By Heather Nelson

(Published September 22, 2016)

The University of Kansas football team secured their first win, in almost two seasons, in the team’s home opener a few weeks ago. Now, as Kansas heads into the bye week, they sit at a 1-2 record.

Rhode Island was never supposed to beat Kansas. Kansas maybe had a shot at beating Ohio. Memphis was always going to bury Kansas. Thankfully, the Jayhawks will escape this week without a loss, but there also won’t be a chance for a second win under Coach Beaty.

Will the Jayhawks secure a win for the rest of the season? Yeah, probably not. Will there ever be hope for the Kansas football team? Yeah, probably not. It will get depressing with each week that passes….

I read some interesting things about the football team earlier this week. Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan discussed that the football program’s problem is not only the revolving door of coaches, but the University’s athletic director.

He said that, “Zenger is the first Kansas athletic director since Dutch Lonborg to fire one of his own hires (Chuck Mather).” …that was back in 1957.

Is Zenger to blame for the problem coaches that have been hired in recent years? Did this string of bad hires — starting with Turner Gil — drive the football team into the ground? It’s hard to say, but Kansas did consistently get worse with each season.

Mark Mangino era

2002-03: 2-10

2003-04: 6-7

2004-05: 4-7

2005-06: 8-5, 8-1

2006-07: 6-6, 3-5

2007-08: 12-1, 7-1

2008-09: 8-5, 4-4

2009-10: 5-7, 1-7

Turner Gill era

2010-11: 3-9, 1-7

2011-12: 2-10, 0-9

Charlie Weis era*

2012-13: 1-11, 0-9

2013-14: 3-9, 1-8

2014-15: 3-9, 1-8

*Clint Bowen interim 2014

David Beaty era

2015-16: 0-12, 0-9

2016-17: 1-2*


Keegan argues that Zenger’s time is limited, especially because the chances of Kansas winning are terrible. It would appear that way, too. Zenger took over the office of athletic director in 2011 after Lew Perkins retired. Under Perkins, the University’s two revenue sports — football and basketball — earned significant wins in the same year. An Orange Bowl win and a National Championship in 2008. Since then, only basketball has come close….

Am I asking for Zenger’s fire? Maybe. Do I have a solution or a suggested hire? Nope. I wish there was a Tom Osborne–archetype hiding out in Kansas somewhere. Something that would bring back Kansas football lore, and glory days — ha!

I think there’s one thing for sure, and something that I’ve always accepted, about the University of Kansas: It will never be a football school. But there’s nothing wrong with expecting more of the program, especially when the athletics department keeps spending money on coaches to build the team and supply wins.

I hope someday, in my lifetime, Kansas will finish with a winning record. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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