Kansas Football In 2011 Prediction

Posted by Michael Chung on January-15-2011 Add Comments

(Originally published in the Kansas City Star Dec.15, 2010:http://uponfurtherreview.kansascity.com/?q=node&page=2)

(Originally published in the Kansas City Star Dec.15, 2010:http://uponfurtherreview.kansascity.com/?q=node&page=2)

I believe Kansas University will qualify for a bowl game in the 2011 season.  Which one I can’t predict, but most likely a non—New Years Day bowl game.  History shows that KU will improve.  After the fiasco of the fighting Manginos came to an end, KU needed a culture change.  Though Mark Mangino was one of the most successful coaches at KU, the end was not and a culture change needed to happen. History shows that successful college programs should hire from within. Unsuccessful ones need to hire from outside in order to change the culture.

Take Syracuse University—after 24 years of having a “Syracuse Man” coaching, the University decided to hire former College and National Footbal League defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.  In Robinson’s four years, Syracuse never had a winning record and he was fired.  Enter Doug Marrone, a “Syracuse Man.”  Though his first season was not successful and resembled those seasons under Robinson, Marrone changed the culture.  This year, Syracuse is playing like the Syracuse of old and is going to their first bowl game since 2004.  The best is yet to come.

The University of Miami of Ohio had a similar situation. The 2008-2009 season saw Miami of Ohio go 2-10.  A change needed to be made.  Enter Haywood, a “Notre Dame Man.” Things did not improve during Haywood’s first year as Miami went 1-11.  But the culture was changed and the foundation was laid for future success.  This year, Miami went 9-4 while capturing the MAC title.  They went to the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Alabama Jan. 6.  Although that bowl is not one of those coveted, qualifying marks progress.

My prediction for KU in the 2011 season—Turner Gill will lead KU to a bowl game and minimum record of 6-6 and an appearance in a decent bowl game.  KU’s culture has changed and  better foundation has been laid.

In studiying the Nebraska Cornhuskers there are some significant similarities. Both schools have a rich football traditionand and  both schools have famous coaches who produced a legacy.  But unlike Michigan, Nebraska has already gone through its “Rich Rod” phase.

We all associate Nebraska football with current athletic director Tom Osborne.  But the Nebraska dynasty started before him with the arrival of Bob Devaney. Devaney’s first year netted NU football a record of 9-2 and its first bowl win over Miami. This marked the beginning of 40 straight years of winning seasons at University of Nebraska (similar to when Bo took over in 1969, Michigan never had a losing season until 2008).  Devaney retired in 1972 and promoted Tom Osborne, who was already an assistant head coach.  Osborne brought fame to NU while also becoming its most winning coach and the fifth most in NCAA history.  The Cornhuskers never won less than nine games under his leadership.

Osborne retired in 1997 and promoted Frank Solich in 1998 as head coach.

Solich also had early success.  He won two conference championships as well as leading the Huskers to the national championship game in 2001.  But a 7-7 record in 2002 began to sour him with first year athletic director Steve Pedersen.  After making coaching changes, Solich’s 2003 team went 9-3.

Even so, it was not enough. Pedersen fired Solich and named Bo Pelini interim coach.  Pelini won the bowl game and interviewed for the head coaching job but was not hired. The job went to former Super Bowl and NFL coach Bill Callahan who would introduce the “football fad” of the time, the West Coast offense.

Callahan coached Nebraska from 2004-2007, his winning percentage was a dismal 55% compared with an overall winning percentage of 82% from 1962-2003.  Remember, Devaney passed on the head coaching reigns to a Nebraska man in Tom Osborne and Osborne hired a Nebraska man in Frank Solich.  Callahan could not come close and was fired, along with AD Pedersen after the 2007 season. Osborne knew he had to hire a Nebraska man and his choice was Bo Pelini.  The change happened almost immediately and Nebraska football has returned.

Pelini’s winning percentage is about 71% but it is clear that NU is on the rise and becoming the Nebraska it once was.  Pelini has enjoyed so much success that his name has been mentioned as a possible replacement at Ohio State when Jim Tressel retires.

Bo Schembechler once proclaimed to the world of college basketball that a Michigan man will coach Michigan.  Nebraska learned the hard way that hiring a hot coach and abandoning the Nebraska way can prove to be highly detrimental to a program. 

Turner Gill will have KU back to being a competitive program in the Big 12 and will be headed to their first bowl game since the 2008 Insight Bowl.

But, even if Kansas makes a bowl, there is one thing to keep in mind. If Nebraska does stumble, then what is good for Kansas in 2011 might not be good for them in 2012. In case you forgot, Turner Gill is a “Nebraska man.”

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