This is a topic that is rather popular over on JayhawkSlant (greatest recruiting site ever, and well worth $9.95/ month. JK would be proud). It's something that I have though about recently, and decided would be a good topic to do my first FanPost on, as I have been encouraged to do by Denver recently. But, seriously, why do we seem to NEVER win these things??
You know what I'm talking about; a heralded high school recruit, either in football or basketball, that we salivate over for months and eagerly await updates and fervently speculate on what we think they might do, how they enjoyed their official visits or unofficial visits, and then it all comes down to a makeshift press conference in a high school auditorium on a local TV station. The recruit's parents speak, his HS coach, then a teammate. Then, finally the subject of all this attention is handed the mic and he says the same thing as the last guy to pull this very unoriginal public announcement; "I'd like to thank my coaches, my parents, my teammates and most of all God. I really appreciate all the schools that recruited me and all the coaches that recruited me, and I wish that I could go to all of them, but I have to choose one. And I've decided I'm going to be playing my college ball at... (grabs hat [never KU, by the way] and puts it on)." It's all very anti-climactic, at least for us KU fans.
But, what could possibly be the reason for this? I mean, The University of Kansas is an incredible school set in a wonderful town, has a beautiful campus, more than its fair share of smokin' hot co-ed's, a perennial powerhouse of a basketball team and a quickly rising, up-and-coming football program. So how could these guys not pick up the hat with the big "KU" on the front and put it on?
I've come up with a couple theories as to why this might be. First of all, KU sells itself, for all the reasons listed above. Guys know when they belong here. Period. Simple as that.
Now, my second theory is a bit more complex. It seems that the recruits that Coach Self and Coach Mangino bring in are the kind of guys that fit into their vision for what they want their own team to be. And, a recruit can sense that, in my opinion. These guys that go through the whole dog-and-pony show are just enjoying their few minutes of local fame and playing themselves up. Now, don't get me wrong. If an athlete works hard and does all the things has needs/has to to reach the point where he has numerous schools fighting for him, then by all means they deserve to be recognized and enjoy themself. But, in my opinion these are not necessarily the kind of guys we desperately want in our program: the Me-First kind of guys. Not to say that they all are, but it certainly doesn't give the "Anything to help the team win" kind of vibe.
I have faith in my coaches that they will bring in the right players to make us one of the most successful athletic departments in the country. We may not realize it, but we have two of the top level head coaches in their respective sports. We are witnessing something special here in Lawrence. We really are. Along with the obvious: a Nat'l Championship in basketball, an Orange Bowl victory and back-to-back bowls for the first time ever, is sense of pride that I know I feel to be a Jayhawk. How many schools can say that they are near elite status in both of the major college sports? There's not many. Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Florida... I'm running out of names here. And then, there's Kansas. We are certainly in this group. Within the next 4 or years, given that Coach Mangino stays here, our football program is going nowhere, but up, up, up.
And, if these HS recruits that want to pic a hat to declare their commitment to a school don't want to be a part of that, then so be it. Next! There's somebody just as good hoping you pass so he can accept. Quietly and discretely, of course. Because, if it were any other way, he wouldn't be accepting.
Now, having said all that... Would it just absolutely KILL us to win one of these things? Just to say that we did...