Completed chat with Matt Tait

March 28, 2012

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Matt Tait

Matt Tait will be taking your questions at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28.


Welcome to the chat. This is Jesse Newell, and right now, we're somewhere in southwestern Missouri. Hopefully, but the end of of this chat, we'll be somewhere around Little Rock, Arkansas. Matt, will BK be a good enough substitute for Mike and Ikes to power you through this chat?

Matt Tait:

Perhaps. I'm holding out, though, hoping that we'll need to stop for gas before too long so I can get the jumbo box and get after it.

For those who don't know, Jesse, Tom Keegan, Mike Yoder and I are in the car right now, making the trek to New Orleans. We're about three hours into the drive and have nothing but time in front of us. So this one's gonna be long.

Jesse, Tom and I will all be chiming in to answer your questions and no topic is off limits, but I'm sure we will focus on KU hoops, which will play in the Final Four on Saturday, and KU football, which kicked off spring practices yesterday.

Let the record show that today's marathon chat began near the Neosho exit on Highway 71-South.

128 miles to Fort Smith, Ark. Let's roll...


Matt, Now that we have lost Coach Hinson and might be losing Coach Manning also , who do you think Coach Self would try to bring in to replace those two?

Matt Tait:

As for Hinson's spot, you have to think that former KU player and son of KU volleyball coach Brennan Bechard would have a shot. He's put in some time, is familiar with the program and could be ready for that kind of job.

There's no doubt that other options might exist there, though.

As for replacing Manning — should that become necessary — the options are pretty much unlimited.

Self could make a run at getting Norm Roberts back, who now is an assistant at Florida and worked with Self at Illinois and KU before taking the job at St. John's.

I also saw just today that there's a report out there which discusses Larry Brown's desire to get back into the game on some level. That's probably a longshot, but you never know. He's a huge Self fan and obviously still loves Kansas.

Jesse says to keep an eye on Doc Sadler, who recently was fired by Nebraska, and, of course, you have to consider that Self might look to bring in someone with a proven track record of developing big men to replace Manning, who has done a tremendous job.

Those are just a few names to consider, but it's important to remember that Self's not the kind of coach who would necessarily feel like filling these jobs with guys with KU ties or guys who have ties to him. He's always looking to expand his reach and could go for someone who has roots in a new recruiting area or someone who could bring a different approach to Self's vast knowledge of the game.


Break out the percentage wheel again...Chances KU has to actually win the National Championship?

Matt Tait:

Any time I see the percentage wheel request, it brings a smile to my face. I won't think too hard on this one, so here it is...

1. Kentucky 65%
2. Kansas 15%
2. Ohio State 15%
4. Louisville 5%

Thoughts? Put 'em in the comments below...


Do you think the Jayhawks know that everyones picking Ohio State to win? Do you think that gives them more confidence?

Matt Tait:

I'm sure they're aware of what's being said here or there and I'm sure they love it. This team loves being the underdog and they get up for big games and big-time teams...

I'm not sure it will give them more confidence because I think they'll already be pretty confident to begin with... That win over OSU in December, even though it came without Sullinger playing has to do wonders for their mindset.

We'll see. Can't wait. It's an awesome matchup!


Rumor going around that Danny Manning is leaving for a Tulsa job? Give us the scoop!

Say it ain't so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BigManU (Chris Shaw)

Matt Tait:

Tom Keegan will take this one: "It's more than a rumor. There's definitely been some talk about it and at this point he looks like the leading candidate. But until a school announces that it has a new head coach nothing's official and he's still at Kansas."

My take? Tulsa would be a pretty good spot for Manning to leap into the head coaching game. It's a program he's familiar with in an area he's comfortable in and, I'm sure if he feels like it's the right fit he'll take it.


Will we get to see a Robinson-Sullinger head-to-head matchup?

Matt Tait:

Not as much as people are expecting or hoping. Withey will spend most of the time on Sullinger on defense and I can't see any way Ohio State asks Sullinger to stop Robinson on the other end.

That said, there surely will be times where they face each other, be it out of switches or double teams.

Either way, just having them both on the same floor is a pretty awesome treat.


Did anything surprise/shock you from the 1st released depth chart?

Matt Tait:

Not a ton. And that's probably because I didn't expect a whole lot nor do I expect much of it to hold up when August rolls around.

Here were a couple of interesting things:

1. Gavin Howard, for now, is listed as the fifth offensive lineman, joining Hawkinson, Zlatnick, Marrongelli and Spencer. When asked why, Weis said Howard had more experience than most of the rest and added, Somebody has to be fifth, right? Howard will have a chance to keep that job, but I bet he's more of a rotation guy.

2. I thought the inclusion of the "F" position on the depth chart was very interesting. It made me immediately think of former New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, who was kind of a jack of all trades up there. For those wondering, Weis said there would be an F on the field at all times and which type of F he would use (RB, WR or TE) would depend on the personnel package that's in there. 21 = 2 backs and 1 tight end, 11 = 1 back and 1 tight end and 12 = 1 back and 2 tight ends. I like it. And I think it's going to give KU tons of versatility on offense.

3. Pat Lewandowski appears to have made the full-time switch to the inside. No more D-End for him. It's a good move. He was a beast at tackle last year before they moved him back outside. Same for Julius Green (6-5, 265). We don't know if Green can play yet, but he's inside now, no longer at D-End.

Last thing I'll say is this... I love that Weis put one out. He knows it doesn't mean a whole lot right now. We know it doesn't mean a whole lot right now. And everyone knows that it's going to change a lot in the next few months. But it gives us something to look at and talk about and it gives guys even more of a reason to fight for their spot.

Stay tuned...


Is there anybody on the football team that YOU think should be moved from one side of the ball to the other to help the team or their talents would be better suited by switching sides? Thanks.

Matt Tait:

Well, I'll let Tom take that one... He says, Brandon Bour.... Just kidding. You've probably heard that one before.

As for me, particularly if WR Justin McCay becomes eligible, I'll like to see Daymond Patterson and/or DJ Beshears take another shot at defensive back. Both were OK when they played there in the past and the Jayhawks are thin at that position as it is.

Beyond that, with Josh Ford, Neal Barlow, JaCorey Shepherd, Kale Pick and six or seven others in the fold at wide receiver, I'm not sure how much those guys will be used in the passing game. If it's a lot, then they should stay put. If not, they should consider moving, because, even as defensive players, both still can be used in the punt and kick return game, which I think is a huge asset for KU.

Don't get me wrong, I love Beshears and Patterson's play-making abilities. And they're two of my favorite dudes on this team. I just don't know yet if their skillset and size fits in with what Weis wants to do on offense.

I'm looking forward to seeing that unfold.


I am not sure how much access you guys get to football practice but I will ask anyway. Since you have seen the first day of spring come and go for this years team and last years team just the same, what are your initial impression of how spring ball is run under the new staff and can you tell an immediate difference in the conditioning and focus level of these guys.

Matt Tait:

We only get to see the first 20 minutes of practice and that's mostly just stretching and minor position drills. It's a bummer. I'd love to see more. Although, on April 19, we do get to see the first hour so that should be fun.

That said, I was there long enough yesterday to see a major difference in the way things are run. There's more intensity, there's more toughness and there's more accountability. I saw more yelling yesterday in 20 minutes than I saw in all of my trips to practice last season combined. And it was awesome.

These guys are all business. They're there to work. And that's rubbing off on the players, who really have no choice but to fall in line.

Scott Holsopple impressed me the most. He was like a drill sergeant out there, just barking out orders and wasn't satisfied with anything.

It was an awesome scene and I'm looking forward to more. The way I see it, these guys have no choice but to improve under this new staff.

Too soon to tell on the conditioning and what not. But all reports from players and coaches indicate that they've taken a major step forward in that area already.


Do you see Louisville giving Kentucky a run for their money? It was only a 7 point game in Lexington earlier this season. Can Louisville pull the upset?

Matt Tait:

I don't see it happening, but I'm not saying it can't happen... Louisville is tough and Siva isa great, great player... UK simply has more and I can't see the Cards handling UK inside.

I still think an off three-point shooting night from the 'Cats could kill them... it would have to be a real off night, though.


Very impressed with HC Charlie Weis comments about the basketball team and other sports team at Kansas. Is this typical? Never remember it happening at KU or many places.

Matt Tait:

I don't think it's that uncommon, but Weis' comments are a great sign for KU fans who wonder if Weis is fully invested in being at Kansas... He is. And he's very proud of KU and very glad to be here.


I'll take this one, Matt.


With OSU having a questionable perimeter game will coach more likely zone and pay much more attention to their inside play?


Good question, and KU has had a lot of success this tournament with the Triangle-and-2, but I doubt Self uses it against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes don't shoot the three very well, which might make you think it would be a good opponent to use the Triangle-and-2 against. The only problem is, to run the defense, KU needs the opponent to have a guard who absolutely cannot shoot from three, because that player is basically going unguarded on the perimeter.

For Kansas State, that was Shane Southwell. For Purdue, it was Terone Johnson. For North Carolina, it was Stilman White.

Though OSU doesn't shoot a lot of threes, it doesn't seem to have a guard that you can leave wide open on the outside. Craft, Buford, Thomas and Sullinger all shoot over 34 percent from three, meaning it would be difficult for KU to let any of those players roam the perimeter unchecked.


What are your thoughts on who would be good for K-State basketball? And what are your thoughts on the "finding" of the receipt in the trash?

Matt Tait:

This is a great question and I'm very intrigued to see who KSU ends up hiring. It sucks to see Frank Martin leave, for the state, for the Big 12 and for K-State. But life has to go on.

I thought they'd make a run at Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, but he's staying put. The other names who are coming up early are Mark Fox of Georgia, Larry Eustachy of Southern Miss (formerly of Iowa State) and, although I don't expect it to happen, I have heard here and there that Bob Knight might be interested.

I think K-State will go for a name hire. It's a tough time for them and plucking a guy who people haven't heard of might not go over too well. I know it worked out with Martin, but people had heard of him as Huggins' master recruiter.

This is a big hire for KSU and one I'm sure they'll take their time with. If they don't, I think they end up making a bad move.


how fast is the kusports-mobile going?

Matt Tait:

Right now we're going about 72 mph... Not bad, not great. Mike Yoder's driving and I appreciate his caution since we've seen tons of highway patrol cars during the last 100 miles or so.

I had the first leg - around 3 hours - and I think I averaged about 76.237 mph.

Hoping to hop back behind the wheel after the chat to pump up our average.


How did the walk-on tryouts go? Was anyone invited to Spring practices?

Matt Tait:

I haven't heard much about them, but there are a few names on the roster that I don't know... (that won't last long, I promise).... KU didn't send out any kind of official press release about adding any walk-ons but that could be because a football team has so many players and they figure, what's a few more?

I know when the basketball team adds a walk-on, they send out a release, but again, that could be because basketball has fewer players and also greater visibility.

I'll look into it some more and see what I can find out.


I got this one, too.


Who will wear home white uniforms in our game with tOSU Saturday night? Is it based on overall seeding (we were supposedly the 5th overall), or is it a coin toss since we are both No. 2 seeds?



According to KU Athletics, KU will be the home team and will wear its white uniforms.


Trying to embed a football question in during basketball season. With Coach Weis adding personnel in the skills position on offense and the Basketball team playing some low scoring games recently. Will KU’s football team have a score higher than the lowest score posted by the KU basketball team in the tournament? Right now sitting at 60. Really I want to know if we will score more consistently next year.

Matt Tait:

As for the specific point total... That's tough. Until we know who's playing where and what kind of weapons Dayne Crist has to work with, it's hard to say if they'll be a high-scoring machine or simply solid.

That said, I think there's no doubt that they'll be more consistent on offense and that comes back to Crist as the QB and Weis as the play-caller. Think about that. You go from Jordan Webb under center and Chuck Long calling plays to a former five-star QB who played at Notre Dame and a guy who's known as an offensive guru who won Super Bowls calling plays for Tom Brady.

It's incredible. And they have to be better.

I gotta tell you, it was really surreal to be out at practice yesterday. I've been in that same place so many times before and a lot of the sights and sounds were the same. But then you'd look over and see Dave Campo or Tim Grunhard or Weis. It was like being in some sort of bizarre time warp and it was very cool.

I think KU football's in great hands and I think the program is most definitely on its way to better days.


We are driving down tomorrow & hope to get there Friday in time to watch open practice. Has NCAA said when KU will do the Rodrick Stewart Memorial Shootaround?

Matt Tait:

KU will practice from 3:10 to 4:00 p.m. on Friday at the Superdome. We'll have lots of access Thursday, too, so be sure to check the site throughout both days.

As for Roderick Stewart, coach Self has started allowing his players to do less dunking at these things. Justin Wesley has finished off a couple of open practice sessions with one dunk and Naadir Tharpe got a shot at one in St. Louis, too.


If KU actually plays UK in the title game, how do you like their chances?

Matt Tait:

I wouldn't bet on 'em, I'll say that. But I do think they'd compete their tails off and I think it would be very entertaining.

My guess is KU would win that game 1 or 2 times out of 10 at most... If it's the right night, you never know. But I see it as a game that Kentucky would control in the 7-12 range nearly the entire way. KU may be able to cut it to 5 or 6 a time or two, and UK may push it to 14 or 15, but I think the Wildcats are too deep, too strong and too talented.

I'll be shocked if they don't win it all.


There's a lot of chatter around who will replace Hinson and potentially Manning if he decides to leave. Larry Brown was on Mike and Mike this morning talking about KU and his interest in returning to coaching. Any chance he would fit in on Self's staff? If so, do you see Brown as a good fit?

Matt Tait:

Larry Brown is a great fit anywhere. The only question would be if he and Self could be comfortable sharing the spotlight. It would still be Self's show, obviously, but you don't have Larry Brown on your staff and not have people pay attention to that. The man's a legend. And he'd be a great addition, provided he had the energy and desire to recruit. He's 71 now, so that has to be a concern.

Tom Keegan just chimed in from the front seat with this regarding another option for KU to replace Manning if it becomes necessary: "KU obviously has a lot of options and could probably get a lot of the KC guys pretty easily anyway, but L.J. Goolsby, who runs the KC Pump N Run AAU program, is an excellent coach, a good role model for young men and would seem to have the right qualities to develop into a good recruiter."

Just another name to keep in mind, even though it might be a longshot.


Time for a few more ...


Favorite things to do on this road trip for everyone in the car? You guys make it to Fort Smith, Arkansas?

Matt Tait:

We just passed Fort Smith now and, believe it or not, most everyone has been working most of the way. What can I say, our coverage never stops...

As for the rest of the time, we've listened to a few tunes, though somehow none of four of us thought to bring any music other than what's on our iPhones, and talked a lot about what's coming up this weekend.

Here's the general opinion from the car about Saturday's game vs. Ohio State.

• Yoder: Toss-up

• Keegan: KU wins only if Thomas Robinson can get to the perimeter to guard DeShaun Thomas faster than he did against Purdue's Robbie Hummel.

• Newell: You will have to wait for the Cram Session...

• Tait: KU wins. Tyshawn plays a great game and the Jayhawks "want" it more.

As for the other game, we're all on Kentucky. No surprise there.

Oh, and one more thing we did recently... we watched the YouTube clip of John Chaney threatening to kick John Calipari's rear end. Check it out if you haven't seen it. Crazy stuff.


Any word on whether they will be showing the KU-Ohio State game at Allen Fieldhouse?
I was there for KU/Memphis in '08 and it was a great environment.

Matt Tait:

It will be happening.

Doors open at 6 p.m. on Saturday and parking is free in the lots. The garage next to the Fieldhouse is pay by the hour.

KU also will make concession stands available.


OK, last one.


Your predictions for the final four and title game?

Matt Tait:

We just touched on this a minute ago, but in case you missed it, we're all on Kentucky winning over Louisville and up in the air about KU's chances vs. Ohio State.

I think they win. Keegan thinks they can win if Robinson guards the perimeter, Jesse's gonna make you wait until we do the cram session and Yoder says it's a toss-up.

As for Monday night.... If KU and Kentucky both win, I'll say that Kentucky will top Kansas, 79-68, in the national championship game.

No one else is up for a title game prediction. We've got a long way to go before getting to that point and lots of work to do. Should be fun to see what happens!


OK, really the last one this time.


What will be played more in the KUSports SUV, the Beatles or Neil Young?

Matt Tait:

So far, it's 1-0, Beatles... Of course, as I said earlier, none of us thought to bring any music for the 14-hour road trip... Go ahead call us idiots. We can take it.

It's up to the radio, which means Sugarland might beat both of them considering the areas we're driving through. Oh, the humanity.


Thanks to everyone for joining us, and thanks for all the questions this week.

Matt Tait:

Yeah, great stuff. Thanks for helping us kill a little time on the road trip. I think we're looking at 8-9 hours left. Not bad. See you all in New Orleans!!! Be sure to check us out often throughout the week. We've got a lot of great stuff planned. Until next time...


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