Lance Leipold has a huge task ahead of him as he tries to rebuild the Kansas football program.
The 2021 college football season is approaching quickly, and the Kansas Jayhawks football team have a new regime in place. Lance Leipold is taking over the helm as the head coach coming over from a successful tenure at Buffalo. Lance will be followed by five coaches who worked with him at Buffalo.
The other five coaches were already on the KU coaching staff. According to the new head coach “Every single coach is ready to dig in and get this team ready to compete at the highest level.”
The Big 12 media days (July 14 & 15) were filled with optimism, hope, and of course excitement. Kansas was set to take the stage on July 15th but due to inclement weather participated in the event virtually. When Coach Leipold spoke to the media, he talked about how rebuilding the Kansas football team is going to be challenging.
"“I think there’s no simple quick fixes in building a program or in rebuilding a program. Our approach is going to be consistent in what we’re going to do, consistent in our recruiting methods, starting locally, again spreading out throughout the nation within the Big 12 footprint.”"
He also stated:
"“I think whether it be success or when programs haven’t had success, you can’t spend any time looking in the rearview mirror. Look through the windshield, keep it a day at a time, don’t get too far ahead of yourself or too far behind. Be where your feet are at and continue to work each and every day to be a little bit better than you were before. We’ve taken that when things have been going well for us and through tougher times.”"
With that being said I want to discuss two characteristics I want to see this Kansas football team begin to develop in year one under Coach Leipold.
Kansas football: Lance Leipold has an opportunity to shape and define the Jayhawks program
Kansas football culture
For the last 11 years the Kansas football fanbase, and alumni have seen this team go through head coaches, personnel, and players. Time, and time again unsuccessful year after unsuccessful year. You might hear some loyal fans relive the glory days, and talk about the Orange Bowl season lead by Mark Mangino. These were exciting times for KU fans and the competitive level was seen within this program.
Since the 2007-2008 season, according to sports-reference.com the Kansas Jayhawks football team has won 34 games and lost 120. With that being said this is an opportunity for new Head Coach Lance Leipold, and his staff to create a winning culture. A culture in which football players want to play football at KU.
"“A culture is the expression of a team’s values, attitudes, and goals about sports, competition, and relationships. It determines whether, for example, the team’s focus is on fun, improvement, or winning or whether it promotes individual accomplishment or team success. A team culture is so important because it directly influences many areas that affect team functioning and performance: The culture establishes norms of acceptable behavior on a team, either explicitly or implicitly conveying to members what is allowed and what is not. These norms can dictate to team members how to behave, communicate, cooperate, and deal with conflict. When clear norms are established, everyone on a team is more likely to abide by them. The culture creates the atmosphere that permeates every aspect of a team’s experience. Is the atmosphere relaxed or intense? Supportive or competitive? All of these qualities of a culture have real implications for how the team functions, how its members get along, and, crucially, how the athletes on the team perform and the results they produce individually and collectively. When a team has a defined culture that is understood and accepted by all of its members, they feel an implicit pressure (in the good sense) to support that culture.”"
This culture turnaround starts in recruiting, and recruiting home grown talent. According to 247sports.com currently Kansas State University has eight in state football players committed for the 2021 season. Kansas University on the other hand has one commit from within the state. This is a reflection on the culture.
The Kansas football program needs an identity
One of the most impactful quotes from Coach Leipold came on Big 12 media days
"“I think the stability and consistency within our staff that we’ve been able to have at both those previous stops have been very impactful to our young men, that they have the same voice within the same schemes of doing the same things. Our players, give them the best chance to be successful and continue to build and get better daily when they have the same consistent message. I think whether it be success or when programs haven’t had success, you can’t spend any time looking in the rearview mirror. Look through the windshield, keep it a day at a time, don’t get too far ahead of yourself or too far behind. Be where your feet are at and continue to work each and every day to be a little bit better than you were before. We’ve taken that when things have been going well for us and through tougher times.”"
This ties in with the next characteristic I would like to see developed in year one under this new coaching staff and that is identity. With culture comes an identity. This first year is not only the start of a new culture, but from that an identity is born. The identity of the players who will take the field each week. The leadership on this current team will instill an identity to incoming players.
An identity is just as important as a culture. Identity represents not only the X’s and O’s but also what the team makeup is.
Are they a “never give up” type team?
Are they a physical force?
In the end I believe Coach Leipold and his staff have to start developing a culture and an identity in year one to get Kansas football headed in the winning direction.