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Archive for Saturday, January 18, 1992

S COMMENTS HELP KU

January 18, 1992

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It won't make an impression on shortsighted kids who either have to make it in the National Football League or risk pumping gas for a living. But a comment by Kansas City area quarterback Brian Schottenheimer about a big reason for choosing Kansas University should register with lots of mommies and daddies, and youngsters who can look beyond the locker room.

Brian's the son of Marty Schottenheimer, who coaches the Chiefs and is a well-educated guy with a lot on the social and athletic ball. The kid, in signing with Kansas, said he'd talked over college with his parents and they thought it would ``be a school I'd like even if I didn't go there to play football.''

How's that for a priceless commercial? From a major league coach, double-degree holder and his cultured spouse. Gene Budig and his best public relations people couldn't script it any better.

Young Brian as a high schooler seemed to be one of those heady youngsters with the instinct to lead his club to vital victories in the crunch. Evidence is that KU got a good one when he signed.

IMAGINE THAT. Kids picking a college because they figure that even if they don't wind up as All-Americans and pro stars, they'll get a background that will allow them to put bread and bananas on the table. Whatta we have here? Genuine student athletes? Good heavens, Faversham!

Glen Mason, Roy Williams and other members of the Jayhawk coaching staff seem to be attracting more and more people of that nature, who can be citizen-students even if they aren't (or are) superjocks. The result is, the athletic program is being upgraded not only in the competitive realm but in many other ways. There is a steady increase in the kinds of kids you'd enjoy having in your home, without fear or concern over the disappearance of the silverware, as well as wearing Crimson and Blue with distinction for show-and-tell purposes.

WILLIAMS has had some stinging lumps during his basketball experience at KU. But I doubt any of them has been as uniquely painful as the one involving Sean Tunstall, the now-absent guard with the on-again, off-again academic status.

Sean was given every chance to make the grade in the classroom and on the court, but not the latter without the former. Whatever the reasons, he fell short. Roy, as with all his kids, went out of his way to give the guy all legal and reasonable chances. If you know Roy Williams, you know he competes in every phase of life, and that includes getting kids to class and pushing them to succeed (not doing it for them, but creating opportunity). It hurts him when that doesn't work out, and you can be sure Roy is aching and frustrated about the failure of Tunstall . . . not just because the kid could help the team but because of what he will miss if he doesn't finish school. Roy desperately wants to win academically, too.

Let's hope Sean doesn't decide it's basketball or nothing, and earns a degree. He's not NBA material; he better get an education. From what I know of the Williams Modus Operandi, I'd guess Roy will do everything legal to help Sean do that as long as Tunstall makes an honest and dedicated effort. What more can you ask?

BUD WILKINSON at Oklahoma created a great football record with speed and quickness in the 1950s and 1960s. Bear Bryant did OK with that approach at Alabama. Then lots of coaches focused on muscular monoliths and seemingly forgot about speed.

Don James of Washington (once a student assistant to Chuck Mather at Kansas) and the Jimmy Johnsons and Dennis Ericksons at Miami reminded everyone how getting from Point A to Point B with great alacrity can help a team win. Guess who rules the collegiate roost.

James saw the old blunderbuss style wasn't working at Seattle. He told his recruiters, ``Don't bring in a guy who can't run. And if you can't verify his speed, go to the next high school.'' Too many signees who had been touted as 4.5 in the 40 as preps slopped off to 4.8 and 4.9 in college. Don will take 'em big, but they better also be quicker than Jack over the candlestick.

Now everybody wants fast as well as strong and, if possible, big but most of all, fast. Basketball's increasingly that way, too.

LOTSA FOLKS forget Marv Levy, of Buffalo's Bills, coached the California football team that Jack Mitchell's Kansas clubs splattered 53-7 in '61 at Berkeley and defeated 33-21 here in '62. Marv left Cal after '63 and held a lot more jobs, including William and Mary, the pros, Canada, Kansas City, the Chicago Blitz(?), now Buffalo.

With a master's in English from Harvard, the guy has brains and grit. With a little luck he could win a Super Bowl. Great reward for a guy after coaching over 40 years.

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