It’s yet another summer for Kansas Football, and seemingly another summer of preparing for the unknown.
After firing Charlie Wise, naming Clint Bowen interim Head Coach, then replacing (but retaining for the defense) him with former assistant and KU fan-favorite David Beaty, the Jayhawk football program remains influx.
Momentum seems to be heading in the right direction, but likely starting QB Michael Cummings was inadvertently hit during the spring game and went off with a knee injury. The unfortunate news surrounding Cummings was quickly followed by the indefinite suspension and eventual dismissal of two impact offensive players, WR Rod Coleman, and RB Corey Avery.
Both players were expected to make a major contribution to Kansas’ offense this season, but with their removal from the program, head coach Beaty is in search of players to step in and replace their spots on the field.
Defensive lineman Andrew Bolton, a Junior College transfer who played 11 games for Kansas last season and was expected to be an important defensive anchor, was removed the team as well, which means the last of the remaining Charlie Wise “impact” recruits are no longer with the program.
The roster, now full of new names and unknown commodities, brings on another offseason of guessing and doubt for fans begging for another run at major bowl games and relevance on a national stage in college athletic’s biggest sport.
For donors and those responsible for plugging revenue back into the program to build a winner, wins are the bottom line.
With wins comes excitement, and with excitement comes fans. Then, of course the revenue follows and important stadium renovations and further funding of the program can increase.
Unfortunately, much of college sports is now about the revenue stream is creates, and being able to compete on a national level and seeing your program among the top 25-30 athletic departments across the country is becoming increasingly important. It’s essentially an arms race.
For Kansas, the basketball program, in many ways, is solely responsible for KU Athletics being considered one of the very best in the country, but not too long ago, the football program carried its weight with three bowl victories in a row, highlights by a 2008 Orange Bowl and BCS victory.
At one point, Kansas was ranked No. 2 in the country under the leadership of former coach and current offensive coordinator, Mark Mangino.
Am ugly firing that came with skepticism from fans and players ended KU’s run with Mangino, and so went the winning.
Former athletic director Lew Perkins, who brought an ugliness and eventual resignation of his own, went the safe route and brought in Turner Gill from Buffalo. The former Nebraska star had been passed over three separate occasions by his former head coach and AD Tom Osborne, saying as hard as the decision(s) was, he just wasn’t the man for the job at the time.
For Perkins, needing a cleansing of the program from a PR standpoint, Gill was the man for the job. Spoke like a coach, talked about recruiting with a glow in his eye, and appeared to fit the bill for a program still loaded with plenty of talent.
Instead, Gill and Kansas faltered, the talent dried up or didn’t pan out, and the Jayhawks quickly fell to the bottom of the Big 12 conference, where they have spent so many seasons.
Following the firing of Gill, newly appointed AD, Dr. Sheahon Zenger made a splash hire by reaching deep and hiring Charlie Wise out of left field. The hiring was a shock to essentially everyone outside of the inner circle of the search committee and Zenger, and came with its own level of skepticism. The hiring on paper was transparent; Zenger wanted to make a splash and get the national media and college football talking about Kansas.
Immediately, recruiting and the ability to bring in high-profile players both via freshman and transfer (notably from Notre Dame), became the talk of the town.
For Kansas, however, the dreams of big-time players and New England Patriot results on the field never panned out and Weis never felt truly connected and committed to the program.
During his last full season, fans wanted him fired, and placed friendly wagers on which week would be his last. Weis made it through his second summer, but not through another full season.
Clint Bowen, a player and long-time coach, took over mid-season and immediately won over both players and fans. Although the Jayhawks didn’t rack up wins, they immediately became competitive and respected in the conference a team which was getting closer to winning.
With Beaty taking over and keeping Bowen on staff, the Jayhawks are generating buzz in the sense that the program feels like its being led by coaches which care about Kansas Football. Still, winning will determine how fans react to the upcoming season, and for a program in desperate need of success, Beaty needs to win.
KU’s opener against South Dakota State kicks off at 11 a.m., September 5th at Memorial Stadium. Head to ticketsforless.com and get your Jayhawk football tickets, today!