Some things never change. The late Dick Harp during his days as a Kansas basketball assistant and head coach often uttered a patented evaluation of his job: “Coaches are responsible for a lot of irresponsible kids.” Sound timely?
Dick was making $7,500 a year in 1956-57 when he inherited Wilt Chamberlain and the related challenges of trying to win a national title, immediately. Wilt took special handling, but he didn’t give Dick nearly the management problems other Jayhawks of that era did. There were no ridiculous turf war eruptions among basketball and football players, however.
Harp more than earned his salary in his eight years as head coach; Lew Perkins ($960,000), Bill Self (around $3 million) and Mark Mangino (about the same) are putting in overtime this week to justify fully their financial intakes. Seems some cagers and gridders have bad-blood issues. All this thuggery knocks some dew off the lily of optimism about what a great dual-sport year KU can have in 2009-10.
As a Kansas follower, you could feel a little shaky when the most positive KU sports item in Wednesday’s Journal-World involved women’s basketball and the fact that Bonnie Henrickson ($635,000 per) has boosted her .500 program with the signing of a noted Colorado prepster. Thanks, Bonnie!
KU financially seems to be on a Rocky Mountain high with another football sellout in the bin for Saturday’s visit by Southern Miss. But philosophers remind us that money doesn’t always bring happiness. For all the millions in the Jayhawk till, there can’t be total delight in the athletic director’s and coaches’ offices after those run-ins by thoughtless delegates of the two big cash cows.
Fact is, KU has been embarrassed and scarred again by some high-profile, well-rewarded jocks who should know a lot better. Guilty jackasses should be identified, benched, penalized, perhaps even suspended for their nit-wittery.
What goes through the minds of these kids (they act exactly like brats) who can’t brush off taunting verbiage and walk away from potential conflicts? They’re not here for Friday Night Smackdown or the Fight Club. They’re getting scholarship packages that are in the $19,000 to $29,000 annual range. There’s good living, educational opportunity, tutoring, public adoration galore, and they have every reason to be good citizens. Fortunately, most are.
Football players should reserve their animosity for Southern Miss while the basketeers need to be thinking about survival during Bill Self’s brutal Boot Camp. T-shirt guru Larry Sinks is in the forefront with the old Rodney King message of “Can’t we all just get along?” Can’t you, kids — you who are responsible for this disgusting turn of events? I favor the old Bear Bryant gig: “Be good or be gone!”
Indications are that the Perkins-Mangino-Self combo will not be cuddly-wuddly with guys they have touted, lionized and rewarded so warmly up to now. There’s going to be harsh talk in meetings this week, as there should be, and it’s unlikely any miscreant will get a friendly pat on the rear. The new chancellor should lay down a little law, too. KU’s image is ugly right now.
If there are bones of contention for the two squads, those bones need to be crunched and burned. Some firm edicts on improved citizenship should be rammed into self-serving brains. Do this, or get out, kids.
The two-sport potential for 2009-10 is tremendous. KU’s Big Three better make sure they deal firmly with any thugs who can further taint that bright future.