As I was reading an article in the paper last week, I started thinking about the upcoming football season. If you've been around for a while, you might recall that I wasn't a fan of hiring Charlie Weis when it happened and I wasn't much of a fan last season. I'm trying to come around to him, he talks a great game and appears to have a strategy for bringing the necessary talent to the Jayhawks. He seems to genuinely enjoy being at Kansas, representing the school, and the challenge he is faced with in building the program. Those are all huge positives for the man. However, Turner Gill also clearly had the first two characteristics.
Looking towards this season, Charlie needs to win a Big 12 game. He needs to beat Rice. He needs to keep the team competitive throughout the season. All three of those things don't have to happen but if they do happen, I think I would almost automatically call it a good season. After being down in the pits of Hades with the previous regime, Charlie Weis came in and talked a great game leading up to his first season. The man can talk and sell what he's saying. Weis even had a few people convinced that 6-6 was a real possibility for the 2012 season. Instead the cold hard truth of 1-11 smacked us all in the face, a record worse than Turner Gill ever put up. Ponder that.
The record was ugly last year but many people saw improvement in the Jayhawk program. The obvious sign of improvement was the team being competitive in more than half the games on the schedule. Improvement from triple digits to double digits in Sagarin's rankings published at USA Today. Hey, it's something. A rushing offense that ranked 22nd in the nation in yards per game. A defense that at least gave the appearance of understanding responsibilities, pursuit angles, and gameplans. If you want to really reach, a record high GPA for the football team or something like that. That's great and all but when a man's making 2.5 million per year, the time for tangible progress has to start this season.
The thing to hope for is the competitiveness displayed occasionally last year actually means something heading into this year. Simply being in the position to win a couple of games feels like a huge improvement over the previous couple of years. However, as bad as the Gill years seemed they were still competitive occasionally. The 2011 squad lost by 11 to Texas Tech after leading at halftime 27-24. They also only lost by 3 to Iowa State and went to overtime against a decent Baylor squad (they were also outscored in the second half of that game 28-6). Turner Gill's teams just couldn't compete for 60 minutes.
Compare that to last year's team and it's not too far off, though I'd say the 2012 version did do it against better competition. Hanging with the likes of Oklahoma State, Texas, and TCU while being handcuffed by a quarterback that couldn't read a defense or hit a receiver has to say something. But they were still ran off the field in five games last season. That's not much better. The goal last year was trying to appear competitive and it worked half the time. After going 1-11, does being competitive in Big 12 games continue to be the goal for the 2013 team?