the freedom to earn an unlimited amount of money, turn professional. And good luck with that.

I’m fine with the Lamborghinis and Ferraris. I’m fine with college athletes raking in large sums of cash for true NIL deals. I’m fine with sponsorships, endorsements, merchandise and athlete representation.

I’m not fine with pay-for-play contracts being executed under the NIL umbrella and leaders from the SEC and Pac-12 visiting Washington D.C. to ask for the federal government’s help in getting control of this thing 10 months after it all changed forever last July.

I don’t think anyone who loves college athletics should be either.

Kansas coach Bill Self recently said it up best when he told a Houston television station, "It's out of control right now."

The question is can anyone get it under control again? Time will tell. But it might be a long time before we get that answer.

Reply 15 comments from Njjayhawk Clarence Glasse Dirk Medema Rodney Crain Gavin Fritton Matt Tait David Robinett Bryce Landon Robert  Brock Chicagohawkmatt and 2 others

The 2022 transfer portal deadline has arrived but new names could pop up through Tuesday

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) chases down a ball between Iowa State Cyclones guard Tyrese Hunter (11) and Iowa State Cyclones guard Izaiah Brockington (1) during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) chases down a ball between Iowa State Cyclones guard Tyrese Hunter (11) and Iowa State Cyclones guard Izaiah Brockington (1) during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Sunday marked the final day that college athletes could officially enter the transfer portal in order to change teams for the 2022-23 season.

But don’t be fooled by that timeline.

The deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday was for written notice to be turned in by a student-athlete to his or her current compliance office.

That office, however, still has 48 hours to officially execute the task of entering that player into the transfer portal, therein making it known to coaches across the country that they are looking for a new home.

That means, just because we haven’t heard about Player X entering the transfer portal yet does not mean that he or she hasn’t.

Wednesday is the day we’ll know who’s in and who’s out for sure. And while that will surely make things easier for coaches and programs across all sports who are trying to build their rosters, it does not necessarily mean things will get any less chaotic.

There are enough players in the portal to date to make keeping track of the movement in the weeks and months ahead a full-time job.

In the college basketball world, the next month will be the biggest period of time for that, with many early-entry type players trying to determine whether they have a path to the NBA before returning to school.

Those players have until June 1 to withdraw their names from the 2022 NBA draft pool if they want to return to school.

Between now and then, the NBA will host its annual pre-draft combine in Chicago, slated for May 16-22.

Invitations should be going out soon, and that alone could do a lot for a handful of players who are hoping to make the jump.

History has shown that players who do not receive a combine invite typically are not headed toward getting drafted.

Although Kansas has seen a couple of players declare for the draft as early-entry prospects, no one from the KU men's basketball program has yet entered the transfer portal.

The KU women's program, Kansas football and other KU programs have either lost athletes to the portal or looked to the portal to see about adding to their rosters.

As of today, the most notable names worth tracking for the KU men's program remain Iowa State guard Tyrese Hunter (in photo above), Missouri State guard Isiaih Mosley and Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar Jr.

KUsports.com will stay in touch with whatever portal movement might impact Kansas.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

Could creation of lucrative name, image and likeness opportunities inspire more college athletes to stay in school longer?

A fan holds out a KU basketball in hopes of having a KU player sign it during a parade to celebrate the KU men’s basketball team’s NCAA basketball championship Sunday, April 10, 2022.

A fan holds out a KU basketball in hopes of having a KU player sign it during a parade to celebrate the KU men’s basketball team’s NCAA basketball championship Sunday, April 10, 2022. by Mike Yoder

North Carolina big man Armando Bacot’s decision to return to UNC for his senior season was way more than a victory for the Tar Heels.

It also represented a huge win for the name, image and likeness movement in college athletics.

There’s no telling what kind of benefits NIL will bring to Bacot during the next year. But given the fact that he’s a well-known and noticeable player who just took his team to the brink of a national title, it’s safe to say that some significant opportunities will be there.

Playing at one of college basketball’s true blue blood programs and with ties to the Jordan Brand certainly will not hurt either.

It’s hard to know if Bacot would have made this decision anyway. His announcement was all about his love for the program and wanting to bring a title to Chapel Hill. So it’s certainly possible that a fourth year at UNC was enough to bring him back.

But with NIL now a major part of the college athletics landscape, athletes who once had no choice but to turn pro when their stock registered the hottest are now starting to see returning to school as a viable and profitable option.

That’s not only good for college athletics, but it also could be really good for Kansas basketball.

You don’t have to think too long to come up with a list of former Jayhawks who turned pro early but might have preferred to stay in college for another year.

Joel Embiid flat-out said he wanted to stay. Ben McLemore and Xavier Henry announced they were leaving with a heavy dose of tears. And there have been others who, even though things worked out well for them after leaving, might not have been quite ready to say goodbye when they did.

With the impact of NIL deals still being developed and the earning potential that comes with them soaring through the roof, the idea of staying in college a little longer is suddenly not so crazy. Nor does it come with as much of a financial risk.

Sure, the possibility still will exist that coming back and getting injured could significantly alter one’s pro career and cut into his or her earning potential. But if you’re earning money while in college, as is now legal, even an injury in the year after returning might not be quite as devastating as it once was.

Potential is a key word in this conversation because it is seemingly endless.

With college athletes now able to sell their own merchandise, make money off of appearances and autographs, collect cash from businesses for sponsorships and even get paid by a brand as big as Adidas for simply playing college sports, it’s not hard to see how those paychecks could add up fast.

In late March, Adidas announced that it soon will launch NIL opportunities for more than 50,000 student-athletes tied to its 109 Division I partners across 23 sports. Athletes will be paid as affiliate brand ambassadors — wear the gear, score the points, smile and look good on camera, etc. — and the individual value of each athlete will be tied largely to his or her exposure and notoriety.

A soccer player at Louisiana Tech might not collect big money. But a basketball player at Louisville or Kansas or a football player at Texas A&M or Miami (Fla.) certainly could.

Just how much — and also how easily — now figures to be part of the conversation not only when athletes are picking schools but also when they’re deciding how long to stay at them.

In a recent interview with the Journal-World, second-year Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff said he thought the NIL landscape had become “murkier” in the nine-and-a-half months since athletes making money off of their name, image and likeness became legal in college athletics on July 1, 2021.

With so many angles to consider and areas to monitor, not to mention having to wrestle with the question of exactly what role a university can and should have when it comes to NIL and its athletes, Goff said figuring out how to manage NIL has become one of the most important challenges facing college athletic departments today.

“It’s not gotten easier,” Goff told the Journal-World. “It’s not gotten any more clear in terms of how to navigate it and what role the athletic department has in that. I think it’s gotten murkier. I think it’s gotten more complicated and I think it’s gotten more pressure-packed. I feel more and more of that every day that goes by.”

KU was slow to roll out its NIL plans and that was by design. The school’s Jayhawks Ascend initiative, which was announced on July 30, 2021, was more of an all-encompassing tool for KU’s student-athletes, emphasizing the importance of everything from brand management and how to handle NIL opportunities to maximizing resources and preparation for opportunities beyond one’s time at KU.

KU also has worked with third parties — most notably 6th Man Strategies — to bring NIL opportunities to student-athletes in a number of different sports.

Asked recently how he would grade KU’s work thus far in the NIL world, Goff gave his department a B- or C+.

“We’re OK,” he said. “And there’s been cases where we’ve been pretty good. But we’re far from excelling.”

That, too, is by design.

With the NCAA investigation into improper recruiting practices at Kansas still being reviewed by the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, Goff said he believed it was best for KU to blend into the NIL world for a while.

“Because of other insinuating circumstances, it’s probably not the right thing for the University of Kansas to be the most progressive, aggressive NIL place in the country,” he said.

However, Goff acknowledged that eventually having an NIL program that is as competitive as any out there, especially for KU’s men’s basketball program, would be critical in keeping the Jayhawks competing for national titles year in and year out.

“When you’re only basically recruiting top 50 prospects in a sport, then NIL is absolutely at the forefront for any of those prospective student-athletes,” Goff said.

To that end, KU recently announced a men's basketball barnstorming tour of the state in which all 18 members of the 2022 national championship squad will be eligible to participate in and profit from meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, skills camps, pick-up games, VIP dinners and more. The first barnstorming date is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Wichita East High School.

As for how NIL factors into the future of KU’s football program, Goff said he has watched those trend lines follow the general state of the program under second-year head coach Lance Leipold.

“If you go back to July and August, there wasn’t a lot of energy around Kansas football and NIL,” Goff said. “And we’re seeing more and more today because it’s aligning with the general recognition that this program is on exactly the path that it should be and it’s got exceptional potential.”

On Monday, 6th Man Strategies, announced the creation of 12th Man Strategies, a subsidiary of the original company, that has signed contracts with Kansas football to represent them in the NIL space like 6th Man Strategies has represented KU men’s and women’s basketball players.

To date, 6th Man Strategies has delivered more than $200,000 in gross sales of officially licensed Kansas basketball merchandise through the retailer Rally House.

While the new endeavor will bring greater opportunities to KU football players in the immediate future, Goff said he had not received any negative feedback from frustrated coaches, athletes or parents about NIL opportunities being slow to trickle down to their sports.

“People just understand,” he said. “And they can see that that’s coming for other programs, too.”

Reply 4 comments from Leikness Rodney Crain David Robinett Dirk Medema

Kansas football coach Lance Leipold saying the 85-man scholarship limit is in reach is a feat worth celebrating as much as any KU victory

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold waits to lead his team onto the field before an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold waits to lead his team onto the field before an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

For years, different Kansas football coaches have stood at the podium at various times of the year and danced around the question about where the program stood in terms of overall scholarship numbers.

On Wednesday, while discussing the early portion of KU’s 2022 signing class, first-year KU coach Lance Leipold hit it head on and then moved on like nothing had happened.

Based on what he said, I expected balloons to drop and sirens to sound. And if they had it would not have been an overreaction in any way.

Make no mistake about it, Leipold’s answer to the question of how close Kansas will be to the 85-man scholarship limit next season was a big deal. Huge, in fact.

“I think we have a chance to be there,” he said. “We could put a lot of people to sleep with this subject.”

Wrong, coach. People — diehard Kansas football fans, especially — have spent an extraordinary amount of time during the past decade wondering about that very question, obsessing over that number and being frustrated and outraged by KU’s inability to get back to it.

And now you, like Santa himself coming down the chimney, are telling them you’re close? Forget Mrkonic Auditorium at the Anderson Family Football Complex, this press conference should’ve taken place on a mountain top with Leipold shouting through a bullhorn.

But that’s not his style. And, really, KU’s scholarship deficit has not been nearly as hard on him as it has been on KU fans and the players who have endured it. So it makes sense that Wednesday did not unfold like the final scene from an episode of Supermarket Sweep. But if that’s how his words made you feel, don’t be ashamed.

Failed junior college experiments, small senior classes and a revolving door of departures from the program all have played a role in Kansas football operating with fewer scholarship players than pretty much every one of its Division I opponents during that time. And that lopsided playing field led to lopsided outcomes on the scoreboard.

There were still a few of those during Leipold’s first season at Kansas — a 2-10 run that just recently ended — but the fact that things may soon be more level is arguably the biggest news to hit this program in the post-Mark Mangino era.

In short, it gives KU a chance again.

Leipold’s coaching chops, his staff’s ability to find and develop players and whether or not they sign the right players also will be key components of KU having a chance.

But giving them a full roster to work with only increases their chances of turning this thing around. After all, playing with a short deck is like hoping to hit blackjack without the dealer holding any aces.

Kansas no longer has to worry about that. And it will be interesting to see how many aces are flipped over moving forward.

It’s far from a guarantee that they’ll hit 85 scholarship players in 2022. The transfer portal and fluid reality of the new era of recruiting leave that a little open-ended. But at this point, after all the program has been through, including bottoming out at nearly half that number, knowing that 85 is finally on the radar again seems like a massive victory.

Now we have to see if that leads to more victories on the field.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema Njjayhawk

KU walk-on Jared Casey’s Applebee’s commercial features a nod to his 2-point conversion catch

Kansas tight end Jared Casey holds up his No. 47 jersey in the visitors locker room after making the game-winning catch on a two-point conversion at Texas, on Nov. 13, 2021.

Kansas tight end Jared Casey holds up his No. 47 jersey in the visitors locker room after making the game-winning catch on a two-point conversion at Texas, on Nov. 13, 2021.

Entering last Saturday's final walk-through for the KU-Texas game, Kansas football walk-on Jared Casey had no idea that his life would suddenly be so busy in the coming days.

But there he was, after becoming a star following his game-winning, 2-point conversion catch, making commercials, doing all kinds of media sessions and still waiting for the reality of it all to sink in.

Wednesday, at KU's regularly scheduled player availability session, Casey talked about the whirlwind few days and his first dabbling with acting. He said he never was even in any kind of school play growing up and noted that, because his acting chops were a little raw, the whole experience of making a commercial for NIL partner Applebee's took a long time.

Here, in case you haven't seen it, is a look at Casey's Applebee's commercial, which was filmed in Lawrence earlier this week.

None by Hannah King

Reply 3 comments from Lonnie Ross Dillon Andy Godwin Dale Rogers

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels earned latest opportunity long before last Saturday’s win at Texas; Now, what will he do with it?

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) throws a pass against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) throws a pass against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A Kansas football season that began with uncertainty at the quarterback position is on the brink of ending with at least a little clarity there.

That’s all thanks to the way both head coach Lance Leipold and sophomore quarterback Jalon Daniels handled things during the past four months.

Their poise and commitment to the process came to the forefront on Tuesday, when Leipold announced that he had left the decision whether to play or not in the final two games of the season in the hands of Daniels and his family.

Bravo, coach. After watching what Daniels did against Texas, that was the only way to move forward.

From Daniels’ perspective, choosing to play rather than aiming to preserve his redshirt was also a no-brainer decision.

Now we get to see what the 19-year-old QB from California can do with a little bit of confidence, both in himself and from his head coach and teammates.

Daniels earned the opportunity to make this decision long before leading the Jayhawks to victory over Texas, though. From Day 1 of this summer’s quarterback race, Daniels put the program first.

He said throughout the summer that, as much as he wanted to win the job, he wanted his team to win more than anything. That sentiment came to a head at media day, on Aug. 17, when Daniels was asked about battling for the job and responded by saying that if the right move was for KU to go with someone else, he didn’t want to win it.

He simply wanted the best player lining up at the game’s most important position.

As it turns out, that may be him.

Junior transfer Jason Bean won the job initially and had both good moments and bad. An injury in the Kansas State game, however, opened the door for Daniels, and rather than stepping through it with a chip on his shoulder, he sprinted through it with the enthusiasm of a kid running to the front of the line for his favorite ride at Disneyland.

We saw that same vibe from Daniels as a true freshman. But he’s a different quarterback today than he was back then.

Daniels isn’t perfect by any means. But it’s clear that the time he spent serving as the team’s third-string QB with plans to redshirt was put to good used.

He got better. He gained confidence. He improved his accuracy. He gained a different perspective. All of those were critical for a young QB who started way sooner than he ever should’ve during the 2020 season and did a lot of what you’d expect an 18-year-old, true-freshman QB to do while playing college football for the first time.

He flashed in spots and showed off his big arm at times, but also was chewed up and spit out by the biggest and best the Big 12 had to offer.

Now, he gets what amounts to a redo. It’s also an audition of sorts for his immediate KU future.

Perform as well as he did in the next two games — Saturday at TCU and home vs. West Virginia on Nov. 27 — and he might just cement himself as the Jayhawks’ quarterback of the future.

Time will tell on that, of course. But thanks to a solid and sound approach by all parties involved, we now get to find out.

And, for most still paying attention, actual intrigue around Kansas football in the month of November is as rare as beating Texas in Austin once was.

Reply 7 comments from Koolkeithfreeze Navyhawk Dirk Medema Jeff Coffman Brett McCabe Garry Wright

Short postgame exchange between Leipold, Logan a positive sign for Kansas football’s future

Kansas safety Kenny Logan Jr. talks with media members during interview on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 at the Indoor Practice Facility.

Kansas safety Kenny Logan Jr. talks with media members during interview on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 at the Indoor Practice Facility. by Nick Krug

For most of the 2021 Kansas football season, one question weighed on my mind more than any other.

On Sunday, mere hours after the Jayhawks’ stunning, 57-56 overtime victory at Texas, one video may have answered it.

The question: No matter how qualified or “right” first-year KU coach Lance Leipold is for the monster challenge that is coaching football at Kansas, how is he going to get his most talented players to stick around through a treacherous rebuild when the rules allow any of them to leave for perceived greener pastures at any time?

The answer: Evidently, it’s love.

Any time that question entered my mind, my thoughts immediately went to junior safety Kenny Logan Jr., a talented and tough player who no doubt could play for just about any program in the country.

Logan’s had a great year. He leads the team in tackles, heart and personality and has been one of the true bright spots in another losing season.

There’s little doubt that Logan has enjoyed his time as a Jayhawk. But in the three years he has been with the program, the Jayhawks have won just five games — four heading into last Saturday — and been on the wrong end of so many lopsided outcomes.

There’s not a person around the KU program who would not love to see Logan finish his career in crimson and blue. But after recent drubbings at the hands of Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State — not to mention a never-in-it loss to in-state rival Kansas State — I started to wonder if Logan himself would want stick around for his senior season or if he’d go the way of Marcus Harris, Da’Jon Terry and Karon Prunty, who all entered the transfer portal in search of a new opportunity after last season.

The idea of trying to rebuild a college football program from the ground up in the transfer portal era makes it a far tougher challenge than anything anyone has ever seen. Being successful will have to be as much about relationships as it is X's and O's.

The video is just 20 seconds long, but it features a special moment between Logan and Leipold, who are shown embracing and soaking up last Saturday’s victory.

“I love you coach,” Logan says.

“I love you, too,” Leipold responds.

“I appreciate you,” Logan adds.

“I appreciate you,” Leipold replies.

The two then share their thoughts about how the win over Texas was merely a “small step” in KU’s turnaround, with Logan calling it a “stepping stone.”

“It’s just the beginning,” Leipold adds. “Now, I’ll give you a little warning; I’ll be harder on you next week than I was before. I love you, man.”

It’s that kind of bond, between a player and coach, that can make this rebuild possible.

Those two have been around each other for barely six months, and during several of those weeks, the bitter taste of losing has been the story. But Logan and Leipold have clearly developed a deep connection, and their willingness to keep grinding and trust one another led to the win over Texas.

“Kenny’s got such great personality and charisma,” Leipold said earlier this month. “He’s such a likable person and he connects with so many different people. That’s the thing that’s impressive. That’s just what he’s about. His passion for the game, and for our team to be successful, is really there.”

The strength of their relationship surfaced early, with both Logan and Leipold first sharing their respect and admiration for one another back in July and August. They’re opposites in many ways, but both are brimming with energy, optimism and a relentless spirit.

That made their bond click quickly. Their ability to show up week after week with a smile on their faces and the passion to lead others to do the same has strengthened it and this team.

Earlier this month, I asked Leipold about the importance of Logan’s role in KU’s rebuilding plans, and the first-year KU coach did not hide his perspective.

“(KU strength coach) Matt Gildersleeve and I have talked a lot with him (about) how he’s viewed and what (his) role is and what that does for our program, now and for the future,” Leipold said. “I think he’s starting to understand that more and more and embracing that.

“He is a key component (for) the rest of this season. He will be very important during the offseason and the continuation of building our program.”

Logan’s talent and leadership factored into that answer. And Leipold said Logan, as much as anyone, has shown constant growth throughout what has been another tough season.

He’s always showed up to compete. But in the past month or so, he has started to understand more about Leipold’s approach. He also has become more comfortable in KU’s defensive scheme and that has allowed him to play faster and make more plays.

Others have done that, as well. And Leipold and company are counting on enough current players making those strides to get this thing turned around.

What they weren’t counting on, though — and didn’t even know they had when they arrived — was a player like Logan to lead the effort.

Win or lose, on good days and bad, Logan presents himself as a player and a person who simply loves being around football. That kind of attitude can become contagious, and when you get enough guys thinking and acting that same way, that’s when big strides can be made.

“I think he’s kind of special in that way,” Leipold said. “He’s always around the building, he’s always around people that are in this organization. He would rather be in this building than sitting in his apartment.

“I don’t know if Kenny would like a lot of Kennys around him, though,” the coach added with a laugh. “I’m joking.”

None by Kansas Football

Reply 8 comments from Dirk Medema Brett McCabe Dale Rogers Krohnutz David Robinett Layne Pierce Inteldesign

Celebration of KU football’s OT win over Texas reaches Memorial Stadium parking lot

The remnants of a couch fire rest in the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium parking lot on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

The remnants of a couch fire rest in the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium parking lot on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. by Matt Tait

The celebration of the Kansas football team’s 57-56 overtime victory over the Texas Longhorns in Austin, Texas, reached the parking lot at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium late Saturday night.

According to KUPD officers on the scene, efforts were made by some fans who wanted to storm the field and go after the goalposts. But by night’s end, the goalposts remained standing and the celebration was largely incident free.

A crowd of between 100-200 KU fans celebrated the victory near the southeast corner of the stadium, chanting and cheering the Jayhawks’ first Big 12 road victory in 13 years.

In the background, music was blaring from house parties along Mississippi Street and KU fans were cheering and honking their horns around campus. A few fireworks even soared into the sky.

Saturday's win was not just some run-of-the-mill victory for Lance Leipold's Jayhawks. It snapped a 56-game road Big 12 losing streak and a stretch of 18 consecutive conference losses. The Jayhawks, who were a 31-point underdog, won for the first time in 101 games as an underdog of 24 points or more. And the 57 points were the most in a road game in KU history.

Clearly, there was plenty to celebrate, not the least of which was the fact that this win was the second for Kansas in its past five games against UT. In their last trip to Austin, in 2019, the Jayhawks narrowly missed out on what would have been a third win in five tries.

Saturday's celebration around the stadium lasted less than an hour and included a couch fire near the southeast corner of the stadium’s east parking lot. A fire truck from the Lawrence-Douglas Country Fire Medical Department was dispatched to put out the fire and the area was mostly quiet by 11:40 p.m.

Conversations between KUPD officers on hand indicated that the celebration included “mostly good enthusiasm” and that “no one got hurt that we’re aware of.”

One officer on the scene told the Journal-World that she encouraged the students who were celebrating to send and post their videos to members of the football team to show they were there supporting them.

The victory improved KU to 2-8 on the season and dealt the Longhorns their fifth consecutive loss.

Next up, KU will play at TCU at 3 p.m. next Saturday before closing out the season at home against West Virginia on Nov. 27.

None by Lawrence KS Community & Police Scanner

Efforts were made to storm the field and tear down the goal posts at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, but, by night's end, the goal posts were still standing.

Efforts were made to storm the field and tear down the goal posts at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, but, by night's end, the goal posts were still standing. by Matt Tait

Reply 5 comments from Brett McCabe Dirk Medema Shimsham Kyle Neuer

Saturday’s Kansas football reentry policy a great sign that administration gets it

Kansas athletic director Travis Goff chats with football fan Dave Couch, Olathe, and his son Colin Couch outside the Anderson Family Football Complex prior to kickoff against South Dakota. (Photo by Nick Krug/Special to the Journal-World)

Kansas athletic director Travis Goff chats with football fan Dave Couch, Olathe, and his son Colin Couch outside the Anderson Family Football Complex prior to kickoff against South Dakota. (Photo by Nick Krug/Special to the Journal-World) by Nick Krug

On the surface, the University of Kansas athletic department’s decision to stamp a few hands and re-open the gates to fans who want to reenter Memorial Stadium after halftime on Saturday may seem pretty mundane.

But it’s a big frickin’ deal.

And most Kansas fans know it.

At a time when the product on the field is not doing enough to inspire attendance and get people to support the program, it’s critical for athletic department leaders to find ways to entice the fan base to come anyway they can.

This move, coupled with the willingness to open the gates and let people in for free during the second half of the Jayhawks’ near-upset of No. 3 Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago, shows with clarity that first-year KU AD Travis Goff gets it.

The money “lost” from those ticket sales or even a few hundred extra halftime concessions is peanuts compared to the money that can be made down the road by attracting fans to be a part of the fun on Saturdays in the fall.

Former KU Al Bohl is often given at least part of the credit for breathing life into Kansas football again by bringing tailgating back to Memorial Stadium. And Lew Perkins, who has his own chapter in the recent downfall of the program, followed up on that by marketing the product as fun for the whole family with enticing season-ticket packages.

It's still early, and there's been no real progress made yet, but Goff appears to be gunning for inclusion on that list.

Losing is never fun. And the goal within the program remains for Lance Leipold and company to get this thing going again so that winning returns to Memorial Stadium.

Until then — and it may be a while — getting the fans back and making it worth their while is a necessary step in what KU hopes will be a successful turnaround.

This athletic administration appears to be thinking about that on an almost daily basis. No idea seems too small. And no staff member is too low-level to not be heard. That’s a great start.

This concept extends beyond ideas and execution, too.

If you haven’t yet, next time you’re up there take a look outside of the stadium behind the north bowl. There you’ll find landscaping that actually makes it look like Kansas cares.

Things like that, as well as the reentry policy and steps like it, take time, a little bit of money and create more work for a whole bunch of people. But if KU officials don’t care and aren’t willing to show it, then how can they expect their fan base to do the same?

This weekend’s weather forecast, along with the fanfare that surrounds the Sunflower Showdown rivalry, should make for a pretty good setting for college football.

And it’s now crystal clear that KU officials want you to be a part of it. Every little bit helps. And, as we saw with the Oklahoma game a couple of weeks ago, you never know what you might find yourself walking into.

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