The best measure of the respect level a nation of college football fans has for any given school can be found in Las Vegas, where oddsmakers offer action on all sorts of propositions.
Only one conclusion can be reached based on a number offered in one revealing proposition and that is that America still doesn't respect Kansas University football. America still thinks Kansas is a basketball school coming off a fluke of a 12-1 football season.
Don't blame it on the oddsmakers. They determine the right number that will inspire action on both sides. They read bettors and they read them well and bettors on a national scale don't think much of Kansas, which lost four key players to the NFL Draft, a fact no doubt overblown by casual observers of the program. They overlook that Todd Reesing, the single player most responsible for pulling out close victories, returns and again has talented receivers to find downfield.
The proposition: Over/under for regular-season victories. A popular number in Las Vegas for KU: 7.5.
Sure, Kansas plays a far tougher schedule, but it's not as if coming out of Boulder, College Station and Stillwater with victories required little more than showing up on time for the kickoff. Nobody doubted Virginia Tech was a national power and look what Kansas did to the Hokies in the Orange Bowl.
True, James McClinton, Anthony Collins, Brandon McAnderson, Marcus Henry, Derek Fine and Scott Webb are gone, but the hunger remains - the hunger for respect.
While stewing over that lack of respect and killing time as the clock crawls toward tonight's 6 p.m. kickoff against Florida International, take a look at KU's 12 games, ranked from toughest to easiest:
1. Oklahoma: It's tough to project Kansas putting much heat on Sam Bradford and keeping the Sooners from putting consistent heat on Reesing.
2. Vs. Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium: The Chiefs' home stadium seems to bring out the absolute worst in the Jayhawks.
3. Texas: Colt McCoy is bound to have a better season for the Longhorns, but looking at it now, why shouldn't Kansas beat Texas this time?
4. At South Florida: Tough, tough test for early in the season, especially in the area of protecting Reesing with inexperienced tackles going against a fast, strong, experienced defensive line.
5. Texas Tech: Graham Harrell and Reesing lighting up the sky on the same field. Great theater.
6. At Nebraska: When playing in Lincoln is the sixth-toughest game, that says it all about the strength of schedule.
7. Colorado: Never forget, the Buffs beat Oklahoma last season.
8. At Iowa State: The improving Cyclones still don't have the muscle or speed to match up with KU.
9. Kansas State: Ron Prince knows how to get his team up for one big game a season. There isn't a bigger game than Kansas this season. Still ...
10. Louisiana Tech: This program on the rise took Hawaii to overtime last season and finished 4-4 in the WAC.
11. Florida International: Kansas 59, FIU 14.
12. Sam Houston State: Rhett Bomar, who transferred from Oklahoma, returns at quarterback for the Bearkats.