Your fearless leader has a confession: he has consorted with the enemy. misterbrain over at Rock Chalk Talk checks in with some burning answers to important questions about the Jayhawks before today's game.
Jon: You've finally been freed from the horror of The Charles. How are you feeling about Clint Bowen, and do you think he's going to be rewarded for the Jayhawks' improvement over the latter half of the year?
MB: I'm feeling pretty good about Bowen even though I'm a bit concerned about how much drop-off there will be when we lose this large class of seniors. Most of our production has come from our senior class, and while Bowen has definitely utilized it much better than Choley did, I'm not sure how much carryover we will see.
That being said, any new coach is going to have the same issue, and so while there are other interesting candidates out there, I wouldn't be too terribly upset if he ends up with the job. And assuming they don't get demolished by K-State this week, there is a good chance he has locked it up already.
Jon: Kansas has had less-than-stellar quarterback play the last few years, but it looks like the Jayhawks have finally found someone who's at least servicable in Michael Cummings. Which do you think is more accurate: Weis wasn't bringing in decent quarterbacks, or that they simply had no chance to succeed under him?
MB: Cummings definitely has the makings of a good quarterback, if he has a halfway-decent O-line. And that really has been the issue during the Weis tenure, the offensive line. Choley seemed to want to run a pro-style passing offense, but never concentrated enough on the O-line to make that scheme successful. To be fair though, I'm not sure that the QBs he brought in were any good though. They all left their previous locations because they were beat out for playing time, and the QBs that replaced them weren't anything special. At this point, I'm comfortable saying that the QBs were decent-ish, but Weis tried to stuff them into a system that just wasn't going to work.
Jon: Ben Heeney and Jimmay Mundine are about to go away. Cummings will return, but who else should we be keeping an eye on in this game with an eye toward contemplating the Jayhawk future?
MB: Unfortunately, Mundine is gone too. But as usual, the RB position just keeps chugging along. With Corey Avery and DeAndre Mann returning from this year, and the injured Taylor Cox and Brandon Bourbon trying to get a medical redshirt to return, the running back position will be stacked. Also on offense, Nigel King (of circus catch fame) returns for his senior season.
On defense, Jake Love will look to step in for Ben Heeney next year, and Isaiah Johnson will continue to hold down the fort at safety, but other than that, we are looking pretty thin on known names.
Jon: Normally, we ask what a coach is like as person, but Bowen's pretty straight-forward: he's a KU guy, and he's got some fire. But as far as his tendencies and game-planning, what have you noticed about him so far?
MB: I think the biggest thing is his willingness to experiment. His first game featured much of the same gameplan as when Weis was the coach, but he quickly showed that he was willing to throw things at the wall until something stuck. And when the offense stagnated, he switched the playcaller to open up the gameplan. The main positive he has going for him is the feeling that he wants to succeed so bad that he isn't willing to sit around and wait for something to start working, something Weis had a problem with.
Jon: If getting back to relevance and actually contending for a Big 12 football title came at the price of breaking the basketball team's streak of consecutive conference regular-season championships... would you take that deal? Does your answer depend on which Big 12 team ends the streak?
MB: Absolutely not. I want to see the football team succeed, but the basketball streak is something special right now. If you asked every Kansas fan this same question, I guarantee that 75+% would say the same thing. Football is something we enjoy watching and we celebrate the victories we get, but basketball is the identity of this school. Most fans would be happy with a football program that could hover around .500 every year and go to a bowl game every 2-3 years.
And no, the answer doesn't depend on who breaks the streak. Although, to be perfectly honest, if you told me that we would play in the College Football Playoff, and then TCU would shock everyone and win the conference in basketball, I might be tempted to take that deal just to see how much the national sports media would have their minds blown.
Jon: Finally, what's your prediction for the Showdown?
MB: Not good for the Jayhawks. I think the Jayhawks can give them a game, but the emotion of the situation won't be enough to propel them over the top. The better talent wins out, and the Wildcats head into championship week with a chance to split the conference title with TCU.
Thanks to misterbrain for answering our impudent queries. You can catch Jon's answers to his questions over at RCT. I'm sure we'll see him again in a couple of months when things between Lawrence and Manhattan get really testy.