By Jake Gutierrez
Kansas had a somewhat controversial win over Iowa State last night in Ames and the Kansas haters came out of the woodwork. I under-stand why people who root for other local schools get so angry. There is no questioning that the three officials (Mark Whitehead, Tom O'Neill and Bert Smith) had several bad calls and plain old whiffs in the game. The two that were the most obvious and blatant happen to come at the end of regulation.
The first was a horrible mistake, which I have only seen happen a handful of times in such an obvious situation. With 23 seconds left on the clock and Kansas down two points, the Jayhawks needed to foul and to stop the clock, which they did. The only problem was everyone watching saw that Jeff Withey made the foul which would have been his fifth and final foul. Well everyone watching, except the referees. Very wisely, Kevin Young of Kansas raised his hand to try to take the credit for the foul knowing that his teammate was about to be done for the night. I have seen players try to do this before, but it seems like the officials usually get the call right, not this time, that did not happen. The Jayhawks got an incredibly lucky break. So lucky that Korie Lucious walked down the court and hit both of his free throws to put the Cyclones back up by four points with only 23 seconds left. Following this sequence the Jayhawks went down the court and Elijah Johnson nailed a clutch three pointer with 15 seconds left to make the game 88-89 still in Iowa State’s favor.
The second mistake by the referees came with just under 5 seconds on the game clock, after Korie Lucious was fouled again to stop the clock he only hit 1 of 2 from the charity stripe. If he would have hit both, Kansas would need to make a three pointer to tie the game. Fortunately for Jayhawk fans he didn’t and KU trailed 90-88. This is where the most controversial play happened. Elijah Johnson drove the lane with 8 seconds on the clock and missed his shot as he clearly made a lot of contact with Iowa State defender Georges Niang. No whistle was blown. Now, I think it was most likely a charge, but I have seen the same play called a block before. The problem was that nothing was called either way. To make matters worse even after the officials swallowed the whistle on the initial drive to the hoop, a bizarre call was made on Niang as the rebound was tipped to Johnson on the floor. Both Johnson and Niang were still on the floor from the contact that was made on Elijah’s drive. Kansas was in the double bonus and Johnson made both of his free throws to tie the game and send it to overtime. Here were some twitter reactions from several college basketball writers on that play.
Mike DeCourcy from the Sporting News and weekly guest on The Border Patrol:
End of KU-Iowa State regulation: debacle, in my opinion. Either charge or block. That much contact? Someone fouled
Pat Forde from Yahoo Sports:
That is a charge in the first 39 minutes of the game. Weak no-call there.
Seth Davis from Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports:
Missing Withey's fifth foul was inexcusable, but the noncall at end of regulation was an all timer. Obvious charge, but call something!
Jay Williams from ESPN:
Great comeback by Kansas but let's be honest, the refs blew this game for Iowa State. Hands down it was a CHARGE!! #HorribleNoCall
Most people agree that play was a charge and I agree, but let’s be fair I can’t remember a college basketball season where officiating has been criticized and ripped on as much as it has been this year. Fans that think refs or the Big 12 Conference really cares who wins the games to the extent of giving KU calls to help win are delusional. Even though there was a bad call, Elijah Johnson still had to step up and hit 2 free throws in a hostile environment. He still had to hit big three point buckets down the stretch to bring his Jayhawks back. This was an all-time performance in the history of KU. No one told Iowa State they weren’t allowed to play in the overtime. They hit a school high 17 three pointers. They were a dreadful 0-6 in overtime. Johnson has 20 freaking points combined in the last 3:05 of regulation and in the 5:00 overtime period. So for the haters that say the officials won this game for Kansas must just be ignored. Sure, they missed some calls, but it was the players on the court that won this game and the coaches on the bench. Also, it must be stated that Jeff Withey had zero points and one rebound from the time of the missed 5th foul to the time he fouled out. I understand some of what he affects in the game doesn’t show up on a stat sheet, but it’s also not like he had the game Johnson did, or even Travis Releford for that matter.
The Jayhawks just keep grinding wins out and it looks like they might be on their way to a 9th straight Big 12 Conference title. The reason why people feel like KU gets help from the officials is because they win. They hit the shots. They make the runs and take advantage of every opportunity they get to win games. Very few programs in the country win as much as Kansas does and so that makes it seem like they are always getting lucky. Luck is just putting yourSelf in the right place at the right time and making something positive happen. That’s just what KU did. Bill Self will remember his 500th win and Elijah Johnson’s performance for quite sometime.
By Jake Gutierrez
Most of the talk around the football coaching search at Kansas has been Mike Leach. I think Leach would be a great hire for KU, but I think I would rather have the current linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers a man named Jim Leavitt.
I know it is somewhat blasphemy to want a former Missouri QB to become the head coach of Kansas, but hear me out. Missouri is no longer Kansas’ rival, they’re moving to the SEC. So he will never have to face his alma mater. Also many people think he is a candidate to be the successor to legendary coach Bill Snyder. How great would that be to snatch up someone that Bill Snyder would want to replace him before he gets the chance to hire him?
The concern for most is how Leavitt was fired from his last job at South Florida, which is a concern after what Kansas went through with Mark Mangino and Texas Tech went through with Mike Leach. Leach, Leavitt and Mangino were all fired around the same time for the similar reasons. Players’ complaining about being mistreated is what led to multi-million dollar buyouts in all three coaches cases. This is an example of the wussification of kids in America. Kids now are soft and are being coddled too much. That is a debatable comment but still is my opinion. I didn’t agree with any of the three coaches being fired. So if the firing of Mangino and Leavitt is a concern for the people doing the hiring at Kansas then Mike Leach’s firing should be just as a big of a concern.
There are several reasons Jim Leavitt is the #1 candidate for the Kansas job in my eyes. First is he took South Florida a division I-AA school and built it up to a top Big East football program. That’s basically what Kansas has become in the past two years. A team that looks like a division I-AA school and that even lost at home last year to North Dakota State University, which is a FCS (I-AA) school. So Leavitt knows how to build a program from the ground up. I like the coaching pedigree that Leavitt has. He spent a year at Missouri and a year at Iowa as a graduate assistant before leaving with Bill Snyder for Kansas State to become a linebackers coach and then eventually the defensive coordinator. So in two different cases once as an assistant (K-State) and once as a head coach (USF), he has been a part of taking a team from relative obscurity and made them relevant. He is clearly a defensive coach and I think that is what Kansas needs the help with most. Kansas was the worst in the nation at points given up per game with their opponents averaging 43.8 pts/gm against them. The next worse was a full 2.4 points less in New Mexico with 41.4 pts/gm.
I’ll leave you with this, the man conducting the coaching search for Kansas is Dr. Sheahon Zenger. What relevance does this have you ask? Well Leavitt and Zenger were both a part of Bill Synder’s staff and helped build the Kansas State football program in the early 90’s. Then in 1996 Jim Leavitt hired Zenger as the recruiting coordinator at the University of South Florida.
Only time will tell if they will join up again to help resurrect yet another football program. I’m rooting strongly for this dynamic duo to once again join forces to help bring the University of Kansas’ football program back to relevance in college football.
By Jake Gutierrez
Here are the top 5 players you should pick up this week on the waiver wire.
· Thomas Jones, RB, Kansas City
· Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo
· Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati
· Rex Grossman, QB, Washington
· Tennessee Titans DEF/ST
· Houston Texans DEF/ST