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Sports Potpourri: Jayhawks and Chiefs football, Wildcat basketball

 

By Mac Stevenson

Jayhawks

KU’s rookie chancellor, Dr. Douglas Girod, couldn’t have inherited a worse mess than the current football program. It was discouraging for Kansas fans when Girod became chancellor and did nothing concerning the disarray of the football program; regardless, the die was cast for the upcoming season before Girod ever took office. To Girod’s credit, the firing of AD Sheahon Zenger is the first sign of life—concerning inept football—Jayhawk fans have seen from one of their chancellors in a long, long time.

The football situation at KU has become dire indeed; if significant improvement isn’t achieved in the next three years, the Jayhawks could be looking for a new conference affiliation. Basketball will carry the university just so far.

If Girod takes a hands-on approach in the hiring of a new athletic director and proves to be successful in that endeavor, he will be the first president to hire a talented AD since well before the turn of the century. Monte Johnson was KU’s last highly effective AD from 1982-1987.

Kansas will take the field this fall under Coach David Beaty with another in a long line of dysfunctional football teams; the players and fans will know their coach is on the hottest of all seats. If the Jayhawk players prove this analysis incorrect and win four or five games, the situation will change dramatically and Beaty keeps his job. That’s unlikely to happen.

If KU’s season goes as expected, Girod’s new AD will have to fire Beaty before the end of the season so a new coach can recruit a decent 2019 class. Kansas is fully capable of having an outstanding football program, but it can’t take five years to show noteworthy progress. The hiring of the right man for the AD job is crucial in every respect because competitive football is vital for the university.

CHIEFS

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid has created what looks like a terrific NFL offense for this fall. The offensive skill positions are filled with exceptional talent and experience, with one notable exception.

KC’s fans are ecstatic over the promotion of Patrick Mahomes (6-3, 230) to the starting QB position. Mahomes played superbly in last summer’s exhibition games and a late regular-season game against Denver. He has all the tools.

However, there’s one potential problem: for all practical purposes, Mahomes is a rookie stepping into some big shoes. Alex Smith may not have been a great QB for the Chiefs, but he was effective indeed during his stay with KC. Mahomes is going to be a first-time NFL starter when he turns 23 in September; it will be difficult indeed for Mahomes to try and assume the roll of leader over a bunch of NFL veterans in their 30’s.

Mahomes played great in limited appearances last season, but every game he played lacked any of the grinding pressure of crucial NFL games. It’s far different from college.

Self-confidence is the most important factor in any human endeavor and that’s not something you can turn on or off like a light switch. In the NFL, a loss of confidence by a young QB can turn a ballclub upside-down.

Experienced QBs in the NFL learn how to bounce back from bad games, fumbles, interceptions, and mental mistakes. But poise under extreme pressure is a learned trait—it isn’t inherited.

Mahomes will be surrounded by proven skill players: running back Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie; wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Chris Conley; all-pro tight end Travis Kelce; and an experienced offensive line.

If Mahomes lives up to expectations—which could prove to be unfair—the Chiefs will be potent when they have the ball. He might do that. But the aforementioned self-confidence has to be earned on the field of battle and there are many potential speed bumps on that winding road.

WILDCATS

Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber had a marvelous Memorial Day weekend. Weber received a two-year extension on his contract with a base salary of $2.5 million and numerous incentives; the new contract runs through the 2022-23 season.

In addition, K-State’s superb guard Barry Brown announced he will return for his senior season; consequently, Weber returns his starting five and key reserves from last season’s Elite Eight team that had a 25-12 record.

With Weber’s new stability and K-States growing prestige in basketball, the Wildcats’ recruiting should become easier and more effective.

When you combine the outlook for the football and basketball teams, Kansas State is poised to have one of the best years in the university’s history. The Wildcats have had many quality football and basketball teams, but rarely in the same year.