The chasm in the Kansas and Kansas State football programs never looked wider than it did Saturday when the Wildcats took apart the Jayhawks 51-13 in what resembled a glorified scrimmage at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The brief flicker of optimism that surfaced after KU’s victory over Iowa State and near-miss of probable Final Four TCU was stomped into a mudhole by Oklahoma in Norman last week, then face-rubbed into the turf by the Wildcats.
Thanks to Snyder’s generosity, the margin was only 38. Given the mail-it-in-effort by the physically inferior Jayhawks, who appeared flat and disinterested from the start, they should feel fortunate they left Manhattan with only a 38-point deficit.
This one was over before it barely got started. The Wildcats popped the Jayhawks with 17 first-quarter points as the KU defense was playing tag instead of squaring up and delivering some pad popping. Fourteen more points in the second quarter pushed the lead to 31-6 and you know the Wildcat third and fourth waves had to be getting excited by then, knowing they would get into the game.
Kansas is a football program that is among the worst in the country and there’s no signs that better days are ahead. Most of its key players Saturday were seniors and their replacements, honestly, are not Division I caliber. The offensive and defensive lines lacked strength and quickness, which showed up glaringly against the Wildcats. KSU quarterback Jake Waters was never once pressured and the KU defensive backs didn’t have the athleticism or technique to stay with Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton, both of whom went over 100 receiving yards. The Wildcats added 194 yards on the ground, which is 193 more than they had last week against West Virginia.
We know Kansas State is on solid footing as long as Snyder has a say in things. He’s at the end of his sideline career, but whomever he chooses as his successor — you can bet whatever he wants he’ll get, he deserves that — will stay the course.
But for Kansas, where does it go? Since winning the Orange Bowl after the 2007 season, this is a program that’s spiraled downward at a supersonic pace. And just when you thought it couldn’t go any lower, Saturday’s loss was another indication it still hasn’t reached rock bottom.
It was thought KU would promote interim coach Clint Bowen to the head job. The Jayhawks were playing harder and at least being competitive. But the last two weeks undid a lot of good work as the Jayhawks were so inept that you had to feel embarrassed for them.
But what coach would want this job? Bowen certainly does as he is Jayhawk through and through. His story has been well documented. The players say they want him as their leader, but they sure didn’t play very inspired for him Saturday. For a rivalry game, the emotion was totally lacking and the “want-to” was gone after Michael Cummings was picked off and the Wildcats scored on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
KU football is painful to watch for those who have loyally supported the program. The fans have made it clear they’re tired of watching their team get physically overmatched every week as they stayed away in droves. Turner Gill started things on the wrong road and Charlie Weis’ great juco experiment failed in spectacular crash-and-burn fashion. He thought he could follow the Snyder blueprint for similar success, but nearly all of his supposed highly talented juco transfers bombed or never made it to the field because of academic deficiencies or off-the-field problems.
I have no idea how this is going to turn out. My gut feeling still tells me Bowen will get the job, though I saw today my old friend and former KU classmate Gary Bedore of The Lawrence Journal-World posted that he doesn’t think it will happen and he has far more insight than me. My guess is he believes KU has to start from scratch — again — with somebody who has the latest plan to get this thing turned around.
With no gimmes on the schedule next year — the non-Big 12 schedule has been beefed up for whatever reason — whomever coaches could be looking at an O-fer.