Sporcle.com has a series of random sports quizzes but before you go there, consider that you might become addicted because racing the clock to fill in all the answers can really get the adrenaline flowing, at least as much as sitting in front of a computer can do that.
Anyway, I stumbled upon one quiz with 24 answers that I found quite interesting. Name the 2008 Orange Bowl starters, including the kicker and punter, for Kansas in eight minutes. With apologies to right guard Chet Hartley and defensive end John Larson, I was able to come up with 22 of them. I do remember Hartley, whose family has a fish farm in Kingman, and Larson, frequently cited as one of the brightest people in the athletic department during his career. I also remember Larson showing rare agility for a defensive lineman when he intercepted a pass in a victory against Toledo.
Now that you have a pretty good head start, give it a shot to see how many you can name. Sporcle lists the position and jersey number and if you type the last name, it will supply the first. It’s interesting to look at from what states the starters on the 12-1 Jayhawks came to KU.
If you want to take the quiz, don’t read the rest of this blog until you have taken it.
Now, let’s look at the home states of the starters then and now.
Orange Bowl team:
Texas: Dezmon Briscoe, Ryan Cantrell, Anthony Collins, Dexton Fields, James McClinton, Todd Reesing, Aqib Talib, Kyle Tucker.
Kansas: Caleb Blakesley, Chet Hartley, John Larson, Adrian Mayes, Brandon McAnderson, Mike Rivera, Darrell Stuckey.
Oklahoma: Russell Brorsen, Derek Fine, Chris Harris, Marcus Henry, James Holt, Scott Webb.
California: Joe Mortensen, Cesar Rodriguez.
Missouri: Justin Thornton.
So 21 of the 24 starters came from three states: Eight from Texas, seven from Kansas, six from Oklahoma. In all, five states were represented.
Now, let’s look take a geographic look at the starters on the current roster.
Texas: Corey Avery, Michael Cummings, Ben Goodman, Nick Harwell, Jimmay Mundine, JaCorey Shepherd.
Kansas: Joe Gibson, Ben Heeney, Pat Lewandowski, Michael Reynolds.
California: Ngalu Fusimalohi, Trevor Pardula.
North Carolina: Isaiah Johnson, Nigel King.
District of Columbia: Larry Mazyck.
Illinois: Tony Pierson.
Iowa: Mike Smithburg.
Maryland: Cassius Sendish.
Michigan: Matthew Wyman.
Mississippi: Tedarian Johnson.
Missouri: Dexter McDonald.
New Jersey: Tevin Shaw.
Oklahoma: Jake Love.
South Carolina: Keon Stowers.
Six from Texas, four from Kansas and then a little of this and a little of that. In all, 13 states plus the District of Columbia are represented among the 24 starters.
Just one recruit from Oklahoma, which used to be such a fertile recruiting ground for Kansas and can become so again.
If you have a connection and like the player and person, absolutely offer him a scholarship if he’s from Mars. But the lack of concentrated recruiting is a function of lack of stability on the coaching staff and of a heavy emphasis on juco recruiting and also suggests too much last-minute scrambling took place.
The next staff needs an assistant coach with strong ties to Oklahoma high school coaches. Plus, Kansas walk-ons need to become a big part of the program to keep the numbers high and to improve relations with Kansas high school coaches.
Clint Bowen is just three games into his eight-game tryout as interim head coach of a reeling Kansas football program, so plenty can happen to move the needle in either direction on his chances of landing the job. At this point, he would have to be considered the favorite, but there is no odds-on-favorite, a term that applies to a member of the field having a better than 50-percent chance of winning a competition.
Despite encouraging signs under Bowen — 3-0 vs. the spread, the flipping of an in-state recruit from Ohio State to Kansas — a search committee has been formed and athletic director Sheahon Zenger is keeping an open mind. So it’s worthwhile to look at candidates that make sense and look not only at obvious assistant coaches with KU ties, such as Ohio State’s Ed Warinner, one of the game’s better offensive minds, Texas A&M assistant David Beaty (strong Texas recruiting ties) and Nebraska’s Tim Beck (respected offensive coordinator), but also at those flying under the radar.
Since Willie Fritz's team played on ESPNU on Thursday night, hammering Troy 42-10, let's look at the candidacy of Georgia Southern first-year head coach Willie Fritz.
A Johnson County native, Fritz’s brother, Ed Fritz, is Blue Valley Northwest High’s hugely successful boys basketball coach. Ed’s wife, Ann, is girls basketball coach at Blue Valley North.
Willie played defensive back at Pittsburg State and coached there and at Coffeyville College as an assistant. As a head coach, Fritz turned a Blinn College program that had gone 5-24-1 in the previous season into a national powerhouse. In four seasons (1993-1996) under Fritz, Blinn, a Texas juco, went 39-5-1 and won two national titles.
Fritz then spent 13 seasons at Div. II Central Missouri, where he went 97-47 and took the Mules to heights it never had accomplished. Fritz then went 40-15 in four seasons at Sam Houston State and made it to the Football Championship Subdivision national-title game in 2011 and 2012.
Georgia Southern is in its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Fritz’s Eagles (7-2) lead the Sun Belt Conference and their only nonconference losses were by one point at North Carolina State and by four points at Georgia Tech.
Fritz, 54, inherited a strong roster from Jeff Monken, who bolted to take the Army job a year after upsetting Florida.
Schools normally suffer in the transition year, but Georgia Southern has improved and ranks No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards (3,624), yards per carry (7.32) and rushing touchdowns (46).
Fritz had the guts to veer away from the “Ham Bone,” triple-option attack Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson brought to Georgia Southern 30 years ago when he was the offensive coordinator. Fritz uses a run-based spread offense, which shares some elements of his Georgia Southern predecessors’ offenses.
Fritz's final Sam Houston State team ranked fourth in the FCS in scoring (41.1 points per game) and sixth in rushing. Almost all of the current Sam Houston State roster was recruited by Fritz and his staff, and 89 of the 96 players on it are from Texas.
Fritz earns a $400,000 annual salary at Georgia Southern, good enough for him to stay at the Ritz whenever he wants, but not comparable to what KU will pay its next coach.
The Kansas football program’s heavy emphasis on junior-college recruiting in the Class of 2013 left little room for high school recruits from the state of Kansas or anywhere else.
Eight prep players received scholarships from that class, just one from the state of Texas.
Ishmael Hyman spent his first season as a red-shirt and then transferred.
A look at how the other seven shape up, listed in order of their chances of developing into significant contributors:
1 - Ben Johnson, 6-5, 235, tight end, Basehor-Linwood High, Kansas: Athletic, big target has a nice pair of hands, knows how to run routes and has a frame that can take on more weight, which will help him to improve as a blocker. He’ll compete next season for the starting job with Florida transfer Kent Taylor and Olathe North High’s Josh Moore, who decommitted Thursday from Ohio State and committed to KU, citing Clint Bowen as the reason.
2 - Montell Cozart, 6-2, 200, quarterback, Bishop Miege High, Kansas: Fast and strong-armed, Cozart displayed such poor instincts for the position it’s worth wondering whether his best chance at a meaningful college career will come at wide receiver.
3 - Colin Spencer, 5-10, 185, cornerback, Woodrow Wilson HIgh, Dallas: The lone Texas high school recruit in the class — that sentence never, ever should have been typed about a KU recruiting class — Spencer was tried as a running back and receiver in practice before being shifted to defense. He’s a combine phenom and will be given a shot to prove he can turn terrific athleticism into making winning football plays.
4 - Kellen Ash, 6-3, 240, Buck, Parkway South High, Missouri: Has not yet shown potential to develop into a player who will work his way onto the depth chart as a defensive end or outside linebacker at any point during his career.
5 - Colton Goeas, 6-2, 245, linebacker, St. Louis High, Hawaii: Doesn’t have the speed to project as a player who has much of a chance to work his way onto the two-deep during his career.
6 - Jordan Darling, 6-4, 230, quarterback, Shawnee Mission East High, Kansas: Strong-armed quarterback does not have the mobility to project as a player who ever will work his way onto the two-deep.
7 - Joey Bloomfield, 6-6, 295, offensive lineman, Ballard High, Louisville: Lacks the strength, quickness and football instincts to convince anyone he will work his way into the mix.
Sadly, it’s possible Johnson is the only high school recruit from the Class of 2013 who will help Kansas.
Once Olathe North High three-star tight end Josh Moore switched his school of choice Thursday from Ohio State to Kansas, it proved that as a recruiter, an assistant coach is only as a good as the head coach is popular.
Moore, who wasn’t considering Kansas when Charlie Weis was the coach, cited interim head coach Clint Bowen as a big reason he committed to KU.
For whatever reasons, Kansas high school coaches never warmed to Weis, who didn’t appear to put a huge premium on in-state prospects.
Just six Kansans on KU’s roster were signed to scholarships as part of Weis’ three recruiting classes. Class of 2012: Offensive lineman Brian Beckmann and receiver Tre Parmalee; Class of 2013: Quarterbacks Montell Cozart and Jordan Darling and tight end Ben Johnson; Class of 2014: running back/safety Joe Dineen.
Johnson and Dineen shape up as the best prospects of that bunch. Starting center Joe Gibson, defensive lineman T.J. Semke and reserve linebacker Beau Bell came to Kansas as a walk-ons and earned scholarships.
Moore’s commitment gives KU a second pledge from a highly rated football in-state recruit. The first came from Ryan Willis, a 6-foot-4, three-star quarterback from Bishop Miege High, ranked No. 3 in the preseason.
Keep in mind, non-binding verbal commitments shift more in football than basketball, so it's worth mentioning three local offensive linemen who made verbals to BCS schools. Blue Valley High’s four-star prospect A.J. Harris, ranked No. 1 in the state, committed to Missouri. Baldwin High’s Christian Gaylord, No. 2 in the state, committed to Nebraska. Free State's Scott Frantz, No. 6 in the state, and Mill Valley High’s Evan Applegate, No. 7, both pledged to Kansas State.
There are no signs that the three prospects would consider switching, but signing day is nearly four months away. (Harris is excited about playing for Missouri offensive line coach A.J. Ricker, who was at Illinois when he started recruiting Harris.)
Ohio State reportedly had been cooling on Moore of late, but it remains a big commitment for KU and for Bowen’s chances of landing the job on a permanent basis, especially if it emboldens others to switch their commitments to the closest Div. 1 school, which now has a man in charge who has a healthy respect for in-state talent, a man who has the respect of Kansas high school coaches.
Regardless of whether it's Bowen, KU's next coach must be able to recruit high school talent from Texas and Kansas.
The multiple defections, dismissals and non-qualifiers during Charlie Weis’ short time as head coach of the Kansas University football program left the Jayhawks competing with a team that quantitatively is more like one from the Football Championship Division (1-AA) than the Football Bowl Subdivsion.
Although KU has encountered good fortune on the injury front compared to most teams, it still is practicing with only 63 healthy players who originally came to KU on scholarship.
Interestingly, 63 is the scholarship limit for FCS schools. The NCAA maximum for scholarship players on a roster is 85. Unlike in the FBS, the scholarships can’t be spread out with the use of partial rides. Every scholarship must be a full one. No more than 25 scholarships can be awarded in one year in the FBS.
How did it happen?
First, Weis ran off so many bad students and discipline problems that he couldn’t get the roster back to full size in one year.
Second, he tried to retool via the junior-college path and banked his hopes heavily on the so-called Dream Team of junior-college recruits, 16 of them members of the Class of 2013, Weis' second of three recruiting classes. Only eight of the 16 remain in the program. Six jucos from that class — Marquel Combs (pictured above, via his instagram), Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Chris Martin, Kevin Short, Pearce Slater and Mark Thomas — never played a down. Samson Faifilli and Zach Fondal played, but left the program before exhausting their eligibility.
That’s far too many wasted scholarships.
Looking ahead to spring football, KU will have 50 players who arrived on scholarship, plus four walk-ons who earned scholarships (starters Joe Gibson, a center, and T.J. Semke, a defensive lineman, and reserve linebackers Beau Bell and Michael Zunica), plus any Class of 2015 recruit who graduates a semester early, if there is such a player, and enrolls at KU for the start of next semester.
Kansas can bring in 24 more players on scholarship. (Nigel King counted toward the Class of 2015 because of when he enrolled at Kansas). That brings the number of players on scholarship to 78, including the four original walk-ons. That figure assumes no players will transfer, not a likely outcome because a number of them must realize by now they don’t have the talent to fit make it onto the field at KU.
Most FBS teams have about 82 scholarship players at any given time and have more than 75 healthy players on a free ride practicing daily.
As lacking in ready-for-prime time players as this year's team is, next season's will be worse.
Most figured that cornerbacks coach Dave Campo would be the one called in from the bullpen when Sheahon Zenger fired Charlie Weis as Kansas University’s head football coach, but Campo never even took his jacket off to stretch, much less warm up.
“No,” Campo said. “No. No. This is a young man’s game. Really. This is a young man’s game.”
Campo still enjoys being a position coach and brings a great deal of energy to teaching cornerbacks, but he said Zenger absolutely made the right choice to replace Weis.
“They made the right decision for the long term in my opinion,” Campo said. “Now, my opinion’s not going to make a difference at the end of this thing. Clint’s ready. He understands what to do. He understands this community. He understands the culture of the University of Kansas and the people in this community.”
Campo called Bowen, “one of the best young coaches I’ve been around.”
He expressed similar sentiments about Bowen when the former Kansas defensive back was working for him.
Campo was working for the Dallas Cowboys when Bowen was on Dan McCarney’s staff at North Texas in 2011 and had heard about him from a friend of his on the UNT staff. Campo quickly became a fan his coaching abilities when Bowen handled safeties for him and Campo was defensive coordinator in 2012.
“The thing that struck me, more than anything else, is he’s a very, very competitive, no-nonsense guy,” Campo said. “But he understands players and to me, those are the best coaches, the guys who understand players and are very disciplined.”
Campo referenced words he had heard from a recent Ned Yost press conference in which the Royals manager said that once he stopped trying to make all the players all adhere in the same way to his rules and let their personalities flow was when things turned around.
“I think Clint has that ability to be able to, when something’s funny, you laugh at it, but when it’s business, it’s business,” Campo said. “To me, that’s the only way you can really get it done. if you’ve got guys who enjoy themselves while they’re doing something, you know, if you like what you’re doing, you’re going to do it better.”
Campo has worked for some big-time winners, including Jimmie Johnson and Barry Switzer with the Cowboys. He knows winning qualities when he sees them.
“He loves the game of football,” Campo said of Bowen. “He’ll stay here until 4, 5 in the morning if he has to to get the job done.”
It will take long, efficient days for years and years to turn it around and Campo thinks Bowen's the guy to do it.
If it were a case of the Kansas University football team’s sluggish offense lacking speed and playmakers, scoring a combined three points against Duke and Texas would be easier to understand.
But that’s not the case. Running backs De’Andre Mann and Corey Avery hit holes quickly and make sharp cuts. Receivers Nick Harwell, Nigel King, Justin McCay and tight end Jimmay Mundine know how to get open.
And of course, the team’s fastest and most dynamic player is a human TNT stick. The problem is Tony Pierson has had the ball in his hands just 19 times in four games.
So many seniors envisioned bigger roles on a better team than how it has played out for the first third of the schedule. Pierson said he expected about “700 receiving yards and 500 rushing,” for the year.
“It’s not looking good so far,” he said. “I’m going to keep working hard every week to reach that goal.”
The problem is he’s not the reason he has fallen far off the goal pace. He gets open, but either quarterback Montell Cozart’s protection breaks down or the QB doesn’t see Pierson. He has caught 12 passes and rushed the ball seven times.
Getting the ball to Pierson more often ranks high on offensive coordinator John Reagan’s list of priorities. Pierson’s concussion history prohibits him from playing running back on a full-time basis, but he’s so good at it that he needs to average more than 1.75 rushing attempts per game. It’s the best way to ensure the ball ends up in Pierson’s hands far more often than the current rate of 6.33 percent of the plays.
KU’s offense has had 300 snaps. Pierson’s 19 plays (seven runs, 12 catches) have gone for an average of 14.7 yards. The other 281 plays have averaged 4.1 yards.
“Me, Harwell, both of the running backs, Justin and Nigel, there are a lot of playmakers on the field,” Pierson said. “We just need the ball in our hands. At running back, it’s nothing to get a hand-off. But at receiver, that’s based on the line and the quarterback trying to get you the ball.”
He sounded like a guy who missed his original position.
“If I’m not getting the ball a lot, sometimes I want to go back and get a hand-off,” Pierson said. “Miss all the hitting? Not at all. The contact I don’t miss. I don’t miss it.”
Pierson described the first week of practices under Clint Bowen as “more energized and laid-back.” In order for that to translate to an energized offense, the laid-back burner from East St. Louis needs the ball.
Two difficult game-day juggling acts, one a new one, another a holdover from the Charlie Weis staff with a new wrinkle, will go into effect Saturday in Morgantown, West Virginia.
John Reagan wears the headphones of an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. That’s an unusual combination since the OC more often coaches either quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers, in that order. Reagan worked for Weis on the sidelines. Most offensive coordinators prefer the view from the press box. Reagan will return to the booth under Bowen’s leadership.
Bowen will continue as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach and handle head-coaching duties.
Bowen was asked Monday morning on the Big 12 conference call about whether he will put some of his DC duties on assistants.
“That’s a great question,” Bowen said, “something I gave a lot of thought to last night. You’re right in my mind with that question. How do you handle those additional responsibilities.”
A great question elicited a great response.
“Where I’m at right now, I feel like I have the best grasp on this defense and how it adjusts when we need to make adjustments and where we need to go next when teams are doing certain things,” Bowen said. “I feel at this point in time, I need to continue to control the defense.”
Which means the additional game duties that assistants will help him with are the ones new to Bowen.
“We kind of started some plans on how I’m going to get other people to assist on game day for game management, clock management, down-and-distance situations, where someone is really in my ear controlling that the whole time so that they’ve constantly got the operation, the next step planned where we want to go with it, a contingency plan, so that when I’m busy with other things, they have all the information I need right at the flash of a second,” Bowen said.
Former KU center Ryan Cantrell, who worked under Reagan at Rice, holds the title “assistant director of operations.” He will continue to serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for Reagan on game day with the offensive line.
Watch this video from Time Warner Cable News in Austin, Texas, and then ask yourself this question: If you were a football coach anywhere from Pop Warner to high school to college, would you show this interview to your team? If not, why not?
His name is Apollos Hester. He plays wide receiver and outside linebacker for East View High in Georgetown, Texas. The interview took place after East View defeated Vandergrift, 42-41.
Hester doesn't have any stars next to his name on his Rivals.com profile, but the guess here is he will inspire football players across America to play football harder and enjoy life more. In a world with too much focus on negativity, Apollos Hester practically jumps out of your computer telling everybody watching that everything's going to be OK.
With one interview, Apollos Hester has transformed from anonymous high school football player to inspirational superhero.
If the Kansas football team can’t snap out of its funk this weekend with a victory against a Central Michigan squad coming off a 37-point loss and likely coming to town without its best player, it’s quite possible today was Charlie Weis’ final Tuesday presser.
If that’s the case, I’ll miss the candid, entertaining sessions.
Even coming off a 41-3 loss at Duke and doing his best to check his sarcastic tongue, Weis didn’t give boring answers to the questions sent his way.
Some of his statements understandably don’t sit well with administrators and athletes, but for reporters, Weis’ candor is a dream come true.
My seven favorite answers from what could be his final Tuesday presser:
1 — Question: “What was the Duke defense doing that shut down (Nick) Harwell?”
Answer: “Montell (Cozart) shut down Harwell. Duke’s defense didn’t shut down Harwell.”
That’s 100 percent accurate. KU’s vastly improved receiving corps doesn’t have the numbers to show it because, in order, a) Cozart isn’t finding open receivers; b) He often misses them when he finds them; c) He’s too entrapped by rushing defenders to see them.
Not many coaches would respond in such a colorful way and would be too fearful of hurting the quarterback’s confidence.
2 — Question: “This may be kind of a simple, dumb question, but ...”
Answer: “Go ahead. Dumb is right up my alley.”
That’s not ersatz humor so often uttered by coaches. You know, C material that gets A laughs. Instead, it was genuinely funny, especially coming off a 41-3 loss to Duke, a game in advance of which he had sounded “confident, bordering on cocky,” to use a phrase he recently used on another topic.
3 — Question: “You already mentioned (running back Corey) Avery, but first road game for a bunch of your freshmen and obviously a lot of them got out there, too. Just the whole experience, what do you think of how those guys handled the road trip?”
Answer: “Well, Avery doesn’t act like a freshman, so it’s tough for me to look at him like a freshman. I think there are different guys you look at different ways. There are a couple guys that looked like they were more looking at the opposing stadium, and really it wasn’t a very intimidating place now. There were about 25,000 people there. They’re far away from you. It wasn’t loud. So there really was nothing to be intimidated about.
“I mean, you’re playing against a nice, solid team. They’re not great, but they’re a nice, solid team that’s turned the corner and they’re winning, so you’re going to have to play well, so really there should have been — field was in great condition, weather didn’t turn out to be an issue, but I mean, really you could look for reasons. There really isn’t one. We’ve gone to places where a freshman walks in and says, ‘My God.’ You walk in and there are 88,000 people there or 100,000 people there, and some of them get overwhelmed, but that game, that should not have been the case.”
It would be difficult to find another coach who just lost to a team by a 41-3 score refer to the victor as, “a nice, solid team. They’re not great, but they’re a nice, solid team.”
What does that make Weis’ team? Well, at least 38 points worse than “nice” or “solid.”
4 — Question: “We saw how well your team played in the first quarter with the emotion against Southeast Missouri. Is that a big key for you guys, just playing with that emotion in a home game coming up?”
Answer (second half of it): “The problem really started between the quarterback and the center, okay, and before you know it, you’re punting and you never even gave your team a chance.
“Put it like this: I’m glad there are lights out there because when the practice is over, the quarterback and center are going to hang out together for quite some time. I don’t know what time tutoring starts, but hopefully they’ll be in in time for tutoring. We (coaches) can’t be out there because that would exceed the four‑hour day.”
Weis paints a nice picture with words and in this case what I pictured was being forced to stay after school to pound chalkboard erasers to clean them, scraping used gum off the bottom of desktops, etc.
5 — Question: “How much did having (suspended running back Thomas) Rawls and not having Rawls have to do with the two different outcomes (a decisive victory against Purdue; a blowout loss to Syracuse).”
Answer: “I mean, he’s a 100‑plus yard rusher every single game, and looking at, following the issues that are going on, I’d be kind of surprised if he played this week. Sign me up for that.
“But I’ve got my own guys’ issues on and off the field. I don’t wish bad on anyone else, but I think that the kid is a legitimately front‑line player. I think he’s really good. So would it have affected them, yeah, it probably would have affected them.”
Regardless of whether it was his intention, Weis pretty much let it be known he thinks it wouldn’t be right to play Rawls, given his off-the-field issue. In fairness, all he said was that he didn’t think he would play, so I’m taking a little bit of a leap there.
Rawls was scheduled for a Tuesday court appearance on larceny and credit-card fraud charges, dating to an April 8th incident at a casino. Rawls, who rushed for 155 yards in a 38-17 victory against Purdue on Sept. 8, is accused of stealing a woman’s purse and using her credit cards.
Rawls, the Chippewas’ best player, was arrested by Saginaw Chppewa Tribal Police the day after his big game. Who would have ever guessed casinos employ video surveillance. I mean, with all that money changing hands, what a shock!
6 — Question: “The problems on third down, is that just another example of the passing game needing to be more efficient, or is there anything more to that?”
Answer: “Well, it really was the passing game on every down. Third down gets magnified. If you’re not throwing and catching, if you’re not throwing and catching, third down gets magnified because now you’re punting. It wasn’t like every third down was third and 12. We had third and and 4s, we had plenty of manageable situations right there, but our efficiency in the pass game was not good, and it’s definitely magnified on third down.”
7 — Question: “Referencing what you said earlier about some guys playing a pretty good game, was Michael Reynolds one of those guys?”
Answer: “No, I would not put him in that group of people that played really well. ... I think when Michael Reynolds was rushing the passer, he looked good. When he wasn’t, he didn’t look very good. You’re not going to get me to say, ‘Yeah’ on very many players you could bring up right now.”
Given the final score, that’s appropriate.