Don’t be surprised if the back of the new massive Memorial Stadium scoreboard is fitted for corkboard today. The insults dumped on the Kansas University football team in the wake of a 6-3, season-opening loss to North Dakota State are far too plentiful to fit on any bulletin board.
The latest shot to the ribs comes from an unusual source, a coach who doesn’t speak in platitudes, a coach who goes back a long way with Turner Gill, a man who could use a friend or two coming to his aid at the moment.
North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl just might be in danger of drawing a flag for piling on, not to mention telling the naked truth, frowned upon in the football coaching fraternity.
Speaking on The Sportsnetwork.com’s weekly “In the FCS Huddle” segment, Bohl shared just how unimpressed he was with KU.
“I think the environment that we're going to play in Cedar Falls (Iowa) is going to be much more of a hostile environment than Memorial Stadium in Kansas,” Bohl said. “That was pretty docile. And the type of team that we’re going to be playing is going to be a much more physical, aggressive football team than KU.”
How do you really feel, Craig?
“And, quite frankly, I think we’re going to be playing a better opponent,” Bohl continued. “I know one school is in the Big 12 and the other one is in the Missouri Valley. I think that gives an indication on how we see Missouri Valley play and the respect we give Northern Iowa.”
The Kansas football team was just called soft by a coach from a lower-division team that went 3-8 a year ago. If that doesn’t stir pride, passion, pure anger, then nothing will. Emotions can go a long way for a football team, even one in a transition phase, one that can’t decide on a quarterback, a running back, the makeup of the offensive line, one desperately searching when the calendar says it should be more concerned with destroying.
Coaching transitions in college football are tough, and when they involve going from a tough taskmaster to a more nurturing leader, the athletes sometimes breathe a sigh of relief and relax a little too much.
Trying to put his finger on what went wrong and how it can be fixed, running back/captain Angus Quigley said, “When times get rough in practice and people are fatigued, we can’t take shortcuts and maybe not run as hard and things like that. It’s the little things in practice that people might be getting away with that are carrying over into the game.”
Nobody likes to get embarrassed. The players and coaching staff were embarrassed together, which ought to draw their circle a little tighter. Athletes tend to look to coaches to lead them out of such situations, a factor that will make Gill’s words louder this week.
“They’re great guys,” Quigley said of the coaches. “They’re mentors and leaders. They’re not only trying to grow us as football players, but also as young men, and you can’t help but respect that.”
Actions speak louder than words. If Quigley and teammates respect the new coaches as much as they say, they’ll give a better effort Saturday against a terrific Georgia Tech team.