The question sounded easy enough, until, that is, it came time to answer it.
"Which team will be better this year," a marginal sports fan asked, "Kansas football or basketball?"
It's been so long since the answer automatically was basketball that the question threw me for a loop.
Which team will be better, Kansas football or Kansas basketball?
Let's see, the football team is coached by a man who was to national coach-of-the-year honors what Michael Phelps is to gold medals. The basketball team is coached by a man who has advanced as far as the Elite Eight five times at three different schools and is coming off of winning the national title.
Both teams have phenomenal sub-6-footers at quarterback. Mark Mangino wouldn't trade Todd Reesing for any QB in the country, and the same goes for Bill Self and Sherron Collins. Reesing and Sherron Collins share many qualities as athletes: bold, accurate, quick feet, excellent passers charged with running high-scoring offenses that constantly keep the defense in retreat mode.
Both teams will miss productive big bodies up front. Mangino must replace James McClinton, Anthony Collins and Cesar Rodriguez. Self must find a way to get it done without Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun.
Mangino has to replace five starters on offense, including the leading receiver, the leading rusher, plus an offensive tackle and tight end both chosen in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Self replaces five starters, period.
The football team finished the season ranked seventh in the nation, the basketball team first.
The basketball team boasts far greater tradition, the football team more experience, particularly on defense, where 20 of the top 22 on the depth chart return. It should be noted, though, that first-team All-American Aqib Talib and McClinton, a second-team All-American, are the two who won't be back.
Mangino lost defensive coordinator Bill Young, one of the most respected assistant coaches in college sports, from his staff. Self lost Ronnie Chalmers, Mario's dad.
Which team will be better, Kansas football or basketball?
Since the basketball team isn't on the football team's schedule the answer doesn't matter, but it's still worth pondering in the wake of a school year that featured a 49-4 combined record.
What defines better? A higher national ranking, for one. Postseason performance, for another. Ten schools get selected for BCS bowl games, so earning that distinction is roughly the same as advancing to the Elite Eight. Winning one of the four BCS bowl games, excluding the national title game, is roughly on the same level as making it to the Final Four but not the title game.
Enough stalling. Answer the question.
Which team be better, Kansas football or basketball?
Kansas football. Talent is a wonderful thing, but as the national champions showed throughout March, nothing trumps experienced talent. The football team has more of that than the basketball team.