Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”

Coaching Search 2014: Another hypothetical example of the trickle-down effect

1:44 p.m. update:

There was a Tweet out there — isn't there always? — that said that the KU job had been offered to Ohio State assistant coach Ed Warinner.

I talked to plenty of sources today, both before and after the Tweet, who said no offer has been made and that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger and the search committee were still in the process of trimming down their list and identifying the finalists.

Warinner may very well be in that group and there have been reports that said he was one of the guys who participated in the phone interview with members of the committee this week, but reports of an offer having been made to anybody are definitely premature.

I've been told from the very beginning that Warinner would likely get a chance to interview. That has not changed and he may well be one of the final few guys who gets a face-to-face interview with Zenger and company next week. Time will tell.

Stay tuned for the latest from the search, which is starting to catch some heat given how quickly Florida and Nebraska filled their openings. None of that should matter to KU, though, other than in the obvious way that the openings at Colorado State and Oregon State could impact what KU's doing.

Original post: 9:30 a.m.

It's a little early for an update but I was able to get on the phones a little quicker today and found out a few interesting tidbits that might impact the KU coaching search.

The first has to do with Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, who, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle recently interviewed for the head coach opening at Tulsa, which is his hometown.

The news of Spavital's interview was first reported by KRIV-TV and confirmed by the Tulsa World.

According to a couple of people I've talked with, it sounds very likely that Spavital will get that Tulsa job, which, obviously, would leave open the OC job at A&M. That's where things get interesting for Kansas and for two very different reasons.

  1. If Spavital leaves, one could make a case for Beaty being the obvious choice to replace him as the Aggies OC and that could come with a significant raise and be enticing enough to make him pull his name from contention for the KU job.

  2. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if Spavital leaves and A&M coach Kevin Sumlin chooses to put someone other than Beaty into the OC job, it would open up some questions as to why Beaty was passed over a second time for that OC job. When talking about Beaty as an option for the KU job, many have said it would be hard enough to envision KU hiring someone who's not even a current coordinator, but wouldn't the hire be even more difficult to sell with a guy who keeps getting passed up?

It's things like this that make the whole timeline of this hire very critical. The more these other moves happen around KU, the more possible it is that they impact the KU job. That's not to say each instance has a direct effect on what KU is actually doing, but, in the coaching world — especially as far as the fans and media are involved — perception is almost as important as reality.

And it's things like this that leave me believing Clint Bowen still has a very good shot of getting this job.

Here's a look:

1. Clint Bowen – 38%
2. David Beaty – 30%
3. Other – 23%
4. Ed Warinner — 5%
5. Tim Beck — 4%

Stay logged on to KUsports.com for more updates throughout the day.

Reply

Coaching Search 2014: Could elite openings elsewhere be a factor?

Kansas interim head football coach Clint Bowen looks out over the stadium as the rain comes down prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas interim head football coach Clint Bowen looks out over the stadium as the rain comes down prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

When covering a coaching search, it's important to keep in mind the entire college football landscape because what happens one place with one opening can impact what happens at another in a hurry.

That's certainly true at Kansas University and has been during each of the past two searches the Jayhawks had for a head football coach.

I've spent parts of the past couple of days looking back at our coverage of the search in 2011 and it brought back some serious memories, a couple of headaches and a few laughs.

One of the things that stood out the most, though, were the jobs that were open last time and how, at the time, it seemed like some pretty big-time gigs.

Texas A&M, UCLA, Mississippi, Arizona State, Washington State, North Carolina and Illinois all had openings at the time Kansas did, and all of them looked to be pretty heavy hitters with whom KU had to compete. The funny thing about that list is it pales in comparison to the jobs that are open this time around.

Florida, Michigan and Nebraska all are looking for head football coaches right now, and, as if those three don't carry enough weight on their own, a few smaller schools, which might actually be trying to pick from the same candidate pool as Kansas (like it or not) also have openings. These include Tulsa, UNLV, Montana and SMU, which already has filled its opening with Clemson assistant Chad Morris.

Although there was more crossover between candidates at Kansas and other schools the last time around, it seems like jumping on their guy a little faster this time around might be a good move for the Jayhawks. When the dominoes start to fall with the big three, the trickle-down effect could impact KU's search in a big way and create unnecessary headaches for Sheahon Zenger and company.

The good news for KU here is that the top names that appear to be in the hunt for the Kansas job do not appear to be options for the big three. If they were, Kansas would be in trouble and likely would have to look elsewhere anyway.

The reason for KU to try to get its deal done before those schools do is because of the potential fallout from a hire by the big dogs. Let's say Michigan hired Brett Bielema away from Arkansas. (Yes, Bielema was in Lawrence on Wednesday but only to visit with and extend an offer to Lawrence High football standout Amani Bledsoe).

Bielema's departure would leave an opening at Arkansas, which could be filled by someone like Justin Fuente, of Memphis. Even though it seems like Fuente is pretty much out of the mix for the KU job, his departure would leave the Memphis job open and that could be appealing to any number of candidates involved with Kansas.

It's a bit of a paranoid way to look at things, but wouldn't that just be KU's luck to finally identify a guy they feel is a good option only to see him plucked away by someone else for more money or a better chance to win right away?

Last time around, when Tom Keegan and I were ranking the job openings from most appealing to least, it was tough to put KU anywhere other than the bottom. This time around, even though those three big-boy jobs are in a different stratosphere, the Kansas opening at least appears to be a middle-of-the-pack gig relative to what's available.

Anyway, it doesn't seem like timing will be an issue here. I still think this thing wraps up mid-to-late next week. And I still think the names who were on my percentage wheel last night are the most likely names KU will go with.

I made a few more calls today and got a little more input on the situation. Nothing earth-shattering, but enough to move the needle a little bit. The order of today's percentage wheel has not changed much, but the values have.

Here's a look:

1. David Beaty – 35%
2. Clint Bowen – 31%
3. Other – 20%
4. Tim Beck — 9%
5. Ed Warinner — 5%

______

• As you can see, the gap between Bowen and Beaty has narrowed a little bit (at least in my mind) and I think Bowen is still very much alive in this thing. This may seem obvious, but it really could all come down to how Bowen handles the formal interview, whenever that takes place. Sometime early next week seems likely. It's obvious that Bowen has some pretty good support among KU folks and Zenger has seen what he can do with the team, in the locker room and on the sideline. So those things are all known already. What is not completely known by Zenger and the search committee is the breadth and quality of Bowen's vision for how to rebuild KU — although I do know they've had general talks about this topic during the past few months. Answers to questions about his staff, his recruiting plans and things of that nature could be crucial and Bowen may have to be nearly perfect in there to get his shot. If he is and if he's able to really impress Zenger, it could still be him.

• I went ahead and took Fuente off of the wheel completely because I had heard that whatever interest there may have been between Fuente and Kansas had cooled during the past couple of days and he's working on a new deal at Memphis. Here's what Memphis AD Tom Bowen (no relation) said in a recent statement:

“Our administration has been working proactively with Coach Fuente and his representatives on a new contract for several weeks. He has been very engaged and deeply appreciative throughout the process. We are very close to finalizing an agreement and look forward to making a formal announcement at an appropriate time. (We) are extremely excited about continuing to build the Memphis Football program under Fuente’s leadership."

Fuente also commented on the rumors surrounding his candidacy for various jobs during an interview on The Geoff Calkins Show earlier this week:

“Making absurd, definitive statements, in my opinion, is not the smart way to go,” Fuente said. “If something where there’s mutual interest comes along, then I’ll visit with them and we’ll think about it, measure everything out and make a calculated decision. But the thing I would say is I have a lot of sweat equity invested in this program. I have a lot of pride in what we’ve done. We have a fantastic coaching staff. I think we have a great support system to truly build a football program. So it’d have to be something pretty special for me to even look at it.”

• One thing someone pointed out to me that could be relevant if KU were to hire Beaty is that, although his recruiting ties in Texas would be huge, he would not actually be the guy able to recruit the state as much as his assistants because of the rules for how much head coaches can be on the road. Sure, he would be able to get out there and talk to kids and parents, but I don't think he'd be able to put in the same number of hours and visits as his assistants. Head coaches are allowed just one in-school visit with prospects and college programs are allowed a maximum of six in-person, off-campus visits with each prospect from Dec. 1 to Feb. 1, with the month-long dead period basically running during winter break. Such factors would make the staff Beaty brings to KU even more key. Something to consider with that is how well those guys — whoever they are — would know and/or be able to sell Kansas compared to Bowen and the staff he might put together. That's clearly not a make or break either way, just something I hadn't really thought of.

• More tomorrow as we do our best to stay on top of the situation and reach out to as many sources as we can to try to gain some insight into what direction KU might go with this hire.

Stay tuned….

Reply

Is the Big 12 really rooting for Missouri football this weekend? You bet.

All right, so the Kansas University football season is officially over and all of the attention around here seems to be on the coaching search that is heating up by the minute and figures to take a few wild twists and turns in the next 10 days or so.

But just because the Jayhawks are done playing football does not mean college football is over. Far from it, in fact. Even for the most die-hard KU fans.

After all, with this being championship weekend and so many different games having all kinds of playoff implications, it might be fun to sit back and watch a little football without having a dog in the fight.

The biggest game on the Big 12 radar, without question, is Kansas State at Baylor. The winner guarantees itself at least a share of the Big 12 title and could, with a TCU loss to Iowa State — however shocking that would be — win the title outright.

For Baylor, the game looms large because a strong victory over K-State could be the statement win the Bears need to convince the college football playoff committee that they should be included in college football's first ever final four instead of TCU, which has maintained a slight lead over BU in the standings despite having lost to Baylor earlier this season for the Horned Frogs' only loss.

That's as much at the center of the national conversation regarding college football as any other game this week and is a big reason that ESPN chose to go to Waco, Texas, for Gameday instead of going to one of the true championship games in the ACC (Georgia Tech vs. Florida State), Big Ten (Ohio State vs. Wisconsin), Pac-12 (Oregon vs. Arizona) or SEC (Alabama vs. Missouri).

Is there a way that both TCU and Baylor could get into that final four? Sure. It might be a bit of a long shot, but it would be one of the most incredible scenarios for the Big 12 Conference. Here's why:

Oregon (10-1) and Florida State (11-0) seem to be in pretty good shape and will both be in without question if they win their title tilts. Let's say that were to happen. The only way that Baylor and TCU then would both be able to get in would be for Alabama (10-1) to lose. And who would Alabama have to lose to? Yep, former Big 12 member Missouri, which sits at 9-2 entering the SEC title game.

Go figure. All of a sudden, after a couple of years of not worrying a lick about them, the Big 12 is suddenly rooting like mad for Missouri again. As much as it seems like that might sting the Big 12, it actually stands to hurt the Tigers more. See, if Missouri wins, that could conceivably keep the mighty SEC out of the playoff picture altogether, which not only would eliminate the conference's title hopes but also would cost each member of the SEC some money.

In that scenario, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Missouri all would have two losses. Auburn and Ole Miss already each have three. Sure, the Tigers would be the champs of the SEC, but would the committee really put a two-loss Missouri team — with home losses to Indiana and Georgia, no less — in the final four ahead of a host of one-loss teams? Never say never, but the smart money is on no way.

With a win over Wisconsin, Ohio State could crash the party, but, with TCU already in and Baylor picking up momentum from a victory over a Top 10 opponent, the two Big 12 teams could stay ahead of the Buckeyes.

So there ya go. Plenty of reason to pay attention to college football this weekend, even though the Jayhawks are done playing.

I know how most of you KU fans work and I know it's tough to ask you to root for Missouri in anything. But if you're pro-Big 12 and would like to see two of the nine teams that beat Kansas stay alive for the national title — not to mention see a little more cash come to the KU athletic department — you'll do just that and do it with joy of knowing that even a Mizzou victory would actually wind up hurting the Tigers in the long run.

Good luck with your decision and enjoy what promises to be a great weekend of college football.

Reply

Coaching Search 2014: There’s a new No. 1 on the updated percentage wheel

Kansas University wide receivers coach David Beaty, right, delivers instructions to KU wideout D.J. Beshears on April 18 at the KU practice field. Beaty rejoined the Jayhawks’ staff after serving as offensive coordinator at Rice last season.

Kansas University wide receivers coach David Beaty, right, delivers instructions to KU wideout D.J. Beshears on April 18 at the KU practice field. Beaty rejoined the Jayhawks’ staff after serving as offensive coordinator at Rice last season. by Kevin Anderson

When Charlie Weis was fired on Sept. 28 and this whole Kansas University football coaching search first got rolling — the third such endeavor by KU since 2009 — there was one name that I always used to answer the question, “So who's gonna be the next coach?”

It might be time to put that name back at the top of the list.

Based on what I learned from a handful of conversations I had throughout the day Tuesday, I'm elevating Texas A&M assistant coach David Beaty to the No. 1 spot in my percentage wheel.

Here's a look:

1. David Beaty – 37%
2. Clint Bowen – 25%
3. Other – 16%
4. Justin Fuente – 10%
5. Tim Beck – 7%
6. Ed Warinner – 5%

As you already know — and many of you have so kindly pointed out — this does not mean Beaty is absolutely the guy or even in the lead or anything like that. The percentage wheel merely keeps tabs on what I think might happen and it's sounding a little more likely by the day that Beaty could be the guy the Jayhawks wind up with as the 38th head coach in program history.

If that's the case, the Jayhawks certainly would be making a solid hire.

I knew Beaty briefly during both of his stints as the KU wide receivers coach — once under Mark Mangino (2008-09) and again in 2011 under Turner Gill — and I liked everything about the guy.

He's a good guy. He's genuine. There's not an ounce of phoniness to him and he has incredible people skills, with the ability to relate to people from all walks of life, from a 16-year-old three-star recruit to a 72-year-old millionaire donor and everyone in between. He's one of those guys who seems to call everyone “partner” and finds a way to make them like it when he does. Some might even say he's the Texas version of Bill Self, personality-wise at least.

His recruiting ties throughout Texas are already well documented — he's a native of Garland, Texas and worked at four different Texas high schools from 1994-2005 — but it's probably worth noting that he has the deepest ties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which has been a hotbed for Kansas during the past decade and definitely will continue to be so into the future.

Beaty owns a highly intense personality, one that's rooted in down-home goodness and having fun. That's not to say he's a pushover. Not by any means. In fact, his receivers at Kansas always talked about how demanding he was and that he emphasized that they do all of the little things right — particularly with regard to blocking — and often did not accept anything less than perfection. At the same time, he respected them enough to make them feel appreciated and knew how to reward their solid efforts.

A lot has been made about Beaty being “the next Art Briles,” but that's a lot of pressure to put on one guy given the fact that many believe Briles is as good as they come in the college football coaching profession these days. The reason that probably comes up so often is because Beaty was a successful high school coach in Texas and followed that success to the college ranks, where he's done well both as a position coach and a recruiter.

One former Big 12 assistant I spoke to about Beaty said he believed without hesitation that Beaty was ready to make the leap to the head coach's office and added that if that's who the Jayhawks end up hiring they will have made a very quality hire.

In 2010, Beaty was the offensive coordinator at Rice and he held the co-offensive coordinator title during his second stint at Kansas under Gill while coaching wide receivers at both schools. He's been the A&M receivers coach for three years and is in his second season as A&M's recruiting coordinator.

It's possible there was some hope early on that KU might be able to convince Beaty to come to Lawrence as the offensive coordinator, but I'm betting A&M would step up and battle to keep him if that were the only offer on the table. If KU offers him the head coaching job, there's probably not much Kevin Sumlin could do to make A&M sound more appealing than that.

Former Kansas receivers coach David Beaty, right, will return to the KU coaching staff in 2011.

Former Kansas receivers coach David Beaty, right, will return to the KU coaching staff in 2011.

• As you can see, I've also added former Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck to the percentage wheel after being told not to sleep on the guy during this search and removed Matt Wells from the list.

• As for the one removal, I didn't hear much, good or bad, when asking around about Wells on Tuesday and I also noticed that Jon Kirby over at JayhawkSlant.com was planning to remove him from his board.

• I don't think Clint Bowen is done at this point. That's why he's still in the No. 2 spot on the percentage wheel. But his best shot right now seems to be if one or two other guys pass or remove themselves from contention. Let's say Beaty elects to stay at A&M (perhaps with a raise and a new title) and Fuente waits for a better job to come open to make his leap. If that were to happen, I think Bowen would be the guy.

• There's always the chance that someone new could enter the picture and that's why I've got "Other" up there so high still. All of that 11th hour talk that I heard on Sunday was pretty interesting.

• It's still early, but this thing seems to be moving pretty quickly. That makes sense because of all of that prep time Sheahon Zenger, Chuck Neinas and company had as the season played out and, it also makes sense because KU would be smart to move as fast as possible given the fact that big-time jobs Florida, Michigan and Nebraska are all open at the same time and what goes on there and the trickle-down effect that would follow could impact Kansas if they wait around too long.

Stay tuned…

Reply

The Day After: Three victories in four days for KU hoops

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) pumps his fist after a bucket and a Michigan State foul during the first half on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) pumps his fist after a bucket and a Michigan State foul during the first half on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

The Kansas Unviersity men's basketball team picked up some Orlando Classic hardware over the holiday weekend, with three victories in three days over Rhode Island, Tennessee and No. 20 Michigan State.

More important than anything that will end up in KU's trophy case, however, was the chance for the Jayhawks to play big-time minutes together in a short period of time, which allowed the players to bond, the coaches to feel out what they've got and the product as a whole to look a lot different — and better — than it did in the week that led up to the early-season tournament.

Kansas was sharp in many different ways during its three victories, with different players stepping up at different times and different aspects of the Jayhawks' style coming through at the exact right times. Perhaps more important than any of that was the fact that the tournament title came with victories over three pretty good teams. That experience and the confidence that comes from it, no doubt will do wonders for this team as it continues to grow and come together.

Quick takeaway

Don't get me wrong, winning three games in four days against good competition is no easy feat, but, the way I see it, the best thing for the KU men's basketball program is that the victories came without the Jayhawks playing their best basketball. They were plenty good, of course. And a couple of individuals — namely Perry Ellis, Frank Mason and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk — delivered pretty solid performances day in and day out, but, for the most part, the Jayhawks still showed some room to improve in plenty of areas. Most notable among them were KU's transition offense, freshmen still trying to find their way. It's early, so that's to be expected. But if/when the Jayhawks start to put those things together and stack them upon their already solid foundation, this team has a chance to be scary good.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and forward Perry Ellis look to smother a shot from Tennessee forward Armani Moore (4) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and forward Perry Ellis look to smother a shot from Tennessee forward Armani Moore (4) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile

1 – It may still change, but it sure looks like Bill Self has figured out his starting lineup. Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Perry Ellis and Landen Lucas have been pretty solid together to start games and they bring different styles and skills that really complement one another while allowing Self to still leave plenty of firepower on the bench. I've been skeptical of Lucas' role on this team, but if he plays all season like he played in Orlando, his role will be there and it will be important.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) delivers a put-back dunk over Rhode Island forward Jarelle Reischel (2) during the first half on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) delivers a put-back dunk over Rhode Island forward Jarelle Reischel (2) during the first half on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

2 – Forget Perry Ellis' actual numbers. They were great. But forget that he averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds in the three wins in Orlando and focus more on how he got them. Ellis was aggressive throughout all three games and he attacked the rim, scored in a variety of ways and operated with an attitude that Self has been looking for for quite some time — the mindset that when the ball comes off the rim on the opponent's end, Ellis should have as much right to the ball as anyone on the floor. That was, by far, the most impressive part of Ellis' MVP performance in Orlando and if he can keep that up and perhaps even improve upon it — and there's no reason to think he won't now that he's done it and seen the reward — Ellis is going to be even more of a nightmare for KU's opponents than people already thought.

Kansas guard Frank Mason pulls away a rebound during the second half against Tennessee on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas guard Frank Mason pulls away a rebound during the second half against Tennessee on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

3 – Plenty was made about Frank Mason's 10 rebounds in the victory over Michigan State, but this was not just a one-game thing. Mason was great on the boards all weekend and, at 5-foot-11, brings something to the floor that very few people expect. KU's starting point guard has ripped down 24 rebounds and ranks as the team's fourth leading rebounding, just one board behind Jamari Traylor. It's easy for guards to want to leak out and get going toward the offensive end when shots go up, but Mason clearly does not think that way. He almost always stays back to crash the defensive glass and the Jayhawks are better because of it.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – It's no secret that freshman Kelly Oubre is still trying to figure things out. It's also no secret that KU is just six games into the season and people should probably let him do just that. Still, Oubre struggled in Orlando and continued to look lost out there at times. He moves as if he's thinking about every step and has not yet allowed himself to play free and loose, which has even created problems for him as an offensive player, which was supposed to be his strength coming into college. Oubre was not the only one who looked a little lost last weekend. Jamari Traylor also had plenty of forgettable moments, most of them coming in the form of those 'Why did he just do that?' or 'Did he really just do that?' plays that cause you to forget how athletic and powerful he is and force you to wonder where his mind is at times?

Tennessee players celebrate  a charge from Kansas forward Jamari Traylor during the second half on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Tennessee players celebrate a charge from Kansas forward Jamari Traylor during the second half on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

2 – When Wayne Selden went scoreless in KU's 27-point win over Rider earlier this season, KU coach Bill Self barely blinked because Selden finished with nine assists, made a conscious effort to get others involved and took just four shots. Still, Self said there probably can't be too many games in the future where the team's starting two guard goes scoreless. Selden was not scoreless against Michigan State — he hit 5 of 6 free throws — but he did miss all 10 shots he attempted and, at this point, that has to be at least minor cause for concern. So far this season, Selden is hitting just 27 percent of his shots (13-of-49) and has struggled to finish in the paint and from distance (he's just 5-of-19 from three-point range). It's not time to panic yet, but it's obvious that coming up empty is bothering Selden and the longer this goes the more it becomes a concern.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) gets airborne before pinning a layup by Michigan State guard Travis Trice (20) against the backboard for a block during the second half on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) gets airborne before pinning a layup by Michigan State guard Travis Trice (20) against the backboard for a block during the second half on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

3 – He played through it and claimed to be fine, but the lingering shoulder issues plaguing freshman point guard Devonte' Graham are not exactly great news. Graham played just 27 minutes all weekend and had at least a couple of moments where he got hit or tweaked the shoulder that caused KU fans to hold their breaths. KU has the depth to weather an injury like this, but, more for Graham's sake, you have to wonder just how bad it is and how long it will stick around.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) tosses a pass as he is defended by Rhode Island guard E.C. Matthews (0) and guard Jarvis Garrett (1) during the second half on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) tosses a pass as he is defended by Rhode Island guard E.C. Matthews (0) and guard Jarvis Garrett (1) during the second half on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

One for the road

KU's championship-game victory over Michigan State:

· Made the Jayhawks 5-1 for the third straight season and the 10th time in Bill Self's 12 seasons at Kansas.

· Brought KU to a 45-26 record against ranked teams in the Bill Self era and 1-1 against top-25 squads this season.

· Cut Michigan State’s lead in the all-time series to 6-5 and snapped KU’s three-game losing streak to the Spartans.

· Improved Kansas to 3-1 this season in games played at neutral sites.

· Improved Self to 5-6 against Michigan State, 330-70 at Kansas and 537-175 overall.

· Pushed KU’s in-season tournament record to 35-6 under Self.

· Made KU's all-time record 2,131-823.  

Next up

After a few days off early in the week, the Jayhawks will return to action at home on Friday, when they take on Florida at 8 p.m. Think about this: By Friday night, Self will have squared off against John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan in the first seven games of the 2014-15 season. You gotta love college hoops.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Michigan State, 61-56, to win the Orlando Classic

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Michigan State, 61-56, to win the Orlando Classic

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Tennessee, 82-67, in Orlando Classic semifinals

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Tennessee, 82-67, in Orlando Classic semifinals

By the numbers: Kansas beats Rhode Island 76-60 in first round of Orlando Classic

By the numbers: Kansas beats Rhode Island 76-60 in first round of Orlando Classic by KUsports.com graphic

Reply

Coaching Search 2014: News, nuggets and nonsense as things heat up

Here's the latest info I'm hearing about the KU coaching search, which, without a doubt, has turned up a notch during the past several days now that the end of the 2014 season has arrived.

If you'll recall from previous interviews we did with KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, this week is about phone interviews and lining up the list of finalists for what figures to be a serious few days next week.

No word on exactly how many guys will be involved in this week's phone interviews, but the safe guess is in the 12-15 range (probably no more than 20), with the ideal goal being to narrow that list down to 5 or so by the end of the week so things can get serious next week.

I've been told that there is a chance that new candidates could get involved at the 11th hour — many believed that's what happened with Weis, but Zenger told me at one point after Weis was hired that the former Notre Dame coach was on the radar from the outset during the last hire — but given the fact that Zenger, the search committee and consultant Chuck Neinas have had weeks to get their ducks in a row, it would have to be a pretty amazing candidate to get involved in this process so late.

Anyway, as I mentioned on Twitter, I spent a good chunk of Sunday on the phone talking to sources and trying to find out where this whole thing is at, and here's a few quick nuggets along with a little word association game with some of the more well-known names believed to be in the mix.

Take it with a grain of salt, because until we're able to hear from Zenger himself, there's no telling what's true and what's not, plus, as you've seen before, things can change in a hurry with these coaching searches.

• I've been told that there are a few players who are projected returning starters who would consider leaving KU if Clint Bowen is not hired as the head coach. Such threats pop up everywhere during almost every coaching transition and cooler heads often prevail, but this one may have legs given how passionate this roster is about playing for Bowen. It might not get to that, and even if it does, a few of these guys could change their minds. But the names I'm hearing are pretty significant players.

• There's so much talk out there about how much KU could and/or would pay for its next head coach and that dollar value is a little fluid. If the right guy came along, Zenger surely would look at paying a little more than is ideal. Similarly, if the right guy could be had for a bargain price, don't expect Zenger to overpay him just to make the job seem better than it is. That's exactly what happened with Turner Gill and it was a big-time mistake. He should've never been paid $2 million with resume. He likely would've come for half that, since his Buffalo salary was $450,000. All that said, I think the number Zenger would like to settle on is in the $800,000-$1 million range with some hefty incentives added in. There are a lot of good coaches who could be had for that price and, perhaps more importantly, setting it there could weed out some of the guys just looking for a money grab. Remember, Zenger is one of the lowest paid AD's in the Big 12 and that doesn't stop him from working as hard as the others.

• When word broke that Will Muschamp was out at Florida and Bo Pelini was out at Nebraska, KU fans — and many others — jumped on both names as potential hires for the Jayhawks. Don't count on it. I've been told that Muschamp's ties to Florida, which is where Kansas got Weis, hurt his chances, and, as of Sunday night, there had been no contact between Pelini and KU of any kind. That could change, of course, and, if Pelini were to show interest in the job, it seems KU would gladly have a conversation with him. Think of it as Bruce Weber being hired by Kansas State in basketball. A few years ago, when Weber had Illinois rolling and before Bob Huggins and Frank Martin breathed life into the KSU program, a guy like Weber would've never been within reach for the Wildcats. But things happened, the timing was right and K-State landed a solid coach they may not otherwise have had a shot to get. All that said, I'd bet against Pelini coming to KU, largely because of his less-than-friendly reputation and how that might go over with the fans and big donors.

• Along those same lines, and philosophically speaking, I don't think the fact that those guys were fired is what hurts their chances. Hiring a guy who recently was fired seems to be a non-issue with this search, provided it's the right guy.

• One last thing regarding Pelini and the Nebraska job…. The more openings like that the pop up the more the KU pool of candidates gets watered down. That's not to say that the Cornhuskers and Jayhawks would be going after the same guys — that's probably not the case at all — but let's say Nebraska hired a guy like Justin Fuente from Memphis or Scott Frost out of Oregon. The replacements for those guys could be in KU's pool and could impact the hire here. One thing KU has going for it in that regard is the timeline. I still think this thing will be wrapped up sometime next week given the fact that Zenger & Company have had the advantage of that nine-week headstart.

• OK.... Let's finish this update off with a little 10-words-or-less exercise on some of the guys believed to be in the mix. DISCLAIMER: Clearly, this is not everyone who might be involved in this process, just a few of the names who have been thrown around most often.

~ David Beaty – Texas ties have him very much in the hunt
~ Tim Beck – Some concern about what Pelini firing does to him
~ Clint Bowen – Definitely still in it and a likely finalist
~ Dana Dimel – Can't see it
~ Justin Fuente – Strong candidate. Heard there's interest both ways
~ Willie Fritz – Relevant this week but doubt he survives to next week
~ Jim Harbaugh – NFL teams trying to trade for him?
~ Jerry Kill – Too many factors point to no
~ Jim McElwain – $7.5 million buyout & interest from bigger schools
~ Chad Morris – SMU bound, for those who hadn't heard
~ Will Muschamp - He'll be a DC somewhere bigger & try again later
~ Bo Pelini - Could get involved late, but would he?
~ Ed Warriner – He'll get a chance to make his case
~ Matt Wells – Hot name but still a little green

• Finally, my first percentage wheel of the 2014 coaching search… This one's not easy, folks.

  1. Clint Bowen – 45%
  2. Other – 22%
  3. Justin Fuente – 13%
  4. David Beaty – 12%
  5. Matt Wells – 5%
  6. Ed Warinner – 3%
Reply

What caught my eye at Wednesday’s KU football practice: Nov. 26

On a cold, blustery Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, the Kansas University football team went through its final Wednesday practice of the 2014 season.

Just two practices remain before Saturday's game at Kansas State, which will bring to a close another KU football season filled with a couple of close calls and more disappointment.

There was nothing disappointing about the start of Wednesday's practice, which featured a World Cup-esque penalty-kick shootout-style punting drill involving some of the most unlikely candidates.

Ben Heeney and Nick Harwell were the captains for their respective squads in the best-of-five contest and Heeney was allowed only to pick offensive starters and Harwell only defensive starters. From there, the two sides took turns fielding punts from the mechanical punter to see which side could pick up the most grabs.

First up were Tony Pierson for Team Heeney and Dexter McDonald for Team Harwell. Pierson, as he's done several times throughout his playing days, dropped back and smoothly corralled the ball as it fell into his arms. McDonald, despite hearing from teammates how the pressure was on, followed suit and both teams were on the board.

Next up Jimmay Mundine for Team Heeney and Courtney Arnick for Team Harwell. Mundine also made his grab look smooth and Arnick, though under it in time, bobbled his try and watched it fall to the ground. 2-1, Heeney.

Now's when the fun really began. Next up: offensive lineman Junior Visinia for Team Heeney and defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson for Team Harwell. As the ball soared through the air and tracked into Visinia's area, the big freshman stuck his two hands out and speared the ball like a pig at a luau. No points for style here. A catch is a catch, and Junior's grab got the team fired up.

Needing to match Visinia to keep things tied, Johnson ran way too far in on his while it was in the air and watched it soar 15 yards behind him when it came down. 3-1, Team Heeney.

With Team Harwell needing to win the next two just to draw even, offensive lineman Larry Mazyck squared off for Team Heeney against D-lineman Keon Stowers for Team Harwell. Mazyck looked smooth as all get-out as he made his way to the ball but may have been a little too smooth on the catch and it fell to the ground, keeping Team Harwell alive. Stowers, however, could not capitalize, as his “ole'” attempt at the floating punt came up empty. Team Heeney put this one away, 3-1, with one kick left on the board.

Naturally, the KU offense exploded with joy over the victory and then went into the meat of practice.

Here's what caught my eye from the rest of the time I was out there:

• New father DeAndre Mann was a full participant and ran plenty of reps with the first string. Mann's absence has hurt the Jayhawks a little lately in that it's left the bulk of the running duties in the hands of true freshman Corey Avery. Avery has done well, but that's quite a load to handle and Mann's size, maturity and style certainly would've helped the KU running game. Maybe Saturday will be the day he gets a little momentum back to take into the 2015 season.

• Former KU linebacker Brandon Perkins (2002-05) showed up to practice to surprise interim coach Clint Bowen and the attempt worked. Bowen lit up when he saw Perkins and immediately had memories of a five-sack game for Perkins against Louisiana Tech in 2005. When Bowen asked Perkins what he was doing in town, the former KU linebacker said, “I came back for you, coach.” Perkins ranks fourth on KU's all-time sacks list with 20.

• Call it a hunch, but look for T.J. Semke to make an impact in Saturday's game. Listed behind Stowers as a second-string nose tackle along with Andrew Bolton, Semke looked to have a little extra nastiness to him during Wednesday's practice and seems like the kind of guy who would do well in a game like Saturday's.

• Finally, KU will practice on Thanksgiving but will go in the morning so the players can spend the afternoon of the holiday with their friends and families. Several guys from out of state will either spend the day with their teammates who have families nearby or with members of the KU coaching staff.

Reply

What caught my eye at Wednesday’s KU football practice: Nov. 26

On a cold, blustery Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, the Kansas University football team went through its final Wednesday practice of the 2014 season.

Just two practices remain before Saturday's game at Kansas State, which will bring to a close another KU football season filled with a couple of close calls and more disappointment.

There was nothing disappointing about the start of Wednesday's practice, which featured a World Cup-esque penalty-kick shootout-style punting drill involving some of the most unlikely candidates.

Ben Heeney and Nick Harwell were the captains for their respective squads in the best-of-five contest and Heeney was allowed only to pick offensive starters and Harwell only defensive starters. From there, the two sides took turns fielding punts from the mechanical punter to see which side could pick up the most grabs.

First up were Tony Pierson for Team Heeney and Dexter McDonald for Team Harwell. Pierson, as he's done several times throughout his playing days, dropped back and smoothly corralled the ball as it fell into his arms. McDonald, despite hearing from teammates how the pressure was on, followed suit and both teams were on the board.

Next up Jimmay Mundine for Team Heeney and Courtney Arnick for Team Harwell. Mundine also made his grab look smooth and Arnick, though under it in time, bobbled his try and watched it fall to the ground. 2-1, Heeney.

Now's when the fun really began. Next up: offensive lineman Junior Visinia for Team Heeney and defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson for Team Harwell. As the ball soared through the air and tracked into Visinia's area, the big freshman stuck his two hands out and speared the ball like a pig at a luau. No points for style here. A catch is a catch, and Junior's grab got the team fired up.

Needing to match Visinia to keep things tied, Johnson ran way too far in on his while it was in the air and watched it soar 15 yards behind him when it came down. 3-1, Team Heeney.

With Team Harwell needing to win the next two just to draw even, offensive lineman Larry Mazyck squared off for Team Heeney against D-lineman Keon Stowers for Team Harwell. Mazyck looked smooth as all get-out as he made his way to the ball but may have been a little too smooth on the catch and it fell to the ground, keeping Team Harwell alive. Stowers, however, could not capitalize, as his “ole'” attempt at the floating punt came up empty. Team Heeney put this one away, 3-1, with one kick left on the board.

Naturally, the KU offense exploded with joy over the victory and then went into the meat of practice.

Here's what caught my eye from the rest of the time I was out there:

• New father DeAndre Mann was a full participant and ran plenty of reps with the first string. Mann's absence has hurt the Jayhawks a little lately in that it's left the bulk of the running duties in the hands of true freshman Corey Avery. Avery has done well, but that's quite a load to handle and Mann's size, maturity and style certainly would've helped the KU running game. Maybe Saturday will be the day he gets a little momentum back to take into the 2015 season.

• Former KU linebacker Brandon Perkins (2002-05) showed up to practice to surprise interim coach Clint Bowen and the attempt worked. Bowen lit up when he saw Perkins and immediately had memories of a five-sack game for Perkins against Louisiana Tech in 2005. When Bowen asked Perkins what he was doing in town, the former KU linebacker said, “I came back for you, coach.” Perkins ranks fourth on KU's all-time sacks list with 20.

• Call it a hunch, but look for T.J. Semke to make an impact in Saturday's game. Listed behind Stowers as a second-string nose tackle along with Andrew Bolton, Semke looked to have a little extra nastiness to him during Wednesday's practice and seems like the kind of guy who would do well in a game like Saturday's.

• Finally, KU will practice on Thanksgiving but will go in the morning so the players can spend the afternoon of the holiday with their friends and families. Several guys from out of state will either spend the day with their teammates who have families nearby or with members of the KU coaching staff.

Reply

KU linebacker Ben Heeney goes beardless for K-State

KU senior Ben Heeney, without his signature beard, at Wednesday's meeting with the media.

KU senior Ben Heeney, without his signature beard, at Wednesday's meeting with the media. by Matt Tait

With one game left in his KU career, senior linebacker Ben Heeney did something drastic to try to bring a little luck the Jayhawks' way…. He shaved his beard.

The bearded Heeney has been a fixture around KU football for the past couple of seasons and the Hutchinson native has been known as much for the look as his dominating play on the field.

Wednesday, at the final media session of the season, though, Heeney walked in with a fresh shave an evil-genius smile.

Heeney said this week was the first time half of his teammates had seen him without the beard and even shared stories of veterans having to do a double-take when they walked past him in the locker room.

"Everyone's been turning their head because they didn't expect it to happen," he said. "I just kind of want to play a game without it and see what happens. I'm not just a beard, I'm also a human being."

Heeney said he had some fun with the shaving session earlier this week and left various forms of mustaches and snapped pictures of those with his cell phone before saying goodbye to the facial hair for good — at least for now.

"It was kind of spur of the moment and I was just like, 'Man, it's not bringing any good luck,' so I just wanted to shave it off and play a game without it and see if it brings any luck. Everyone's always been so all-about it, I was just kind of like, 'All right, this isn't all I am.'"

Reply

KU football coaching search still a long and winding road

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger and former KU quarterback John Hadl watch during the first day of spring football practices on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger and former KU quarterback John Hadl watch during the first day of spring football practices on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. by Richard Gwin

Talk to a dozen people and you'll get a dozen different opinions on which direction the Kansas University football program should go with its coaching hire.

Check that, you'll probably get about two or three times that many because not only could you get a different name from each person, but you also could get a different list of what factors and elements should be most important.

Welcome to Sheahon Zenger's world.

For some folks it's the idea of recruiting Texas that means the most. These people like, maybe even love, Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and receivers coach David Beaty. And why not? The guy can walk into just about any high school in Texas and bust out a secret handshake or hug with one of the football coaches and, from there, he's got a automatic chance with the players he's going after.

Don't think that's important? Think again. That kind of relationship, which current KU receivers coach Eric Kiesau developed with Nigel King's high school coach, was the deciding factor in why King chose Kansas. King trusted his coach. His coach trusted Kiesau. And the Maryland receiver picked the Jayhawks and never looked back. That's worked out pretty well for both parties, don't you think?

For other people, recruiting Kansas and/or Oklahoma is just as important as Texas. And I don't disagree with that. You'll always want to get as many players out of the Lone Star State as you can, but, at Kansas, you're never going to get the best Texas has to offer. Ever. In Kansas and Oklahoma, your chances go up to get the cream of the crop from those states and you don't have to look that far back to see proof of that. James Holt, Chris Harris and Jake Laptad all came from Oklahoma. Jake Sharp, Kerry Meier, Mike Rivera, Darrell Stuckey and Ben Heeney all came from Kansas. Both states are important. So there's no need for this to be an all-Texas-all-the-time endeavor.

Whether you favor Beaty, Clint Bowen, Tim Beck or Willie Fritz or think that recruiting, player development or sincere connections with big-money donors are the most important jobs of a head coach, this thing is probably going to come down to four or five names that have a real shot at becoming KU's next coach.

I could sit here and draw up a list of 20 guys who have been talked about, considered, contacted or crossed off the list, but that would be a waste of time because many of those guys, although intriguing for one reason or another, were never really in the running.

See, searches like this often travel down two paths. The first and most obvious path is the road to finding the right guy. It's the most important thing on the plates of Zenger and the search committee and you can bet that 12-15 hours a day — phone calls, research, investigations, etc. — from any number of people involved are being spent on trying to pinpoint Mr. Right.

The other path is completely different and, although it does not end up in the home or office of the right guy, it often leads to that person. That's where a lot of those 20 or so names come into play and many of them came into play during the last search, as well. Remember when it was rumored that Zenger had met with former Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez during the search of 2011? It wasn't to see if he was interested in the job. It was instead to see what he thought about the KU program, what others had told him about Kansas and the Big 12 and an inquiry into what factors should be important. And before you go thinking that Alvarez's answers shaped Zenger's opinion, remember that this was just one example of a meeting like that and, therefore, it only had some impact into how Zenger proceeded.

Such conversations are crucial when you're trying to find a coach because Zenger has a much greater responsibility in this whole deal than just to pick the guy he likes. That's especially true this time around after Charlie Weis was shown the door. Zenger has to like the guy in order for him to have a chance, but, believe it or not, this time around it's just as important for others to like him to — committee members, current and former players, athletic department officials and donors alike.

The only way that Kansas is going to successfully rebuild its football program is by finding a leader that can take all of these elements and personalities into account and make all of them work and come together. The project is too daunting for one man — coach or AD — to do it alone. And the road is too rocky and fraught with pitfalls for anyone to expect that.

Shortly after 6:30 a.m., Kansas interim head football coach Clint Bowen walks toward his office down a hallway lined with rows of images documenting the high points from the program's recent history, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.

Shortly after 6:30 a.m., Kansas interim head football coach Clint Bowen walks toward his office down a hallway lined with rows of images documenting the high points from the program's recent history, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. by Nick Krug

I think that's why Bowen seems to be the odds-on favorite right now. He's working with the advantage of being able to show concrete evidence of how successful he can be in some of these key areas. The players love him. The alumni is all-in. The product on the field has improved, Oklahoma and Baylor notwithstanding, and Zenger likes him. He would not have given him this chance if that weren't the case.

So, in Bowen, you've got a known commodity, a guy who plenty of people would support and a guy who, no question about it, would give his heart and soul to the program. Heck, he already has.

What the next two weeks or so are about is stacking candidates up against what you know you have in Bowen.

How does Candidate A compare to Bowen in recruiting philosophy and production? How does Candidate B compare to Bowen in player development? How does Candidate C compare to Bowen in ability to connect to people, donors, players and fans alike?

Such a scenario is rare in college coaching because, more often than not, the interim guy is not actually a candidate for the job, more just a guy who can land the ship before leaving town with the rest of the staff.

And because of that, coaching searches often produce a final pool of guys who have to be compared to one another in a guessing-game situation. If a school narrows its choice down to three guys, it has to pick the best of the bunch based on what it thinks it knows — and likes — about each guy. In KU's case currently, it can stack the strengths and weaknesses of the other finalists against what it absolutely does know about Bowen.

While that figures to be a good thing for Bowen, given the way his time as interim coach went and was received, it's an even better thing for Zenger and Kansas because it increases the odds that they'll get this one right.

Reply

The Day After: Rolling over Rider

Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander collects a rebound against Rider's Anthony D'Orazio in KU's 87-60 win over Rider night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander collects a rebound against Rider's Anthony D'Orazio in KU's 87-60 win over Rider night at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Monday night's final score would seem to indicate that all is well again with the Kansas University men's basketball program, and while that's true in many ways, this group remains a work in progress.

KU coach Bill Self trotted out his fifth different starting lineup of the young season — two exhibition games and three regular seasons games — and, as was the case in each of the games before Monday, got mixed returns on the decisions.

Freshman wing player Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was fabulous and has the look of a guy who could hold down a starting job the rest of the season. Forward Landen Lucas was the other new starter and, although he had a few good moments, he also still has limitations.

As a whole, KU seemed determined to bounce back from the embarrassing loss to Kentucky six nights earlier and did just that with an 87-60 victory over overmatched Rider.

Things don't get any easier from here, though, as the Jayhawks will play three games in four days against tough competition in Orlando and will return home for a match-up with Florida on Dec. 5.

With a team this young, though, it's baby steps and a consistent forward movement that are important and Monday certainly was a good step in that direction.

Quick takeaway

Two things stood out to me in this one and they both had to do with KU's starting lineup: Both Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Cliff Alexander are ready to start and both should be in the starting lineup for this team to be playing at its peak. I know that it's not always who starts that matters the most, but these guys are ready and they give KU its best chance in a lot of areas. More important than that, though, is the fact that Self said after the game that there's a right and a wrong way of doing things — on and off the floor — and he's not going to budge on those no matter how talented a guy is. That's a good thing for the overall development of this team and the sooner these guys understand, accept and embrace that, the sooner this team can really start making strides. Mykhailiuk started and had a great game so we can assume he gets it. Alexander started the second half but only played four of the final 20 minutes, which is a clear indicator that he still has some work to do to win Self over in areas other than the basketball floor on game nights.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Had Landen Lucas been able to tally one more point, the Jayhawks would've finished with five guys in double figures, just one game after scoring 40 points total in the loss to Kentucky. As it was, all nine players who scored reached five points or more and Ellis and Brannen Greene went big with 17 points apiece, while Mykhailiuk and Alexander put up their 10 points each in spurts that helped the Jayhawks bury the Broncs. It's that kind of balanced attack that Self's teams have been known for and that will be the recipe to success for this squad, as well.

Brannen Greene (14) scores two of his 17 points against Rider Monday in an 87-60 win at Allen Fieldhouse.

Brannen Greene (14) scores two of his 17 points against Rider Monday in an 87-60 win at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

2 – Perry Ellis came to play and seemed to be making a conscious effort to address those who question his toughness. Ellis' dunk in first half was as aggressive a move as we've seen him make in a KU uniform and he attempted a similar flush early in the second half, as well. He was fouled on that play and went to the free throw line, where he connected on 7 of 10 foul shots during a 17-point night. Self still seemed concerned about Ellis' rebounding — he had just three boards in 26 minutes — but it definitely was good to see the aggression from a guy who can score in such a wide variety of ways and will need to for this team to be as good as it can be.

Kansas junior Perry Ellis scored 17 points in the Jayhawks 87-60 win over Rider Monday November 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas junior Perry Ellis scored 17 points in the Jayhawks 87-60 win over Rider Monday November 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

3 – Rider forward Xavier Lundy said effort was what separated the two teams on Monday night and it was clear from watching every Kansas player on the floor that they were emphasizing effort from the jump. Whether it was man-to-man defense, crashing the glass for rebounds or pushing the ball in transition and screening on offense, multiple Jayhawks appeared to be going as hard as they could, particularly in the first half, and that really set the tone and left Rider without much hope. The key now is to bring that kind of effort against more talented teams who will be willing and able to match KU's effort and athleticism.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – The Jayhawks were outscored by two points in the second half — 38-36 — and if they would've played the second 20 minutes with the same kind of passion as they played the first, they would've won by 40. Self said after the game that too many guys were playing to the score instead of to win each possession and that's both a surprise and a concern, given how much depth this team has and how easy it will be for Self to turn to someone else when one guy's not getting it done or not giving maximum effort.

Kansas junior forward Jamari Traylor shoots under Rider center Mat Lopez in the Jayhawks 87-60 win over the Broncs Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas junior forward Jamari Traylor shoots under Rider center Mat Lopez in the Jayhawks 87-60 win over the Broncs Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

2 – Jamari Traylor had a pretty forgettable night. Who knows if being pulled from the starting lineup was the reason behind it, but the KU junior finished with just six points and two rebounds in 21 minutes. He did have three assists, two blocks and a steal, but too often looked upset at a mistake or bad break and out of the flow of the game.

3 – Cliff Alexander got his chance to start in the second half and could have used that as a springboard for holding down a starting spot the rest of the year. Instead, he played just four minutes and was a non-factor after a monster first half. The guy is young and there are going to be growing pains and good moments of growth along the way, but his offensive game is ready and it's time for the rest of the Alexander experience — head, body, responsibility, etc. — to catch up with the young man's ability to score.

One for the road

KU's 27-point pasting of Rider on Monday night:

• Made the Jayhawks 2-1 for the fourth time in Bill Self's 12 seasons at Kansas.

• Improved Kansas to 62-8 in games following a loss under Self, including 38 rebound wins at Allen Fieldhouse.

• Pushed Kansas to 3-0 all-time against Rider and moved the Jayhawks to 14-1 all-time against current members of the MAAC.

• Improved the program to 716-109 all-time at Allen Fieldhouse, including 177-9 under Self.

• Improved Self to 327-70 at Kansas and 534-175 overall.

• Made KU's all-time record 2,128-823.

Next up

The Jayhawks travel to Orlando, Florida, to play three games in four days this weekend, starting with Thursday's 1:30 p.m. tip-off against Rhode Island in the opening round of the holiday tournament in Florida.

"By the Numbers" from KU's 87-60 victory over Rider on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.

"By the Numbers" from KU's 87-60 victory over Rider on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. by J-W Staff

Reply

The Day After: Oh no at OU

Kansas linebacker Michael Reynolds looks in the direction of the scoreboard while he and his teammates gather to leave the field following the Jayhawks' 44-7 loss to the Sooners on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas linebacker Michael Reynolds looks in the direction of the scoreboard while he and his teammates gather to leave the field following the Jayhawks' 44-7 loss to the Sooners on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University football team was drubbed on the road by Oklahoma on Saturday and it seems safe to say that very few people really saw the 44-7 beat-down coming.

For one, KU had built a little momentum of late, knocking off Iowa State in dominating fashion and nearly upsetting No. 5 TCU a week later. Thinking the Jayhawks would win in Norman was a reach, but expecting them to be competitive, give OU a tough battle and keep that momentum moving in the right direction seemed fair. Even a couple of national writers in the press box prior to the game remarked to me about how they figured KU would easily cover the 28-point spread.

They didn't. Not even close, really, as OU's superior size and ability to adjust to the inclement weather proved to be way too much for KU to handle. The offense did nothing. The defense was blown off the ball over and over as OU freshman Samaje Perine rumbled to an NCAA record and a whole mess of school records and the game was pretty much over by halftime, making the second half a mere formality.

Quick takeaway

This game was ugly. The Jayhawks never got anything going on offense, struggled even worse on defense and just looked outmanned from start to finish. Some people will want to blame Bowen for this one and he certainly deserves his share of the blame, but this was a total team collapse and the outcome won't move the needle much when looking at whether Bowen is the right guy for the KU coaching job, in much the same way that last week's near-upset of No. 5 TCU did not end with a contract landing on Bowen's desk. It's the big picture that matters here — Bowen's vision for the program, plans to execute that and ability to coach players, rally the program and recruit to Kansas. Those things are all way more important than the outcome of any one game — good or bad — and that's why Bowen remains as strong of a candidate for the job today as he was before the beating at OU. His answers to those questions, and more, during the formal interview process will determine his fate.

Rain pours down on interim head coach Clint Bowen as he watches an extra point by Oklahoma go through the uprights during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Rain pours down on interim head coach Clint Bowen as he watches an extra point by Oklahoma go through the uprights during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile

1 – These are tough to come by after an outing like that, but there was a play late in the game when senior Tony Pierson caught a short pass and appeared headed toward being knocked out of bounds with relative ease for a short gain. He wasn't. Pierson fought off the tackle, slipped past a couple more and turned it up the field for a first down. It was a rare highlight for the Jayhawks on Saturday and it didn't change a thing about the outcome. But it was a subtle reminder about the character and toughness of this senior class, which now has just one game left as a part of the KU football program. Expect a ton of emotion and heart like this to be on display next week in Manhattan.

Kansas wide running back Tony Pierson (3) is dragged down by Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker (19) during the quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas wide running back Tony Pierson (3) is dragged down by Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker (19) during the quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

2 – Freshman running back Corey Avery had a couple of really nice runs in this one and also caught a pass for one of KU's biggest gains of the day. It didn't matter for Saturday's game, but it definitely showed how fortunate KU is to have this guy coming back next season. Avery has been every bit as good as advertised and should only get better. It's not easy for a true freshman to handle so much of the load on a bad team, but Avery has done an admirable job and learned a lot during Year 1 of what figures to become a solid career.

3 – It's hard to know exactly what was going on because the sounds were muffled and I didn't get my own eyes or ears on the situation. But while we were conducting postgame interviews on Saturday, there was some commotion coming from what appeared to be the KU locker room. Lots of yelling, passion and even a little anger were the tone of what we heard and even though there was no way of telling whether it was KU players, coaches , both or even KU people at all who were responsible for all the noise, it was very evident that the Jayhawks were pissed about their play. That should not surprise anyone, but has to be nice for KU fans to hear, given that the tone of the postgame comments was more about moving forward and forgetting about what happened. If the sounds were from Jayhawks, it's clear that they took some time to vent before moving on.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Having an NCAA record set on you is bad enough, but having it done the way it was only makes it worse. Samaje Perine is a heck of a running back and he's got a bright future in the Big 12 and beyond. But most of the holes he ran through were enormous and I think you could conservatively say that most capable running backs in the country would've gained at least 250 yards running behind that same line and through those same holes. The record will live for a while and always be a part of NCAA history. How quickly KU can move past the mental hit of getting blown off the ball all day will determine how competitive they can be next weekend in Manhattan.

Kansas linebacker Michael Reynolds (55) tries to drag down Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine (32) during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas linebacker Michael Reynolds (55) tries to drag down Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine (32) during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

2 – KU's O-line play, which had taken a couple of steps forward during the past two weeks, took a major step back on Saturday. Credit OU's D-line and active front seven for a lot of that, but it was still very obvious that the KU O-line no showed. Michael Cummings had guys in his face all day long, the KU running game only had a few moments worth talking about and these guys looked vastly overmatched all day long. Their struggles severely hampered the KU offense and took three of the Jayhawks' best playmakers — receivers Nick Harwell and Nigel King and tight end Jimmay Mundine — almost completely out of the game.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings is dragged down short of a first down by Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker (19) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. At right is Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans (26).

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings is dragged down short of a first down by Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker (19) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. At right is Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans (26). by Nick Krug

3 – Even KU's punting game was a little rough in this one. Sure Trevor Pardula booted it 11 times for a 41-yard average, but he had one snap zip right through his hands (although the turnover didn't hurt KU) and another came dribbling back to him (which he responded to by fielding it well and bombing a kick). A big theme this season has been the fact that KU just can't make as many mistakes as its opponents because the Jayhawks' margin for error is so much smaller than everyone else. By this point in the season, bad weather or not, those types of mistakes can't be happening.

One for the road

KU's long afternoon in Norman, Oklahoma:

• Moved the Jayhawks to 579-597-58 all-time.

• Increased a streak of 16-straight losses to opponents ranked in the top-25.

• Prolonged streaks of 29 consecutive losses in true road games and 32 losses in games played away from Lawrence. Kansas’ last road win came at UTEP on Sept. 12, 2009.

• Also extended KU’s Big 12 Conference road losing streak to 25-straight league road games and 28 conference matches played away from Lawrence with the last victory occurring in Ames, Iowa on Oct. 4, 2008.

Next up

The Jayhawks will close out the 2014 season and the interim head coaching era of Clint Bowen with a 3 p.m. kickoff in Manhattan against Kansas State on Saturday. The Sunflower Showdown has been lopsided — both ways at different times — for a number of years and it's hard to know what exactly we're in for this weekend.

Oklahoma running back Keith Ford (21) dives over Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney (31) for yardage during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Above is OU fullback Dimitri Flowers (36).

Oklahoma running back Keith Ford (21) dives over Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney (31) for yardage during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Above is OU fullback Dimitri Flowers (36). by Nick Krug

Reply

KU QB Cummings playing through pain and proud of it

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings heaves a pass over the Iowa State defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings heaves a pass over the Iowa State defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. by Nick Krug

It's no secret that Kansas University quarterback Michael Cummings has been dealing with some kind of arm issue for the past few weeks, although you'd never know it from watching the guy play.

Series after series, play after play, Cummings has picked himself up off the turf, hustled back to the huddle and called the next play. Teammates occasionally check on him and ask how he's feeling. Junior wide receiver Nigel King said every time he or anyone else had asked Cummings if he was OK, the reply came quickly and usually was short-lived. “I'm OK, I'm OK,” King recalled Cummings saying during a recent game.

Cummings is not interested in focusing on himself or his well-being. He much rather would nod to show nothing's really wrong and move on to calling the next play and leading the offense.

After all, that's what he's here to do, and, pain or no pain, the guy is not about to give in to a little soreness while the opportunity of a lifetime is within reached.

Asked earlier this week how he was feeling physically, Cummings painted a genuinely sunny picture.

“I feel great today, actually,” Cummings said Wednesday afternoon before being asked how he felt a few days earlier. “Sunday was a little tough. Tuesday was a little tough only because we didn't lift on Tuesday.”

Against Iowa State, Cummings momentarily left the game with a right shoulder issue before returning to lead the Jayhawks to victory. Against TCU, the injury — or something like it — popped up again after Cummings plowed in for a one-yard touchdown run.

Despite taking a shot on the play, Cummings said he came away with no bad feelings about another quarterback draw being called in the future.

“If they're there, I'll run 'em,” Cummings said.

KU coach Clint Bowen, who called Cummings' physical toughness “underrated,” will be the first to tell you that, at this point in the season, if you've been playing for your team at all, you're going to be a little beat up. A lot of times, what separates those who become players and those who don't is the ability to play through that pain and continue to produce at a high level.

“If you're one of those guys that can't handle that, then college football is a rough business for you,” Bowen said. “And Michael is obviously proving week after week that he's a pretty tough guy, and you know you can count on him to go out there and battle through some of the discomforts that come with football.”

Cummings has done that and takes pride in it.

“I'm not walking around sore all day,” Cummings said. “I think it is just playing through pain. My shoulder was sore, but if they call a pass play, I have to hit it. If not, I need to be off the field. So if I'm out there I'm gonna do whatever the play calls me to do.”

Reply

More signs of support for Clint Bowen popping up around town

A line of Kansas students painted with letters spelling out "Bowen" cheer during a kickoff after Kansas touchdown against Iowa State during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

A line of Kansas students painted with letters spelling out "Bowen" cheer during a kickoff after Kansas touchdown against Iowa State during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. by Nick Krug

From the minute he was named interim head coach of the Kansas University football program, on the same day former KU coach Charlie Weis was fired, Clint Bowen brought something to the program that previous head coaches couldn't — a deep and real connection to Lawrence.

That's not to say that Weis, Turner Gill, Mark Mangino and others did not appreciate Lawrence, enjoy living here or develop some kind of connection with the community. But it never came close to reaching the level that Bowen's has.

As you all know by now, Bowen grew up here. He played football at Lawrence High and KU, has been a Jayhawk for as long as he can remember and, perhaps most importantly, has no desire ever to leave. People know that. They also know that he can coach. And when you combine the two, you get the flood of support you've seen growing for Bowen day-by-day, week-by-week for the past couple of months.

I can't go a day or a place in this town right now without hearing somebody talk to me about Bowen and why he's the right guy for the job. It should be pointed out that most of these people are not qualified to hire a head football coach at a major university, but almost all of them are KU fans and it's those fans who will have a big role in helping KU football return to respectability, Bowen or no Bowen.

Some people just talk about their feelings. Others send emails and write letters or post their thoughts on social media sites. And still more have tried to think of ways to demonstrate their support for Bowen in a larger manner. One such way recently showed up at local bars Six Mile Tavern, in West Lawrence, and Louise's Downtown, on Mass Street.

Near the front of each establishment, hang giant banners that simply read “We Want Clint!” They may only be a couple of banners hanging at a couple of bars in town, but they speak for a lot of people and are merely the latest signs of support for the hometown candidate.

The KU administration is going to conduct a full and thorough search at season's end and it's absolutely the right thing to do. The last two hires went wrong and this one, for half a dozen different reasons, has to go right. So taking their time and making sure they get it right should be commended.

Besides, it's not like KU taking its time makes Bowen any less of a candidate or eliminates the overwhelming amount of support he already has received from the community. If anything, it might actually make that support swell.

Bowen will be in the mix. And he will get a legitimate chance to convince KU, beyond the recent results on the field, why he's the best choice for the job. Until then, don't be surprised if you see more banners like these popping up all over town.

This banner supporting interim KU football coach Clint Bowen recently went up at Six Mile Tavern in West Lawrence.

This banner supporting interim KU football coach Clint Bowen recently went up at Six Mile Tavern in West Lawrence. by Matt Tait

This banner, which shows support for interim KU football coach Clint Bowen, recently went up at Louise's Downtown on Mass Street.

This banner, which shows support for interim KU football coach Clint Bowen, recently went up at Louise's Downtown on Mass Street. by Matt Tait

Reply

What caught my eye at Wednesday’s KU football practice: Nov. 19

Former KU standout center Chip Budde was on hand at Wednesday's KU football practice to give a pep talk to players as the Jayhawks prepare to travel to Oklahoma to play the Sooners.

Former KU standout center Chip Budde was on hand at Wednesday's KU football practice to give a pep talk to players as the Jayhawks prepare to travel to Oklahoma to play the Sooners. by Richard Gwin

I've been going to KU football practice for years now and, after a while, you start to wonder how much you really can see when you're there and, this coach or that coach, how different practices really can be.

I don't wonder any more.

Each week of the Clint Bowen interim era, I've seen something different, something new, something I had not seen before. That could be because we're allowed to stick around a little longer than we ever have before, it could be because things actually are that different, and it could, of course, be some combination of the two.

Either way, I left today's practice thinking to myself how crazy it is to see a bunch of guys who have done almost nothing but lose during their time at KU fighting their butts off in the freezing cold and having fun all the way to the end of the season.

Usually by now — at least during the past four or five years — it's been about going through the motions of getting the season over with and moving on to the next chapter of hoping for something different. Not now. Not today. After dominating Iowa State and nearly knocking off TCU, these guys really believe they can beat anybody right now and they practice like it, coaches included.

Quarterback Michael Cummings said earlier today that there's a feeling of missing out surfacing around the football complex because of the disappointment that they're just now starting to put everything together. Even with that, though, Cummings said it wasn't like the guys were dwelling on it. Instead, they're looking at the last two games as a great opportunity and he said it would be that way if they had two games, five games or 10 games left.

I saw an extra dose of energy out there last week, and coming off the Iowa State victory that made sense. But there was even more out there today. It's crazy to think, but this team really is just two special teams mistakes away from sitting on five victories and having two shots at getting that sixth win for bowl eligibility.

Had they not kicked off to OSU's Tyreek Hill, I think KU wins that game. And if Cameron Echols-Luper hadn't taken that punt back to the house last week to give TCU its first lead since the first quarter, I think that would've changed the outcome, as well.

I'm not the only one. Clearly these guys believe that and even though so many of them are down to the final two games of their careers, they're certainly not operating like the end is in sight.

Here's a quick look at what else caught my eye at today's practice:

• I watched Cummings pretty closely to see how he held up health-wise and he looked fine. Good even. He was a full participant, threw the same amount of ball as the other quarterbacks and even bounced around out there like he wasn't in any pain at all. He said earlier that he felt great today and that most of the right arm/shoulder issue he's dealing with right now was simply a matter of how well he could play through pain. That's good news for Kansas because the answer to that question is, “very well.”

• Former KU center Chip Budde was the former player who spoke to the team before practice and, like many before him, Budde's message was short, sweet, to the point and received with all kinds of hootin' and hollerin', some of it even coming from Bowen himself.

• This week's depth chart has Larry Mazyck listed with the first stringers at right tackle but I also saw Jordan Shelley-Smith (the back-up at both left and right tackle) working with the ones a little bit today. No surprise there. Shelley-Smith has played plenty during the past couple of weeks and it could simply be a case of KU making sure both guys are ready for Saturday's match-up with OU's big and physical defensive line.

• There were plenty of NFL scouts at practice again today and, at least from where I was standing, it looked like most of them were very interested in senior receiver Nick Harwell. I'm sure they were taking notes about junior Nigel King, too, but their eyes seemed fixed on Harwell for extended periods of time. And good for him. After coming to KU with an almost-certain NFL future, Harwell sat out a year and then struggled to get going this season because of KU's offensive issues. He's hot now, though, and it looks like people outside of KU nation are taking notice.

Reply

The Day After: A UK embarrassment

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) give the ball a hard bounce in frustration after a string of Jayhawk fouls during the first half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) give the ball a hard bounce in frustration after a string of Jayhawk fouls during the first half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

By now, if you've even taken the time to read, listen or pay attention to any of the aftermath of Tuesday night's bloodbath in Indy, you know that KU's 72-40 loss to No. 1 Kentucky was an historically bad outing for a Bill Self-coached Kansas team.

So there's really no need to rehash that. The Jayhawks were overmatched, looked ill prepared and overall rattled and rocked by the bigger, deeper, more talented Kentucky squad that started strong and never let up at the fourth annual Champions Classic showcase.

An outcome such as the one the Jayhawks suffered Tuesday night certainly is not what anyone on the team was hoping for, but it also was not all that surprising. During its three games leading up to the clash with Kentucky, Kansas showed plenty of signs that it was still very much a work in progress and KU coach Bill Self warned all along that the bigger Wildcats would be a handful for his Jayhawks. They were. And then some.

These Champions Classic events are great when you've got a veteran team or some guys ready for the bright lights. But they can be a nightmare when you don't and KU found that out — again — last night.

Duke is now the leader in the four-year history of the event, at 3-1, while Kentucky and Michigan State are both 2-2 and the Jayhawks 1-3.

Quick takeaway

It's cliché, but it's also true. Getting rocked like that in front of the entire world could be the best thing to happen to this team. The young Jayhawks surely now realize that they need to listen to anything and everything Self has to say, and coaches always say it's easier to teach and coach after a loss than a victory, so this week's practices should be, well, interesting. KU will be fine. They'll regroup, learn from this and start to come together in the very near future. The people screaming doomsday or freaking out about Self or his players are overreacting a bit, as easy and understandable as that is to do after watching your team play like that.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk leans down for a talk with head coach Bill Self during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk leans down for a talk with head coach Bill Self during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile

1 – It's college basketball and not college football. Had this happened to a top-ranked team on the gridiron, it would've been devastating to their title hopes and haunted them the entire season. Not in hoops. Sure, this one might have been devastating for KU's title hopes — in the sense that everyone not named Kentucky appears to be playing for second place this season — but the Jayhawks can move past this and still have a heck of a season. That's exactly what happened in 2011-12, when Kentucky rocked KU in NYC and the two met for the national championship in New Orleans a few months later. The Jayhawks are too talented and too proud to not regroup and move on from this setback.

2 – Several freshmen showed up to compete, they just didn't play that well. It would've been easy — and completely understandable — for those young guys to be overwhelmed by the big stage and scary opponent. But that did not appear to be the case. Cliff Alexander, Kelly Oubre and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, particularly, seemed fairly comfortable out there, the Jayhawks were just in too big of a hole too quickly for it to truly matter. It's tough to ask or expect a group of freshmen to lead the way when experienced veterans like Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis aren't clicking around them, and I think there's less concern about the young guys today than those vets.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) pushes the ball up the court against Kentucky during the first half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) pushes the ball up the court against Kentucky during the first half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

3 – It probably can't get any worse than that. It figures to be a long, long time before the Jayhawks play another game where they look quite as overmatched and out of sync. We're talking 10 years or more. Most teams cant' say that, so at least KU fans can hold onto that as they mourn Tuesday night's embarrassment.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – This team is lacking leadership on the floor. Wayne Selden, though competitive, has yet to fully step into that role. And neither point guard — Frank Mason or Devonte' Graham — seems to own the leadership vibe that this team is missing. It's not that the Jayhawks need someone out there who will scream and shout and rant and rave, but they do need a guy they can look to for encouragement in tough times and a guy who can pull the group together and get them going when needed. That can't and shouldn't always come from the guy in the suit on the bench. It's just not the same thing as when it comes from someone on the floor.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) watches as Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) rejects his floater during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) watches as Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) rejects his floater during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

2 – The start of the second half was awful. Obviously, the entire second half was pretty terrible, too, but after cutting UK's 18-point, first-half lead down to nine at one point and 10 at the break, the Jayhawks put themselves in position to come out fast and get back into the game. Instead, they scored just 12 points the entire second half and shot 13 percent (3-of-23) during the final 20 minutes.

Kansas players Devonte Graham, left, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and Perry Ellis watch during the final seconds of the Jayhawks' 72-40 loss to Kentucky during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas players Devonte Graham, left, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and Perry Ellis watch during the final seconds of the Jayhawks' 72-40 loss to Kentucky during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

3 – There were so many other bad statistics and numbers that it was easy to overlook KU's sub-par performance at the free throw line, but the Jayhawks struggled there, too. Kansas made just 15 of 27 free throws in this one (56 percent) and too often came away with empty trips that should have been points and could have helped keep the game close – at least closer. Poor free throw shooting is often something coaches just gloss over and expect the players to fix by practicing on their own and focusing in a little more. That's probably what will happen here, but the Jayhawks need to get on the right side of the free-throw stat sooner rather than later before it becomes a real problem, both on the scoreboard and in their heads.

One for the road

The Jayhawks' 32-point loss at Kentucky in Indianapolis:

·         Moved KU to a 1-1 record to start the season for the fifth time in the Bill Self era.

·         Expanded Kentucky’s lead for all-time wins in NCAA Division I history to 16 games. Kansas now has 2,127 wins in its history, while Kentucky has 2,143.

·         Added to Kentucky’s lead on the series, which stands at 22-6 in favor of the Wildcats, including three-straight wins.

·         Made Kansas’ record against ranked teams 53-29 in the Self era.

·         Made KU 7-16 all-time against the Associated Press No. 1 ranked teams, including 2-2 under Self.

·         Changed Self’s record to 3-4 against Kentucky, 326-70 at Kansas and 533-175 overall.

·         Made KU’s all-time record 2,127-823.

Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison (5) gets to the bucket between Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) and forward Perry Ellis (34) during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison (5) gets to the bucket between Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) and forward Perry Ellis (34) during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

Next up:

The Jayhawks return to action at 7 p.m. Monday, when Rider, which does not feature nine All-Americans or any kind of platoon system that we're aware of, comes to Allen Fieldhouse for Game 3 of the 2014-15 season.

By the numbers: Kansas vs. Kentucky

By the numbers: Kansas vs. Kentucky by KUsports.com graphic

Reply

KU football momentarily relevant again on national stage

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson is surrounded by teammates after recovering a fumble by TCU during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson is surrounded by teammates after recovering a fumble by TCU during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

They may be small steps, but, at least for a few moments in the past week, Kansas University football was relevant once again.

Don't get me wrong, I fully recognize that there are plenty of die-hard KU football fans who live and die (and most often agonize) with the ups and downs of the program and show up ready to support their team win, lose or draw.

To that group, the Jayhawks are always relevant. But I'm talking relevant to college football. I'm talking relevant in the sense that something crosses one's brain that makes college football fans everywhere go, 'Huh, Kansas. Look at that.'

Last week, the Jayhawks had at least two of those moments. The first and most obvious came on Saturday, when KU put a heck of a scare into No. 5 TCU and threatened to single-handedly shake up the entire college football playoff standings, at least for a week. Truth be told, the Jayhawks did that even in a 34-30 loss to TCU, which entered last week ranked fourth in the ever-important college football playoff standings and, by some time tonight, will know whether that close call with Kansas hurt them or not.

The Jayhawks had plays that popped up on SportsCenter and other highlight shows. The names you know well were kicked around nationally for a couple of minutes and, although it went down as just another L, the effort regained Kansas some national respect.

I figured that respect would come and go pretty quickly but then I read this rundown of the playoff standings from the folks at FOX Sports, who not only gave TCU some credit for holding off Kansas (inspired team, on the road, Big 12 foe, all that jazz) but actually sounded off about the coaching search currently under way here. It caught me off guard and when I read it I had to read it a second time to make sure what I saw was right. But it was. There in the third comment under No. 5 Baylor was mention from former college football great Charles Davis — one of a 13-man FOX panel designed to track the playoff progress — gave a shout-out to interim head coach Clint Bowen for a job well done.

Davis: “(Baylor) will benefit from TCU’s struggle at Kansas (give Clint Bowen the job, Kansas; he deserves it), and the 'TCU’s ahead of Baylor in the poll, but Baylor beat TCU head-to-head!' discussion gets quelled, at least for this week. Baylor’s schedule is catching up as they finish with all Big 12 games, including hosting Oklahoma State Saturday night on FOX.”

It might be a small mention and it certainly is not KU impacting the national scene the way the next head coach (whoever that will be) and athletic director Sheahon Zenger want, but it's infinitely better than the blowouts of the Turner Gill and Charlie Weis days and something that, short as it may have been, KU fans can hold onto and take pride in.

Reply

The Day After: A Senior Day heartbreaker vs. No. 5 TCU

Kansas players JaCorey Shepherd (24) and Cassius Sendish celebrate Shepherd's interception of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas players JaCorey Shepherd (24) and Cassius Sendish celebrate Shepherd's interception of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University football team did not win Saturday's thrilling showdown with No. 5 TCU at Memorial Stadium, but you'd never know that from the reaction that came after it.

Smiles radiated, pride beamed and the Jayhawks walked, talked, looked and sounded like a real football team again. There was even an opportunity for interim head coach to blast the officials for a couple of interesting calls, but, true to the form he's had throughout this whole ordeal, Bowen paused, thought carefully and chose to take the high road.

It was a good move. Even if he didn't agree with the calls that went against his team, whining about them in the postgame press conference would have done nothing — not for the game, not for his candidacy for the full-time job and not for the attitude he's instilled in his team since taking over. That attitude, of course, focuses on one mindset and one mindset only: Work hard, be tough and worry only about the things you can control.

That recipe almost enabled the Jayhawks to pull an all-time upset against a TCU team vying to stay in the conversation for the first ever college football playoff. The Horned Frogs won, and that's all that mattered, particularly on a day when other top-tier teams struggled or lost. But it could be argued that it was the Jayhawks who came away from this one having gained the most.

Never has the support behind Bowen been greater. Interest in the program is headed in the right direction again. Fans of KU football are no longer embarrassed to call themselves that out loud.

Bowen had a lot to do with that, but to give him all of the credit for it would be wrong. He's the captain of the ship, but the guys with the oars are some pretty big time players with a lot of heart and pride. And most of them are pretty good at football, too.

TCU found that out first-hand on Saturday and left Lawrence feeling fortunate to have survived.

Quick takeaway:

If it's football you want to talk about, Saturday's effort against a darn good TCU team proved that the Jayhawks might have a chance to be competitive in their two remaining games. That's something almost no one thought they could say a couple of weeks ago. But this team is tough, the offense is clicking and the defense is confident it can play with anybody. That alone should make for a fun couple of weeks. If it's the coaching search you're more interested in following, Saturday's game was relevant there, too. Bowen has proven he can coach. He took a group of guys who have done nothing but lose and made them winners. Maybe not on the scoreboard all that often, but they'll leave here with their heads up and remember this season much differently than it looked like they were going to. People realize that. People like that. And it's made a huge difference in the way a lot of people view Bowen as a candidate for the job.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings throws over the TCU defense during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings throws over the TCU defense during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile:

1 – If the way Jimmay Mundine competed out there did not earn your respect, the guy must have done something to your family. Seven catches, 137 yards, a touchdown and a part of what seemed like 40 missed tackles. All while having a heck of a time. Mundine was sensational in this game and has been a huge part of the reason for the solid play turned in by QB Michael Cummings. His effort against a Top 5 team on top of all he already has done this season should put him in the lead for first-team all-Big 12 honors at tight end.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine tears up the sideline for a 67-yard-gain against TCU during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine tears up the sideline for a 67-yard-gain against TCU during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

2 – Forget about Michael Cummings' statistics, let's talk about the young man's toughness. I counted three times where he walked off the field looking like he might not be able to continue, yet, each time he trotted back out there and not only played but also threw darts. I could go on and on and on and on here, but you get the point. The kid's tough. He's a heck of a competitor. And he deserves a ton of respect even if he's not impressed.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings breaks away from TCU defenders Davion Pierson (57) and Paul Dawson (47) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings breaks away from TCU defenders Davion Pierson (57) and Paul Dawson (47) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

3 – That's two weeks in a row that the Jayhawks have started fast and you can see what that's doing for their chances to be competitive. After brutal starts against Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Jayhawks have finally stopped digging themselves huge holes that they can't crawl out of no matter how well they play. The improvement of the offense — credit Bowen, Cummings and Eric Kiesau for a big chunk of that — has played the biggest role here, but so has the general mindset of this team. For the first time in a long time, these guys truly believe they're good enough to win and are getting results and production that back that up.

Three reasons to sigh:

1 – KU's special teams cost them again. Against Oklahoma State, a Tyreek Hill kickoff return for a touchdown — and the decision to kick it to him — cost the Jayhawks a victory and on Saturday against TCU, punter Trevor Pardula's big leg got the Jayhawks into trouble for a change when Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown that proved to be the difference. Those things will kill a lot of teams, but they're especially deadly for a team like KU that just doesn't have much margin for error.

TCU return man Cameron Echols-Luper runs back a punt for a touchdown and the lead as he is tailed by Kansas special teams player Trent Smiley during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

TCU return man Cameron Echols-Luper runs back a punt for a touchdown and the lead as he is tailed by Kansas special teams player Trent Smiley during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

2 – With all the talent returning in the backfield heading into this season, you would've never been able to convince me that the KU passing game would be more productive for this team. But it has been lately. KU averaged just 2.1 yards per carry against a tough TCU defense. Corey Avery (10 carries, 27 yards and a touchdown) had good moments and it would've been very interesting to see him get three more carries when the Jayhawks took over at the TCU 10 yard line late in the game down by seven. But hindsight's 20/20 and there's no guarantee Avery or anyone else would've got in either. The way Cummings and the pass catchers are playing — along with the improvement of the O-Line — the running game doesn't have to be great. But it does need to be a threat to keep the defense on its heels and 2.1 ypc won't cut it.

3 – It really is a shame that Saturday's loss was the home finale. With the new wave of support building behind Bowen and his boys it would be cool to see what the crowd would look like if the Jayhawks had one more home game this season.

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson is surrounded by teammates after recovering a fumble by TCU during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson is surrounded by teammates after recovering a fumble by TCU during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

One for the road:

KU's four-point loss to fifth-ranked TCU on Saturday...

• Moved the Jayhawks to 579-596-58 all-time. • Pushed TCU's lead in the all-time series lead 19-8-4. • Increased a streak of 15-straight losses to opponents ranked in the Top 25. • Prolonged a span of more than three years since the Jayhawks have won games in consecutive weeks. • Pushed the stretch of years it's been since KU topped TCU to 18. • Increased KU’s deficit to TCU in games played in Lawrence to 9-6. • Gave KU an even 3-3 mark at home in 2014.

Next up:

KU will travel to Norman, Oklahoma, this weekend for a match-up with the Sooners at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Reply

The Day After: A grinder with the Gauchos

Kansas guard Frank Mason claps his hands as he gets back on defense against UC Santa Barbara during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason claps his hands as he gets back on defense against UC Santa Barbara during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University men's basketball team got a little bit from both factions of its roster during Friday's 69-59 season-opening victory over UC Santa Barbara at Allen Fieldhouse.

Veterans like Perry Ellis (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Jamari Traylor (10 rebounds, praise from KU coach Bill Self) chipped in to do their part and freshmen such as point guard Devonte' Graham (game-high 14 points) and Cliff Alexander (9 points in 12 minutes) chipped in to do theirs.

Not everybody on the roster played as solidly as those four, but KU didn't need them to, as the Jayhawks played 11 guys — 9 who got 12 minutes or more — and did just enough to hold off a tough UCSB squad in what proved to be a great test for an opening game.

The Kentucky Wildcats will be much tougher at all five positions than the Gauchos were, but it was good for the Jayhawks to have to grind one out early because the only way they'll beat Kentucky on Tuesday is by grinding.

Quick takeaway:

It's easy to look at all of that talent and all of those options and say to yourself, “Damn, they've got another loaded team.” And the Jayhawks do. But games like the one we saw Friday night remind you that, even with all that talent and depth, it's still going to take some time for this team to be clicking on all cylinders. The Jayhawks were good at times during Friday's opener, but careless and sloppy at others and slow and sluggish some, as well. Particularly on offense. If there's one thing that Friday showed you it's that this team really might be a team that hangs its hat on defense. If it is, I'm guessing that would be just fine with Bill Self.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis pulls away a rebound from UC Santa Barbara player Alan Williams during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis pulls away a rebound from UC Santa Barbara player Alan Williams during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile:

1 – Perry Ellis did some serious work on the glass. Ellis was nearly invisible in the rebounding department during KU's exhibition games, but that changed in a hurry Friday. He finished with 10 boards — six of them offensive — and got his hands on at least two or three other loose balls just by being active. Ellis was aggressive and played with urgency and that showed up big time on the stat sheet.

2 – After hearing all week how good the Gauchos were, it was good to see that KU actually took the warning seriously. Never did it appear that the Jayhawks were disinterested or thinking more about Kentucky on Tuesday. They locked in from the opening tip and competed to the final horn. Again, I think that's a product of having all of that depth. Guys know that when they're out there they better go hard because they can be pulled off the court just as quickly as they were thrown out there.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander delivers a jam against UC Santa Barbara players Gabe Vincent (2) and Alan Williams during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander delivers a jam against UC Santa Barbara players Gabe Vincent (2) and Alan Williams during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – It was just one game and I have been the guy saying not to read too much into what Cliff Alexander has done thus far, but I'm over that. He's a beast. And more importantly, he may very well be developing into this team's go-to scorer. Alexander looks more hungry than any player on this roster when he's on the offensive end and his ability to punish the rim from point-blank range or step out and stroke the 15-foot jumper makes him such a weapon. During that stretch in the second half when KU pushed the lead to double digits, Alexander demanded the ball and almost everything ran through him. That should only grow from here, even if the opponents do get better. The guy's a big-time player who shines brightest under the lights.

Three reasons to sigh:

1 – I thought Wayne Selden disappeared too often, at least compared to what I was expecting from him. Yeah, the sophomore guard finished with 10 points and played a team-high 32 minutes, but he only made 2-of-8 shots, scored six of his points from the free throw line and tallied just one rebound, two assists, two turnovers, a block and a steal. Maybe it's a good thing that he's letting some of these young guys assert themselves, especially early, but for a talented veteran who was on the floor that long to have that kind of line made me shrug my shoulders a little bit.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden gets to the bucket between UC Santa Barbara defenders John Green (31) and Alan Williams (15) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden gets to the bucket between UC Santa Barbara defenders John Green (31) and Alan Williams (15) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – There were still far too many times where the Jayhawks gave up a layup or dunk because a post player had to rotate over to stop the drive and left his man all alone for the easy dish and score. Defensive rotation takes time to perfect and even when you're darn good at it, good players can break you down. So I'm not saying this is complete cause for panic, but we saw it a ton last year and on the few occasions I noticed it happened on Friday, I saw Perry Ellis roll his eyes after leaving his man to go help only to see the guy he left score.

3 – Popped into the starting lineup to see what he could do, Brannen Greene left a little to be desired. With a good game on Friday, Greene could have made it tough for Self to take him out of the starting lineup any time soon, but I don't think that'll be a problem on Tuesday night. Greene finished with just three points on 1-of-3 shooting, two rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 17 minutes. There were spurts when he looked pretty good, but he was nowhere near as active and aggressive as he was in the exhibition finale and that has to leave you scratching your head. Just a guess here, but I'd say Graham will take Greene's starting spot on Tuesday.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham pulls up for a jumper past UC Santa Barbara guard Eric Childress during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham pulls up for a jumper past UC Santa Barbara guard Eric Childress during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

One for the road:

The Jayhawks' 10-point, season-opening victory on Friday...

·         Gave them their 42nd-consecutive Allen Fieldhouse season-opening victory dating back to the 1973-74 season.

·         Marked KU’s 13th-straight season-opening victory dating back to 2001-02.

·         Gave the Jayhawks an all-time record of 714-109 in Allen Fieldhouse.

·         Increased KU’s record against UC Santa Barbara to 2-0 all-time.

·         Improved head coach Bill Self to a 12-0 record in season opening games at Kansas. While also increasing his coaching record at Kansas to 326-99 and 533-174 overall.

·         Improved KU’s all-time record to 2,127-822.

Here's a quick look at the updated all-time wins list:

• UK 2,141
• KU 2,127
• UNC 2,115
• Duke 2,028
• Syracuse 1,903

Next up:

It's a heavy weight showdown in Indy on Tuesday night, when KU takes on Kentucky in the Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m., central time.

By the numbers: Kansas vs. UC Santa Barbara, Nov. 14, 2014

By the numbers: Kansas vs. UC Santa Barbara, Nov. 14, 2014

Reply

Saturday’s senior sendoff figures to be special for KU football

As you all surely know by now, Saturday will mark the final home football game in the careers of several Jayhawks. And while the task at hand seems daunting — TCU enters ranked No. 5 in the nation and favored by 28 points — there are plenty of ways Saturday will be memorable for these guys, win or lose.

In all, there will be a total of 20 seniors honored before Saturday's 2 p.m. kickoff with No. 5 TCU.

According to a KU spokes person, tight end Scott Baron is graduating and not returning for a fifth year of eligibility; senior running back Brandon Bourbon, who missed the season with a knee injury, will take part in the senior day activities, but senior running back Taylor Cox, who missed the season with an Achillles' injury, will not. Senior safety Jaccare Givens also will not take part in the Senior Day activities.

The aforementioned notes are the result of a personal decision for each player and are not related to Bourbon and Cox's pending eligibility. That has not been determined yet.

Here's a quick look at the seniors who will be honored on Saturday along with a few seniors who KU is pushing for postseason honors:

2014 Kansas Football Seniors being honored Saturday

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Exp. Hometown (High School/Previous School)
83 Scott Baron TE 6-2 ½ 236 Jr. SQ Santa Ana, Calif. (Orange Lutheran HS)
25 Brandon Bourbon RB 6-1 ½ 225 Sr. 3L Potosi, Mo. (Potosi HS)
43 Ed Fink TE/FB 6-2 ½ 235 Sr. 1L Belleville, Ill. (Althoff HS)
63 Ngalu Fusimalohi OL 6-2 315 Sr. 1L Daly City, Calif. (Jefferson HS/CC of San Francisco)
8 Nick Harwell WR 6-1 193 Sr. TR Missouri City, Texas (Elkins HS/Miami (Ohio)
31 Ben Heeney LB 6-0 230 Sr. 3L Hutchinson, Kan. (Hutchinson HS)
99 Tedarian Johnson DL 6-2 290 Sr. 1L Jackson, Miss. (Murrah HS/Hinds CC)
61 Pat Lewandowski OL 6-5 ½ 290 Sr. 3L Overland Park, Kan. (Blue Valley West HS)
19 Justin McCay WR 6-2 210 Sr. 1L Kansas City, Mo. (Bishop Miege HS/Oklahoma)
12 Dexter McDonald CB 6-1 ½ 205 Sr. 2L Kansas City, Mo. (Rockhurst HS/Butler CC)
41 Jimmay Mundine TE 6-2 240 Sr. 3L Denison, Texas (Denison HS)
16 Trevor Pardula P/K 6-5 212 Sr. 1L San Jose, Calif. (Leigh HS/De Anza College)
3 Tony Pierson WR 5-10 ½ 175 Sr. 3L East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)
55 Michael Reynolds BUCK 6-1 240 Sr. 2L Wichita, Kan. (Kapaun Mt. Carmel HS)
33 Cassius Sendish S 6-0 195 Sr. 1L Waldorf, Md. (North Point HS/Arizona Western CC)
24 JaCorey Shepherd CB 5-11 195 Sr. 3L Mesquite, Texas (Mesquite Horn HS)
27 Victor Simmons BUCK 6-1 ½ 225 Sr. 3L Olathe, Kan. (Olathe North HS)
85 Trent Smiley TE 6-4 240 Sr. 2L Frisco, Texas (Wakeland HS)
65 Mike Smithburg OL 6-3 305 Sr. 1L Fairfield, Iowa (Fairfield HS/Iowa Western CC)
98 Keon Stowers DL 6-3 297 Sr. 2L Rock Hill, S.C. (Northwestern HS/Georgia Military College)

Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney celebrates with fans after the Jayhawks' 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech on a walk-off fieldgoal from kicker Matthew Wyman, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney celebrates with fans after the Jayhawks' 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech on a walk-off fieldgoal from kicker Matthew Wyman, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

LINEBACKER BEN HEENEY

• As of Sunday, Nov. 9, Heeney led the FBS and Big 12 in solo tackles (8.0 per game) and ranks first in the conference and eighth in the NCAA in total tackles (11.2 per game), en route to 101 stops through nine games in 2014.

• Heeney has led the Jayhawks in tackles in seven of their nine games on the year, posting double-digit efforts in six of those contests.

• Heeney led all FBS players on Saturday, Oct. 18 with a career-best 21 tackles in KU's game at Texas Tech. Heeney's 21 tackles are the most by any player in the Big 12 in 2014 and are the second most by any player in the NCAA this season. Among Heeney's 21 stops, were 17 solo tackles – just three short of the FBS record of 20 in a game.

• His 17 solo stops vs. Tech were the second most in Big 12 history and are the most in the NCAA in a single game since Tyler Matakevich of Temple recorded 19 solos agains Idaho on Sept. 28, 2013.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine (41) makes a grab near the goal line during Kansas' game against TCU Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine (41) makes a grab near the goal line during Kansas' game against TCU Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by John Young

TIGHT END JIMMAY MUNDINE

• Ranks first in the Big 12 and eighth in the NCAA in receiving yards by a tight end with 400 yards on 33 receptions.

• His 33 receptions rank tied for third among 'Power 5' tight ends, while his 400 receiving yards are the fourth-best.

• Has recorded five or more grabs in four games with 24 of his 33 receptions resulting in a first down.

2014 SEASON HIGHS
RECEPTIONS: 7, at Texas Tech
RECEIVING YARDS: 88, vs. Oklahoma State
TOUCHDOWN CATCHES: 1 (2x), last vs. Iowa State
LONGEST RECEPTION: 35, vs. Texas

Kansas University's Trevor Pardula, a 6-foot-5, 209-pound punter from San Jose, California kicks at TCU on Saturday October 12, 2013.

Kansas University's Trevor Pardula, a 6-foot-5, 209-pound punter from San Jose, California kicks at TCU on Saturday October 12, 2013. by Richard Gwin

PUNTER TREVOR PARDULA

• Leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks 13th in the NCAA in punting average at 44.8 yards per punt.

• Has recorded 24 punts of 50 yards or more, including two of 70 yards or more in one game.Has dropped 33.3 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line, while 13 of his punts have been fair caught.

• Has dropped 33.3 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line, while 13 of his punts have been fair caught.

2014 SEASON HIGHS
PUNTS: 14, at West Virginia
NET PUNT YARDAGE: 621, at West Virginia
LONGEST PUNT: 72, at Duke
PUNTS INSIDE THE 20: 4, two times, last vs. CMU

Reply