Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”

Former Jayhawk Micah Brown provides an inside look at KU football recruiting

Former Kansas University football player and current Steven Spielberg in the making, Micah Brown, was at it again recently on behalf of his alma mater.

Brown, whose video production company, Second Wind Creative, has created some incredible documentary-type projects at schools such as Kansas, Michigan State and Notre Dame, recently released an updated recruiting video for the Jayhawks.

The 5-minute video directly targets KU's recruits, but it also offers a nice inside look at the program and the direction KU coach Charlie Weis and his coaching staff plan to take the task of mining for talent in the coming years.

It's definitely worth a look for KU fans and, production-wise, is probably worth watching for non-KU fans, as well. Micah does great work and he and his company are only going to get bigger.

Here's the video:



My take on why this KU volleyball team has been so much fun to cover

Kansas players celebrate their victory during their second round NCAA volleyball tournament match against Creighton, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks downed the Bluejays, 3-1, and with the win, avenged a loss to Creighton earlier in the year.

Kansas players celebrate their victory during their second round NCAA volleyball tournament match against Creighton, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks downed the Bluejays, 3-1, and with the win, avenged a loss to Creighton earlier in the year. by John Young

Unless this is your first visit to KUsports.com in the last month, you're surely aware by now that the Kansas University volleyball team has advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and will take on Washington on Friday in Los Angeles.

It's a great story about a great team and one that cannot be told too many times.

As is the case with any team that gets hot — at any level — we've jumped all-in with this squad and covered them inside and out during the past few months, partly because they're winning and playing at a high level and partly because they're an awesome bunch.

I've been a volleyball fan for a long time. My wife played volleyball in college, Olympic beach volleyball has taken off in recent years and even when I was covering high school sports volleyball was one of my favorites to watch and write about.

As for the Jayhawks, I've been a fan of this team since the middle of the 2012 season, and I figured now was as good a time as any to explain why.

The No. 1 thing I enjoy about Ray Bechard's 16th squad at Kansas is how hard it competes. It never matters who they're playing or how they're feeling, they always bring it. That's the case when they're up two sets to none and are looking to close out the match with a three-set sweep and also the case when they're down two sets to one and need to win the last two sets to win the match.

Kansas' Caroline Jarmoc (9) hits a spike past Wichita State's Ashley Andrade (28) and Katie Reilly (7) during their volleyball match in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks defeated the Shockers, 3-1, and will face Creighton Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Kansas' Caroline Jarmoc (9) hits a spike past Wichita State's Ashley Andrade (28) and Katie Reilly (7) during their volleyball match in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks defeated the Shockers, 3-1, and will face Creighton Saturday at 6:30 p.m. by John Young

It's not just a couple of players either. It's all of them. I'm sure some of that comes from the fact that they're as close as a team can possibly be — five key players even live together — and I'm sure some of it is just who they are and how they're coached.

“The chemistry on our team is so awesome,” said senior libero Bri Riley. “It's funny, when we talk to other girls at other schools it's, 'I hate so and so and I hate so and so,' and I love everyone on our team. It's hard to be mad at someone who you love so much and I think that really does carry over onto the court.”

Another thing I enjoy about this year's roster is their personalities. These girls have fun out on the floor and they're always smiling, laughing, joking around and messing with each other however and whenever they can. That demeanor has helped keep them loose when things have been at their most intense and helped them plow through the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Allen Fieldhouse last weekend instead of tightening up and letting the moment and opportunity get the best of them.

Beyond their general personalities, this team has all the parts you would want. A jokester or two, a super-focused senior, a bubbly newcomer, an All-American badass and a lot more.

To help illustrate that, I sought the input of a handful of people inside the program for a couple of quick buzzwords about each of the KU regulars. The words they came up with were a perfect representation of what this team is all about and why they've saved their best for last — fun, ferocious and fearing no one.

Here's a quick look at the way some folks inside the program view the girls who will go down in history as some of the most important volleyball players ever to come through Lawrence:

Senior libero Brianne Riley – immature, pretty, tan

Senior setter Erin McNorton – sleepy, "Eeyore," witty

Senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc – blunt, engineering phenom

Junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers – ridiculous, inappropriate

Senior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael – animated

Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie – gullible, delicate

Sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery – social, therapist, popular

Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton – squeaky, baby giraffe

Senior defensive specialist Jaime Mathieu – miniature ginger

Freshman defensive specialist Cassie Wait – buff, apologetic

As you can see, most of those responses came off the cuff and were shared with an eye toward this team's comedic nature. But as the pressure of following up last season — which, until now, had been the best season in KU volleyball history, statistically speaking — landed on their shoulders from Day 1 of the 2013 season, this team's ability to stay loose and laugh helped allow them to dig in when it mattered most and lighten up when needed.

“Over the summer, we were all thinking, 'Can we do it twice,'” Riley admitted. “Can we figure it out and put all the work in and execute to do it a second time?'”

The answer to that question has been a resounding yes, as the Jayhawks are playing deep into the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever and competing with a keen and hard-to-corral mindset that is equal parts relaxed and driven.

“I think we're really good at focusing on the now,” McNorton said. “Coach B always says the next game is the most important game of the year.”

Never has that been more true than today.

Kansas' Cassie Wait (5), Jamie Mathieu (14) and the rest of the Jayhawks wave to fans following Kansas' second round NCAA volleyball tournament match against Creighton, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks downed the Bluejays, 3-1, and with the win, avenged a loss to Creighton earlier in the year.

Kansas' Cassie Wait (5), Jamie Mathieu (14) and the rest of the Jayhawks wave to fans following Kansas' second round NCAA volleyball tournament match against Creighton, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks downed the Bluejays, 3-1, and with the win, avenged a loss to Creighton earlier in the year. by John Young


A quick look at some of KU football’s top recruiting targets in the Class of 2014

With a week remaining until the mid-year transfer signing day (Dec. 18) and the Kansas University football coaches, including new offensive coordinator John Reagan, still out on the road in search of talent, the clock is ticking on KU's 2014 recruiting class.

Unlike a year ago, when KU coach Charlie Weis signed nine junior college players in December, the next couple of weeks figure to be a little more quiet — no top-ranked players, no Dream Team talk, no unusually large haul.

In fact, it's entirely possible that just a couple of mid-year transfers will sign with KU next week, with the rest of the class waiting until national signing day in February to make it official.

High school prospects are not allowed to sign until February so, with eight of the 11 players currently committed to KU coming from the prep ranks, the Jayhawks would have to pick up commitments from the juco ranks in a hurry in order for too many of them to sign on Dec. 18.

Although getting guys on campus in time for spring practice is always a good thing, it's not uncommon to have a small crop of signees during December.

With 11 spots full in a class that theoretically could bring in 14 more players, the Jayhawks are out in full force scouring the country for talent.

Here's a quick look at some of the Jayhawks' top known targets, many of whom have taken or set up visits recently. Not surprisingly, many of them are offensive linemen:

• A.J. Allen, OL, Grossmont C.C. — 6-7, 315
The offensive tackle from El Cajon, Calif., has both Kansas and Kansas State on his long list of finalists and the Jayhawks have thrown California recruiting guru Jeff Blasko at the huge lineman. Some have said that Kansas State is the favorite for Allen, who was scheduled to visit Kansas during Sunflower Showdown weekend. He is a likely December graduate with offers from more than a dozen schools, so he's entering the nitty gritty of decision-making time.

• Matthew Boatang, CB, IMG Academy — 6-0, 180
The native Canadian, who moved to Bradenton, Fla., to get better exposure, has offers from Bowling Green, Indiana, Marshall, Nevada and Villanova. He made an official visit to KU during the weekend in which the Jayhawks snapped their 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a victory over West Virginia, and all indications are that he loved every second of the visit. Other schools, including Baylor, Florida State and Mississippi, are showing interest in the high school senior, but Boateng told JayhawkSlant.com's Jon Kirby that KU would remain near the top of his list.

• Jimmie Gipson, DE, East Mississippi C.C. — 6-0, 255
Gipson, a two-star prospect who fits the mold of KU's Buck position, recently received a visit from Weis and is in the process of wading through two dozen offers, mostly from mid-major programs.

• Craig James, CB, Edwardsville (Ill.) High — 5-11, 170
The coaching staff has been busy with James during the past several days. He had an in-home visit with Reggie Mitchell and Dave Campo late last week and followed it up with an official visit to Lawrence. James currently has scholarship offers from: Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Missouri and Syracuse.

• Kelby Johnson, OL, ASA College — 6-8, 315
The Jayhawks also have jumped in on this offensive lineman who has aspirations of playing after college, something that could favor KU's NFL-experienced coaching staff. Johnson played tackle in junior college and is expected to graduate in May. Rob Ianello is the lead recruiter for Johnson, who also has offers from East Carolina, South Florida and UAB and is receiving interest from several others.

• Dontae Levingston, OL, Santa Monica C.C. — 6-5, 285
The Jayhawks are making a late push for the offensive tackle from Santa Monica, Calif., who visited Lawrence last week for the first time. As expected, the push from KU was playing time and Levingston told Kirby that the opportunity to make an immediate impact was intriguing. He also noted that most of the programs recruiting him are small college towns and, being from Los Angeles, he was just trying to pinpoint which one had the best feel. Levingston is an expected mid-year transfer, who is expected to choose a school before next Wednesday. His list of offers include Kansas State, Memphis, Texas Tech and several others.

• Anthony Olobia, DE, Arizona Western C.C. — 6-5, 230
Olobia, another one of those hybrid, D-End/linebacker types, is headed to Lawrence for an official visit this weekend. The Jayhawks have landed a couple of players from Arizona Western during recent years so their familiarity with the program could help here. The three-star recruit also has offers from Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Utah and he is receiving interest from more than a dozen others.

Class of 2014 Commitments (as of Dec. 11, 2013)
• Jacob Bragg, 6-4, 308, OL, Nacogdoches (Texas) High -- 3-star
• Joe Dineen, 6-2, 197, DB, Free State High -- 3-star
• Bobby Hartzog, 5-11, 182, WR, Westside (Houston) High -- 2-star
• Keyon Haughton, 6-2, 295, OL, Georgia Military
• Damani Mosby, 6-3, 235, DE, Mesa C.C. -- 3-star
• Tyler Patrick, 5-11, 171, WR, The Woodlands (Texas) High -- 2-star
• Austin Stevens, 6-4, 245, DE, Montclair (N.J.) High -- 2-star
• Apa Visinia, 6-5, 380, OL, Grandview (Mo.) High -- 2-star
• Kyron Watson, 6-0, 226, LB, East St. Louis (Ill.) High -- 3-star
• Devon Williams, 6-5, 335, OL, Georgia Military
• Traevohn Wrench, 6-0, 180, RB, Gardner-Edgerton High -- 4-star

• All bio information courtesy Rivals.com.


Despite win total, KU football boasts a handful of All-Big 12-worthy performers

In the coming days, various media organizations that cover college football will be releasing their all-conference teams and a year's worth of hard work, sweat and sacrifice will pay off for a whole bunch of college athletes.

For some, landing on this all-conference team or that one will represent just another accolade in a long list that has been growing since they first started playing the game as teenagers.

For others, the honor will go down as the highlight of their career, the one memory they'll keep talking about until they're old and gray.

Often times, the teams that turn in the best seasons also produce the most all-conference players and that seems logical given the fact that the best players typically produce the best teams. But it's not always the case. And it's a shame when top-tier talent gets overlooked because it plays for a team that struggled to win games.

That's the story with Kansas football, which finished 2013 with a 3-8 record, 1-8 in Big 12 Conference play. Despite those low win totals, the Jayhawks had at least a handful of guys worthy of being placed on the all-Big 12 teams, be it the first, second, third team or honorable mention.

Here's a quick look at the most worthy candidates in order of most likely to least.

• Junior punter Trevor Pardula •
For much of the 2013 season, the first-year punter from De Anza College in California was among the best in the country. His net averages soared well into the 42-44-yard range and his ability to flip the field and pin opponents deep was a bona fide weapon. While Pardula was penalized by the national awards committees because he did not land enough punts inside the 20, it's worth pointing out that the struggles of the KU offense often forced Pardula to punt from deep in his own end, making the task of dropping kicks inside the 20 next to impossible even for NFL punters. By season's end, Pardula finished with a 43.7-yard average. He has a strong case for first-team all-Big 12 honors.

• Sophomore safety Isaiah Johnson •
It's entirely possible that I'm overlooking someone on another Big 12 team, but I think Johnson has as good a case as anyone for the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year award. The former Iowa Western safety started all 12 games during his first season of Div. I football and finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions (5), 21st in tackles (73) and also added three tackles for loss. Johnson was definitely one of the bright spots for the Jayhawks' defense this season, a game-changer, who still has two years of eligibility remaining and should become one of those guys that opponents can't quite believe is "still around."

• Senior running back James Sims •
Although he did not rattle off 100-yard game after 100-yard game during his final season as a Jayhawk, James Sims was every bit as productive as he had ever been, despite running behind an offensive line that experienced its share of growing pains and in an offense that struggled to throw the ball. Sims' 1,110 yards ranked first in the Big 12 and represented a career-high for the fourth consecutive season. In topping the 1,000-yard mark in 2012 and 2013, he became the first running back in KU history to rush for quadruple-digit rushing yards in back-to-back seasons and came within a couple hundred yards of eclipsing June Henley for the top spot on KU's career rushing list. As was the case throughout his career, Sims gained most of his yards against defenses that knew what was coming. The fact that he still was able to churn out productive games and finish with 7 touchdowns and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average speaks to his skill and desire. A strong case could be made for Sims to land on the all-Big 12 first team. I know I'd put him there, but because of KU's win total he could be a second-teamer.

• Junior linebacker Ben Heeney •
If not for a midseason injury that forced him to miss two games, Heeney no doubt would've racked up triple-digit tackles for the second year in a row and kept his spot near the top of the Big 12 tackle list. As it turned out, Heeney still enjoyed a monster season, finishing with 87 tackles in 10 games and 11.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions. But it's more than Heeney's stats that make him a virtual lock for inclusion on one of the all-Big 12 teams. Anyone who watches him play, whether it's opposing coaches, media members or even his own teammates, easily can recognize that Heeney is one of the top players in the Big 12 and plays harder than nearly everybody.

• Junior cornerback Dexter McDonald •
McDonald was one of the top cover corners in the Big 12, especially early in the season. There were several games where opposing quarterbacks chose not even to test the junior-college transfer who returned to KU for a second go-around this season. And his size, speed and physicality made him a tough match-up for opposing wide receivers. McDonald finished with two interceptions and 10 pass break-ups (7th in the Big 12) and also should be given credit for helping JaCorey Shepherd — KU's starter on the other side of the field — develop his corner skills, both from a perspective of showing him the ropes and also from encouraging opponents to attack Shepherd instead.

• Junior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd •
The former wide receiver's 13 pass break-ups and two interceptions put him third in the Big 12 in passes defended, no small feat for a guy who entered fall camp still adjusting to his new position. Last season, Shepherd showed he had the raw skills to hang in the secondary and this season he showed he could play cornerback. Tested on a weekly basis, Shepherd always seemed to be up for the challenge. He may not land on any of the teams but I think he deserves at least honorable mention. Another area he could make an appearance is at kick returner, where he finished fifth in the conference with an average of 22.8 yards per kick return.

• Junior punt returner Connor Embree •
Three guys finished ahead of him in the Big 12 Conference punt return rankings and he wasn't nearly as good late in the season as he was early on, but the former walk-on at least deserves mention as a possible honorable mention candidate for his 11.4-yard average in 16 attempts.

Before we close this one down, here's a little deeper look at the job McDonald and Shepherd did this season at the cornerback position, which, in my eyes, merits both of them spots on the all-conference teams.

The following is a look at the Big 12's top pass catchers, their season averages and how each performed against Kansas:

Player (Receptions-Per-Game, Yards-Per-Game) — vs. Kansas

• Antwan Goodley, Baylor (5.4, 109.5) — 2 catches for 43 yards
• Tyler Lockett, Kansas State (6.5, 104.2) — 3 catches for 43 yards
• Jace Amaro, Texas Tech (8.2, 103.3) — 9 catches for 96 yards
• Mike Davis, Texas (4.6, 70.1) — 1 catch for 5 yards
• Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma (4.6, 55.9) — 4 catches for 47 yards
• Josh Stewart (4.5, 55.5) — 0 catches (left with injury)
• Eric Ward, Texas Tech (6.7, 75.3) — 7 catches for 122 yards and 1 TD
• Jaxon Shipley, Texas (4.7, 51.8) — 6 catches for 77 yards
• Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State (4.0, 56.3) — 3 catches for 63 yards
• Tevin Reese, Baylor (4.1, 103.0) — 4 catches for 110 yards
• Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech (5.4, 64.3) — 7 catches for 92 yards


Bill Self’s decision to start Frank Mason at PG not the end of the road for Naadir Tharpe


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self said Thursday that freshman guard Frank Mason would start for the Jayhawks in Boulder, Colo., this weekend, when they take on CU.

So, naturally, as president and founder of the #TharpeFanClub, I, once again, caught some flack for KU junior Naadir Tharpe being sent to the bench.

I'm not sure I'll ever understand why fans so much enjoy trashing players on the teams they root for — this happens way more often with KU football than KU hoops — but that's neither here nor there. And, really, to each his own. It's everyone's right as a fan to cheer, criticize and follow the team however they see fit.

As for the move itself, I am a little surprised that Self pulled the trigger so early in the season, but I more than understand why he did it. And I think there are a couple of reasons.

No. 1, I think he's rewarding Mason and I think Mason deserves to be rewarded. He's played beyond his years, been one of the tougher players on the team thus far — if not the toughest — and shown that he brings an extra dynamic to the floor that KU really benefits from at this point in the season.

No. 2, I think Self is making this move now because he believes Tharpe can take it. Remember last year when everyone was saying that Tharpe should be starting ahead of Elijah Johnson later in the season? I think one of the big reasons Self never pulled the trigger was because sending Johnson to the bench might have lost him for the season. In this case, I'm guessing Self believes that Tharpe will be able to keep his head in there and still serve a key role as the team's sixth or seventh man. If that's true, Tharpe deserves credit, not criticism.

When people first began speculating on whether the move would or should be made, my opinion was that it was too soon. My read was this: Mason's a stud. He deserves to play more and he should be out there a ton of minutes. But you don't have to start a guy to make that happen. Remember that old adage... "It's not who starts the game, but who finishes it that matters." Besides, Mason's been great with the role he's been in so why risk changing that by putting the pressure tag of "starter" on him?

That was a couple of weeks ago, though, and things have changed since then. Tharpe's played a couple of poor games, made more than a few bad decisions and not looked like the confident, solid player I've always known him to be.

So, from where I sit, I think the move could benefit KU tremendously. But that's as much because I believe Tharpe can handle it as I believe Mason deserves it. And that's just one of the reasons the #TharpeFanClub exists in the first place.

Turn in your memberships if you want, but don't be surprised if Tharpe delivers plays as the season goes on that make you wish you hadn't.

If Tharpe tanks because of this and becomes a terrible teammate who pouts about playing time and can't be used, I'll eat crow. But I wouldn't bet even a penny that that'll happen. The guy cares, he's all about KU and winning and he'll do whatever is asked of him to help the team succeed.

It should be fun to see how this one plays out.


What’s in store (if anything) for KU football coach Charlie Weis’ staff this offseason?

We already know that offensive line coach Tim Grunhard is leaving the Kansas University football staff, so that's at least one change that KU coach Charlie Weis will make to his coaching staff.

But will there be any more?

Weis was asked that very question following KU's loss to Kansas State in the season finale and he said nothing would be done — if anything at all — until the end of the December recruiting period, which arrives Dec. 14.

Dec. 18 is mid-year transfer signing day and although the Jayhawks won't have a crazy haul of mid-year juco guys signing this year like they had last year, there figure to be at least a couple of guys who make their commitments official on that day.

Getting back to the coaching staff, Weis likely gave the answer he did for two reasons. 1. Recruiting time is precious and it would be a bad move to make a change during that period because it could cost KU valuable time and resources on the recruiting trail. 2. Even if Weis has no plans to make a change himself, you never know which members of his staff could be looking around for other opportunities or which schools might be interested in some of Weis' guys.

We've already seen a report that wide receivers coach Rob Ianello has thrown his name into the hat for the open head coaching gig at the University of North Dakota. And it seems logical to think that whether Ianello gets that job or not, he could be coaching elsewhere in 2014.

As for the rest of the staff, I don't anticipate anyone else leaving. It's difficult, because after a losing season you always assume that at least a couple of guys could be in jeopardy of losing their jobs, but with Grunhard already out and Ianello potentially on the move, those departures would represent change at KU's two weakest positions last season.

Here's a quick look at a few other coaching staff items of business that are worth keeping an eye on:

• If Ianello leaves, by his choosing or otherwise, not only would KU have to find a wide receivers coach, but it also would need to find a recruiting coordinator since Ianello handles both roles. Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell has done that job before and he would be a likely candidate to inherit that role again, provided he wanted it. If not, Weis could always find a receivers coach who could handle both roles like Ianello, who has been recruiting on KU's behalf during the past several days. The recruiting coordinator role is serious business, though, so if there's a need to fill that position, it won't be taken lightly.

• We learned this season that linebackers coach Clint Bowen had transitioned into the role of acting defensive coordinator, with Dave Campo focusing on his job of coaching the defensive backs. Campo and defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt worked closely with Bowen to put together the game plan each week and the move seemed to work well. The title never changed hands, though, so it'll be interesting to see if that is addressed in the offseason.

• Finally, by now you've probably read our report from last week about Rice offensive coordinator John Reagan being Weis' target to come in to replace Grunhard and become KU's offensive coordinator. The move likely would have already taken place had Rice lost to Tulane last week. But since the Owls won and advanced to the Conference USA title game, Reagan stuck around to coach in that game agaisnt Marshall, which will be played at 11 a.m. Saturday. Reagan to KU could become official any time Saturday after the game or Sunday, so keep an ear out for the confirmation.


A Joyous Occasion: Video of the KU volleyball team’s celebration after learning NCAA Tournament fate

The Kansas University volleyball team learned Sunday night that it would be hosting first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games games at Allen Fieldhouse for the second year in a row next weekend.

Here's a quick video of the reaction when the Jayhawks found out.


Keegan vs. Tait: Week 12 - This one’s for all the marbles

Like Kansas, Keegan and I laid an egg last week. Maybe it's because we both picked the Jayhawks.

So here we head into the final week of the 2013 season, all tied up with five — yep, a season-high FIVE — games different between us.

Can't build the drama any more than that. Here's a look.

Tait: 4-6 in Week 11; 79-31 overall
Keegan: 4-6 in Week 11; 79-31 overall

Kansas State at Kansas
Iowa State at West Viriginia
Baylor at TCU
Notre Dame at Stanford
Ohio State at Michigan
Duke at North Carolina
Alabama at Auburn
Clemson at South Carolina
Texas A&M at Missouri

Question: What, when and where was the first concert you attended and do you remember the warm-up act?

Kansas State 31, Kansas 21
Iowa State 23, West Virginia 20
Baylor 61, TCU 17
Stanford 34, Notre Dame 23
Ohio State 34, Michigan 23
Duke 33, North Carolina 20
Auburn 28, Alabama 27
Clemson 30, South Carolina 28
Missouri 31, Texas A&M 21
USC 35, UCLA 33

Answer: If you don't count the hundreds of times I had a front row seat to see my dad's band play throughout the Rocky Mountain region during my childhood, my first official concert was a doozy. Pink Floyd at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado, during the summer of 1994. My dad, sister and stepmom were on the floor, about 20 rows back, and me and a buddy were two rows from the top of Mile High. Even though the set list was the same and the chords, lyrics and harmonies all identical, we saw two completely different shows. At age 16, I was just a newbie Floyd fan, and I remember thinking that the beginning of about half of the songs was the beginning of “Money.” I've learned a lot more about the band since then and realize more and more each day what a wild treat it was for that to have been my first true concert. I don't remember an opening act and, if I recall correctly, that's because there wasn't one.

Kansas State 31, Kansas 17
West Virginia 24, Iowa State 14
Baylor 42, TCU 21
Stanford 31, Notre Dame 21
Ohio State 27, Michigan 21
Duke 28, North Carolina 24
Alabama 31, Auburn 21
South Carolina 31, Clemson 28
Texas A&M 31, Missouri 28
UCLA 34, USC 31

Answer: I saw Neil Young and Stephen Stills July 5, 1976, one day after bicentennial celebration. It was the Stills and Young "Long May You Run" tour. Aztec Two Step was the warm-up act. I had been to the War Memorial many times, to see the Rochester Amerks, the Bruins' top farm club, many, many times, and St. Bonaventure once or twice. I had seen the Harlem Globetrotters, the Rochester Zeniths of what now is known as the D-League, I even had seen my brother play in the Sectionals for our high school, Bishop Kearney. But never had the War Memorial smelled the way it did that night. We stopped for pizza on the way home.


James Sims’ last stand: KU senior has one final shot at eclipsing school record


With just one game remaining in his college career — 11 a.m. Saturday vs. Kansas State at Memorial Stadium — senior running back James Sims needs 332 yards rushing to pass June Henley and take over first place on KU's all-time rushing list.

It's a long shot. At best. But given the way Sims has played throughout his incredible KU career, I'm not going to count the guy out until he's played his final snap.

There is precedent for a magical final day by a guy at the top of KU's all-time rushing list. It came in 1991, when senior Tony Sands ran all over Missouri in the season finale and set KU's single game rushing record with 396 yards on a whopping 58 carries.

Sands' monster day established an NCAA record that stood until LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 406 yards for TCU in 1999.

At the time, Sands already had claimed the top spot on KU's rushing list — earlier that season he passed Laverne Smith, who had held the top spot with 3,074 career yards — so while his big day did not vault him into the top spot, it did make it harder for Henley to track down a handful of years later. Sands finished his career with 3,788 rushing yards. Henley passed him in 1996 with 3,841.

Think about it. Back then, who in their wildest dreams would have given Sands a chance to run for nearly 400 yards against a hated rival?

Sims is no Sands in terms of running style, but he's every bit as prolific and he, too, will be facing a hated rival in his swan song.

Don't mistake this blog for me predicting that Sims is going to get the yards he needs. I wouldn't bet a dollar on it. But I thought the way his career is ending juxtaposed against the way Sands' career did 22 years ago was at least interesting enough to say Sims has a chance.

James Sims, though quiet and never flashy, has been one of my favorite athletes to cover at all levels and in any sport. He's one of those rock steady running backs who has simply shown up every day ready to get the most out of his body and give the most to his team.

If we've learned anything throughout his impressive four-year KU career, it seems that the most likely scenario is that Sims will not reach the 332 yards he needs, KU will not beat K-State and one of the greatest running backs the program has ever produced will slip away quietly and live on only in a name in tiny black print on a rushing list that, one day, someone else will try to climb.

For me, though, Sims will be a guy I'll never forget. I wish him nothing but the best in the future and hope he gets the chance he deserves in the NFL, be it with the Denver Broncos or any other team.

Heck, I'm such a big fan of James Sims the person, I'd probably still root for him if he wound up playing for the Raiders, Chargers or Chiefs.

Here's to a heck of a career. And one more for the road.


Weis, Grunhard issue statements on offensive line coach’s upcoming resignation

Late Wednesday evening, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis and offensive line coach Tim Grunhard released a joint statement confirming what we reported earlier in the day.

Grunhard is stepping down after Saturday's game against Kansas State following two seasons in Lawrence as the O-Line coach. Below are the statements from Weis and Grunhard, whom sources told the Journal-World will be replaced by Rice offensive coordinator John Reagan in the near future.

According to the source, Reagan will join the Jayhawks as the O-Line coach and offensive coordinator. Read the link above for more, if you haven't already.

Just wanted to make sure you didn't miss these statements.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Charlie Weis
“Tim Grunhard and I had prepared a joint statement concerning his future that we intended to release on Sunday after the Kansas State game. We were trying to avoid being any distraction. Tonight we are releasing the statement.”

“Sunday, Tim Grunhard is stepping down as offensive line coach so he can spend more quality time with his family. We began talking about this a month ago. Next year, all four of his kids will be in the same high school at the same time. Tim and his wife, Sarah, are great parents, but Tim felt it wasn’t fair to put that all on her. We started as friends and that friendship has only grown stronger. I wish Tim and the entire Grunhard family happiness and success.”

Tim Grunhard
“As of Sunday I will be leaving my position as offensive line coach at the University of Kansas. With the time commitment and challenges of major college football, I felt I was being delinquent in my responsibilities to my family. With three kids at Bishop Miege and one more attending next year, the burden was too great for my wife, Sarah, to handle on her own. I would like to thank Coach Weis and the rest of the Kansas football staff for teaching me the valuable lessons of loyalty and due diligence. I plan on continuing my relationship with the KU community that I have grown to love and respect.”

Charlie Weis
“We have already hired a replacement for Tim. When that coach becomes available we will provide more details.”


Charlie Weis press conference notes: Nov. 26

KU football coach just wrapped up his final Tuesday press conference of the 2013 season and, as expected, he spent a lot of time hyping up the fact that "It's K-State week!"

Beyond this week's match-up and what he's learned about the rivalry, Weis talked a little about the immediate future beyond Saturday, which, to no one's surprise, will include a heavy dose of time on the road recruiting reinforcements for the returning roster.

Here's a quick look at most of the topics he discussed:

• The updated depth chart lists Montell Cozart as this week's starting quarterback. Weis said it would've been easy to put Jake Heaps on top but he didn't want to risk Cozart going into the tank heading into the offseason and still likes the different dynamic the freshman brings to the field.

• Weis says Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday because of the significance it holds for being a holiday that allows you to reflect on all of the things you're thankful for and all of the blessings you have in your life. He'll encourage his players to really think about that and is doing that himself, too. Even took time to thank the media for doing jobs and covering the team. Genuine moment.

• Weis said this game — 11 a.m. Saturday vs. K-State — is all that matters right now because it gives KU a chance to end the season with a bang and some momentum heading into the offseason. There is no bowl game. This is it for KU. And that's how they're treating this week.

• Big reason K-State is so important: You're not playing just for football team and football program. Playing for fan base and Kansans and would love nothing more than to give fans a chance to go into work or grocery store on Monday in the position to get the last jba.

• Weis says he was never a part of Mizzou rivalry so he doesn't get that one. All his focus goes toward KSU. Says Notre Dame wanted to treat every game like it was the biggest but there it was always USC.

• Weis on K-State taking in walk-ons: I think that's always a mentality that can work and one he likes to do. He's always liked it and he's trying to get it going here at KU, too. Says the approach works well in Kansas... Having guys in state wanting to go to the state university is a great thing.

• As he's said in the past many times, Weis reiterates that he's tried to emulate, not steal, things from what Bill Snyder has done at Kansas State. Looking at how K-State had done it was one of first things he did and one of the biggest things he noticed was the heavy juco influence on Snyder's rosters. Snyder's been able to fill out his roster/lineup with juco guys — sort of picking his spots — as well as anyone in college football.

• Weis says Snyder does not get enough credit for being a brilliant offensive mind. One of best things he does is mess with O-Line splits. One play it'll be a few inches, the next it could be a few feet. Makes it hard on the defensive linemen and also on coaches to find tendencies in K-State offense. Also says Snyder is as good as anyone at power running game with quarterbacks. Not just zone read type guys who try to get to the edge, more like true running backs.

• With a young guy like Montell Cozart, you love 'em up at the end of a bad game, then you hammer 'em in the next day or two and then you love 'em up again. Weis said they're at the start of the second round of loving him up. Weis says Cozart's bad game at Iowa State would be a learning experience but he'd never

• Weis said Tedarian Johnson has been a pleasant surprise and added that Johnson juco teammate Andrew Bolton, who has red-shirted this year to rehab a knee injury also has made great progress academically. Both are equally important and Weis is encouraged by both.

• When asked about previous teams' success running the ball against K-State, Weis said: I just know we're gonna have to play a heck of a lot better than we have recently to have a chance to win the game. Weis also said the loss of safety Ty Zimmerman is significant for KSU. Said KSU has given up fewer points with Zimmerman in there and more points when he's sat out.

• Weis said he'll head out on the road to recruit first thing Sunday following K-State game and he'll be out there until Friday hitting it hard for Class of 2014 commitments.

• Weis said he'll go after some high profile guys and highly ranked guys (mostly juco) at positions of greatest need. Said that should be obvious, which, most likely, puts wide receiver at the top of the list.

• Weis said Nick Harwell has been as good as could be, both as a wide receiver and also as a teammate and member of the community. Even went as far as to say that he's reached the point where he's stopped worrying about him. Seems very pleased about the maturity Harwell has shown.


Bill Self press conference notes: Nov. 25

Bill Self live from Allen Fieldhouse previewing the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament:

• Self on the small setting of the court in the Bahamas: I got a picture of the court today and it looked pretty cool. Says it's in a large ball room and seats 3-4 thousand.

A look at the court for this week's Battle 4 Atlantis, courtesy collegesportstown.com

A look at the court for this week's Battle 4 Atlantis, courtesy collegesportstown.com by Matt Tait

• Self on Frank Mason: He's a PG size and you can list him as a PG but he's never played point. He's a sponge, though, and he's so unselfish. He cares nothing about scoring, but we do want him in attack mode. He's done a nice job so far and was really good vs. Duke.

• Self on the Atlantis field: The field's good. Wake Forest is 5-0, USC & Villanova have talent and could be tournament teams. Tennessee's definitely a tourney team, Iowa's definitely a tourney team and Xavier should be as well. Said he saw where it was ranked as first or second in terms of collection of talent of all the preseason tourneys.

This year's bracket. (All times Eastern)

This year's bracket. (All times Eastern) by Matt Tait

• Self said the Wake team under Jeff Bzdelik does not resemble the Colorado teams he coached. At least not through first five games. Wake Forest more conventional than those CU teams. Wake can score inside and out.

• Self: We haven't taken that many guarded looks, which has been a good thing. Mason, Tharpe Embiid and Selden are four best passers on team right now.

• Three-point shooting needs to improve. Self says team hasn't been very aggressive shooting them. Self: I can understand why they haven't. We've been good attacking the lane and good in transition, but I know there are going to be games where teams zone us and we're gonna have to step up and make shots.

The way KU plays, they'll have, at most, three three-point shooters in the game. Self: Andrew White, Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp are best three shooters, but if you play all three of those guys, you're taking minutes from someone else. Those guys could be good, especially shooting it, in spurts.

Self said statistically the Jayhawks have been good rebounding but he doesn't see it as much in practice. Not a naturally gifted box out team. One reason could be the fact that teams are so scared of KU's transition that they don't attack the glass as hard and that makes KU look better in defensive rebounding numbers.

Self on individual defensive grades: If you don't look strictly at stats and what the guy who they're guarding does, you look at these: Does he play to scouting report, can he use length to contest shots, can he make plays away from his own man, off the ball (Mario Chalmers), does he lock down his man and frustrate him (Travis Releford)...

Self says he thinks Wiggins can become a guy that KU puts on other team's best scorer down the stretch when it counts.

Self says depth can be a little bit overrated but it can help a ton this week in the Bahamas.

• Self on KU's defensive strengths: Not great at team defense yet and no lockdown guys on perimeter or in the post. Jack of all trades, master of none is the phrase he used.

• Self on the KU volleyball success and their game at Allen Fieldhouse: They've had a great year and they deserve support. Hope people turn out Tuesday night to watch them play Denver.

• Self again was asked about "Home of the Chiefs" during national anthem. Reiterates that he's not a fan because it's disrespectful to men and women of military and "We're not the Chiefs."

• Self on player free time in Bahamas: We'll give 'em some time on Wednesday and Sunday and Tuesday night when they get there, they can hang out. it's a business trip, though, and they're not concerned about anything other than winning games.

• Self on if going somewhere tropical is different: Oh yeah. Warm weather's always good when you live somewhere you don't have it. I think there's something nice about going somewhere warm, where you can hang out outside, walk around wearing shorts and all that. Doesn't think the climate has much to do with becoming a team or outcome of the games.

• Self on what he hopes defensive philosophy will become: One shot or less per possession; low FG percentage and toughness. Because teams that do well at the end when it counts usually hang their hats on those things.


Keegan vs. Tait: Week 11

Despite having four picks different last week, Keegan and I wound up tied after missing two different games each.

Seeing how I correctly picked the KU game and he did not, I lobbied with the ethics board for a bonus game, but to no avail.

So that brings us to our second-to-last week of picks, still all knotted up. If things remain that way after Week 12 (or maybe even if they don't) we may have to break the tie via bowl-game picks, but, for now, we'll move forward as is.

Both of us are feeling a KU victory this week in Ames, Iowa, where the 3-7 Jayhawks take on the 1-9 Cyclones in an environment that figures to seem more fitting of two bowl teams than the ninth and 10th place squads in the Big 12 Conference.

Should be interesting to see what happens. While we wait for kickoff – 7 p.m. tonight at Jack Trice Stadium — here's a look at all of our picks.

Tait: 7-3 in Week 10; 75-25 overall
Keegan: 7-3 in Week 10; 75-25 overall

Kansas at Iowa State
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Missouri at Mississippi
Texas A&M at LSU
Nebraska at Penn State
Arizona State at UCLA
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Michigan at Iowa
Vanderbilt at Tennessee

Question: Now that Montell Cozart has taken over as KU's starting QB, it seems like a good time to ask which mobile, dual-threat-type quarterback is your favorite of all-time?

Kansas 24, Iowa State 16
Baylor 55, Oklahoma State 35
Oklahoma 31, Kansas State 27
Missouri 27, Mississippi 24
Texas A&M 41, LSU 31
Nebraska 28, Penn State 21
UCLA 33, Arizona State 26
Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 20
Iowa 26, Michigan 24
Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 20

Answer: Because of the very nature of the position, I pretty much love all of these guys. From Michael Vick and Kordell Stewart to Vince Young and Robert Griffin III, I've always been fascinated by these guys' abilities to get something out of nothing, make throws that no one expects or thinks they can make and fill up highlight reels with mind-blowing runs and big-time plays. But of them all, one guy stands out above all others and it's a name I'd bet none of you are thinking of: Bradlee Van Pelt, Colorado State. During his days at CSU from 2001-03, Van Pelt was so talented, so dynamic and, best yet, so confident. Never one to shy away from sticking his head into trouble, Van Pelt always was the first guy to come up barking whether he had just had his bell rung or not. Those CSU teams were pretty good and Van Pelt was a big reason for it. His senior season, he came within a couple hundred yards of becoming the first college player to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. In 2005, Texas' Vince Young achieved the feat, rushing for 1,050 and throwing for 3,036.

Former Colorado State star Bradlee Van Pelt.

Former Colorado State star Bradlee Van Pelt. by Matt Tait

Kansas 21, Iowa State 17
Baylor 41, Oklahoma State 28
Oklahoma 28, Kansas State 24
Missouri 31, Mississippi 28
Texas A&M 35, LSU 31
Nebraska 24, Penn State 21
UCLA 31, Arizona State 28
Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 20
Iowa 24, Michigan 21
Tennessee 28, Vanderbilt 24

Answer: Built like a tight end, he ran like a wide receiver and it was so cold at his home games that you could see his breath every fast step of the way. As a minor league pitcher, he was wild but threw nearly 100 mph. After his minor-league manager was promoted to the majors, guy by the name of Tony LaRussa, the big lefty said nobody else believed in his baseball potential as much as LaRussa did. So Bobby Douglass stuck to football and stiff-armed his way to big runs. He threw the long ball well, but didn't know how to take anything off it, which led to some drops on short passes. I don't remember watching Douglass during his KU days, but he was one entertaining guy to watch playing for the Bears.

Former Chicago Bear and Kansas Jayhawk Bobby Douglass.

Former Chicago Bear and Kansas Jayhawk Bobby Douglass. by Matt Tait


Former KU great Jon Cornish named CFL’s Most Outstanding Player

Former Jayhawk Jon Cornish (center) poses with two of his Calgary Stampeder teammates Thursday night after hauling in the CFL's Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian awards following another stellar season in which he recorded the fourth highest single-season rushing total in CFL history. (Photo courtesy of the @CFL Twitter account)

Former Jayhawk Jon Cornish (center) poses with two of his Calgary Stampeder teammates Thursday night after hauling in the CFL's Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian awards following another stellar season in which he recorded the fourth highest single-season rushing total in CFL history. (Photo courtesy of the @CFL Twitter account) by Matt Tait

Former Kansas University running back Jon Cornish, the school's single season rushing leader (1,457 yards in 2006), continues to add to his case as the most decorated professional football player.

Cornish, a native of Canada and standout running back with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders, on Thursday night won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian awards following yet another stellar season.

Cornish is the first Canadian to win the MOP award since Tony Gabriel in 1978. Russ Jackson, who earned the honor in 1963, 1966 and 1969, is the only other Canadian to be named the league’s top player.

Cornish won his second consecutive rushing title this past season as he ran for 1,813 yards, the fourth-highest total in CFL history. He also led the league and set a new franchise record with 2,157 yards from scrimmage. Cornish led all running backs with an average of 7.0 yards per carry and was tops in the CFL this season with 14 touchdowns. His spectacular season featured nine 100-yard games — including five in a row to tie a franchise record — and a career-best 208-yard effort on Oct. 5 against Winnipeg. He won nine weekly CFL awards in 2013 as well as four monthly honors.

Before breaking his own CFL record this season, Cornish, who hails from Westminster, British Columbia and played at KU from 2002-06, set a CFL record by rushing for the exact totals — 1,457 yards on 258 carries – that he tallied to set the KU single season record.

Cornish ranks 10th on KU's career rushing list with 2,245 yards and third on KU's all-time yards-per carry list at 5.9, just 0.6 yards behind co-leaders Gale Sayers and Laverne Smith.

Cornish accepted the awards at a CFL banquet on Thursday night with his mother and girlfriend present.

This morning, he took to Twitter to reinforce his appreciation.

He wrote: “Took a bit of time to name every Stampeder offensive linemen but I wouldn't be MOP+MOC without my favorite big men. Thank you, everyone!”

Other recent Cornish updates from KUsports.com:
Former KU RB Cornish rushes to top of CFL: (July 2012)

Former KU football star Jon Cornish sets CFL record: (November 2012)


Time to give KU’s much maligned O-Line some love

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart looks to make a move against West Virginia safety Darwin Cook during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart looks to make a move against West Virginia safety Darwin Cook during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

They were torn apart when things were not going well, so now that the tables have turned a little bit, it's time to praise them.

We're talking about the Kansas University offensive line, of course, a group that, anchored by center Gavin Howard and buoyed by head coach Charlie Weis' willingness to keep tinkering until he found the right combination, has hit its stride during recent weeks and has allowed KU to return to an impressive identity of power football that, last week, led to the program's first Big 12 victory in three years.

There are plenty of people in the program who deserve credit for the line's resurgence. But the five guys who are out there playing most of the snaps and blowing open most of the holes deserve the most credit. So here's a quick, player-by-player breakdown of who they are and what makes them tick.

LEFT TACKLE — Riley Spencer —
6-foot-6, 305-pound senior from Hesston, Kan.

Spencer is one of those program players who has been in Lawrence for five years and suffered through repeated injuries while trying to find his place on the KU line. He missed 2009 to red-shirt and all but one game last season because of injury and played mostly as a back-up during the seasons in between.

Spencer also played basketball in high school, where he was an all-state selection on the offensive line. He earned Academic All-Big 12 first team honors in 2010 and is majoring in exercise science. He plans to be a firefighter after graduating from KU.

Spencer Links

Future fireman Spencer fights off defenders, injuries to make impact for KU:

Will Riley Spencer and Damon Martin make a difference for KU's offense?

LEFT GUARD — Ngalu Fusimalohi —
6-foot-2, 310-pound junior from Daly City, Calif.

Weis recently called Fusimalohi the most consistent KU offensive lineman this season, from start to finish. Thrust into a first-string role during his first season after transfering from City College of San Francisco, the man who resembles a road grader is physical and nasty at the point of attack and seems to have been born to run block.

Rated the 90th best junior college prospect in the country last season, Fusimalohi was a part of the 2011 NJCAA national champions and earned first team all-Nor Cal Conference honors last season.

He's majoring in history.

Fusimalohi Links

Juco offensive lineman picks Kansas:

CENTER — Gavin Howard —
6-foot-4, 300-pound senior from Owasso, Okla.

Howard is another one of those program guys who has been around Lawrence for a long time and played a lot of snaps, mostly in a back-up role. Thrust into the starting center spot after KU had exhausted all other options, Howard has done a fantastic job of settling the line down and helping provide an identity of physicality, toughness and intelligence.

A gifted athlete who starred in basketball and football in high school, Howard is one of the smartest players on the roster and has spent a lot of time tutoring his teammates during the academic portion of their lives as KU football players.

Howard recently landed a job with Conoco-Phillips and will get his post-football career started on Jan. 13, making the next 10 days his final days as a football player, which, he said Wednesday, inspired him to give all he's got to the finish.

Howard links

Center Gavin Howard completes cycle:

Kansas center Gavin Howard not approaching new position gingerly:

Howard helps KU reduce snap snafus:

RIGHT GUARD — Damon Martin —
6-foot-3, 300-pound sophomore from Arlington, Texas.

Widely regarded as one of the strongest players in the program, Martin, like Spencer, has helped bring back the physicality to KU's offensive line that has led to some strong rushing performances during recent weeks.

A third-year sophomore who red-shirted in 2011, Martin made such a rapid rise during 2012 that he wound up starting a game late in the season before falling off as quickly as he climbed up. Weis has said throughout his two years in town that consistency has been Martin's biggest issue and earlier this week Weis said he believed Martin had turned the corner.

A quiet guy during interviews, Martin is majoring in sociology.

Martin Links

August crucial for these five football players:

Will Riley Spencer and Damon Martin make a difference for KU's offense?:

Offensive lineman commits to Kansas:

RIGHT TACKLE — Aslam Sterling —
6-foot-5, 315-pound senior from Springfield Gardens, N.Y.

After being moved into the all-important left tackle spot following an offseason body makeover, Sterling struggled in his new role early and quickly was moved back to the right tackle spot he held down during his first season in Lawrence in 2012.

Big, strong, athletic and with his best days still ahead of him, Sterling provided a much needed dose of experience for KU's offensive line early in the season and, lately, has merely been able to return to a more anonymous role and focus on nothing more than getting the job done.

Arrived from Nassau Community College with a big frame and big expectations, Sterling has been solid during his time at Kansas and likely will get a shot at pro football next fall.

Majoring in liberal arts and sciences.

Sterling Links

KU offensive tackle Sterling a changed man:

Lineman Aslam Sterling has huge potential:

Don't count out KU's new-look offensive line yet:


KU football coach Charlie Weis once considered coaching from the press box

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis watches as a touchdown by Josh Ford is called back during the first quarter against South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis watches as a touchdown by Josh Ford is called back during the first quarter against South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

As the season slipped by and his offense continued to encounter road blocks, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis did everything he could think of to try to find a spark.

From changing personnel to tweaking schemes and everything in between, Weis spent countless hours — often late into the night on Saturdays following losses — trying to find a magic formula that would lead to more points and better efficiency.

While the second-year KU coach tried just about everything that crossed his mind before turning to true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart and watching the offense explode for 31 points in a victory over West Virginia last week, there also were a couple of things Weis didn't try.

Tuesday, he detailed one of them and explained why.

“I was thinking about going up and calling the game from the press box,” Weis said of calling the offensive plays from the bird's eye view enjoyed by most offensive coordinators. “Because every week I've been trying to figure out what can I do different to try to get the offense going. And I thought long and hard about it. But the real reason I didn't go up there was because I thought that people would say I'm just bringing attention to myself.”

As you surely know by now, Weis is one of those guys who attracts attention from all corners of the country for even the smallest things. It's been that way since he was the head coach at Notre Dame and even was true to a smaller extent while he was coordinating in the NFL prior to leading the Irish.

Contrary to popular belief, Weis does not prefer it this way. He'd rather the focus be on his players and his program and the young men who work their butts off because he tells them it will work. But because of his big personality, his honest nature and the spotlight that some of his previous jobs have put him under, Weis is a popular attraction, even at Kansas and even while battling through a hefty rebuilding project.

Earlier this season, I asked Weis if he had considered calling plays from the coaches box upstairs. The reason I asked was because I remembered him talking fondly about how much easier the job of an offensive coordinator was up there, away from the distractions of the sideline and in a setting controlled by you and only you, which included every detail from the temperature in the booth to the amount of light shining down and the bodies around you.

In addition to the more favorable environment, it's obvious that it's easier to see what opposing defenses are doing from high above the field as opposed to down the line of scrimmage.

At the time, Weis said the fact that his offense included so many new and inexperienced players was the reason for staying on the sideline.

“That's when you need to be on the field,” he said. “The time when it's easier to call the game from upstairs is when you have a more veteran team. You know, because now you're just relaying information to them. When there's a lot of moving parts, that's where you're better off being on the field.”

Weis continued to back up his point with an example from his days with the New England Patriots.

“Hey look, I was in the box for a good portion of my career and (New England quarterback Drew) Bledsoe got hurt, and (back up) Tommy (Brady) had to go in,” Weis said. “He wasn't really ready to go yet and I went down there (to the sideline). At the end of the year, we ended up winning it all, and (Patriots coach Bill) Belichick said you're staying on the field. There's different pros of being on the field now, but one of them is we have a bunch of guys going in and out (and) you get a better feel for what you can do and what you can't do.”

The other element that factors into the equation now that he's the head coach at Kansas is the fact that he's more than just the offensive coordinator. Instead of solely focusing in on calling the plays every other series and looking for ways to exploit the opposing defense, Weis is in charge of several other tasks on game days, from conversing with officials and disciplining his players to looking into the eyes of his quarterback and assistant coaches to get a feel for what's going on and who's capable of what. Weis likes that part of it as much as anything and, beyond that, he doesn't want to do anything out of the ordinary that might give the appearance that he's trying to do it just to be different or just for attention.

“I've called the game from the field, I've called the game from the sideline,” he said. “You're the head coach, you're supposed to be on the sideline. Why would you go up there unless you couldn't walk. Even when I couldn't walk, when I got wiped out (by a collision on the sideline in) 2007 or whatever it was, I still went on the field.”

And it looks like that's where he'll be staying.


Tweetcap from Monday, Nov. 18

Matt Tait's Tweetcap from Nov. 18

Matt Tait's Tweetcap from Nov. 18 by Matt Tait

With the Kansas University football team knocking off West Virginia last week to snap its 27-game Big 12 losing streak, a lot of the talk early this week was much different than it has been in past weeks.

Here's a look back at the past couple of days worth of Twitter activity, which includes some KU hoops and volleyball chatter, as well.

RT ICYMI: Iona’s Armand: ‘I’m expecting to beat Kansas’ ‪http://zagsblog.com/articles/ionas-armand-im-expecting-to-beat-kansas/

RT Kansas keeps climbing! Up to No. 11 in the RPI this week. ‪#RockChalk

RT “‪@KUsports: Tom Keegan thinks it's time for Ben Goodman to give Benny Goodman a listen: ‪http://bit.ly/1bzZ2Nq ” ‪@B_Good_Man ‪#KUfball

RT Hey KU fans, u've got to do better than this for your favorite volleyball/chem engineering major, Ms. Jarmoc. Vote? ‪http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/volleyball_2013/

‪#KUfball Monday Rewind: The day almost crept by without me getting this in; Credit Weis for changing w/ times… ‪http://ljw.bz/IdBrue

Weis said Tony Pierson is questionable and we'll get a new update tomorrow after Weis talks with team doctors again… ‪#KUfball

Weis said there's no update on Darrian Miller's status… And that Brandon Bourbon should get some more carries again this week ‪#KUfball

Weis said Gavin Howard was looking for help to dump the Gatorade bucket on him and couldn't find many volunteers… ‪#KUfball

Weis said winning vs. WVU was nice hurdle to clear & he wants to go get a road win… Adds: It's gonna be tough sledding up there… ‪#KUfball

Weis said it's an easy week for him b/c he can criticize players w/o worrying about them getting too low… ‪#KUfball

Weis: it was Ben Goodman who blocked the WVU field goal… Official stats gave it to Agostinho & I heard @ least 1 other guy credited ‪#KUfball

Weis said Sims wasn't just running hard on Saturday, "He was trying to punish people." Great way to put it… ‪#KUfball

Weis said the high for Saturday in Ames is supposed to be 23º… Added: Factor in the wind chill and it'll probably be 0º at kickoff ‪#KUfball

Weis said ‪#KUfball will continue to add to passing game, but said: "If the line's continuing to control the line, there's no reason to do it

Weis said C Gavin Howard likes to talk a lot of trash on the field & had a lot of fun last week b/c can't talk trash when losing ‪#KUfball

Weis: Damon Martin has really come along lately and looked good; Ngalu Fusimalohi has been ‪#KUfball's most consistent lineman all season…

RT Athlon Sports and the ‪@Big12Conference honor James Sims for his record-breaking performance: ‪http://kuathne.ws/1aCe8of  ‪#kufball

RT It's a good week to be James Sims. ‪@ESPN names Sims Big 12 Player of the Week ‪http://kuathne.ws/17GO7pI  ‪#kufball ‪pic.twitter.com/IzYcBy0bfW

Weis says scrimmaging other teams in off/preseason would be nice. Said ideal scenario would be ‪#KUfball vs. MU at Arrowhead for charity...

"Better." ‪#KUfball coach Charlie Weis on Hawk Talk radio show when asked by Bob Davis: How was your weekend?

RT Tyshawn Taylor puts up numbers for Brooklyn, Chalmers' elbow meets Dirk's face & more from Hawks in NBA blog ‪#kubball ‪http://ljw.bz/I1zcej 

If you haven't heard: Kickoff for ‪#KUfball vs. K-State on Nov. 30 is set for 11 a.m. Game will be shown on Fox Sports 1...

Bill Self audio from today's ‪#KUbball press conference… ‪http://ljw.bz/IcTUY1

Career day for ‪#KUfball RB James Sims lands Player of the Week honors; sights now set on career mark… ‪http://ljw.bz/17EbD1e

Weis: For the future of the program, you can't just say we're gonna win our home games. We know it'll be tough in Ames... ‪#KUfball

Weis: Our defense, all year long, has played good enough to have won games. With Cozart on Offense, everything changes. ‪#KUfball

Weis on Heaps: He's been great w/ Montell, but Jake is one of the most unselfish people I've ever been around… He's a competitor… ‪#KUfball

Weis on Cozart: His athleticism helps hide some of our deficiencies… Montell's got a bright future & this was a good first step ‪#KUfball

Weis: We still have 2 more opportunities to get rid of a couple other things on that list of things that could change the program ‪#KUfball

Weis: Having won that game (WVU) helps us going forward and now we gotta focus on snapping road losing streak… ‪#KUfball

Weis: As a coach, you learn that you can't have highs & lows… you gotta stay even keel. Just like players, though, you get a lift. ‪#KUfball

Weis: Psychologically, I think WVU victory is a very, very big lift for our players. ‪#KUfball

‪#KUfball RB James Sims named Big 12 co-offensive player of the week for his 211-yard, 3 TD performance vs. WVU... Shared w/ Baylor QB Petty

Didn't Tweet during the game but can't let tonight pass w/o props for former ‪#KUfball LB Steven Johnson. Played big in a huge moment...


Monday Rewind - West Virginia: Weis’ willingness to change leads to KU victory

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart roars after a run against West Virginia during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart roars after a run against West Virginia during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

In an all orange auditorium tucked between Boone Pickens Stadium and Gallagher-Iba Arena a couple of weeks ago in Stillwater, Okla., Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis uttered a few words that hinted at the fact that he might be leaning toward changing his offense.

“I think we know where we'd like to go,” Weis said in reference to his offense, just moments after his team lost 42-6 to Oklahoma State and did so with true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart playing the entire second half.

Exactly one week later, Weis and the Jayhawks went there and the result was the program's first Big 12 victory since November 2010, a 31-19 whipping of West Virginia at happy-once-again Memorial Stadium.

The direction Weis has taken this offense — is less than two years in charge, remember — is about much more than just changing quarterbacks. It's about changing an old-school, ultra-successful, wildly accomplished ball coach's thought methodology altogether and making him squirm a little in the process.

When Weis arrived at Kansas, he brought with him years worth of success in the pro-style offense that features and makes stars out of drop-back passers like Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps and has put countless players in the NFL and worked wonders for many who already were there when Weis worked with them.

Because of that success and his confidence in his own ability, Weis spent the better part of two seasons believing that it could work at Kansas. But the Jayhawks do not have the offensive line nor the skill position players to make such a system work and, in the Big 12 Conference, where virtually every other team is throwing hay-makers week in and week out, Weis' inability to put points on the board put the Jayhawks in a hole.

Instead of being stubborn to the bitter end, Weis elected to change. If we've learned anything about the guy during his first two years in town it's that he's not afraid to check under every rock to see if he might find something, anything, that could help his team or heal his offense — all in the name of winning.

After tweaking the depth chart, moving players in and out of the lineup and replacing precious hours of sleep with more film breakdown, Weis reached the classic conclusion that states, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,” and then went on to have a heck of a good time last Saturday, one that several Jayhawks and Jayhawk fans won't soon forget.

Cozart was a big part of it; and his ability and maturity beyond his years seem to have KU well positioned to take this idea and run with it (no pun intended) into the future.

But, to me, the biggest tip of the cap here goes to Weis. Yes, the players made the plays — the O-Linemen blocked their tails off, Cozart was nearly flawless and James Sims once again looked like one of the best backs in the Big 12. But executing the game plan the coaches come up with is what these guys do, and, for most of them, it's easy — even if it's a total overhaul in a short time — because they're so hungry for something good to happen.

Swallowing your pride, discarding 30-plus years of offensive wisdom with a proven track record and joining the masses in the wild and crazy spread movement is not as easy. But Weis did it. And the Jayhawks won.

More important than that, it looks like he's willing to do it for a long time.


Bill Self press conference notes from Nov. 18

Bill Self's weekly press conference just wrapped.

Here's a quick look back at some of the highlights, as the Jayhawks prepare to take on Iona at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Full audio here

• Self: It's not too early to have an idea of what kind of team you are, but it's too early to know what you have.

• Self: We didn't play great early, but I did like how our guys responded on big stage against Duke. I'm excited. I'm not thrilled where we're at, but I do see a lot of potential. I think you can use Duke game as a barometer because there's no question that Duke will be a Top 5 team when it's all said and done.

• Self: If teams are gonna shoot 50% against us, we've got no chance. There's a lot we can do to improve that. We've been fortunate because we've been exposed, but we've also won."

• Self: We've had a good week of practice. Took Sunday off. Guys are more confident and comfortable because of how they played — and the win — against Duke.

• Self: Tharpe has taken Mason under his wing. Naadir is one of Frank's biggest fans. Just like Tarik Black has taken Joel Embiid under his wing a little bit, as well.

• Self: If you've got a guy who can beat a guy off the bounce, you're probably ahead. And I do think we have some guys who can beat guys off the bounce.

• Self on Iona: We haven't gone against zone yet, so this'll be the first time we play a team that's predominantly a zone team. And they play faster than anybody we've played so far. They're also small, so we'll have bigs guarding on the perimeter.

• Self on Perry Ellis: I thought he got a lot of confidence toward end of last season and he's been terrific so far. I do think he needed that Duke game because that was against big-time guys and a big-time team. Especially true of the Parker-Ellis match-up. Those were two really good players going against each other.

• Self: If a guy played good in that game the other day, they're automatically a draft pick. I get a kick out of that. We're two games in and there are 90 guys who are going in the first round and their are only 30 teams. And that number will go to 120.

• Self on D: I'd really like to guard the ball better and our interior post D was really lacking against Louisiana Monroe. I think the mindset of not relaxing during possessions will be something we can improve on.

• Self on missing Withey: We miss Jeff. Of course, if the rules were the way last year that they are this year, a lot of fouls would've been called before they got to Jeff and it would've taken away a lot of his block opportunities.

• Self on Black: He's pressing. I do think you'll see a more relaxed and comfortable Tarik Black on Tuesday vs. Iona.

• Self: There's no stress in dividing minutes because I'm happy with who I'm starting. If anything, it's a good kind of stress because at least we have options. Do we know what we're gonna do 1-8, 1-9? No. We don't. A lot will depend on how guys play and it'll kind of clear itself out along the way. This isn't anything that unusual. We do have more guys, though.

• Self on Cliff Alexander: Without a doubt he's one of the best big men we've signed. His ceiling is remarkably high. If I say he's a monster then that'll be the headline: "Alexander a monster" so I'll say that he plays much more aggressive that most 18 year olds. Self said he's been recruiting Alexander since 9th grade and can remember seeing him run for conditioning in the halls of his school during winter months because it was too cold to go outside.

• Self on recruiting: We're really happy, but we're still recruiting. We're off to a good start because we've got two of the Top 10 guys (Alexander and Kelly Oubre) and that's a pretty good start.

• Self on latest poll, where KU is ranked No. 2: If you guys don't tell the guys, they won't know. Unless people are blowing them up on Twitter. How'd we move ahead of Louisville? That doesn't make any sense to me. But I like it.

• Self's Wayman Tisdale memory: Played together one time, didn't know who he was in their first game together, Self had 26 and Tisdale had 2. He remembered thinking, "Yes, I'm going to start getting recruited," but after the game not one coach talked to Self and Tisdale had a line 26 guys long waiting to tell him great game. It was like a receiving line at a wedding reception. It was recently announced that Self will receive the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award at a banquet in April.


One-win Iowa State a 6-point favorite over Kansas; what a break for the Jayhawks

It was just one win and the Jayhawks still are 1-27 in their last 28 Big 12 Conference games, but there was just something about it that gave people the feeling that Saturday's 31-19 victory over West Virginia might have been the turning point for the KU football program.

Several things, actually.

The obvious items include the beginning of the ultra-promising Montell Cozart era, the fact that the Kansas offense finally threw up some legitimate points again and the continued impressive play of the KU defense.

But there are a few less obvious signs out there, too. And one of them slapped me across the face when I found it on my laptop Sunday evening.

According to the guys in Las Vegas, KU's next opponent, Iowa State, opens as a 6-point favorite over the Jayhawks, who will travel to Ames, Iowa, for a 7 p.m. kickoff next Saturday.

No big deal, right? Wrong. That Iowa State team that's favored over Kansas is 1-9 overall and 0-7 in Big 12 play.

Now I'm not saying that the Cyclones being favored is wrong. Believe me, I learned a long time ago that Vegas is a lot better at these kinds of things than I am. But I can't help but think about what a break this is for Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks. I mean, seriously. Could you have asked for anything more for the Jayhawks coming off of last week's emotional win?

Here they are feeling good about themselves, breathing easier and smiling brighter because that horrific 27-game conference losing streak is over, and, BOOM!, just like that, the odds makers give them an easy reason to put that huge chip back on their shoulders and move forward with the no-respect mentality.

Trust me. These guys don't really care who's favored or what the point spreads are. But I guarantee that being a touchdown underdog against a one-win team will be used as a major motivational tool this week, as the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) look to make it two victories in a row for the first time since opening the 2011 season with back-to-back wins and just the second time since 2009.

And I guarantee no one will like that more than Weis. OK, maybe junior linebacker Ben Heeney will come close, but I still think Weis will have more fun with it. Don't expect to hear about it, though.


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