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October 26, 2007
Slant Blog: Commit continues KU hot streak
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It was another weekend of college football, and another win for the No. 9 (BCS) Jayhawks. A stingy Colorado team tried their best to derail KU's perfect record, but could not overcome an even stingier Kansas defense. Off the field and on the hardwood, Bill Self received good news from doctors, who have cleared junior star Brandon Rush for non-contact, but full-speed practice with his teammates. As the 'Hawks continue prepare for the 2007-08 season, the football team shoots for 8-0 this weekend when they travel to College Station, Tex., to face the A&M Aggies.
Only five undefeated teams remain in college football. Who would have guessed the Kansas Jayhawks would be one of them?
Head coach Mark Mangino, to this point, has done a great job of keeping his players in check. With so much hype around a program that has struggled in the past, it would be easy for 18, 19, and 20-year-old kids to lose their focus and join in on the celebrating that is taking place in Lawrence, Kan.
Still, despite the success, most KU fans are still a little dazed and confused when it comes to judging how good Kansas really is.
It's understandable, considering KU's conference resume over the past several seasons. Losing games they shouldn't has become a regular occurrence, until now.
The old KU would have gone into Colorado and crumbled.
Not this season.
The Jayhawks are hungry. Seven wins isn't enough, and the desire to finally bring home the Big 12 North title is so strong, it has these players feeling as though it's theirs to lose.
The Missouri Tigers pose the biggest threat, as they are nipping at the heels of the Jayhawks in both the win/loss record, and national rankings. KU has another tough test down the road when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
This weekend's match up in College Station won't be easy. The Aggies have one of the nation's top rushing offenses.
KU, however, comes in with one of the best defenses at stopping the run; setting up what could be a classic battle.
For Kansas, taking care of the ball and exposing a weaker A&M defense will be key.
Once again, Saturday's game will be on ESPN, this time on the deuce (ESPN2). If there is one way to build the hype for KU football, it's the continued appearances on TV.
Beyond this season, Kansas may not be able to rely on the ESPN's and ABC's (definitely not the CBSEC) of the sporting world to broadcast their games, but you can bet FSN will gladly put the Jayhawks on TV at least three times per season.
This is where the Kansas Athletic Department needs to step in.
Lew Perkins absolutely needs to get his football program on TV, at least locally every weekend.
The reality of today's world is that fans want to watch games at home. Not everyone wants to make a football game an all day affair by attending the game in person. Success will certainly bring more fans to the stadium, but there are many in Jayhawk nation who have been calling for the games to be on TV.
If the Kansas City Royals can be shown on the grainy, high school film-crew broadcast (hey, something is better than nothing, albeit not much better); surely the KUAD can figure something out. As I am sure everyone has noticed, there is a pick-up truck with a large camera in the bed, driving back and forth during each KU home game.
That recording is played the next day on Channel 6. One would think the same recording could be made live and played for the fans that want watch the game at home.
There's a lot to be said for a soft couch, ice-cold beverages, and some junk food at close range while you and your friends cheer in front of a 52-inch screen (or larger).
There's more to be said for bringing KU football to those fans that may not be able to attend every game.
All American Jayhawks?
Quarterback Todd Reesing has been talked about as a possible future Heisman candidate. Without question, he is one of KU's most important players, which is a key ingredient to being a Heisman caliber player.
And of course, who can forget Aqib Talib.
Talib continues to receive national praise for his play, and it doesn't take godly numbers to be considered a top talent. When you think of a defensive back, you think of interceptions.
Talib has a few so far this season, but he is a shutdown corner who takes away one side of the field with his coverage. He is also a smart player when it comes to playing in a zone-based defense, knowing where his help is and where he can take chances at the ball. His big-play receiving seems to go somewhat overlooked as well.
Talib will likely turn pro after the season, barring injuries or just the desire to be a Jayhawk for another season, but Reesing, who has two more seasons at Kansas, could be an All American candidate and Heisman hopeful over the next two seasons.
Rush hits the hardwood
The Kansas Basketball team received good news recently, as guard Brandon Rush has been cleared to practice 100 percent, but without contact.
The target date remains Dec 1, but from the sound of things, he could be back sooner. There is no question the staff should (and have stated they will) wait until Rush is 100 percent of whatever he is going to be after his surgery.
Even at full-strength, Rush will likely have lost at least a half step. His tendency early will be to favor the knee, but his positive attitude, and hard work over the summer to get back could be the difference between a Final Four team and a Sweet 16 team.
Kansas has the talent to compete for a Final Four even without Rush, but the chances diminish with that loss.
Luckily, KU fans, and the coaching staff won't have to deal with that scenario.
Even 80-percent of what Rush was is better than 100-percent of most players.
Quintrell Thomas a Jayhawk
News that fans have been thirsting for came down late Monday night, as prep forward Quintrell Thomas committed to Self and the Jayhawks.
KU's recruiting for the 2008 class has a ways to go yet, but the commitment of Thomas is definitely a positive for Kansas in a class that needs up to seven players.
The commitment, along with the continued hype of the basketball team, and KU's success on the gridiron has the KUAD on a hot streak in 2007.
When the first preseason ranking are released, KU could possible have both the basketball and football teams ranked among the top 10 in the country at the same time. The athletic department as a whole continues to gain strength on a national level, taking away a little of the "basketball school" perception.
Certainly there is nothing wrong with being a basketball school, and let's be honest, the history and tradition coupled with winning will always have the KU program on top, but Mangino is doing amazing things in his seventh year as head coach.
With equal success, KU will continue to bring in the nation's top talent in each sport, building the foundation for a very successful future on Mt. Oread.