After latest lopsided KU football loss, it’s time to forget progress and focus on the process

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold walks on the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

For Kansas football fans, there was not much to like about Saturday’s 59-7 beatdown in Ames, Iowa, a lopsided loss to an Iowa State team that is far better than its record or lack of a national ranking suggested.

But if you cheer for the boys in crimson and blue and didn’t see something like this coming, I’m not sure how to help you.

Vegas saw it. The Cyclones were a whopping 34.5-point favorite over the Jayhawks, and, despite their two losses, are still regarded by many as a top 15 type of team.

Sure, maybe the final score could have been better. Or perhaps Kansas could’ve hung around for a half again before breaking. But, as the previous three weeks had shown, those things really don’t mean much to the outcome.

With a bye week up next — talk about terrific timing — let’s evaluate where the Jayhawks are five games into the Lance Leipold era.

But instead of looking at stats or searching for signs of life, the evaluation can be boiled down to one word.

And to find it, all you have to do is drop the second R and change the G to a C.

Because it’s not progress that should be measured this season, it’s the process.

Any time major changes take place in sports, it’s human nature to look for signs of progress. But expecting those in Year 1 of a new coaching regime — in Lawrence, Kansas, of all places — is more than a little unrealistic.

So, focus on the process instead, as ugly as it may currently be. After all, these types of rough outings and the lessons that can — and absolutely must — be learned from them are a part of that process.

And it’s much easier to embrace that line of thinking than it is to search for tangible signs of progress with a roster that is simply overmatched in too many areas to compete in the Big 12 Conference.

A couple of months ago, the hope within the program, and certainly of the fan base, was that these types of ugly losses — the ones that really sting and stand out in bright, bold numbers on the scoreboard — would no longer be in play under Leipold.

Someday, that will be the case.

But the man is not a warlock. He didn’t come to Kansas with magic potions, secret spells and the ability to make 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebackers who run 4.3-second 40-yard dashes appear out of thin air.

He’s a football coach. And he has proven to be a good one. But expecting him to do what he did at Buffalo or Wisconsin-Whitewater in half a season at Kansas is not just putting the cart before the horse. It’s looking at a lumber yard and picturing the cart before the horse that will one day pull it is even born.

So forget measuring this season by progress.

Maybe Kansas will hold Oklahoma or Texas to fewer than 30 points. And maybe Kansas will cover the spread when it faces Kansas State or Texas Tech. Maybe Leipold’s Jayhawks will actually improve as the season moves on and wind up playing their best football in November.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. And maybe not.

This team has to get a lot better. And it’s on the coaches to make that happen. Period.

But as long as you can stand behind the approach Leipold is using and the culture he’s trying to create, then the here and now of it all will sting less and the process will be worth something.

If you can’t? Well, you’ll probably continue to be frustrated and perhaps even a little surprised when Saturdays the rest of the fall continue to play out this way.


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