This week I had the pleasure to speak with Paul Wadlington (aka Scipio Tex), one of the managers at Barking Carnival, about this week's matchup with Texas. He was nice enough to answer a few questions for me. See my responses to his questions here.
misterbrain: So Charlie Strong just dismissed his 9th player since taking over for Mack Brown. I can only think of two reasons for this: either Mack let the jungle get so overrun with bad apples that Charlie is now pruning back the wild mess, or he found out that these 9 players were really spies for the other Big 12 teams (conveniently one for each other Big 12 school) and got rid of them. Which is it? And how do these dismissals seem to be affecting the team?
Paul: Interestingly enough, I would say our basic locker room citizenship was well in the upper quartile of FBS football under Brown. Our recent issues had more to do with complacency, laziness, self-indulgence and a staff that was completely disconnected from the day-to-day functioning of the team. Think spoiled kids, not felons. Brown was a ghost, our locker room on auto-pilot. That doesn't work when turbulence hits.
Strong takes his role as a mentor very seriously. Players have to grow as people. We've all been taught to roll our eyes at that proclamation by the Urban Meyers and Joe Paternos of the world, but Charlie appears to be the real deal.
No one has a true read on this team and everyone reporting on its mood, tenor and psychology is operating from an agenda.
misterbrain: Why does Texas seem to have such problems in Lawrence, twice needing last minute comebacks when we had a half-competent coach (Gill doesn't count)? Is it they just aren't used to playing at that elevation? Or does it takes them into the 4th quarter to overcome their sheer terror at the sight of the Jayhawk?
Paul: In 2004, we didn't take Kansas very seriously, got out-coached and almost lost. That really was the basis of Mangino's ire - he whipped our asses in preparation and felt his team deserved the win. Fortunately, Vince Young did Vince Young things and we utilized a vast BCS conspiracy to convert 4th and 17. We also prevented Mangino from receiving a macaroni and cheese IV infusion at halftime to replenish his mental acuity and that led to his post-game meltdown.
In 2012, we weren't good enough to mail it in. And you can't just expect to roll into Lawrence in front of 30,000 maniacal KU fans scattered throughout the stadium and win.
misterbrain: Mad props to David Ash for deciding to step away from the game before he suffered a permanent injury. Not many players have the stones to do that. But how well is Tyler Swoopes prepared to step in and assume the starting QB role? Was he pushing for playing time a-la Vince Young, or is he more in the Garrett Gilbert vein, thrown in over his head and kind of just treading water?
Paul: We're all proud of Ash. He was becoming a pretty good QB, but it's just not worth it.
Tyler Swoopes is fantastic. I expect him to light you up for 450 yards on Saturday. Unfortunately, he is imaginary.
Tyrone Swoopes, however, is our QB and a reasonable portion of the fan base believed he'd be a future TE. He was not pushing David Ash in any way, shape or form. However, Tyrone has shown pluck and arm talent despite walking into a very tough situation. He's not very VY though - he's a 240 pound, 4.8 40 guy. He's mobile enough to bootleg, but his bread will be buttered as a drop back passer - not a dual threat. We currently run a very simplistic, scaled-down offense to accommodate his inexperience and the fact that his offensive tackles are a converted guard and a former 4th string Defensive Tackle (as of five weeks ago) does not bode well for his protection.
Tyrone is trying to learn the game while playing the game and that's going to lead to some rocky moments. The sort of recipe that allows improbable upsets by teams with Woody Woodpecker's molester uncle emblazoned on their helmets. I mean that respectfully.
misterbrain: When the Longhorns inevitably win after being handed the ball by a blatantly bad call and driving down for the winning score, what will be the next "Dollar Signs" quote that the world gets to talk about?
Paul: Are you old enough to remember the wrestler Ted Dibiase, the Million Dollar Man? The genius of his gimmick was that while he never held a title, he always held the self-awarded Million Dollar Belt. He would offer money for fans to humiliate themselves (and then sabotage them so he wouldn't have to pay) and do awesome things like berate elderly convenience store cashiers for not breaking a $100 when he wanted chewing gum. He ended every promo with an evil laugh, a roll of Benjamins in his hand, usually a hot chick draped across his dollar sign vest.
That's the perception of Texas. Good or bad, we still self-award the Million Dollar Championship. And like any good imaginary heel, if you start winning in the ring, we will distract the referee, hit you with a chair across your dumb, trusting Midwestern face and steal victory once again.
You see Rock Chalk, everyone has a price. For the Million Dollar Man.
AH AH HA HA HA HA HA.
(Good luck, Jayhawks)