Coaches come and go, but the Kansas football program’s place within the Big 12 hierarchy remains unchanged.
As the conference revealed Wednesday its 2019 preseason media poll, the bottom rung in the standings belonged to the Jayhawks yet again.
Heading into Les Miles’ first season at the helm, Kansas landed at 10th in the annual summer projections — the same spot it occupied in each of the previous eight years, when Turner Gill (2011), Charlie Weis (2012-14) and David Beaty (2015-18) had their turns as KU’s head coach.
The Jayhawks proved the prognosticators correct in seven of the past eight years, too, with 2014 being the outlier, as Iowa State went winless in conference play and KU finished ninth, with a 1-8 mark versus Big 12 opponents.
If you’re looking to identify KU’s most relatively successful season within the league during that eight-year stretch, well, the Jayhawks went 1-8 four times and 0-9 the other four seasons.
Kansas last picked up more than one conference victory in a season in 2008, when the Jayhawks finished 4-4 in conference action and still had Mark Mangino as their head coach and Todd Reesing as their quarterback. KU finished third in the Big 12 North that year.
The last time KU was picked somewhere other than 10th in the Big 12 was 2010, when the conference still had two divisions and 12 teams. Ahead of what turned out to be a 3-9 season for Gill’s Jayhawks, KU was predicted to finish fourth in the six-team Big 12 North. But KU finished last in the division in Gill’s first season, going 1-7 within the league.
Peering even farther back into the conference archives, Miles took over an Oklahoma State program with low expectations in 2001. In his first year as a college head coach, the Cowboys were picked fifth in the Big 12 South in the preseason media poll. OSU, indeed, finished fifth and went 2-6 in conference games.
Miles’ Cowboys outperformed their league forecast the following season, though. Picked fifth again in 2002, OSU placed fourth with a 5-3 conference mark.
In 2003, Miles and company lived up to their improving reputation, finishing third as predicted and going 5-3 in the Big 12.
Ahead of what proved to be Miles’ fourth and final season at OSU, the Cowboys were picked fourth in the preseason poll but placed fifth, going 4-4. Miles left to take over a powerhouse LSU program with a 49-28 overall record and 16-16 mark in Big 12 games.
Perennial Big 12 favorite Oklahoma, now picked first in the the preseason poll for the sixth time in nine years, took the top spot once again in 2019.
OU received 68 of the 77 first-place votes, with second-place Texas picking up the other nine.
Iowa State, a team often projected close to KU in preseason polls for years, took the third-place spot, heading into head coach Matt Campbell’s fourth year in Ames, Iowa.
TCU appeared fourth in the projections, ahead of fifth-place Oklahoma State, sixth-place Baylor, seventh-place Texas Tech, eighth-place West Virginia, ninth-place Kansas State and last-place Kansas.
K-State’s 191 points gave KU’s rivals a 102-point cushion over the Jayhawks (89 points) for ninth place.
The top two finishers in the league standings will square off in the Big 12 Football Championship Game, on Dec. 7, in Arlington, Texas.
2019 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses, followed by points received in the poll)
No. 1 - Oklahoma (68), 761
No. 2 - Texas (9), 696
No. 3 - Iowa State, 589
No. 4 - TCU, 474
No. 5 - Oklahoma State, 460
No. 6 - Baylor, 453
No. 7 - Texas Tech, 281
No. 8 - West Virginia, 241
No. 9 - Kansas State, 191
No. 10 - Kansas, 89
KU football Big 12 W-L totals since 2011
(overall record listed, with head coach)
2011: 0-9 (2-10, Turner Gill)
2012: 0-9 (1-11, Charlie Weis)
2013: 1-8 (3-9, Weis)
2014: 1-8 (3-9, Weis and interim Clint Bowen)
2015: 0-9 (0-12, David Beaty)
2016: 1-8 (2-10, Beaty)
2017: 0-9 (1-11, Beaty)
2018: 1-8 (3-9, Beaty)