KU Football: All about the mindset for Kansas Jayhawks

LAWRENCE, KS - SEPTEMBER 09: The Kansas Jayhawks take the field before the game between Central Michigan and Kansas on Saturday September 9th ,2017 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS. (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LAWRENCE, KS - SEPTEMBER 09: The Kansas Jayhawks take the field before the game between Central Michigan and Kansas on Saturday September 9th ,2017 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS. (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

KU football is turning into a brand in and of itself. A negative brand. Years at the bottom of the Big 12 standings have lowered, if not erased, all expectations for the team.

It appears this season will be no different as the Kansas Jayhawks become a household name, the wrong way.

So many things have changed for the KU football team since the 2008 Orange Bowl. What Mark Mangino was able to do with the football program during his time in Lawrence often gets swept under the rug. After two straight losses to MAC teams this season, the support of the program is dwindling fast.

The Jayhawks hear the water cooler talk just as you and I do. Many times KU finds itself being the butt of college football humor. No team wants to get “Jayhawked” like Texas did last year. How many times have we all heard the phrase “Kansas is a basketball school”? Although the statement is correct, it shouldn’t be a consistent go-to answer. Many schools are “basketball schools”, and many of those happen to excel or compete in football as well. North Carolina and Duke have respected football teams, Michigan State also fills the category.

There isn’t a winning tradition for Kansas football. You have to go back to 1953 to find the last head coach with a winning record other than Mangino. Jules V Sikes was that coach, winning 35 and losing 25.

In fact, only 17 of 38 coaches have had a winning record at Kansas. Most of those coaches won their games before 1932. To put things in perspective, Kansas basketball has had only 8 coaches during the history of the game.

Dr. James Naismith, the founder of the game, is the only coach to have a losing record.

Phog Allen even coached the football team in 1908, winning 5, losing 2 and one game resulted as a tie.

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The problem

High profile coaches haven’t been an issue for the Jayhawks. Mangino and Charlie Weis are both considered to be of high football IQ. The talent of the players doesn’t seem to be a major factor in the demise of the program either. Kansas has had some very talented kids come through, some have been making waves at the next level.

Needless to say, the talent for a Big 12 team should trump that of any mid level school. The game film doesn’t reflect that however.

Kansas Jayhawks football is experiencing a losing culture. They aren’t supposed to win, and usually do not. Since 2009 the Jayhawks have won 5 games against conference foes. They are also 19 -77 overall during that span.

As a little league coach, if we tell our kids we can’t beat a team, we won’t beat that team. The same can be applied to the Jayhawks over the last decade.

The mindset must change in Lawrence. Consider the ramifications of a .500 season and how it would do wonders for a program in desperate need of help. As long as the fan base doesn’t believe, the players won’t either. We are all susceptible to it. If someone tells us something enough times over a certain period, the seed has been planted.

The quarterback thinks he can’t make a certain throw. The receivers believe they can’t make that catch or win the battles against the defense. Linemen believe they are so over matched and the defense believes that everyone can and will score against them. For in this culture, that’s just the way it is supposed to be.

Fans stop attending games. The support grows mute. The stress level amongst the coaching staff and athletic department turns into anxiety. Things must change.

The Fix

The need to develop a winning attitude takes the forefront here. How do we get there?

Carefully. David Beaty may be the guy to bring the program around, if the school allows him to stay long enough. His credentials are fading quickly. The program is in such a fragile state right now, that the addition of a new staff following a new head coach will be a giant risk.

Whoever is going to reinvent Kansas football is going to have to see through the murky water. They are going to have to be a Jayhawk for years to come.

Kansas will never be able to face the big boys of the Big 12 when they can’t win the games they are supposed to. This routine has nearly placed Kansas as the squad that isn’t supposed to win games.

The recruiting needs to change. The focus needs to be on pride and passion, more than skill and prestige. Current Jayhawks lack heart on the football field. It’s too obvious to overlook.

A team with heart and passion can turn a program around. A coach that understands what he has under him can turn things around for a program. Perhaps said coach can even get a stadium named after himself. A person doesn’t need to look out of the state of Kansas to find an example. Yeah I said it. 

In closing

As soon as this team shows passion, heart, and dedication for a full football contest, win or lose, I’ll start to get excited for what may be for the football program at Kansas. Change the culture, change the attitude and fix the mindset. These boys have been playing football year after year. Kansas shouldn’t get to the depth it has reached.

Kansas football will eventually come back around, however the mountain to climb is steep.

At times the Jayhawks seem to have a spark of hope. As soon as I get the notion that there is hope, it blows away with the passing wind. The disappointment in the program can be felt by the fans. As the camera pans across the crowd, it is often hard to tell whether or not they are attending a football game or a stranger’s funeral. It’s time for drastic changes in Lawrence.

Conference play is indeed upon us now. The remainder of the season will be dim unless we witness a football miracle. However, the program goes from here on out will speak volumes into what lies ahead. The attitude of the team will direct which direction the team goes. The final score will probably dictate a number of fans attending the next game also. So let’s compete and put on a show.