From my chilly vantage point at the Kansas University soccer field, I could see Parrott Complex, the stronghold of Kansas Athletics Inc.
It was Sunday afternoon and I thought perhaps fireworks might be showering the skies above the building or bells tolling, or maybe some other form of celebration denoting a red-letter day in KAI history.
Then again, how often do you hear of a university announcing it is no longer on NCAA probation?
Kansas officially departed the NCAA’s doghouse on Sunday, or three years after the august body’s infractions committee saddled KAI with a handful of sanctions that — face it — most of you have long since forgotten.
In the wake of Saturday’s spotty Big 12 Conference football opener against Iowa State — or the day before the three-year slap ended — it might be worth revisiting a couple of those penalties.
As you know, the Jayhawks’ defense against an offensively challenged Iowa State team, was full of cracks, so much so that coach Mark Mangino went so far as to say he knew back in April it was only a matter of time before the defense would be “exposed.”
In nearly four decades of covering KU football, I don’t think I ever heard a more candid comment from a coach, particularly in this day and age when the atmosphere around major-college programs is so close-to-the-vest they won’t even divulge injury specifics.
At the same time, coaches rarely make excuses, either, particularly about injuries because they are, in truth, part of the game.
Sometimes a coach is fortunate with injuries and sometimes he isn’t. Back in 2004, for example, Mangino was forced to use four different starting quarterbacks in four straight games because his QBs were falling like bowling pins.
Yet Mangino’s current QB, statistically the greatest in a century-plus of football on Mount Oread, has been uncommonly durable. Todd Reesing may not throw bullets — in fact, most of his passes wobble — but he has been virtually bullet-proof.
Anyway, back to those penalties. As part of the 2006 NCAA probation, Kansas was docked three football scholarships for both last year and the year before last. That’s six grants out of 50, or 12 percent.
Now 12 percent may not sound like much, but when you throw in the inevitable attrition caused by injuries, departures and recruiting mistakes, then you have compounded your inability to fill crucial positions in the future.
Obviously, there is no definitive way to determine if those six lost scholarships are the reason KU’s defense is struggling, but when we hear Mangino talk about using different schemes rather than changing personnel … well, that just tells me he’s already using the best players he has with the skills to play on the defensive platoon.
I don’t expect to hear Mangino bellyaching anytime soon — or ever, for that matter — about the half-dozen scholarships he was docked.
However, since those players would be sophomores or juniors today, assuming they weren’t red-shirted, to suggest the six absentees haven’t had an impact may be naive.