Did the window shut? 2007 saw a 12-1 Kansas Jayhawk football team reach heights never achieved by the program. Mark Mangino had resurrected a dead in the water program with a blue collar working man attitude and appeared to have all the pieces in place to begin building something bigger with more talent and more resources.
Fast forward to the summer of 2010 and we have a program that has seen several embarrassing off the field incidents, the ousting of a coach that still stirs a lot of debate and probably most damaging a return to sub par football.
Historically Kansas football just hasn't been consistent. A total of 12 bowls in the history of the program, an overall record of 568-550-58, and what often amounts to a decade between successful runs. Has an opportunity been missed?
While it's probably too early to tell it's pretty clear that some of the shine might have worn of the "up and coming" potential of Kansas football. Mangino and his staff did a nice job following the Orange Bowl run of selling the program on that premise. New facilities, an Orange Bowl win, an opportunity to come in and play early. All those things provided a boost in the caliber of player brought into the program.
With the events over the last year and a new staff on hand, perhaps that window has closed. Geneo Grissom's change in decision, Darrian Miller's recent decommitment and what in general amounts to a underwhelming level of momentum thus far on the recruiting trail might be an indication of that being the case. Building a football program is very, very fragile when you are dealing with such little room for error. Every kid who hears how Kansas is building, on the rise and moving up from the Kansas staff is hearing from another staff to just "look at the record" or "Kansas will never win consistently."
Time to hit the panic button? Not yet, but it is time to get back to that blue collar, chip on our shoulder mentality at all levels of the program. Kansas is going to have to work harder, want it more and fight like dogs to make this happen. The chips are stacked against the program until it can prove consistency on the field and not just pretend or present itself as having it.
There is some young talent on the roster, there are some solid recruiters and coaches on the staff. On both ends of this, the players and coaches involved are going to need to put their hard hats on and go to work everyday. Surprise a few folks and win 7 or dare I say 8 games this year and this group could hit the ground running. Dip to that 4-6 range or even worse and the program is taking on water.
Right now it comes down to support from the fans, hard work from the players and coaches, keeping their noses clean off the field and winning football games. No need for bad press or poor publicity. Until the positive news starts flowing out of the football program in Lawrence again, it's going to be a wait and see, show me attitude from those bigger name recruits and higher profile players. Kansas has to prove it again, just like it did in 2007 and the same way it didn't in 2009.