Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Anderson Football Complex

Went by the open house at the brand spanking new Anderson Football Complex. I haven't seen many programs football facilities, but this has to be one of the nicest in the nation, it was glorious. New is best in recruiting these days. Also a few pictures of 'Gino, don't know how well you can tell from the shots, but he has lost a fair amount of weight(a lot to go though). See the rest here.

Rock Chalk

A Rebuttal

As was pointed out in our previous post, thanks go out to Tim Griffin for including us in his wonderful blog over at ESPN. There are some good links over there this morning, as well as a pretty good post about whether or not Colorado deserved their national title in 1990 (of course not, but you have to love the 5th down). In response to those commenters from yesterdays post, I want to apologize.

I truly am sorry for having the audacity to suggest that Kansas could put together a 10 win season. Even more so, I would like to apologize for even toying with the notion that they could possibly beat the mighty Methzouri Tigers just one year after they lost by a touchdown to said team. Both were truly irreprehensible acts against humanity and I feel much better having you all put me in my rightful place. I do only possess the brain of a standard third grader (after all, I am a born Kansan), but I did not realize it until you all articulated it so eloquently. Had I known our fair blog was going to be graced with such astute intellectuals as yourselves, I would have never even attempted putting together such a piece. In fact, if I thought you would be coming back I would probably have to just resign my post and keep to myself. But since it is unlikely that any of you would lower yourself to our level with any regularity, I'll go ahead and throw out a defense for us small-minded people from the Sunflower State.

First things first. It's July. Had I told you at this time last year that South Florida (or Kansas) would ever rise to #2 in the rankings you may have reacted even more fervently than you did about this anarchy. Whereas I used the word may there, I will absolutely, 100% guarantee that none of you would have even entertained the idea that Kansas could go 12-1, even with such a cushy schedule (albeit one extremely similar to Methzouri).

Hindsight is 20/20. I realize that just as well as anyone, but no one was making any noise about how Kansas was likely to have a good year because they had a soft schedule at this time last year.

During the non-conference all anyone said was, "Wait until they have to play K-State (a team that had just won in Austin), then they'll surely lose."

And when they won in Manhattan, all anyone said was, "But they haven't even left the state yet. Wait until they go to Colorado (where OU had just lost) – then they'll surely lose."

And when that didn't happen all anyone said was, "Just wait until they have to play in the hostile environment at Kyle Field (where Texas lost) – there's no way they can handle that."

And when that didn't happen, they all said, "Wait until they have to play in primetime in Stillwater (where Tech lost). They won't be able to handle that."

And when that didn't happen, nobody really knew what to say except that the only reason they had done all of this was because of their soft schedule. And then they lost to Methzouri and everyone's "schedule attributions" were confirmed. That is, until they beat Virginia tech in Miami.

Look, I'll be the first to admit that last season almost assuredly wouldn't have happened with this year's schedule. But quite obviously, I'm not suggesting it will either. I'm simply suggesting that even with a much tougher slate that a 10-3 record is attainable, if not optimistic. If you can truly go through it and determine (in July, mind you) that I am unequivocally, without a doubt, 100% wrong more power to you. For those of you that aren't so sure though, keep on reading…

@ South Florida – As I said yesterday, I think this is an enormous game and I definitely won't be surprised to see the Hawks come home 2-1. But I also know that the Bulls do not return any of their cornerbacks and consistently have a lot of trouble stopping anything other than a speed running game, so I certainly think Kansas has the ability to win this game as well.

@ ISU and v. Colorado and @ Oklahoma – I don't think many people will argue with these, although I could see both the former being tough games. And as I predicted yesterday, I'm thinking of the latter as a loss.

V. Texas Tech – I realize that everyone is really high on Tech right now. And perhaps that is deservedly so. However, the only reason anyone expects them to take this leap is on account of their defense returning 10 starters. Maybe I'm wrong and they really will be great, but I'm going to have to see it to believe it. And beyond that, this team lost at home to Colorado last year. Are we really ready to say that there is no feasible way Kansas can beat them in Lawrence?

V. KSU – Again, I doubt I have a whole lot of disagreement here, even with Josh Freeman lining up on the opposite side.

@ Nebraska – I actually got more criticism here for suggesting that the same team could lose @ Nebraska and beat Methzouri in the same season. Because that's never happened before. It's not like either Kansas or Methzou has gone winless in Lincoln since the sixties or anything. In all honesty, though, clearly times have changed. And I will absolutely not be surprised if Kansas wins @ Nebraska and loses to Methzou. But on the other hand, on paper it doesn't make a lot of sense how Oklahoma beat Methzou by a combined 31 points, only to lose to Colorado and Tech (two teams Methzou destroyed). If the favorite won every game I sure would enjoy college football a whole lot less…

V. Texas – Similar to my Tech debate (and all of these, for that matter), I don't know what's going to happen here. But I do know that in 2004 when Kansas went a putrid 4-7, they had VY and Texas on the ropes and could have easily won the game had a few things gone differently. Of course they didn't and there are no excuses for that, but none of that matters. Given that it's July and we don't know exactly how much of a difference Muschamp will have or how Colt and/or Chiles will perform at QB it's hard to say how this Texas team will compare to that 2004 team, or even last year's squad, for that matter. But I can tell you one thing; this Kansas team will be a whole lot better than the one they fielded in 2004, so I certainly won't be stunned if they beat the Longhorns in Lawrence.

V. Methzou @ Arrowhead – Since I likely wouldn't have received much of a response without suggesting this blasphemy, this is probably the one I need to defend the most. However, I don't see much of a reason to do so. If the point hasn't been made by now, a few more sentences are unlikely to push it over the top. But I will say that I wholeheartedly think Methzou is the team to beat in the north. Daniel, Maclin and Coffman can put together one hell of an offense, even without getting much from the other 8 on the field. Defensively, I think William Moore is one of the more under-rated players in the country. And the unit may be even better than they were a year ago – which, by the way, they'll need to be to have a chance at attaining the goals they've set. But even with all of that being true, they sure as hell aren't going to be any more bulletproof than a handful teams from last year: USC (to Stanford), LSU (to Kentucky and Arkansas), Georgia (to South Carolina), aOSU (to Illinois) or even Michigan (to Appy State) come to mind. So to suggest that a team like Kansas has no shot to beat them a full four month's in advance seems a little presumptuous to me.

Also, just food for thought, but to say that both teams have been mired in mediocrity for a while is probably being a bit too kind. If last year was any indication, they each have turned the corner and possibly made this rivalry relevant somewhere other than the middle of the country. However, even as pitiful as Kansas has been over the last two decades, I found these numbers interesting…

Head-to-head - KU:11 - MU:9
Bowl Record – KU: 4-1 MU:3-3

So in an attempt the keep things semi-relevant, over the past 20 years Kansas holds the lead in head-to-head victories and has more bowl wins. Since you all like to point to the fact that Kansas has only had one good season (I won't even argue all that zealously), it's worth noting that even in that time they have managed to out-do their counterparts to the east.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dios mio, man. Todd and me, we're gonna fuck you up

Tim Griffin of the World Wide Leader has done the impossible, increase our blog hits to over 10 in a week! (take that Mormon Tabernacle Sports Blog!) A lot of hateful venom has been spewed in our comments in response to blogger savant Hiphopopotamus' latest post.* I am sure he will have a retort to defend himself, not that he needs to. This is a blog centering on KU sports. It is speculative and often finds us posting predictions that are more hopeful than realistic.

*They should do a Bud Light Real Men of Genius: Mr. Anonymous Message Board Poster.

To be honest, I agree with almost all of his picks, but would mark Nebraska in the W column and MU in the L column (most likely, ruling out a Big 12 Championship appearance). My defense for expecting pretty great things from 2008's version of the Fighting Manginos is simple...Mangino and Hot Toddy.

Last year, the Jayhawks defeated 5 teams with more talent than they had: Colorado(road), A&M(road), Nebraska, Oklahoma State(road) and Va. Tech(neutral) (based on average number of recruiting stars per Scout.com, rankings from any news outlet that put out a ranking, NCAA '08...etc....etc.)

This year, it does get tougher. A quick rundown of teams with equal or greater "talent": South Florida(road), Colorado, Oklahoma(road), Texas Tech, Nebraska(road), Texas, Missouri(neutral). Let's just throw out OU, barring a slight miracle...yeah, not gonna happen. Take out MU, because I think we lose to them, and you have 3 games at home(KU has lost 2 games at home in the last 3 years) and winnable games against teams not as good as KU(per my three-tiered, unquestioned ranking) on the road.

So, back to topic, Mangino and staff are the reason the Hawks tended to finally click and play mistake-free football against teams with greater talent on the field last year. We had seen signs of this great turnaround for awhile, better team play all over the field. What Mangino needed was a QB that could be durable('07 was the first time he had a single quarterback start more than 7 games in a year) and run the spread to ridiculous accuracy and explosiveness. A stout, smart defense was Mangino's cornerstone at KU, just waiting for the offense to find its head from its ass.(to be noted again, even without all the peices in place, KU has only lost 2 home games in the last 3 years)

Are we hopefully optimistic in our predictions? Of course, this is our blog and we aren't writing for ESPN, CNNSI or anything like that. But, to just write off last year as an absolute product of: scheduling, few injuries, TO margin, or as one commenter put it, a freak year, is just pretty ludicrous. Just because most of America hadn't been exposed to the mounting turnaround doesn't mean it happened overnight.

Enough ranting, it should be very fun to see what happens this year. Please make sure you all come back by and visit(but you won't, anonymous blog poster) after we take out TTech and Texas at home...with inferior talent of course. Make sure and tell us it was because of a freak TO margin, a freak injury, or a freak schedule that let us avoid them on the road. We all know it couldn't have been due to Mangino or Reesing.

Couple of quick links...

Cornflakes doesn't like Mangenius's nondisclosure plolicy.(I think he should focus on important things, like filling that gaaaaaping hole at linebacker)

Dawgsports thinks we are overrated, this link is for those who have commented.

Schedule Talk

With all this schedule talk surrounding Kansas these days and with us being a mere 32 days away from kickoff, it seemed like a good time to go ahead and let you guys know what's going to happen this year. Without further ado...

August 30th v. Florida International – No discussion necessary
WIN (1-0)

September 6th v. Louisiana Tech – I'm still shocked this game got picked up for TV already.
WIN (2-0)

September 12th @ South Florida In addition to the conference opponent previews, we'll also be featuring Jim Leavitt's Bulls as I think this game has the potential to be the equivalent of last year's trip to Manhattan. Prior to that game I thought it was the most important one of the season and given how things ultimately turned out, I don't think I was too far off in that assessment. With the way the schedule lines up this year, I think this is that game. In which case I better go ahead and project…
WIN (3-0)

September 20th v. Sam Houston St. – Payback time, Mr. Bomar. So maybe we really don't owe Rhett any payback, as it was clearly the Kansas offense that lost that game. Either way…
WIN (4-0)

October 4th @ Iowa State – With ISU's potential to occasionally steal some games in Ames this would feel like a dangerous one to me, if it weren't the first league game and it was preceded by a bye week. Fortunately, both of those things are true and I expect a comfortable win.
WIN (5-0, 1-0)

October 11th v. Colorado – Let me be the first (or one of the last) to say that Colorado is going to surprise some teams this year. However, in the 3 weeks leading up to this game they will play West Virginia, @ Florida State and Texas (in Boulder), so I feel like the Hawks shouldn't have a terribly tough time with them in Lawrence. And so ends the comfortable part of the schedule.
WIN (6-0, 2-0)

October 18th @ Oklahoma – Could this be the second straight year that a OU meets an undefeated team from the Big 12 north in front of the Gameday Crew in Norman? Possibly. Unfortunately, I think the result will end up much the same as well.
LOSS (6-1, 2-1)

October 25th v. Texas Tech – Last year Homecoming was celebrated with a 76-39 thrashing of Nebraska. This year, the Pirate brings Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree into town. And yes, Michael Crabtree scares me. If you're reading this, Clint Bowen (who are we kidding, of course you are), please do not try and single cover that man. EVER. The key to disrupting a Tech offense is getting pressure on the QB, which incidentally happens to be the key to the KU defense this year. It if happens, the Hawks should have plenty of offense to take this one.
WIN (7-1, 3-1)

November 1st v. KSU – This one is probably the closest thing the Jayhawks get to a break in the schedule. That being said, we saw what happened in Austin last year when you treat a visit from KSU as an off-week. No need to worry, though, Kansas fans. You have Mark Mangino and not Mack Brown so you're not likely to get out coached, especially by a giant genie that can't retain his assistants and just brought in 19 JUCO players. NFL Draft prospect Josh Freeman will bring his Power Towels into Lawrence for his annual loss to the Hawks, making him a stellar 0-3 v. his cross-state rivals.
WIN (8-1, 4-1)

November 8th @ Nebraska – Since we have absolutely no fucking clue what to expect from Bo Pelini's blackshirts, this one is nearly impossible to predict. However, as much as it pains me, I'm going to say that Nebraska gets up for this one after the beating they were given last year and knocks off the Jayhawks, further extending the winless streak in Lincoln.
LOSS (8-2, 4-2)

November 15th v. Texas – After a rough loss to the Bugeaters, KU returns home to face Mack and Colt. And just as Nebraska got revenge for the 76 points, KU will get their revenge from the infamous "Dollar signs" game in which Texas was all but given the game by the zebras (and VY's incredible 4th & 18 scramble, but that's beside the point).
WIN (9-2, 5-2)

November 29th v. Methzou @ Arrowhead – Just as it was last year, I'll go out on a limb and say this one is for the right to represent the north as Methzou will enter the game with 1 conference loss to Kansas' 2. And since we all know that Methzou is getting WAAAY over hyped (good defense, really?!?!), the Jayhawks take this one, sending Booger and Pinkel into a maelstrom of self-pity as it is KU and not the Tigers, playing two straight in Arrowhead.
WIN (10-2, 6-2)

December 6th v. OU in Big XII Championship @ Arrowhead – I hate to be the guy taking OU year after year, but if Sam Bradford stays healthy and their back 7 on defense aren't terrible, I just don't see any other team in the league dethroning the Sooners. The Jayhawks keep it closer than they did in Norman, but just can't come up with enough big plays down the stretch.
LOSS (10-3, 6-2)

I would love to speculate on their bowl from this point, but I have even less of a clue about that than all that we've gone through above, so I'll just leave it be. If this record really does hold up though, either the Cotton or Holiday seems likely.

And before we go, I should probably link to Tim Griffin's big 12 hate meter as ESPN is enjoying a day of analyzing the hated programs around the country. You have to give it to them, though; this is a creative, new way to promote USC, aOSU, and the SEC. As for Griffin's meter, I'd say it is pretty dead on. My personal one would differ quite a bit, but from a universal vantage point it seems pretty accurate. Be sure to check back as the next few weeks we'll be offering much more extensive previews of the nine worthwhile games mentioned above.

Tuesday Tidbits

I'm not sure if this is just Marchiony-speak, or if it's legitimate, but apparently Kivisto is still "on schedule" with his payments towards the Anderson Family Football Complex. We'll see.

Well done, Jack McCullum. Well done, indeed, sir.

I doubt this is a very big deal, especially since he's expected back by the season opener, but Auston English had an emergency appendectomy over the weekend and is out indefinitely. Of slightly more merit in the piece is that RS Freshman DE, David Anderson decided to quit the team. Something tells me Stoops has a few more David Anderson's on his roster, though.

And finally, Randy Riggs of the Austin American Statesmen has a story on how KU and Methzou are out to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. (HT: Tim Griffin)

That's all the links I have for you now, but we've got a few things in mind with some substance, one of which may even surface here later today. For now, I'll just leave you with this beautiful, albeit blurry, photo...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Morning Look Around

Starting off lightly, Talib officially signed with the Buccaneers on Friday. According to NFL.com, via Bucs Beat from the St. Petersburg Times, it is for $14 million over 5 years and $8.2 million is guaranteed. Also, Anthony Collins and the Cincinnati Bengals have signed a four year deal with a base of $2.175 million and a signing bonus of $470,500. The LJW has yet to report on any of this. Come on now, Dugan.

Predictably, The Oklahoman has quite a bit of Big 12 football coverage these days. First, I want to direct you to their "ranking" of each team's non-con portion of the schedule. Secondly – and more impressively – they also rank every Big 12 game, from 1-96. KU/Methzou comes in at #2. The next link on our list also showcases KU and Methzou, ranking KU's linebackers as the best in the league, followed by the corps at Methzou. On that same note, they also have a story about KU's linebackers and how the defense will be a huge key if Kansas is to compete for the Big 12. Staying in the Sooner State, the Tulsa World has a short Q&A with Hot Toddy.

The best thing about all of this is that Kansas football is actually generating newsworthy columns in an Oklahoma paper. But something else very satisfying about this is that while every national outlet is writing off last year as a product of their schedule and a fluke, some writers who are much closer to the situation (though would have no partiality towards KU) see that although things are going to be tougher for them the program has turned a corner and is heading in the right direction. Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily expect KU to win the league, or even represent the north with the way the schedules line up this year. But anyone who truly thinks last year was purely a product of the schedule and can't again be replicated in the future, knows less about football than Skip Bayless knows about anything.

Chuck Carlton of the DMN might be included in that contingent. David R. Henry of The Daily Texan seems to be a bit more open-minded. At this point I'm just beating a dead horse, but there is honestly no way you could watch Kansas last year and attribute their wins solely to their schedule. If so, why did Texas Tech lose to OSU? Why did Texas lose to A&M and KSU? And why did OU lose to Colorado? Clearly the Hawks didn't play the nation's toughest schedule (Why they feel the need to schedule I-AA opponents is beyond me). But somehow, even though each of those supposedly legitimate teams all lost to these "cupcakes" it's only KU's wins in these stadiums that get questioned. This is a little tough to admit, but KU had not won a single road game since destroying Methzou 31-14 in Columbia on November 20, 2004. Now, all of a sudden they win in Manhattan, Boulder, College Station and Stillwater (not to mention beating Virginia Tech in Miami) and apparently it's no big deal. Laughable.

In other good news, it seems that Tim Griffin is taking this blog business seriously over at ESPN. I was a little reluctant to add him to the blogroll to your right – what with it being so prestigious and all – but so far so good, Timmy. Keep up the good work!

One of the links in said blog is from HuskerExtra.com and it discusses the possibility that Marlon Lucky may not have the backfield spot to himself with Roy Helu, Jr. having had a great spring. This was alluded to by Corn Nation last week with the release of the depth chart and I was just as shocked then as I am now. Obviously I didn't expect Lucky to get every touch as Quentin Castille is pretty damn good as well, but to not be the surefire starter at this point is downright stunning. As much as I'm not a Nebraska fan, they may be the most interesting team in the league this year simply because no one has a fucking clue what to expect.

So I just stumbled upon a nice quote from KSU quarterback Josh Freeman that I thought was worth passing along,
"It's all about the style of offense, Daniel, Reesing, Robinson, they play, I don't want to say gimmick because that's not fair to them, but it's more a dink and dunk, set up the big play. Our offense is more pro-style. It fits my style better. Not saying I couldn't play one of their styles, but to each his own."
24:26 Any more of a response would be a complete waste of time.

For those of you that never saw it, here is SMQ's look-ahead to Kansas' upcoming season. In a matter of weeks SMQ will be no more as he has accepted a job with Yahoo.

Moving to the hardwood, as expected, every KU basketball game will receive national television exposure next year. Not exactly news, but nice to know.

Sticking with basketball for one more link, for those of you that do not check back diligently for updates in posts and did not see that ESPN has updated their prestige rankings; KU actually came in at #2. I don't necessarily think this "mistake" was done on purpose, but it is interesting that when the article was the feature story on the site it had Duke and UNC as #1 & 2. And as soon as it gets relegated down a few notches, all of a sudden the correction is made without a mere mention of the "mistake." And if it indeed was a mistake, how many more were there? You would think if they were going to edit/double-check any of the figures they would have been the top 10.

And finally, another link from the AD, again reminding you that Wednesday will be the open house for the Anderson Family Football Complex, from 5:30-7:30 pm. And yes, I do think Lew will have to find himself another $8 million. But like I said last week, it's already built so the payment is very secondary at this point. Enormous debt is just the American way, right? Then again, maybe somebody ought to call up to Bear Sterns and check on this first…

On that same topic, this needs no explanation. Just make sure you read the comments - and they wonder why no one bothers to give them a second thought.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Some Notes of Interest

As the title suggests I have very little for you today, so we'll just get on with it...

As you may or may not have noticed, ESPN is doing a little countdown of basketball programs over the time since the field expanded to 64 teams.Today, they released numbers 11-20, culminating with Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans at #11 (with 230 points). I'm assuming tomorrow they will reveal #'s 1-10 and I'll be curious to see where the Jayhawks end up. Clearly they will be in the top 5, but how high can they go? I don't have near the knowledge or the time to look into other schools but when you look at the point system they're using, it looks like the Hawks will have a total somewhere in the neighborhood of 415 points. (Note: I'm getting this number by adding 231 from tourney finishes, 55 from season win totals, 70 from conference titles, 24 from the league tourney, 25 from All Americans, and 10 from the NBA draft) I'm sure I'm off somewhere in there as I ran through it pretty quickly, but it should be pretty close and I found it pretty telling that even without the five other categories they would have been in the top ten on tourney finishes alone.

**UPDATE** Kansas finished 3rd, behind Duke (538) and UNC (454), with 450 points. Apparently points are given out for #1 seeds even though it is nowehere to be found in their key. The only real surprise in this list was UNLV coming in at #8, but then again the Shark did lead them to some great, albeit scandal infused, seasons. Even more shocking was that Methzou (#37 and falling) and KSU (#124 - OUCH, I guess Lon ended up in the better place after all) couldn't quite make the cut. **END-UPDATE**

***SECOND UPDATE** Apparently ESPN counted wrong for both KU and UNC. The amended figures are here, with KU now placing second with 455 points to UNC's 448. ***END***

In keeping with basketball, another piece of information surfaced today and that is the 2008-09 Big 12 schedule. From Kansas' perspective I think they have to be pretty happy about the overall layout. Things start out relatively easy and they really shouldn't see a tough game until February 2 down in Waco.Then again, part of the reason for that is how awful the league is likely to be next year. Even without knowing how good the team is going to be, the only other tough games on the slate are Feb. 23 @ OU and March 7 v. Texas. Being young I'm sure they'll have some slip-ups along the way, but that's not exactly treacherous. Since that link above pretty much sucks, here is a link to the entire 2008-09 schedule in a decent format.

And finally, we come to the story about Tom Kivisto. As you surely know, Tom pledged $12 mm of the $31 million necessary to build the Anderson Family Football Complex. However, at this point he has only given $4 million. It's hard to see that other $8 million making its way to KU at this point. Having not spoken with Sweet Lew or having any knowledge whatsoever on if any contingency plans were in place it's hard to know what the University plans to do. But if I were a betting man, I would go ahead and speculate that Lew will be able to do what Lew does best, and ultimately come up with that money somehow. And if he doesn't, the facility is all but built anyway, so....

Speaking of which, if you want to get a sneak peak of the place, there will be an open house next Wednesday, July 30th from 5:30-7:30.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Media Day Reactions

The Big Man really has this media stuff down, doesn't he? As recently as last week I was feeling pretty apprehensive about the upcoming season. How to replace all of the seniors and/or leaders? How to block the outside of the o-line? How to get a pass rush? And most importantly, how does the team not become even a little complacent? And then Big 12 Media Day comes and all of those fears just vanish into the wind (at least temporarily).
Maybe (more like probably) I'm just a little slow, but yesterday was the first time I really thought of this tougher schedule as a blessing in disguise. That is, until Darrell Stuckey addressed the question. I had always thought that the only way we fans could hope for a similar season was for the players to develop that same "chip on their shoulder" attitude they played with last year. However, I had always thought of it from the perspective of media, etc. not giving them respect and writing off last year as a fluke or a product of a weak schedule. But instead of just playing the cliché cards and saying how they have a lot to prove, he came out and said something to the tune of
I think the schedule helps us because we have to take these teams seriously. If we had the same schedule, even if we didn't think we were taking a team lightly, there is always that human element that creeps into your head to the tune of, "Remember how we handled this team last year, etc."
(And yes that was probably the worst job of quoting a player that has ever been attempted, but what do you expect from me? What can I say, I'm no Dugan Arnett! But you get the idea, so let's just call it a bad paraphrase and move on.)
As I mentioned earlier, this thought had not occurred to me but as soon as I head it I was invigorated with some new hope. Now don't get me wrong, I don't take this to mean that since KU has tougher opponents and won't overlook any of them that they are sure to run through the conference. Obviously that is not the case. But I do take it to mean that despite all of their relative accomplishments last year, the team should still have an edge. And instead of that edge being created by the lackadaisical and often misinformed national media, it will be based on the need to strive for perfection, because that's how a team like Kansas beats a team like Texas (which will happen on November 15 in the confines of Memorial Stadium.)

Back to the Big Man. He may be boring as hell when he talks to the media, but you just have to love his message. From the day he arrived and up to this point he has always, always, always preached consistency. Trust me, I've had my moments where I questioned him (the middle of 2006 rings a pretty heavy bell), but there is no way to argue with what he's done and how he's done it. When asked about the schedule here was his response,
"Well, we've always said that we want our program to be able to compete with the best teams in the league. And the fact that we are picking up Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech is something that we look forward to. We want to be able to play against all the best teams in our league. And be able to beat them. That's the test for our program. We will never truly get over the hump, in my eyes -- I don't know how anybody else sees it -- but in my eyes until we're able to defeat those teams as well. We talk about the schedule. Yes, it is tougher. But let's back up a minute here and think everybody talked about last year's schedule. And just stop and think for a minute that Kansas's football coach has been asked about his 2000 schedule not being tough in a year where they defeated Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and Virginia Tech. All that tells me is that we're making progress, if you're asking me those questions."
Call me a homer (I am), but I love that response.He doesn't hide from the question or keep his answer short-sighted. He doesn't come out defensive, but he doesn't just roll over, either. He answers it head on with a near term goal and a long term goal in mind. And at the same time, he doesn't move on before paying credence to the accomplishments that have been made. Truth be told, this didn't surprise me in the least bit and although I've had some worries about this season, I have always felt great about the direction of the program. But it still goes to show you exactly how he views his team and its current state.

More to the point of the immediate near future was how he responded to questions about positions in question. And he answered that simply with by stating,
"Our situation today as I sit here is no different than it was a year ago."
Prior to last year, the team was looking at replacing a Big 12 leading 1400 yard rusher and all three interior linemen. And all they did was come out and produce a 1200+ yard rusher to go along with Jake Sharp's 800+. In all, the team ran for 2454 yards on 512 carries for 4.8 ypc (McAnderson was 5.9 and Sharp was 5.6) and 30 touchdowns. Suffice it to say, they answered those questions.

As a devil's advocate, the big argument you can make to that is:
1) It's easier to replace the interior of the line than the exterior; or
2) Whereas last year the biggest name they were replacing was Jon Cornish, this year they're needing to replace to First Team All Americans in Talib and AC, as well as unquestioned senior leaders in McClinton and Fine.

Unfortunately at this point, I really can't refute either argument. So fuck you! However, you can't say with any certainty that either point has any lasting legitimacy. The first one may be true, but it may not. I would certainly agree that tackle is a tougher, more important position to play than guard, but the true test of a line is how it works together and as of now, we have no reason to believe that seniority in the middle of the line will not ultimately lead to an effective line as a whole.
The bigger worry is how to replace the diversity of a Derek Fine who basically gave you a third tackle that could also catch the ball. On the offensive side of the ball, he may end up being the biggest loss. As for Talib, McClinton I still can’t refute the notion that they will be tough to replace. In fact, I would almost guarantee that their absence will be noticed. However, last year at this time the most important position on the field didn’t have a listed starter and was a complete unknown whereas this year the Jayhawks bring back a guy who not only has a confidence that unquestionably permeates through to the other players, but one who threw for nearly 3500 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.

So to me the physical pieces are in place. As I mentioned, I would all but guarantee we’ll miss the presence of Talib, McClinton, AC and Fine. However, given the known players already in place and the track record of the coaching staff, I don’t think there is any reason to suspect that the team can’t handle these losses in stride. So the question becomes; will the same mental aspect be there? And until yesterday I didn’t think that it would. But the Big Man, Hot Toddy, Darrell Stuckey and Mike Rivera changed me mind…for the time being. Let’s hope I’m not just gullible.

P.S. It's completely and utterly impossible for me to think of Mangino and not think about his weight, but did anyone find these shirts funny? Seems like teenie-bopper material to me?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Making Up for Lost Time

So apparently I lied when I said there was more to come on the Kansas v. Joe College lawsuit. But really, what more was there to say? Though Kansas won a decent chunk of change, they clearly came out looking petty and didn't even get the Muck Fizzou shirt banned. So as much as Marchiony might want to call it a win, the scales were more tipped in the favor of Joe College, I'd say. (The real question is why is there so much attention being paid to perhaps the least clever shirt in the store? Haven't high schools been making identical shirts for the last few decades?)

Moving along, the first link we have for you today is Tim Griffin's Big 12 blog for ESPN. It's actually pretty solid, for those of you interested in the conference as a whole. It's not great for Kansas material as many of the links are dated, but unless you're keeping tabs on the other teams as efficiently as you are for Kansas, it's pretty prolific.

Team - Odds
Oklahoma - 6:1
Methzouri - 10:1
Texas - 10:1
Kansas - 25:1
Texas Tech - 50:1
Texas A&M - 75:1
Nebraska - 75:1
Colorado - 100:1
Kansas State - 100:1
Oklahoma State - 100:1

I found these tables pretty interesting. The one above is the odds of winning the national championship. Shockingly, Iowa State and Baylor didn't even earn the right to get odds. Logically, the only decent bet on the board would be Oklahoma. But would you really want to lay any money on a team that apparently is boycotting January football? To be honest, Methzouri is probably your best bet as they really only have two tough regular season games in going to Austin and v. Kansas at Arrowhead. They would of course have to go through the Big 12 championship game as well, though. And lest we forget that Gary Pinkel is still involved so even if they're half as good as they're supposed to be, he'll screw it up somehow.

Team - Expected 2008 victories
Oklahoma - 10
Methzouri - 9 1/2
Texas - 9
Texas Tech - 9
Kansas - 8
Texas A&M - 7
Oklahoma St. - 7
Nebraska - 7
Kansas State - 6 1/2
Colorado - 5 1/2
Baylor - 3 1/2
Iowa State - 3 1/2

And this one is the O/U for wins for each team. Though he doesn't state it explicitly, I can only imagine that it's based only on the regular season. Again, I don't have much to argue with here. I think there are some plays you could make; specifically, the top 5 teams could all exceed their total. Also, Colorado seems like a good play.

Next up is ESPN's Blue Ribbon analysis. Let's just say that a year culminating in a BCS win does wonders for your national reputation. (I should also mention though that this "analysis" has apparently been sitting arounf since Spring practices ended because it labels Todd Haselhorst a likely candidate to replace McClinton and also includes Anthony Webb in the secondary (It does state that the info is as of June 20, but both of them left the team June 10). All in all, though, it's not a bad overview of the team, aside from stating that they scored 73 points against Nebraska last year, when of course we all know that it was 76.
The final grades given out by Blue Ribbon were as follows:

Offense: B+
Defense: B+
Special Teams: B
Intangibles: A

As I mentioned, the Blue Ribbon analysis is pretty decent for a mid-summer look at the upcoming year for the Jayhawks. However – and maybe I'm in the minority on this one – but I'm still just as worried about the line on the defense as I am on offense. True, the defense returns 3 out of 4 starters and both Greene and Johnson look to be fully capable replacements, but you can't underestimate what you're losing in McClinton. For one thing, his senior leadership will have to be replaced and when you're going from the hunter to the hunted, that can be an issue. More importantly, though, he commanded a double team nearly every snap. Will anyone on the line this year require that kind of attention? If not, given the relative lack of a pass rush last year, if five can block four, that doesn't bode well for the Jayhawks. Not only will it give the quarterback more time, but in this spread offense era, it will also negate the need to leave in a tight end to do any blocking and thus provide one more offensive threat the defense will have to cover in space. Certainly the offense can't be successful without solid play from its tackles, but I think the d-line has just as much to prove. Throw in the fact that they won't have Aqib as a safety blanket in that secondary and the need for a pass rush becomes even more important. Let's just say I'm worried about this…

That's probably enough links from ESPN for one day, so let's move things a little closer to campus. I have one question for the Lawrence Journal World… What in the fuck were you thinking when you hired this guy as your KU football beat reporter? I mean, seriously, there was no one else? I realize the newspaper industry is dying, but in general you have adapted well by establishing KUSports.com as a place to not only read the paper, but to get updates (albeit usually a little late and sometimes wrong) as well. You even started having your reporters and columnists write blogs. Aside from the NBA draft, I'm not sure if there has been a post since the basketball season ended, but still, you were moving in the right direction. Then you hire Dugan Arnett, Methzouri graduate, to be your KU football beat reporter. Let's even pretend to put aside the Methzouri connection for a moment…let's even pretend he's the best writer this side of Buzz Bissinger…is that really the guy you want covering the football team? Is that really the guy you want sharing your staff room?

Never mind. I take it all back…Dugan knows Jemele Hill. Yes, the Jemele Hill who was recently suspended by ESPN for likening Detroit residents rooting for the Celtics to Nazi sympathizers. And he worked at McDonald's, so he can connect with thugs and rappers. The sky is the limit for this prodigy!

Alright, I promise never to mention this travesty again. Or at least until he starts pissing me off on a regular basis. Speaking of pissing me off, Stewart Mandel managed to do a decent job of it a couple weeks back when he mentioned that Big 12 quarterbacks wouldn't be nearly as good in a better defensive league. Forget for a moment that perhaps SEC defenses wouldn't be as good in a more offensive minded league or that Big 11 teams wouldn't be as good in a league that has moved into the 21st century, and let's just keep the argument within the scope of Big 12 teams. Consider the following:

- Playing against only BCS conferences, the league went 5-3 in bowl games last year
- The scores in those games were:

o Texas 52: ASU 34 – Not great D by either team, but it's clear that Texas was able to score just as easily against a PAC 10 team
o Colorado 24: Alabama 30 – I wouldn't say this game does much for either argument, but since both averaged 27 for the season, it probably helps you more.
o Texas A&M 17: Penn State 24 – This one goes to your point, but with the whole coaching situation, it seems tough to figure.
o Oklahoma State 49: Indiana 33 – Since they had only scored that many points one other time and it was at home, I'll chalk this one up for my argument.
o Texas Tech 31: UVA 28 – Probably a push. Clearly Tech usually scores way more than 31 per game, but UVA had a great defense.
o Missouri 38: Arkansas 7 – Score one for my side. Though the Houston Nutt resignation could have also played a part.
o Oklahoma 28: West Virginia 48 – This one proves your point from both angles; that outside of the league OU's offense wasn't as good and that it's defense was awful. Then again, I think we have to take any Bob Stoops BCS data with a grain of salt.
o Kansas 24: Virginia Tech 21 – And just know that it could have easily been 31, but KU was running out the clock/took a knee on the 1. And since Virginia Tech was considered in every facet to be a top 5 defense, I think this one speaks especially well for the Jayhawks and the Big 12.

In all honesty, I didn't exactly prove that the league lit the world on fire in its bowl games last year. However, collectively, they didn't struggle to put points on the board either. And with the exception of OU (and you could possibly add OSU or Texas), all of them had a respectable defensive performance as well. Short story long, perhaps the stats were a bit padded by the defensive ineptitude of Nebraska, Baylor and OSU, but this is the case in nearly every conference. Even the SEC has its doormats.

ASU was decent all year defensively, yet they didn't belong on the same field as Texas. Indiana was pretty middle of the road, but they didn't have a chance against a mediocre OSU team. Virginia gave up less than 20 a game, yet couldn't hold Texas Tech under 30. Virginia Tech barley gave up two touchdowns a game, yet allowed 24 to Kansas. Even after the Cotton Bowl, Arkansas was 54th in the nation in scoring D, but Chase Daniel didn't even have to pass, because they couldn't even contain Tony Temple. (Note: This doesn't even mention that a suspect Missouri defense held the Hogs to 7 points just a month after they posted 50 in Baton Rouge). You're certainly correct in mentioning that their stats are aided by poor defenses, but it's foolish to suggest that they wouldn't be able to achieve similar success in all the other major conferences, with the exception of the SEC. It's also worth considering that perhaps some of these Big 12 defensive stats are so bad because the offenses are so good. That would certainly explain the solid defensive performances by all of the teams not named Oklahoma. Just food for thought whenever someone tries to bring up this rather weak argument. These things go in cycles and right now defense haven't figured out how to stop the spread offense. It just so happens that nearly everyone in the Big12 runs this offense and most of them have quarterbacks capable of taking advantage.

And lastly, to all of you loyal readers out there we apologize for how slow we've been here lately. But aside from summer league games, there really hasn't been a whole lot discuss. However, the first football game is but a mere 43 days away and we promise to be more active as it approaches and into the season. Also, it looks like College Football Live will return next Monday with Brent Musberger hosting the inaugural two shows. And look who is on the guest list for their first week - none other than Hot Toddy!

Rock Chalk!

Monday, July 14, 2008

KU v. Joe College Lawsuit

It's now official: a Topeka based jury has awarded the University of Kansas $127,000 in it's lawsuit vs. Joe College T-Shirts. The amount is roughly a quarter of what they were asking. There will be more on this later and I don't intend on boycotting anything KU, but this is ridiculous. And let it be known that I have never purchased a shirt from Joe College, and typically don't even find them all that clever. Though he clearly has a biased opinion, Mr. Whitlock was dead on.

In much happier news, Clark Kellogg has replaced Billy Packer as the lead analyst for CBS. Throughout the tournament it really seemed like even he knew it was his last go round, but I can't say I didn't smile when I saw that it became official.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday Ramblings

I don't have much to say today, but I thought you all might be interested in a few links.

The first comes courtesy of the Miami Herald. Just a day after completely dominating the Bulls, Michael Beasley had a bit of a rough go of it against Sean Williams. Mario Chalmers, on the other hand, just one day after shutting down Derrick Rose (10 points, 5 TOs) and accumlating 6 steals decided to show off his offensive game to the tune of 19 points and 9 assists and 3 steals. Through two extremely meaningless summer-league games Chalmers is averaging 15 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 steals. While we're discussing Mario, it might also interest you to know that Pat Forde has an article up discussing it's historical significance. Personally, I don't think there's any doubt that it's either 1 or 2 with only Laettner being better. For the record, I'd probably lean toward Laettner's as the only real argument for Chalmers' is that it was in the championship as opposed to the Elite 8. Thoughts?

Nobody thinks NBA summer-league is a more useless gauge of a player than myself. However, when you're Mario Chalmers and you fell to the second round and you're playing for a guaranteed contract, I'm guessing you leave the gym happy after a day like yesterday. Call me crazy, but if the Heat trot out Chalmers, Wade, Marion, Beasley and Haslem they could be a contender in the East. They've also got some decent depth, but no size whatsoever...

****Edit**** Mario was offered a 3 year deal worth around $2.3 million today, they must like this kid. If you don't want to click, guaranteed first two years with a team option the third...meaning they can match another teams bid to take 'Rio away.

Secondly, Darrell Arthur has signed his rookie contract with Memphis.

Before switching from basketball, you all may have heard the news about prized Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings deciding to take his game to Europe instead. The NY Times is wondering if this will open the floodgates. Think Chase Budinger regrets his decision? Think Lute Olson wishes Miles Simon had not bedded his old, saggy, wife? With ASU on the rise, that's a program in trouble...

As football season fast approaches, the Anderson Family Football Complex is nearing completion. Here you can find the most recent photo slideshow of the facility. Also, here is a Video Tour. I've still got some apprehension about this season, but how can you not love the direction the program is heading...

In somber news, it seems that FNL had to cut a few characters. Unfortunately, they were Smash and Street. I had always thought this would happen after the first season, the first senior campaign for Riggins and Street. It wil be interesting to see how the show develops without two main pieces. Let's just hope that it still does included football from time to time.

Yes. Yes. And more yes.

For those of you FJM readers out there, Junior has a wonderful piece up about Bill Plaschke right now.

Before we go, I have one last question for our Methzouri readers; Where did Mizzou come from and why has it taken over your university? This is something I've always wondered about, but never been able to get any sort of an answer. I understand that it's a nickname and that's fine (though typically nicknames are substantially shorter for brevity purposes), but this would be akin to us at the University of Kansas putting KANZA across our jerseys. You know, if we had made the mistake of not wanting to have to go through the hassle of saying Kansas (or the ancient KU) every time and instead shortened it to the much edgier, hip, KANZA.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're Just Getting Started

video

If that doesn't get you excited for this year, nothing will.

Slightly better than Mizzou's effort featuring Chase "Meat and Potatoes" Daniels.
Mizzou Football 2008: Don't Bet On It

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What You Won't Be Seeing on I-70 Near Columbia or Manhattan

just had to... I think we should have added debate as well just to match the one thing on the sign in manhattan but I guess the sign is only so big. Rock Chalk