Just four short days after the biggest win in the program's history, the Kansas Jayhawk football program has lost three rather large components of their 12-1, record-breaking season. While all three, two players (Talib and Collins) and one coach (Beck), had been rumored to leave for some time, there was still some possibility of a change-of-heart, a slight chance to keep them if for only one more year.
- CB Aqib Talib had been a candidate to leave early for the NFL for the entire season, and would have likely forgone his final season of eligibility were the Jayhawks to make the Orange Bowl or not. However, the decision was likely finalized the moment he jumped in front of Tyrod Taylor's pass intended for Justin Harper and ran down the sideline of Dolphin Stadium 60 yards, untouched, into the endzone, high-stepping the last 5 yards. As excited as I was for the football team, the tiniest part of me knew that if he wasn't already gone, he was gone now. This was going to be his last ever game in a Kansas uniform. So, when the news came this morning from his brother that he was leaving Kansas early to head for the guaranteed paychecks of a 1st or 2nd round draft pick, I wasn't surprised. And I knew what was about to follow. I knew who was about to make an expectedly similar decision about his football future.
- Anthony Collins, a RS Junior just like Aqib, had come in under the radar to everyone besides Jayhawk fans. While not necessarily NFL-ready, certainly not as much as Aqib Talib, they had said all along that they were making the decision together, deciding to come back to Lawrence or depart for the NFL becoming a joint-decision. So, as soon as Aqib's news came out, Anthony Collins' subsequent announcement certainly was no shock. I think that, despite his awesome game against potential first-day-pick Virginia Tech DE Chris Ellis, he could have really used another year at Kansas. After all, he only played one year of organized football in high school before coming to Kansas, and another year of football knowledge could have shortened NFL bench time from a couple of years to none or one. More on it later though, in my Goodbye post. I will do one for all three of the departed Jayhawks sometime this week.
- However, the most crushing news of the day was Tim Beck's departure to Nebraska to coach with fellow Youngstownian Bo Pelini. While also expected, I was hoping for some last minute change-of-heart, enabling one of our best Texas recruiters, someone who was the lead in numerous key recruits (including potential incoming RB Cyrus Gray), to stay with the Jayhawks. However, it wasn't to be, and he is now going to be the runningbacks coach up in Lincoln. He is also the passing game coordinator, and is one of the two coaches who does those cutsie-pie audibles from the sideline. His replacement will be the most important development of the offseason, we need someone who can do at least most of what Beck filled. We need someone with plenty of Texas connections, most likely we will snag another Texas head coach with the same connections. Texas is the most important area of recruiting for us, and we need to find someone who can find talent and can get said talent to come to Lawrence. Everything else pales in comparison to the recruiting need, but it would be nice to have someone who has run a spread offense before and can audible in plays like he did.