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Kansas-Big 10? Coud We Get Notre Dame on the Line?

Early this year, I cracked Missouri for their move the SEC and needed two posts to do so. But now that’s been over, my thoughts have turned back to the seemingly inevitable Big 10 expansion to sixteen, and I’ve wondered, now that Missouri is officially off the table, is Kansas in play to move to the Big 10? At first, I thought for sure it was not, but then I considered: Missouri coming into the Big 10 would have only meant one new media market, Kansas City (if you consider St. Louis to already be part of the Big 10). Would Kansas  be an able addition to the Big 10?

The Jayhawks seem to be the hardest team to figure in the conference realignment shuffle-they have a definitive top-10 basketball program, but their football program is as bad as an AQ program can be. Yes, many think that Kansas basketball can’t be allowed to rot in the Mountain West-Conference USA hybrid, a factor that likely influenced the Big 12 staying together in the summer of 2010. Certainly, a Big 10 Tournament Championship Game between Michigan State and Kansas would be a college basketball lover’s dream.

But is a top 10 basketball program enough to compensate for Kansas’ abysmal football program? Yes, the Jayhawks were viable under Mark Mangino, but that was with an easy non-conference schedule; Mangino was 23-41 in conference play, against a soft Big 12 North. It’s not just that Kansas has had only eight winning season since 1980; the Jayhawks are reluctant to even spend money on football, whining when Mangino told them they needed new facilities and dropping a luxury suite project two years ago, as soon as the program started loosing. It would be different if it were Duke, who admits they don’t care about football. Turner Gill, after getting his team to try hard the last month of the season, got fired after only two years, while the Kansas media ignored their teams more difficult schedule. Then they replaced him with a coach who only looked great: Charlie Weis, and the big promises that come with him.

So can the Big 10 accept Kansas football and their entitlement to go .500 with no bad players every year? On the surface no, but it may depend on who else the Big 10 can entice. The Big 10 most certainly will invite Rutgers or UConn, if not both, so as not to loose ground on the eastern seaboard. But should the Big 10 be able to land Oklahoma, Texas, or West Virginia (unlikely-WVU’s fans fit the SEC’s profile), or their grand prize of Notre Dame, adding Kansas would be more palatable.

And make no mistake: while Kansas isn’t going to add much to the Big 10 from a rivalries perspective in football, the Big 10 coaches need more recruiting ground and would love to nab Kansas City recruits away from football apathetic Kansas. With seven all-in football programs already in the conference, if at least two or three more are admitted, the case for Kansas would be easier among the coaches.

So, Nebraska versus Kansas as the rousing Big 10 season finale? Nope, but as a Nebraska fan, it would be nice to play at least one old Big 8 team every year. I’d rather see Iowa State come into the Big 10 than Kansas, but in this era of college football, you have to take your regional rivalries where you can get them.

Charlie Weis at Kansas: Who Did I Really Expect?


A couple of weeks ago, I got off on Kansas for firing Turner Gill after two season, and yes, part of interest in this is because I’m a Nebraska fan. But the sheer arrogance of the move prompted me to write, and since Kansas now has hired Charlie Weis, I feel the need to weigh in again on the move, which I consider to be proof of the fact that Kansas indeed has too high an opinion of their football program. At least now they have the perfect coach for such a program

I know some people would expect me to offer I was wrong speech, saying that I whiffed on my prediction that Kansas wouldn’t get a big time head coach. I will say this: Kansas did get a notable coach in hiring a former Notre Dame head coach, but they could have gotten a much notoriety if they’d hired Ty Willingham or Bob Davie. (Perhaps New Mexico is a job that Kansas football should be compared to.) Yes, Chuck Weis took Notre Dame to two BCS Bowls and had an overall winning record with the Irish, and many Kansas fans probably watched him succeed with the Chiefs a year ago. It makes some sense.

But the fact that Kansas hired Charlie Weis only proves that neither party had a better option. Let me ask the average Kansas fan: Ty Willingham got a much better job at Washington when he was fired from Notre Dame, and people knew he couldn’t coach. Do you really think that Weis would be taking the worst job in the Big 12 (see your record) if he had a better choice of college head coaching jobs?

I know what you’re going to tell me-Weis will be the disciplinarian that Mangino and Mason where, and we’re going to have success again. But let’s look at some things closely. Weis went 9-3 and 10-3 at Notre Dame with Willingham’s players his first two years. Then, when the roster was dominated by his own recruits, the Irish went 3-9, 7-6, and 6-6. Remember what I told you about college coaches: it’s the pretty boy recruiters who win big. Pete Carroll was 5-0 against Weis, and three of the wins were blowouts. Right now, Kansas has tremendous opportunity to recruit in Kansas City, now that Missouri has left the Big 12, and Charlie Weis looks like the perfect sabotage. Expect Mack Brown and Bob Stoops to get their share of wins against Weis.

Now, many Kansas fans will say that this is the buzziest hire Kansas could have made, and yes, there is some value in media attention. But media attention can’t decide a hire. The long-term interests of the school have to be considered. Texas Tech got a lot of buzz when they hired Bob Knight, and indeed, they did make the tournament many of his years at Tech. But the second he retired, Texas Tech fell out of the College Basketball universe. Sure, Weis may be able to pull some strings his first couple years, and maybe you even make a bowl game and on Sports Center for a few bits, but ultimately, what will that get you? In the end, Kansas will just look like a girl at the bar with too much makeup on.

Also, consider how embarrassing it could look from a league perspective. You’re going to run a pro-style offense in a league that runs the open spread and were 45-40 is a typical final. Remember what happened when Bill Callahan tried to run a similar offense at Nebraska? It kind of worked for two years when a pretty good JUCO quarterback fell in his lap, and in the other two years, the program was a mess. And that was with much better athletes than what Kansas has. So if this doesn’t work, not only could you loose a lot, but you could look horrid doing it. Kansas relies heavily on Texas for recruits, and every other school in the Big 12 can sell them on offenses that are just like their high school offense, where they can come in and play immediately. Weis can’t sell that.

To the credit of Kansas media, they haven’t oversold Weis’ hire, some even admitting that it’s a desperate move (again, proof Kansas fired a coach too soon and better coaches didn’t want the job). Of course, they wont take the next logical step and condemn KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger for firing Gill in the first place.

So Kansas, enjoy the attention Weis brings to your program now. Just know that, in the short term, it will likely get you no more than a couple of season with between four to six wins over the next few seasons. And if it becomes obvious in Weis is a bad fit midway through his second season, you may not be able to get rid of him as easily as you got rid of Turner Gill. That’s the greatest risk of Charlie Weis as a coach at Kansas.

Kansas Football’s bonheaded move

This weekend, the university of Kansas did its best to top former Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson in coaching firing arrogance. While they didn’t have a 58-19 coach to fire, Kansas did its best in dismissing Turner Gill just two seasons, where Gill went 5-19. The consensus of the Kansas media was that Gill had too many blowout losses (of Kansas’ ten games against BCS opponents this year, only two were closer than a touchdown) and that he was too nice of guy to win at a school were only tough-as-nails coaches like Glen Mason and Mark Mangino had limited success. To top it off, such beat writers have suggested that Kansas does have good enough players to compete in the Big 12 now. Oh please, get over yourselves.

First, let me get some straight about Kansas. The quality of the Kansas football job has declined significantly since the job was open to years ago. With the new Big 12, Kansas only controls three of its non-conference games instead of four and has to play the six bad boys of the former Big 12 south every year, so the schedule is significantly tougher. If you think that doesn’t matter, remember the best team Kansas beat in their 2007 Orange Bowl regular season was a 7-5 Texas A&M team. With a lot of the same team returning the next year, Kansas went 7-5. Mark Mangino went 23-41 in conference games, against the Big 12 north without a dominate program. You’re not as good as you think you are.

Now that Baylor has their act together, Kansas football simply is the worst football job in the Big 12 now, plain and simple. This is the new college football landscape, where, if you choose to be a basketball school and ignore football all together (ala Duke and most of the Big East), you’re going to get left behind. The only thing you can do worse than ignore football is to ignore football, then come back and act like you care about it, like Kansas is trying to do. I’m saying you have to turn into Nebraska or even Iowa, Kansas. What I’m saying is, if you’re not going to care about football, you have to give Turner Gill four to five years to build a program. Unless there is a massive player revolt or the team completely (and from the looks of it, there isn’t-Kansas played pretty well against rival Missouri), you have to give Turner Gill more time. And if you’re going to take the Big East mentality and not care about football, why make your bad football job even worse? Even Duke, who pretend they don’t play football, has kept every coach they’ve had in the last twenty years at least four seasons, which makes the job more attractive. Last time out, they got a former SEC head coach to take the job

And now that you’ve fired him, do you really expect a marquee coach to want your job? Last time around, you bandied about the name Jim Harbaugh, a ridiculous joke that you thought you could get a coach who had his pick of either the Michigan job or an NFL job. Now, who will want to go into a league that is dominated politically by Texas (who could leave at any second) and whose second to worst football program upset a top-10 team on the road and whose coach went 13-0 playing SEC competition? Who do you think you are?

And as far as the thought that Gill couldn’t succeed at Kansas because he’s a nice guy like Terry Allen, do you really think you should use your own history a measuring stick for success? Glen Mason had a loosing record at Kansas, ten games under .500 in conference play, just like Mangino did. You’re hardly the beacon for success. Evidently, you’ve learned nothing from the way college football has progressed in the last ten year: a surly drill sergeant coach doesn’t work coaching major college football. Look at all the top college football coaches-Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, Brett Bielama. Only Saban is more strict than seller, and even he can be somewhat charming when he has to be. And speaking of Mack Brown, he had a run of success at North Carolina, your equal in basketball, of 69-46, and he’s not going to be mistaken for a drill sergeant any time soon. Once again, get over yourself. Look outside you’re little world to get a clue on how to succeed.

Ultimately, this is a case of a school thinking that is so much more important than it is. Kansas will be lucky to find an experienced coach willing to come work in their let’s-ignore-football-and-whine-when-we-don’t-win mentality. Best case scenario, they pluck a superior position coach assistant a few years before he’s ready for a major job (ala Bowling Green landing Urban Myer, then wide receivers coach at Notre Dame). In any case, Kansas has sent a sign that they expect great results from a coach, even with mediocre resource. By the way, the old track around your football stadium doesn’t help your case that you really care about football, either.


"The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Psalm 121:8

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