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Archive for Monday, January 7, 2008

Keegan: Stability welcome at KU

January 7, 2008

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'Hawks handle Boston College

On Saturday, the Jayhawk men's basketball team remained perfect after a 85-60 beating of Boston College. Enlarge video

Red uniforms remain undefeated

Before KU's 24-21 Orange Bowl victory over Virgina Tech, head coach Mark Mangino decided to have the team wear their undefeated red uniforms. Enlarge video

From now until election day, the political buzzword "change" will bombard our senses. For the next 10 months, candidates will jockey for position to try to make more vague promises of "change" than the competition.

Hillary Clinton placed first in the change count among the 10 candidates who debated Saturday night in New Hampshire on ABC. She used it 21 times. John McCain used it in the most humorous manner, mockingly calling Mitt Romney the candidate for change, a barb at Romney's penchant for flip-flopping.

Meanwhile, in the theater of athletics, where the central figures are not counting on the audience to declare the winner, but are battling for objective victories announced by the scoreboard, the last thing Kansas University needs in its two high-profile sports is change.

Kansas can't execute the double-whammy Florida did the previous school year, winning a national title in football and basketball and defeating Ohio State in the title game both times. The Jayhawks are in contention to come close. When the final Associated Press college football poll is released, Kansas will finish somewhere from No. 2 to No. 7.

The Jayhawks will rank no lower than third in the college basketball poll to be released today.

Combined, the teams are a remarkable 26-1, the only loss coming in football against Missouri in Arrowhead Stadium. The life of a fan of KU athletics is a happy one, especially considering there is no reason to believe the school is in any danger of losing either one of its coaches.

Consensus national football Coach of the Year Mark Mangino is looking forward to the opening of the new state-of-the-art football-only complex, which is sure to upgrade recruiting a notch.

Bill Self, who will deserve national Coach of the Year honors as well if his team stays on course, has the look of a man content to stay in Lawrence for a long, long time. Sure, it's easy to see why T. Boone Pickens, the gazillionaire behind Oklahoma State leading the charge in the facilities arms race going on in the Big 12, would want Self to replace Sean Sutton and resurrect the Cowboys' basketball program.

It's not as easy to envision Self returning to his alma mater to take over the basketball program as predecessor Roy Williams did. That's no statement on the comparative loyalty of the two elite college basketball coaches, rather on the comparative appeal of the North Carolina and Oklahoma State jobs. It's much easier to recruit to Michael Jordan's alma mater than to Stillwater. Plus, Williams and athletic director Al Bohl were at odds. The relationship between Perkins and Self is a strong one. Neither man tries to tell the other how to do his job. Perkins knows he has one of the nation's top basketball coaches.

The Perkins-Mangino relationship has developed into a strong one as well, largely for the same reason. Perkins knows Mangino heads one of the nation's top coaching staffs, lets him direct it his way and loosens the purse strings for all of them.

If all the talk of "change" grows tiresome during the sometimes compelling, other times frustrating campaign season, recline your chair, watch a replay of a KU football or basketball game and enjoy the stability.

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