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Archive for Thursday, April 3, 2008

Best year ever?

Success in 2007-08 just the beginning of juggernaut, KU A.D. says

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins chews on a cigar after the KU men’s basketball team beat Texas in this file photo from March 3, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. Perkins abruptly retired on Tuesday, a year ahead of his announced retirement.

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins chews on a cigar after the KU men’s basketball team beat Texas in this file photo from March 3, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. Perkins abruptly retired on Tuesday, a year ahead of his announced retirement.

April 3, 2008

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KU forward Darnell Jackson hoists a piece of net after KU advanced to the Final Four on Sunday.

KU forward Darnell Jackson hoists a piece of net after KU advanced to the Final Four on Sunday.

KU football coach Mark Mangino celebrates after the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

KU football coach Mark Mangino celebrates after the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins chews on a cigar after the KU men’s basketball team beat Texas in this file photo from March 3, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. Perkins abruptly retired on Tuesday, a year ahead of his announced retirement.

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins chews on a cigar after the KU men’s basketball team beat Texas in this file photo from March 3, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. Perkins abruptly retired on Tuesday, a year ahead of his announced retirement.

2008 NCAA Tournament
Spodcasters

Final Four tip-off special

Ryan Greene, D.J. Whetter and Kevin Romary hit the studio before heading down to San Antonio to talk about the Roy Williams connection, the Bill Self-OSU rumors that never seem to want to die, who to like in the weekend's other semifinal and the weekly trivia. Oh yeah, and analysis of Saturday's nightcap between the Jayhawks and Tar Heels.


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Gridiron and Hardwood

Kansas is enjoying a super school year with its two high-profile sports, football and men's basketball. Here are some other schools with similar success this decade:

Florida, 2006-07

Football: 13-1, won national championshipBasketball: 35-5, won national championshipNotable: The standard. Two national championships within four months of each other is a dream for every school.

Ohio State, 2006-07

Football: 12-1, lost in national-championship gameBasketball: 35-4, lost in national-championship gameNotable: A tremendous year for the school, but outdone twice by Florida - including a stunner in the football title game.

Maryland, 2001-02

Football: 10-2, lost in Orange BowlBasketball: 32-4, won national championshipNotable: Juan Dixon-led basketball team beat Kansas in Final Four en route to basketball title.

Oklahoma, 2001-02

Football: 11-2, won Cotton BowlBasketball: 31-5, went to Final FourNotable: Hollis Price and the OU basketball team topped Missouri to get to the Final Four. Meanwhile, it was typical 11-win Oklahoma in football.

Texas, 2002-03

Football: 11-2, won Cotton BowlBasketball: 26-7, went to Final FourNotable: An average year by football's standards, but the T.J. Ford-led basketball team made it special for the wealthy athletic department.

Rodrick Stewart watched the Orange Bowl as a big Kansas University football fan on Jan. 3. But after seeing the Jayhawks beat Virginia Tech, 24-21, Stewart's feelings of elation soon subsided.

They were replaced with a bit of anxiety.

"It felt like it was a little more pressure on us," chuckled Stewart, a reserve on KU's men's basketball team. "The football team went so far, and we were like 'Man, now we have to at least go to the Final Four. That's the worst we can do.'

"Now that we're here? We made it this far. Why not try to get the whole thing done?"

Might as well. Every other goal seems to have been met in this incredible year.

KU's two high-profile programs are teaming up to dominate the college sports scene in 2007-08. KU's football team finished a magical season with an Orange Bowl victory and 12-1 record. Not to be outdone, the Jayhawks' men's basketball team secured a Final Four berth on Sunday and will take a 35-3 record into Saturday's game with North Carolina.

It certainly is a special time to be a KU fan. The two revenue sports are a combined 47-4, and basketball still has a shot at capturing the national championship if it wins two this weekend.

Kansas never has come close to this kind of success before, and it makes life good at KU. People walk around the athletic department with smiles. Reporters across the country flock to Lawrence to tell the world about the Jayhawks. It's priceless exposure.

Up in his second-floor office, KU athletic director Lew Perkins calls the school year "just tremendous." Yet he sees 2007-08 as the beginning - not the aberration.

"I'm about as happy as you could possibly be right now because of where we are," Perkins said. "But we still have a lot of work to do.

"I want to make sure everybody understands: We're not finished."

Assembling a run

They have started, though. Perkins, for one, began to get hints of this year's promise last spring.

After KU hoops went 33-5 and fell just short of the Final Four last year, the entire team minus Julian Wright assembled for the 2007-08 season. One important piece, guard Brandon Rush, returned after injuring his knee preparing for an NBA career.

Basketball was fine. Many thought that if Wright's production could be replaced - and it was by Darnell Jackson - that Kansas would have a strong chance at a Final Four. That was realized when the Jayhawks won two in Omaha, Neb., and two more in Detroit to land their invitation to the final weekend.

But football? Now that was a stunner.

Coach Mark Mangino's squad finished a disappointing 2006 season with a 6-6 record and a slew of injuries. A new offensive coordinator came in. A quarterback competition lingered into the summer. Still, Mangino and Perkins talked often, and the coach seemed to brim with confidence about the 2007 prospects.

"He kept saying to me, 'Lew, this is a pretty special team. I really like these kids. I really like what we're doing. I think we can have a great year,'" Perkins said. "Now, did I think in my wildest dreams we'd go on to be 12-1 and play in the Orange Bowl? No. But I thought we could be very good. Mark's done a great job."

Tight family

It's a weekly tradition on Saturdays in the fall. The third quarter of a KU football game rolls around, and basketball coach Bill Self stops by the Memorial Stadium press box to say hello to those he knows.

For the most part, Self obeys the golden rule: No cheering in the press box. But he's slipped once or twice, getting juiced when a big play unfolds or a big hit is unleashed in KU's favor.

Self is a big Jayhawk football fan. Mangino sends the love back to basketball, even showing up in Omaha for the first round of the NCAA Tournament two weeks ago.

"We've really worked hard," Perkins said, "at making this a family."

And of course, giving fans are welcome to join the circle. KU's budget has increased by roughly $25 million since Perkins was hired in 2003, and is around $51 million now.

In addition, facilities have been upgraded as a result of donations, including the building of the Anderson Family Strength Center, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics and the Anderson Family Football Complex.

All are now recruiting tools used to lure in more talent.

"I couldn't be any happier," said Dana Anderson, the namesake of several athletic facilities. "I jokingly told Lew Perkins, 'You know, my investments have certainly paid off. I wish my other investments in this world were doing as well as what KU has done with the money we've gifted there.'"

Anderson and Perkins both point out the obvious: More winning will bring more gifts from jubilant boosters. More money conceivably could lead to even more winning.

It's a cycle KU is happy to be joining.

"If we lose on a Saturday or a basketball game, the bathrooms are bad, the parking is bad, the concessions are bad," Perkins said. "When you win, everything is fine.

"Obviously, people really enjoy giving back when you're winning. But the one thing about Kansas I've really respected is the tradition and history and commitment that our alums at this university have. We couldn't have gotten this far without them."

Sustaining it

Needless to say, Joe Fan is loving this too.

After Kansas football beat Oklahoma State to move to 10-0 last fall, Perkins walked toward the locker room next to the KU cheering section at the corner of Boone Pickens Stadium. The joyful crowd cheered so loudly for him that he had to respond with a pump of the fist.

Perkins is the first to pass the credit on to the coaches and players, saying "all we are is support people."

But Perkins certainly doesn't mind the love.

"I'd rather they be yelling 'Lew, Lew, Lew,'" Perkins says, "than 'boo, boo, boo.'"

Perkins is quick to point out that KU as a one-year wonder is an undesired achievement. Consistency has been talked about constantly in football and proven constantly in basketball, and Perkins is on board.

"We can't sit back and say 'OK, we're here now and it's a one-time thing,'" Perkins said. "We have to be real consistent to have a really good athletic program. We're going to have to work harder and do more things than we've ever done before in order to really be a good athletic program."

That's the future's concern, though.

For now, fans are soaking in KU's historic run, one that surely will be remembered fondly as it ages in memories down the line.

But the incredible thing is, it's not even done yet. KU's basketball team traveled down to San Antonio on Wednesday to prepare for Saturday's Final Four tilt with North Carolina.

It's the last step. The cake has been baked with 47 victories, priceless media exposure and all that joy. The icing could come late Monday night if the basketball team finishes its season with a victory.

Considering how things have played out so far, don't bet against Kansas. It hasn't worked yet.

"The athletic department is really happy and pleased with the way things have been going," KU basketball guard Mario Chalmers said. "Now we've got to go out there and finish it."

Comments

RonBurgandy 6 years, 8 months ago

You're right Pogo, let's just shut down everything that doesn't suck in the world.

fabian_zimbabwe 6 years, 8 months ago

Pogo=Stick in the Mud.

What a happy life you must lead.

Rickyonealku 6 years, 8 months ago

It has been a fun fun fun year.....THE BEST YES...and the NCAA 2008 Mens National Champion is?????THE BEST YEAR EVER FOR KANSAS UNIVERSITY!!!

repaste 6 years, 8 months ago

Someone get that cigar out of his mouth - wrong message. I could not stand there with a cigar , why can beavus?

booze_buds_03 6 years, 8 months ago

You are right, that is the real world. However, life would be miserable if everyday minute of everyday all we did was focus on the horrible attrocities that are being committed around the world. People need an escape and something that makes them happy for many here including myself KU sports is it.

jonas 6 years, 8 months ago

Probably because he hasn't developed anything to divert him for a time from all of the crap that is, always has, and always will be going on in the world. It has been a great year for our athletic department. Many more to come, I hope.

Jock Navels 6 years, 8 months ago

iraq? iraq is a poor neighborhood in Saigon just across the river from Cholon, a video game, pogo dude....the 'hawks are real...you live in some fantasy world or what?

artwhore 6 years, 8 months ago

talk about living in a fantasy world.national champs??? ROFL!!!did north carolina, the tourney #1 overall pickdecide to forfeit the game, or are you just expectingtheir team to get food poison the day of the game.keep on smoking it KU fans, if it helps.

Ceallach 6 years, 8 months ago

Just when I thought Lew Baby couldn't look any worse, he sticks a cigar in his mouth :)Yes, there are many problems in this country/world. Many bad things happening. But there are also good things happening, here and abroad. The tournament for many fans is a good thing. I'm hoping Ole Roy will coach Dean Smith's team the same way he coached the Jayhawks in their Final Four appearances during his time here.

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 8 months ago

artwhore,I'm sure no one can say with certainty how the game will turn out. However, to say KU doesn't have a chance against NC seems to be a reflection of your own biases. Several knowledgeable sportscasters on ESPN pick KU to win. Others, I'm sure, pick NC. I guess that is why we play the game. Rock Chalk!

68fbrd 6 years, 8 months ago

I hope Lew is enjoying the stogie (NOT REALLY). He personally DESTROYED basketball at WSU when he fired Gene Smithson in the mid 80's and just about fired the baseball coach Gene Stephenson. This guy rates LOW on my list.

ontheotherhand 6 years, 8 months ago

Just when I think Lew Perkins cannot look any creepier, VOILA! That picture just needs to be darkened up a bit and with cigar smoke twirling in the air and I swear Lew would look like the Mafia.If you are with the Mafia, Lew, I was just kidding. OK? Really! JK! JK! JK!

Tony Kisner 6 years, 8 months ago

Some times a cigar is just a cigar, some times.

Rickyonealku 6 years, 8 months ago

Good Luck KU...can't wait until Saturday....Rock Chalk Jayhawks. Oh one last thing I did click on the Sports section of this online website, right.

BigAl 6 years, 8 months ago

Posted by ceallach: "I'm hoping Ole Roy will coach Dean Smith's team the same way he coached the Jayhawks in their Final Four appearances during his time here."Best comment of the day!!!

littlejohnny 6 years, 8 months ago

This is the year of Kansas !!!Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!!!

lounger 6 years, 8 months ago

Cool! Now can we put some of this $$ into the crumbling old grand buildings on the campus????

SteelHorseRider 6 years, 8 months ago

Ryan-"Kansas never has come close to this kind of success before, and it makes life good at KU."You have too short of a memory. Maybe I am wrong with the year, but didn't KU go to a Bowl Game, the Final Four and the College World Series in 1995??? That sounds like a pretty good year to me.

commonsense 6 years, 8 months ago

I've been reading everything I can on this incredibly significant game. I truly hope our fans are respectful of Coach Williams when they see him in San Antonio, afterall, we're NOT MIZZOU FANS. So please, let the man enjoy his ride at North Cariolina, it's his alma mater, his home, his profession, and he'll die there with a loving family by his side. He gave us 15 years and they were fantastic. That being said, how about diverting our attention on Roy and focus on KU and Bill Self. I believe Bill Self was a blessing, and he is the future of KU basketball. Roy couldn't win the big one here, perhaps Bill can. Roy won with another coach's players a few years ago, let's see if he can do it with his own. IF Self and the Hawks win, then there shouldn't be anymore pessimism in reference to Roy Williams, afterall, we're NOT K-STATE FANS. Our energy and praise should be directed towards the ability of Bill Self and this years team. He will have done what Roy couldn't, and that's "dag gum" exciting! So, keep the anti-Roy T-shirts at home or leave them in the suitcase. To me, it's an insult to Bill Self that we still have this love-hate affliction with Coach Williams. Bill Self is the man now, and he deserves all of our support and enthusiasm.

commonsense 6 years, 8 months ago

I've been reading everything I can on this incredibly significant game. I truly hope our fans are respectful of Coach Williams when they see him in San Antonio, afterall, we're NOT MIZZOU FANS. So please, let the man enjoy his ride at North Cariolina, it's his alma mater, his home, his profession, and he'll die there with a loving family by his side. He gave us 15 years and they were fantastic. That being said, how about diverting our attention on Roy and focus on KU and Bill Self. I believe Bill Self was a blessing, and he is the future of KU basketball. Roy couldn't win the big one here, perhaps Bill can. Roy won with another coach's players a few years ago, let's see if he can do it with his own. IF Self and the Hawks win, then there shouldn't be anymore pessimism in reference to Roy Williams, afterall, we're NOT K-STATE FANS. Our energy and praise should be directed towards the ability of Bill Self and this years team. He will have done what Roy couldn't, and that's "dag gum" exciting! So, keep the anti-Roy T-shirts at home or leave them in the suitcase. To me, it's an insult to Bill Self that we still have this love-hate affliction with Coach Williams. Bill Self is the man now, and he deserves all of our support and enthusiasm.

acoupstick 6 years, 8 months ago

"I'm hoping Ole Roy will coach Dean Smith's team the same way he coached the Jayhawks in their Final Four appearances during his time here."He will. His teams still can't play defense, although they can score and rebound with the best.

kujayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

We didn't just play in the Orange Bowl. We won the Orange Bowl...big difference.

camper 6 years, 8 months ago

It is the best year ever. KU has a great team of dedicated players and one great coach. But after the year ends, I hope all of the players go pro and Coach Self goes to OSU. I think the team and the coach see thru the shallowness of KU fans and are trying to win this in spite of them. Take this as a chip on your shoulders KU team, if you have a bad game, the fans will jump on you. Coach Self, if you leave, some numbskull is going to put your picture in the restroom. So all I can say to the KU team...win the final four, and then give the the KU faithfuls the finger and go on your way. Take the high road, and leave these idiots in the dust.

martyks 6 years, 8 months ago

Some people are beyond stupid. They'd go arrest grape snatchers at the grocery store or men giving out congratulatory "It's a Boy!" cigars at the hospital. For all you know, it's made of bubble gum... I can't get over how stupid someone would have to be not to figure out that he was given this cigar after a big win.... I'm in awe.

camper 6 years, 8 months ago

KU go win. Bill Self go to OSU. Get away from these numbskull fans who will turn on you on a dime. Just look at what they are doing to Roy Willams. Use KU as a stepping stone, smear your shoe in crap, and rub it into the KU stone as you leave. Go win the game for yourselves, not us idiots>>>

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