Archive for Sunday, September 4, 2011

Squares ruining athletics

September 4, 2011


KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger comments on the uncertain future of the Big 12

KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger comments on the uncertain future of the Big 12 during halftime of KU's game against McNeese State on Sept. 3, 2011, at Memorial Stadium. Enlarge video

It looks as if the days of Kansas University playing in the same conference as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are numbered. Based on the pass defense’s performance in Saturday’s season opener, it’s evident the Jayhawks already are not in the same league as the Sooners and Cowboys.

Pass rush? No. Sound coverage of screens? Nope. Secure deep coverage? Not consistently.

The newcomers generating excitement all played on the offensive side for Kansas. True freshman running back Tony Pierson showed he can run faster than a conference can blow up. OK, maybe not that fast, but the guy’s a burner. Classmate Darrian Miller has the knack for evading tacklers as adeptly as college presidents trick their own athletic administrators. Receiver JaCorey Shepherd, also fresh out of high school, flies, and it doesn’t take him nearly as long to reach his destination as it will take the OU women’s soccer team to reach that all-important game against Washington State.

The three freshmen are the sort of athletes who have what it takes to develop into All-Big 12 selections once they put a year of experience in their brains and a year of muscle on their bodies, except for one problem: There won’t be a Big 12 by then.

The good news as far as improving the pass defense that was the most troubling aspect of a 42-24 victory against McNeese State is that KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will trust her head football coach, Turner Gill, to fix the problem, and Gill will trust his defensive coordinator, Vic Shealy, to take care of it.

That’s the proper way to do things, and that’s the way all levels of college athletics used to work. Then in 1989, some stuffy, starched-collar clod who used to get picked last on the playground came up with the idea of forming the Knight Commission, which brought presidents into ruining, er, running athletics. They had higher grades in school than athletic directors, so naturally they’re smarter on all topics.

If the presidents had taken care of the more important areas of college, such as, you know, fostering a learning environment, and let their administrators administrate and their coaches coach, schools actually would remain in conferences that enable their loyal alumni to travel to games and keep their non-revenue athletes sitting in classrooms instead of airports making connections for flights from Oklahoma City to Pullman, Wash.

Instead of trying to figure out which school deserves the blame in triggering the dominoes, trace it back to the Knight Commission empowering presidents, demanding they meddle in athletics. That opened the door to egos. To hell with the loyal alumni and the student-athletes, I want to be able to say I rub elbow patches with the top brains at Cal-Berkeley and Stanford, and, man, won’t my friends be impressed? Me, me, me, me, me.

Why is everybody so shocked that this conference realignment fad makes no sense. Why should it? The decision-makers don’t know the first thing about forming sensible athletic conferences.

So Kansas fans can’t just revel in a season-opening victory, warts and all, and reminisce about sweet, hilariously funny old football coach Don Fambrough, who was set to attend the game with his son Preston, but died in the morning. No, they had to make room in their stressed minds for conference uncertainty because the square pegs think they can fit into round holes and don’t have the slightest concept of just how square they really are.


jonas_opines 6 years, 6 months ago

You really have to bring a rake into this article to find the point to it.

Kookamooka 6 years, 6 months ago

Republican. This article should have been a Letter to the Editor. So much vitriol. Yes....vitriol. Look it up Keegan. You went to college.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 6 months ago

"...who used to get picked last on the playground...."

"...rub elbow patches...."

Hilarious. Great column. Those denizens of academia who have the ability to laugh at themselves once in awhile should agree.

Kookamooka 6 years, 6 months ago

Laugh at the people who gave the OK to uproot the Campanile, take over parking spaces and pave over lush lawns all in the name of a game you only get to enjoy 4 months a year.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, since the advent of home recording equipment and cable TV I've been enjoying it year round.

patgilbey1 6 years, 6 months ago

This is an inappropriate time for this article. I realize things are in a state of flux, but these young men an women who pour their heart and soul into the game need encouragement not gloom and doom. Your headline was well recognized and had the desired effect, but timing is everything and you sir were the individual that interrupted a dinner party conversation and everybody left the table. Please use better discretion in the future. I know you are immensely knowledgeable and can run circles around us average joe's watching for shear enjoyment of what's left. KU is 1-0 and off to a great start. Let's keep the positive vibe going!!!!

P Allen Macfarlane 6 years, 6 months ago

The rant about the Knight Commission was interesting and revealing. Evidently Keegan thinks that the educational side of a university should stay out of how athletic departments run their so-called "student-athletes". The term "student-athlete" is rapidly becoming an oxymoron and in the process degrading the concept of a "higher education". The days when a student going to college or university to obtain a rigorous education and play sports on the side have long gone, especially since institutions of higher learning have gotten a taste for the money accrued from TV and other sources.

College athletics should really be considered an apprenticeship for professional sports, kind of like a farm team only with a more fancy name. Those who wish to play for these glorified teams could try out and if selected be compensated for their time and talent, just like the way it is done in professional sports. In between seasons when they are not playing in their apprenticeship they could go to school, not on a scholarship but rather on the money they have earned as part of their apprenticeship. In this way, the "student-athlete" would have the energy and the time to devote to sports and school but not both simultaneously. This would eliminate the need for tutors and perhaps allow the "student-athlete" the opportunity to pursue a degree that has more meaning and marketability.

Kevin Randell 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, this article was in bad timing. Look, what will happen with this whole Big XII mess will happen. Let us, on this day, just think of some positive things: 1. Honoring a great coach and an even greater guy that loved the game and KU.....LIKE MANY OF US "TRUE" KU FANS SHOULD. 2. We did a complete 180 as far as win/loss compared to last year's game. 3. Keep in mind, this was like a preseason game. A tune up to see where the team needs to make changes, and see where they are strong.

So basically, next time, use your head (it's that lump of flesh located 3 feet above your @$$) and ask yourself......."Should I run this article?"

DRsmith 6 years, 6 months ago

Great article. They are terrible and probably always will be. They belong in a mid major conf. at best. On the bright side, KSU will be right there with us.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 6 months ago

great article needed to be stated. Yes indeed all fans should be ticked off.

Not too much of a stretch in a few..........KU starts conference play against N. Colorado.

question4u 6 years, 6 months ago

"starched collars"? "elbow patches"? Well, that covers 19th and 20th century metaphors. It's 2011, though. How about some updated vocabulary instead of antiquated clichés? On the bright side, at least the article didn't suggest that Tony Pierson could run faster than a velocipede.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

You're begging the question, here obviously. Unless, Perses, you have information that the chancellor and our newbie athletic director don't have, assuming that we're "in" the ACC, SEC, or Big 10, is a big stretch. The Big10 commented that our academic standards aren't high enough. The SEC has made it clear that they don't want another Vanderbilt football program. The ACC? That's a geographical stretch that wouldn't be good for players or fans.

No, about the best we can hope for is the Pac12, which wouldn't be any better in terms of travel than the ACC, but just better teams. And if we don't get in to one of these leagues, you will definitely care about it because our basketball team would suffer immensely. Do you think Self would stay? What would you tell recruits? "Uh, yeah, we're not in a conference. We just play games where we can find them?"

Conference consolidation (to use Boren's phrase) matters greatly.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 6 months ago

The shine will be off of KU if playing in a lesser conf. ESPN will not start off Big Monday with KU versing Haystack Junction A&M or N.W. Montana @ Burning Bush.

A couple of years of one and out in the tourney, and well you get the drift. Elite players want the stands full and the cameras rolling.

Back in the day Marquette was a top top t.v. draw. They played a schedule of the best. Then they joined a conf. and began playing lesser teams. Well Marquette is just another team now.

sourpuss 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow, did Keegan watch Revenge of the Nerds last night like I did?

Maxandwillie 6 years, 6 months ago

Tom, I enjoyed the article. Too much money in college athletics at the very top. If you want to truly enjoy the spirit of college sports then go for the traditional small colleges such as McPherson versus Ottawa. Kids who play sports because they love the game. Alumni who love their schools and realize sports is fun.

jeffwbenson 6 years, 6 months ago

Intellectuals that were on the honor roll are ruining things???... More like the lazy students that stood to inherit their daddy's company and think they are business geniuses. Realignment is all about $$$ and it is the business people that are running the train.

Justpassingthrough 6 years, 6 months ago

The article is spot on. Those that disagree are in denial. The fact is, decisions are being made to create super conferences based on how much revenue can be generated for a sport played by amateur athletes (amateur status based on not receiving a penny of the millions they earn). So in support of Keegan, the article states KU football's inability to remain in a conference with any relevancy unless they impove/increase their on-field performance. That being said.......Keegan could have ended the article with "good game, congratulations, keep up the good work, or any other positive response". After all, competitive teams and winning seasons are determined by wins and losses and this my friends was a win!!! So to the young men who played their hearts out, good job and keep up the good work as you know better than any 5' 8", athleticly minded, sports writer that the games will get increasingly harder from here on out.......Peace.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

What Keegan and any writer should be writing about is so obvious it shouldn't have to be said. What we should be reading about are the comments of the president, athletic director, Self, powerful alums, and anyone who has the slightest ability to help KU land in a major conference. This is the most important decision that will have ever been made in KU's athletic history. And because of this, we should get some straight-on, up-to-date information.

To stay informed, I'm reading the LA, Dallas, and OKC papers, and it doesn't sound nearly as good as Perses above believes. This impact of this newest consolidation cannot be understated. If KU doesn't land a big conference, then Lawrence will take a very big hit. Contributions to the school will drop, to say the least.

Why aren't we getting better information? Even the KCStar's reporting is blase. If I were a reporter, I'd be phoning everyone I knew, not writing some cutesy little article showing parallel structure. This isn't an English 101 assignment. Get the information so we can see what in the heck is going on. I'd have already used about 20 cuss words by now, but then it wouldn't stick.

Get on this and let us know!

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

Oops! Read "overstated" for "understated"

Munchener 6 years, 6 months ago

The problem with intercollegiate athletics is that the chancellors et al are not running the programs. Instead they are being run by the athletic directors and people like Boone Pickens.

The chancellors and presidents abdicated their responsibilities when they allowed the athletic corporations at their respective universities to abscond with all the revenues from TV contracts and bowl games. And these realignments are nothing more than those same corporations trying to get more money so they can pay their coaches and assistant coaches even higher salaries.

The chancellors should as a group take back control by taking back control of the money and run these programs the same way they run the English department, and pay salaries accordingly. Academic advisors in the athletic programs should not be paid 5 times as much as those in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences.

If they can't take the money back, then these corporations should be put off campus and allowed to operate as the businesses they are, and let the conferences operate as the minor leagues they are for professional football and basketball. But, in this new arrangement they would have to pay royalties to the universities for use of the university name and logo; they would pay rent for use of the stadium and fieldhouse; and they would pay property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes on their profits. And they could pay their employees (now called student athletes) whatever they were worth. And those employees could be students if they chose to, as there would be a university in their back yard.

The greatest gain from this is that academics would become the top priority for univesities once again.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, I would like to live in your world, but in the world that really exists, lots of money is donated to universities by alums with the understanding that their athletic teams represent the universities well on the field and the court. If you're okay losing that, well then, fine.

So you think the political climate exists for raising taxes to make up for the donations? Like it or not, this is how the game is played.

Munchener 6 years, 6 months ago

Most of those donations go to the athletic corporation! So the academic part of the university would not lose much, and would gain by getting royalty payments.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

One thing is for sure: the level of athletic ability would fall dramatically at most schools. Maybe you're right. Academics should lead schools.

dagrump 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, the writing has been on the wall for all to see for quite a some time. Football drives the bus that funds sports, it's been in everyone face. KU has a basketball program, but football has always played second fiddle... Now it's coming around & will damage the basketball program. Small population, no large TV markets, it bites... The stadium is dwarfed by high school fields in Tx, but no one wanted to replace it. More butts in the seats means more money if you have a viable football program. Now it's too late, basketball won't cut it, you can't expand the Phog too generate the revenue a decent football program can. As much as I hate to think of it, KU basketball will slowly become less important in the big picture & without a solid football program, the money will dry up. Such is life, no one ever said it was going to be fair, & if they did the were lying to you... It's been fun, but the rest of the conference saw what was going on & responded & the powers that be at KU didn't. Now other schools are moving on & leaving those that didn't adapt to wither on the vine. Sorry to sound so bitter, but I am sick that it's came to this...

Gregory Newman 6 years, 6 months ago

He just comfirmed my point? Every last one of you need to get out of Kansas every once in a while and I dont mean KCMO. The state board of regents has the yea's and ney's to give period. If the board allowed KU to depart from KSU and propose to the PAC-12. That would be welcomed even more than Texas and OU. Phil Knight of Nike would kill for Kansas because of basketball. All the University Presidents in the PAC would kill for the unique research and research dollars KU possess. You guys are so full of toto and tin man you don't even have a clue of Dorothy landing where your dreams could ever take you. I've been in Cali for 40 yrs. when I say Kansas folks know that I've been educated. Kansas carries weight out here. Yaw wouldn't have a clue because when you travel 20-30 minutes to cross stateline you assume you've been somewhere. Read and listen to your blogs because you guys are acting stupid. No conference has made reference to KU because they know that KU is tied to the hip to KSU. You can't blame Gray-Little its the state board of regents.

Justpassingthrough 6 years, 6 months ago

One thing for sure! Your proud of the fact you made it out of Kansas. Many of us have lived several places, including abroad. But since you have lived in Cali for 40 years you probably know best.

Gregory Newman 6 years, 6 months ago

And quit lying on kansas academics. Find out who doesn't belong to the Association of American Universities. This is what matters and the Big Ten has not said anything negative about Kansas academics. Some of you act is if you are the source info.

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