Tale of the Tait
Minutes after the nation's No. 1 prep prospect, Andrew Wiggins, announced that he was heading to Kansas, many KU fans and national writers took to Twitter to share their joke about Jayhawk fans having yet another reason to wish for football season to pass quickly.
True or not, don't expect the members of the KU football team themselves to be too upset about it. In fact, more than a dozen Jayhawk football players also jumped on Twitter following Wiggins' announcement to share their excitement over the newest big-time basketball recruit landed by Bill Self.
Here's a sample:
Head coach Charlie Weis:
Congrats to Coach Self, staff and team. Wow. Welcome Andrew to the Jayhawk family. Rock Chalk!
Wide receiver Josh Ford:
congrats to #KUbball and @CoachBillSelf on signing the #1 recruit in the nation Andrew Wiggins #RockChalk
Safety Isaiah Johnson:
Damn KU just picked up the number one basketball player!! #BIG I feel like #kufball and #kubball will do some exciting things this year !! #rockchalk
Defensive end Michael Reynolds:
Big recruiting classes for #kufball and #kuball this year !! #JayhawkNation
Quarterback Jake Heaps:
Great day to be a Jayhawk! Congrats to @22wiggins on his decision. A great feeling knowing where your going to be playing ball!! #RockChalk
Defensive tackle Marquel Combs:
KU Basketball is about to (be) crazy this year !!
Linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore:
Damn.. Bill self a Wizard how he put this class together! Big time Football recruiting class! Big time Basketball recruiting class! Great day to be a Jayhawk
Assistant coach Dave Campo:
Congrats to Coach Self and staff on a great recruiting year!!! Rock Chalk!!!”
Linebacker Schyler Miles:
WIGGINS TO KU!
Defensive back Dexter McDonald:
Wiggins got 80.3K followers lol how can you not get a check thts already official lol
Defensive tackle Keon Stowers:
Wiggins to KU lets go!!
Linebacker Victor Simmons:
Dude isn't even here yet and already got a fake account.
Long snapper Reilly Jeffers:
@22wiggins hey welcome to the family #rockchalk #kubball and #kufball
The list goes on and on. So, as you can see, there's not a whole lot of animosity from the football players about their basketball counterparts signing the best prep player on the planet.
In fact, they seem pretty excited to welcome him to town and, from December through March, to watch him play in Allen Fieldhouse.
One of the biggest reasons I think these guys aren't worried about Wiggins' arrival — other than the fact that the football team largely is made up of pretty good dudes — is the fact that these guys are realists. They understand, embrace and accept that in order to get people interested in what they're doing on Saturdays this fall, they have to go out there and win games.
The Andrew-Wiggins-to-Kansas news that overjoyed Jayhawk Nation at 11:09 a.m. today and continues to send waves of happiness throughout Lawrence brings to town the latest can't-miss, one-and-done college hoops prospect.
Regardless of your opinion on OADs, the addition of Wiggins, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound wing from Huntington, W.V., who can do a little bit of everything, not only makes the Bill-Self-led Jayhawks the favorite to win a 10th straight Big 12 title but also puts Kansas firmly into the preseason Top 10, perhaps even the Top 5. Not bad for one of last year's No. 1 seeds that lost all five starters, many of whom played key roles on the Jayhawks' run to the national title game in 2012, as well.
More important than any fact about where KU will be ranked or what KU can accomplish during the 2013-14 season is the fact that adding Wiggins to the incoming class and the returning roster gives Self an incredible amount of flexibility and a seemingly endless list of options.
As Self likes it, the competition for playing time will be stiff this coming season, which not only means the Jayhawks are loaded, but also means they're going to get better. Picture this: a deep and talented crop of Jayhawks new and old battling against one another for minutes every day during practice. There will be no fear about going too hard, only fear about not going hard enough.
Wiggins, who is projected by many to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, will certainly be pencilled in as a starter from Day 1.
The rest of the starting lineup remains to be seen, but, again, there are a bunch of different options for Self.
Here's an early stab at what the opening night starting lineup could look like, followed by a look at KU's reserves:
PG: Naadir Tharpe, jr.
SG: Wayne Selden, fr.
SF: Andrew Wiggins, fr.
PF: Perry Ellis, soph.
C: Joel Embiid, fr.
PG: Frank Mason, fr.
SG: Conner Frankamp, fr.
SF: Brannen Greene, fr.
SF: Andrew White III, soph.
PF: Jamari Traylor, soph.
PF: Landen Lucas, RS-fr.
PF: Justin Wesley, sr.
Don't forget that Memphis forward Tarik Black is visiting KU today and, should he choose the Jayhawks, he would offer Self yet another option in the starting lineup. Perhaps something like this:
PG: Naadir Tharpe, jr.
SG: Wayne Selden, fr.
SF: Andrew Wiggins, fr.
PF: Perry Ellis, soph.
C: Tarik Black, sr.
What all of this tells me is (a) KU will not have to worry about a lack of athleticism next season; and (b) Naadir Tharpe better be ready to take on a leadership role because he'll be playing with a bunch of youngins.
As many of you may know, I've loved Tharpe's leadership traits since his freshman season and I think he took a real step forward in that department last season. Give him another summer to go to work and adjust to the feeling that this is his team to lead and I think he'll be primed for a fantastic junior year.
Remember, Tharpe was at his best last season when he served as a facilitator, and with these lineups and the offensive weapons KU will have coming off the bench, it will be pretty clear that getting the ball to the right guys will be Tharpe's No. 1 job next season.
• CINCINNATI BENGALS — May 10-12
Tanner Hawkinson, OL
Like several other NFL teams, the Bengals open rookie mini camp Friday, when fifth-round draft pick and former Kansas University standout Tanner Hawkinson officially will begin his pro career. Because he was drafted, there is a lot less pressure on Hawkinson at mini camp than there is on the rest of his former KU teammates who are trying to make their respective rosters as undrafted free agents. Still, Hawkinson is competing for playing time and, in some ways, the coaches might be harder on him than the rest of the Jayhawks trying to break into the league. Hawkinson will begin his Bengals career wearing the same number (72) he wore in college.
• CHICAGO BEARS — May 10-12
Tunde Bakare, LB
Josh Williams, DE
The Bears gave free-agent contracts to 10 undrafted players following last month's draft, and, because they are a team that doesn't often load up on these types of players, that does not bode well for the chances of former Jayhawks Bakare and Williams. What the duo does have going in its favor is this: None of those 10 free agent contracts went to players who play their position. Bakare, though a bit undersized, brings a unique skill set to camp. He's a physical monster with good speed and an even better motor. Williams started his career at Nebraska and I've heard on more than one occasion that sometimes guys are picked up or given chances because of the coach or the program they played for.
• DETROIT LIONS — May 10-12
Marrongelli is one of a handful of players invited to the Lions mini camp without a contract. The good news is the versatile and intelligent lineman got the invite. The bad news? The Lions actually signed three undrafted free agent offensive linemen and drafted one in the third round. As was the case going in, Marrongelli seems like a long shot to make the Lions' roster.
• JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — May 3-5
Duane Zlatnik, OL
The former KU guard was one of nearly 50 rookies in attendance at the Jaguars rookie mini camp last week. Given those numbers alone, Zlatnik faced a tough challenge of standing out in a crowd that included No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel. He got his reps, though, and did so wearing No. 68 (he wore 67 in college). Zlatnik has the size, strength and skill to get noticed but must show consistency. I talked to more than one person during Zlatnik's KU career who said the Rossville native was the best O-Line prospect on the team. If Zlatnik sticks around, his next chance to prove that is at the Jags' OTAs, which begin May 13.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — May 10-12
Dayne Crist, QB
Bradley McDougald, S
Toben Opurum, DE/FB
For the second year in a row, a member of the KU football team participated at the by-invitation NFL combine yet went undrafted. Although wide receiver turned safety Bradley McDougald fully expected to hear his name called during the seven rounds of the draft, landing in Kansas City as an undrafted free agent signee puts him in pretty good position. The Chiefs are thin at safety and McDougald has the skills and confidence needed to make a quick impact. Two of McDougald's KU teammates will be joining him at K.C.'s mini camp, and both Crist and Opurum offer interesting story lines to keep an eye on. We all know that Crist's lone season at KU was a disappointment, but he still has the tools — size, smarts, arm strength, maturity — that NFL coaches look for at the game's most important position. Considering the fact that he's competing for a roster spot with two career back-ups (Chase Daniel and Ricky Stanzi) and another undrafted free agent in Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Crist, with a good camp, could find himself getting a chance behind Chiefs starter Alex Smith. As for Opurum, it remains to be seen whether he'll work as a defensive end/linebacker, a fullback or both. That, alone, is worth tracking and his versatility could keep him around long enough for the coaching staff to get a look at him in both capacities.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — May 10-12
Greg Brown, CB
Like McDougald, Brown was impressive enough during his career and his pro day to earn a free-agent contract from the Chargers after this year's draft. That doesn't guarantee him anything other than a chance. And it might get him a couple. Not only does the contract indicate that the Chargers see something in Brown that they like, but San Diego also has a rich history of success with undrafted free agents, with names like Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, Mike Tolbert and Kris Dielman going from draft castoffs to NFL starters.
According to Jerry Palm of CBSsports.com, the 2013 season will be another rough one for the Kansas University football team.
It's not that Palm projected the Jayhawks to win just one or two games — he may, but that's not what's in the news today — but rather that Palm projected that 9 of the 12 teams on KU's schedule for the upcoming season will qualify for bowl games when everything is said and done.
That projection includes two of the three non-conference opponents KU will face this season, as Palm has Rice (Sept. 14) slated to play in the Hawaii Bowl and Louisiana Tech (Sept. 21) slotted into the New Orleans Bowl.
The only members of KU's schedule not picked by Palm for the postseason are South Dakota (Sept. 7), Texas Tech (Oct. 5) and West Virginia (Nov. 16).
Both Tech and WVU made bowl appearances in 2012, when 11 of the 12 teams KU faced wound up in bowl games.
Such is life in the Big 12 Conference, where powerhouse programs like Texas, Oklahoma and, lately, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor, pop up on the schedule week in and week out. There are no down weeks in conference play, particularly for a team like KU, which is still in the middle of a rebuilding project, and that fact makes the road to respectability even tougher to travel for KU coach Charlie Weis and company.
I guess, in a way, the 2013 schedule might actually set up better for KU than last year's slate. Time will tell. But the good news — if you're looking for it — is that KU will face two of Palm's three projected non-bowl opponents during the first four games of the season.
It's been said before, and even proven to be true around here, but getting off to a good start drastically can change the way a season unfolds.
The fun begins in less than four months.
Realignment Today: Does the ACC’s granting of rights agreement mean realignment is finally finished?
During the past couple of weeks, I've been asked a few times when I was going to do another conference realignment update in the wake of the ACC announcing its granting of rights agreement that will run through 2026-27.
I certainly understand the interest, and, yes, the ACC news was huge for the realignment landscape. But by huge we're talking huge in the sense that it may have put an end to the movement for the foreseeable future.
Throughout the wild and crazy past three years of realignment, we've talked a lot about how this move or that response might be the key to realignment and full-on pandemonium. But it seems clear to me that the ACC locking up its members for such a long period of time makes things as stable as they have been in years, at least throughout college athletics' major conferences.
Could something still happen? Sure. Anything's possible. We've seen and experienced that too many times throughout the past few summers to sit here and say that this means, with 100 percent certainty, that things are done. But while it might not be 100 percent certain, it seems as if it's as close as it can get – maybe 99.9 percent.
There are those out there who believe that the granting of rights agreements don't mean jack. I've heard from them countless times throughout my coverage of conference realignment and, while I understand where they're coming from, I'm much more inclined to believe the college administrators in multiple conferences who have told me that such agreements are worth their weight in gold.
With that thought in mind, it makes sense to deduce that things will be quiet for a while now that the ACC is solid again. And I gotta admit, my hat's off to that conference for getting it done. I really believed the ACC was flirting with disaster.
After all, for the past year or so the ACC's vulnerability has been seen as the one domino that could send the whole thing tumbling once again. If this ACC school or that one left for this conference or that one, then others would be forced to react, both those schools left in the ACC and the other conferences trying to keep up.
Finally, it looks as if the Big 12 can tell people it's happy at 10 teams and the rest of the world can actually believe them.
So what does that mean for the future? Well, from what I can gather it means this: Proceed with caution.
I've had enough talks with enough people throughout the Big 12 to understand that the league will never again be caught off guard. Every time the conference's athletic directors get together or every time its governing body meets, the topic of realignment and/or expansion comes up. Sometimes it's just for 2 minutes to make sure things are still on track and other times it's for a little longer, with conference officials bringing key questions or concerns to the table for discussion. Consider it Big 12 officials staying on top of things rather than waiting for things to play out before rolling up their sleeves.
And consider that yet another legit sign of the strength and vitality of the Big 12.
A recent article from CBS Sports indicates that the Big Ten and commissioner Jim Delany had talked to as many as six schools during recent months about the idea of expansion. The article claims that the talks were of a serious nature and that things may have heated up considerably had the ACC not locked up its members with the GOR.
Who knows? It's very possible that there's some truth to that and also possible that the whole thing is just more posturing by the man who many believe started the realignment madness in the first place.
Either way, thanks to the ACC, we don't have to find out.
Delany did not disclose the names of the schools he talked to and I can't imagine that he ever will. Was KU one of them? I suppose it's possible, perhaps even likely, but from everything I've been told, it sure doesn't sound like KU had any kind of contact with the Big Ten about realignment.
Now, it's important to remember that contact can be made in both official and unofficial manners. Maybe KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger never talked to Delany about realignment, but maybe a friend of a friend of a friend at KU did.
Again, we'll probably never know and we'll probably never need to.
From where I sit, that's the best news to come from realignment in years.
I didn't write this to proclaim that realignment is over once and for all. None of us are naïve enough — any more — to actually think we're done with this demon for good. It'll come up again, most likely whenever someone gets upset with the way things are run in their conference and certainly whenever these various granting of rights agreements close in on expiration. But for now, it seems as if we can safely get back to mowing the lawn, enjoying cook outs and diving into other elements of sports coverage in the summer instead of tracking the madness of conference realignment.
Time will tell. And you know we'll stay on top of it.
Now, get out there and enjoy this weather.... Oh, wait.
Last year, KU coach Charlie Weis spent the month of May touring the state to drum up support for his new football program. This year, Weis is taking his show farther afield.
KU recently announced the dates of an eight-city regional tour that includes stops at several major KU alumni bases and begins today in Denver.
Dubbed the Kansas Football Preview Party, Weis and special guests from the KU athletic department will talk about the state of the program and the upcoming season at happy hours and luncheons open to the public. There is a charge — $10 to $20 — for most of the events, but the first two, Thursday in Denver and May 8 in Houston, are free.
PS: I know this wasn't very football related, but I still thought it was worth throwing out there so people in these areas would be able to go if they wanted to. So let's do a KU football chat Friday morning sometime to make up for it. Be looking for the link in a while and submit your questions early.
Now.... Here are the details from each of Weis' scheduled visits:
Denver: May 2, 2013
Stoney's Full Stream Tavern will host a Happy Hour event from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (MT). Food and drink will be available for purchase. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend. There is no charge for this event.
Houston: May 8, 2013
The Armadillo Palace will host a Happy Hour event from 7-9 p.m. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend. There is no charge for this event.
Dallas: May 9, 2013
The Dallas Market Center will host a Happy Hour event from 6:30-8:30 p.m., in the Hall of Nations room. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend.
The cost of the event is $15.00 per person and includes food. A cash bar is available. Tickets can be purchased via http://www.kuathletics.com/sports/m-footbl/springtour.html.
St. Louis: May 15, 2013
The St. Louis Marriott West will host a Happy Hour event from 6:30-8:30 p.m. A cash bar and appetizers will be available. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend.
The cost of the event is $20.00 per person and includes food and two drink tickets. A cash bar is also available. Tickets can be purchased here.
Wichita: May 16, 2013
The Wichita Marriott will host a luncheon from 12-1 p.m. Registration for the event begins at 11:30 a.m. The seated luncheon, featuring Athletics Director Dr. Sheahon Zenger and head coach Charlie Weis, starts at noon.
The cost of the event is $20.00 per person and includes a plated lunch. Tickets can be purchased here.
Liberal: May 16, 2013
The Seward County Events Center will host a dinner event from 6:30-8:30 p.m., in the Ag Building. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend.
The cost of the event is $10.00 per person and includes food and drinks. Tickets can be purchased here.
Chicago: May 21, 2013
The Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel will host a Happy Hour event from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend.
The cost of the event is $20.00 per person and includes appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages. A cash bar is also available. Tickets can be purchased here.
Topeka: May 22, 2013
The Ramada Inn Downtown Convention Center will host a Happy Hour event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Head coach Charlie Weis, Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger and other athletic department officials will attend. There is no charge for this event. Food and drink will be available.
Moments ago the identity of the NFL Draft's 38th Mr. Irrelevant was revealed, marking the end of a seven-round affair that saw KU offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson get picked by Cincinnati with the 23rd pick in the 5th round.
Bradley McDougald, the other Jayhawk most likely to get drafted, was not picked (something that really surprised me), but may be in better shape now than if he had been selected with one of those late picks in the seventh round.
Motivation. Being passed over by every team for seven straight rounds no doubt will put a chip on McDougald's shoulder and he'll enter mini camp ready to prove the world wrong.
He'll get to pick his team instead of the other way around. McDougald will get a chance to make an NFL roster and now, instead of taking the hand that's dealt to him, McDougald and his agent get to survey the landscape, look at rosters and take the free agent offer from the team that gives him the best shot to make a squad. This worked well for both Chris Harris and Steven Johnson (both with the Denver Broncos) and has worked well throughout the years for several undrafted players.
As many as 10 other former Jayhawks are likely busy looking for work right now and it's my guess that nearly all of them will at least be invited to a camp and signed as an undrafted free agent.
Joining McDougald as the most notable names on this list are: QB Dayne Crist, DE/FB Toben Opurum and CB Greg Brown.
Call me crazy, but given their luck with Jayhawks in recent years, I wouldn't be surprised for a second if the Broncos went back to the well one more time and added a Kansas free agent.
I've got phone calls and feelers out in all directions and this stuff usually happens pretty quickly once the draft ends, so check back right here for updated free agent info on KU's remaining NFL hopefuls.
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
• 7:02 p.m. - Bradley McDougald Tweets that he has agreed to a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Tweet: "Just agreed to a free agent deal with the KC Chiefs... Thank you for all the love and support, time to go to work!"
• 7:46 p.m. - Cornerback Greg Brown Tweets that he has agreed to a deal with San Diego. Man, there's something about KU defensive backs and the AFC West. Tweet: Blessings have fallen! HUMBLE BEGINNINGS! TAKING MY TALENTS TO SAN DIEGO!!!!!! #CHARGERS
• 8:20 p.m. - Defensive end/Fullback Toben Opurum Tweets that he gets a shot with Kansas City. The Chiefs drafted K-State FB Braden Wilson, so Toben's best shot at making the squad may come on defense/special teams. Tweet: #Chiefs mini-camp invite... All I asked for was an opportunity.. Leggo
• 8:29 p.m. - QB Dayne Crist Tweets that he, too, will get an opportunity with the Kansas City Chiefs. Crist, along with McDougald and Opurum, will report to rookie camp on May 9. Tweet: God is great, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to get back on the field! Rookie Camp for the Chiefs May 9th can't come soon enough!
• 8:32 p.m. - Offensive lineman Trevor Marrongelli just updated me via text message. Said he got an invite to camp from the Detroit Lions just after 8:00 p.m. and that he was weighing his options.
• 8:36 p.m. - Linebacker Tunde Bakare just sent me a text and said he was invited to camp with the Chicago Bears. Probably won't make it as a pure linebacker, but I like Tunde's speed and physicality on special teams.
For the second year in a row, last Saturday's Kansas University football spring game featured a strong performance from a new quarterback to whom KU fans, coaches and players alike have tied their wagon for the upcoming season.
So, for the second year in a row, I wrote about the quarterback.
Last year it was Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist who looked sharp, decisive and, frankly, different, in leading the more talented Blue squad to a runaway victory over the White. And last Saturday, it was BYU transfer Jake Heaps who did the same.
As we all know, Crist's spring game performance turned out to be one of his few highlights during a disappointing season. I don't think we'll be saying the same thing about Heaps by December.
Throughout the spring, the one question I was asked more than any other was, 'How does Heaps look?' Each time I gave an answer that painted a picture of a talented QB who could make a difference for the KU offense.
That question, however, was surpassed by another during the couple of days since the spring game, with the more cynical but certainly understandable, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, but didn't we say the same thing last year?' becoming the more popular inquiry.
I'll be honest; I did. I even went back and read what I wrote about Crist after the 2012 spring game. Here's a taste:
More important than the final score (45-0) or the statistics (Crist was 11-of-19 passing for 156 yards, no interceptions and no TDs) was the fact that Crist showed everyone in attendance that the Jayhawks were running a different, more efficient offense. No play better illustrated that than sophomore running back Tony Pierson’s 88-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. As Crist walked to the line of scrimmage, he surveyed the defense and identified the middle linebacker, a staple of Weis’ offense. Not seeing the set he wanted, Crist called an audible and Pierson did the rest.
I don't remember much about last year's game — that's why I went back and read my story — but I do remember enough to know that what I saw from Heaps on Saturday was much different than what I saw from Crist 12 months ago.
From what I remember, Crist looked good — big, strong and smart, a far cry from anything KU had put under center for the previous few seasons. Heck, in many ways, Crist even looked better than Todd Reesing.
But Jake Heaps actually played good.
A year ago expectations were so low (at least from the realists) and the program was in such bad shape that even the mere presence of players who looked better on the field made it seem like things were headed in the right direction.
The eye test won't fly this time around. And that's why it's important to emphasize that what Heaps showed last Saturday was far more than the ability to be KU's quarterback. He showed he can play.
Even Heaps admitted that he was far from perfect during the spring game. He finished 20-of-28 for 257 yards and four touchdowns, but also took a couple of sacks, short-armed a throw or two and said there were moments that the tempo could have been better, which he put squarely on his shoulders.
But it's not fair to use Heaps' personal standards to judge his play in this one. We all saw his ability for ourselves and there was plenty to like.
In the past 16 months, I've probably seen Heaps throw 5-10 times, including once in last year's spring game, where he was 7-of-10 for 116 yards and the game's lone TD. Saturday's performance was by far — allow me to add a little emphasis to that, BY FAR — the most impressive I've seen him look.
• He threw with confidence. You can't get the ball out in less than three seconds on half of your plays without (a) knowing what you're doing or (b) believing that what you're doing is right.
• He threw lasers. Half the time Heaps threw he released the ball before his receivers (most often chemistry-compadre Justin McCay) had even come out of their breaks. Just about every time the ball was on a line and looked as if the receiver had no choice but to catch it.
• He showed decent mobility, proved he could throw on the run and was wildly accurate. That last one might be his biggest strength.
• And, most importantly, he carried himself the way any fan, coach or teammate would and should want a quarterback to carry himself — with fire, focus, purpose and fun.
See, Heaps is passionate playing the game of football and will do anything to make sure he can play it for as long as his body allows.
I enjoyed my year of covering Crist and think he's one of the better dudes to come through the KU football program. But I didn't always sense his love of the game the way I get it from Heaps. I think it was there, but it didn't always surface. Call it pressure, call it fear, call it a guarded personality or call it self-doubt. Whatever it was, I think it severely prevented Crist from lining up and letting it all hang out. That won't be a problem with Heaps.
So, if you want the truth, it wasn't so much Heaps' final numbers or the fact that he lit up KU's second string defense for four TDs and a 71 percent completion percentage that impressed me. It was the way he did it.
Heaps is not Todd Reesing. He's not as exciting, not as electrifying and certainly not as much of a rebel gunslinger. But he can play. And for the first time since Reesing graduated, Jayhawk fans may find themselves falling in love with their quarterback again this fall.
The weather outside might not be a good indicator, but, yes, we are just a few days away from KU football's annual spring game at Memorial Stadium.
-- Despite today's wintry weather, the good news is that the forecast calls for sunny and 60s on Saturday, so hang in there --
In many ways this spring has flown by, partly because of the early start, partly because of the week off for spring break and partly because it overlapped with March Madness. Regardless, I've been busy stockpiling all kinds of notes and quotes to help get us through the months of May, June and July with some fun and interesting football coverage.
So just because spring drills are about to end, don't think for a second that our coverage will.
I'll have plenty more this week about the final week of spring practice and a preview of Saturday's spring game, which will kick off at 1 p.m. and is free to the public.
For now, though, here's a quick look at the format for the game, which will feature a roster division that leans toward a passing team on one side (blue) and a rushing team on the other (white). I like the way they've split it up. Should make it interesting no matter which side has the ball.
Here's how it will all go down:
There will be four 15 minute quarters with a running clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half, where normal game clock rules will be followed. Outside of that, the clock will stop only for injuries, timeouts or at the referee's discretion.
A coin toss will decide who gets the ball.
Possessions to begin each half and after scores will start at the 30 yard line.
No kickoffs. (This is to avoid unnecessary injuries)
There will be an abbreviated halftime of 13 minutes (NFL format).
Punt/punt return will end when the returner fair catches the ball, picks up a rolling ball or when a defender downs the ball. Normal rules apply for touchbacks.
On field goals, if the ball hits the ground, the play will be blown dead.
Red jerseys worn by the quarterbacks will protect QBs in the pocket only. In other words, if they run, they're free to be hit. (Don't expect Jake Heaps to take off to much, if at all.)
Game MVPs will be announced after the game. The team will join the band for the alma mater after the game.
All in all, it's a pretty decent format for a game that has the potential to be both competitive and entertaining. I have no problem with some of the rules put in place to avoid injuries. Sure, you want to entertain the fans that show up, but not at the expense of getting someone hurt.
There will be plenty of opportunities for the crowd to enjoy what it's watching, both on offense and defense.
I'll leave you (for now) with a quick look at some of the marquee names on each squad.
Annual KU football coaching clinic mixes good entertainment with wealth of knowledge and coaching advice
The Kansas University football program wrapped up its annual coaching clinic on Saturday with the back end of a two-day clinic that drew dozens of college and high school coaches from around the area and focused on everything from X's and O's to the way KU coach Charlie Weis and his staff run the program.
The clinic was structured in a way that allowed every coach that attended a chance to interact with KU's coaching staff in small groups and also allowed time for the coaches to give presentations on a variety of topics that focused on their areas of expertise.
Defensive coordinator Dave Campo talked coverage concepts. Recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello shared with the coaches ways for them to help their athletes get recruited. And so on and so on.
All of the coaches who spoke at the event showed genuine enthusiasm and did not mail it in in any way. In fact, several of them seemed legitimately bummed when the time ran out on their Saturday sessions. Here are but a few of the more interesting and/or entertaining points:
• Weis kicked things off bright and early Saturday morning with a brief overview of who he was, where he came from and where he was headed. His message was simple and he repeated it often: “You have to change with the times and be able to adapt you to your personnel not your personnel to you. It's a big difference, fellas.”
Weis, who emphasized a football coach's role as a teacher, said he first learned that extremely important lesson from the first coach who ever hired him in Morristown, N.J.
“When I understood that football is nothing other than the subject you teach, that's when I really became a football coach,” Weis said.
• Linebackers coach Clint Bowen, who diagramed run fits and discussed them in terms of concepts the way Campo described Read, Mix and Cloud coverage concepts, shared with the coaches in attendance some words of wisdom he first heard from former KU defensive coordinator Bill Young.
“The more times you can say always and never the better chance you have,” Bowen said.
Most of the material covered by both Campo and Bowen focused on generalizing your defense and the buzz words within it to make it as easy as possible to adjust quickly from one look to another.
• Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard, in wrapping up his session, made a genuine plea to the coaches in attendance to come up and hang out in the summer from time to time. Grunhard, who coached for six years at Bishop Miege High, said he never got the feeling during that stretch that KU's coaching staff reached out to the prep community, and he's proud to be part of a staff that values that and sees its importance.
• Strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple may have stolen the show by talking with great enthusiasm about the ins and outs of his job and laying out not only his personal philosophies about strength training but also outlining a year in the life of the KU football program. He talked fast and covered everything, from what the Jayhawks do and how often they do it during spring, the offseason and in season to what they do on a daily basis and why it's important.
At the end of Holsopple's talk, which went 10-15 minutes longer than scheduled, several coaches in attendance were so fired up that they turned to one another and simply said, “Let's go get a workout in.”
Perhaps the best part of Holsopple's session was not the behind-the-scenes look at how KU football operates, but the way he tailored his talking points to what could best help the coaches in attendance. Throughout the hour-long Q&A, Holsopple kept going back to the fact that he wanted this to be worth these guys' time and wanted to help them get as much out of it as they could, stuff that they could learn and take back to their programs and utilize.
• Friday night's portion of the clinic included two guest speakers, legendary Florida high school coach George Smith and Smith Center, Kan., high school coach Roger Barta. Before the room broke up into buzz sessions by positions, the two coaching giants held court on everything from their humble beginnings in the business to detailed
More than a couple of coaches, including Campo, told me Saturday that the hour-long session run by those two guys was as cool a moment as they had enjoyed in coaching in a long time.
• In addition to the individual time with KU's coaching staff, the coaches at the clinic were invited to watch Friday's regular practice and a 90-play scrimmage on Saturday.