Year in review: The 17 lowest moments of 2017 for KU football

Kansas head coach David Beaty, right, screams from the sidelines during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Kansas head coach David Beaty, right, screams from the sidelines during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. by Nick Krug

The past 12 months — September through November in particular — undeniably featured more failures than triumphs for the forlorn University of Kansas football program.

With a new year imminent, evoking reflection on all that transpired during 2017, constructing a best-of recap for KU football would qualify as disingenuous.

Instead, because not everyone can be as “super-positive” as Jayhawks head coach David Beaty, here are the 17 lowest moments the team endured throughout 2017, a year filled with matters most associated with the program would prefer to forget.

No FBS wins/11-game losing streak

The high point of Beaty’s third season leading the Jayhawks came and went on the first Saturday of September, when KU beat overmatched Southeast Missouri State, 38-16.

Following that victory against an FCS opponent, Kansas tailspun into an 11-game losing streak.

By the time the schedule wrapped up with KU losing eight of its nine Big 12 games by 22 or more points, Beaty’s record with the Jayhawks dropped to 3-33 overall and 1-32 against FBS competition.

Oklahoma handshake debacle

The rest of the college football universe would have gone on ignoring the Jayhawks’ on-field miseries had the team’s captains not decided to snub eventual Heisman Trophy-winner Baker Mayfield during a pre-game handshake in KU’s home finale.

Alternatively, Beaty and captains Daniel Wise, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Joe Dineen and Jeremiah Booker spent the following days apologizing to Mayfield, the Oklahoma program, KU fans, the Big 12 and college football, in general, after losing the game 41-3.

KU offense collapses at TCU

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) recovers a fumbled snap before TCU defensive tackle L.J. Collier (91) during the second quarter, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) recovers a fumbled snap before TCU defensive tackle L.J. Collier (91) during the second quarter, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks’ branded Air Raid offense crashed and burned often this past season, but never looked more clumsy than in a prime time road loss at TCU, on Oct. 21.

Forget scoring 21 points in a game — a feat KU accomplished twice during Big 12 play — the offense mustered just 21 total yards, the fewest by an FBS team in at least 20 seasons, against the Horned Frogs.

KU’s longest play from scrimmage went 13 yards and the offense netted minus-25 yards rushing in a dumbfounding performance.

| VOTE: What was the lowest moment of 2017 for KU football? |

Record-breaking road skid

For the eighth consecutive season, KU failed to win a road game.

The Jayhawks took on the unenviable distinction of owning the longest road losing streak in major college football history with their 45th straight defeat in an opponent’s stadium, Nov. 11 at Texas.

The skid extended to 46 with KU’s season-ending, 58-17 loss at Oklahoma State. What’s more, the loss marked the program’s 49th consecutive defeat outside of Lawrence, when neutral site games are included. Plus, KU has dropped 41 conference road contests in a row.

‘Fire Zenger’ banner flies

by Benton Smith

In the hours before KU’s Oct. 28 rivalry game with Kansas State, a plane flew above Memorial Stadium with a banner in tow which read: “Fire Zenger.”

The airborne suggestion referenced KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger and the football program’s ongoing struggles, which have rendered increasing numbers of the fan base dissatisfied over the past couple of years.

After KU lost, 30-20, Beaty described the idea of displaying such a message in the air space above campus as “asinine.”

Jason, most of ‘Louisianimals’ back out

On one wild weekend this past February, KU football fans didn’t quite know what to make of the program soaring up recruiting rankings by landing verbal commitments from several touted prospects, six of which hailed from Louisiana and were recruited by Kansas assistant Tony Hull.

In announcing the Pelican State pledges from recruits Anthony “Pooka” Williams, Devonta Jason, Corione Harris, Ja’Marr Chase, Aaron Brule and Nelson Jenkins, Beaty included the nickname: Louisianimals.

While both Williams and Harris eventually became early signees with KU, the other four de-committed, including the most promising talent in the group, four-star receiver Jason, who signed with Mississippi State.

Inept at Iowa State

Kansas running back Taylor Martin (24) is wrestled to the ground by Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning (7) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas running back Taylor Martin (24) is wrestled to the ground by Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning (7) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

In retrospect, it was a harbinger of what awaited KU at TCU. In the moment, it seemed as though the Jayhawks’ offense bottomed out in a 45-0 defeat at Iowa State.

Kansas amassed just 106 total yards and five first downs in Ames, Iowa.

In unimaginable fashion, the Cyclones completed three series on offense before KU got a chance to run its second offensive play, thanks to a muffed punt return and an interception in the game’s opening minutes.

Bender benched

From the day KU signed quarterback Peyton Bender, the former Mike Leach pupil at Washington State was identified by Beaty as a challenger for KU’s most visible starting job.

Bender debuted as the No. 1 QB in the season opener and maintained that status through four games, before the staff benched the junior at halftime of a drubbing at the hands of Texas Tech.

Although Bender would start the next two weeks, his passing numbers proved less than tame in back-to-back shutouts at ISU and TCU.

Demoting Bender to backup duties and giving Carter Stanley the job for the following four weeks was the right move at the time, but served as a reminder of the team’s inability to find and/or identify an impactful QB.

Program a punching bag during broadcasts

Opponents overwhelmed KU so often in 2017, the broadcasters paid to describe and analyze the Jayhawks’ play on television sometimes were brutally honest or at a loss for words.

At one point during the road loss at Ohio, a broadcaster for ESPNU assessed “Kansas is not a good football team.”

More infamously, during halftime of the face-plant at TCU, FOX studio analyst and former Hesiman winner Matt Leinart face-palmed when asked to describe KU’s play, and couldn’t fight off the desire to laugh.

Charlot fails to make an impact

Kansas special teams player Daylon Charlot (2) is pursued by TCU special teams player Garret Wallow (30) during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Kansas special teams player Daylon Charlot (2) is pursued by TCU special teams player Garret Wallow (30) during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. by Nick Krug

A much-hyped receiver who transferred to Kansas from national powerhouse Alabama in 2016, Daylon Charlot barely produced anything in his debut season.

Once a four-star prep receiver considered talented enough to play for Nick Saban, Charlot returned five kickoffs for 82 yards on KU’s special teams and made one reception for zero yards on offense.

Before the season even neared its conclusion, the staff decided to move the receiver to defense, where he became an end-of-the-bench safety.

Home loss to Central Michigan

Central Michigan running back Devon Spalding (13) lands on two KU defender after scoring a touchdown in CMU’s win over KU Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.

Central Michigan running back Devon Spalding (13) lands on two KU defender after scoring a touchdown in CMU’s win over KU Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

For those KU football fans hoping 2017 would be a season of progress, the Week 2 home loss to Central Michigan signaled a path in the opposite direction.

The Chippewas, who went on to finish third in the MAC’s West division, took the lead for good in the second quarter and won, 45-27.

Any promise of Kansas winning more than three games for the first time since Mark Mangino was forced out disappeared prior to Week 3.

Gonzalez dismissed

Days ahead of preseason camp, Beaty kicked LaQuvionte Gonzalez off the team for an unspecified violation of team rules. Though disciplining a talented player is commendable, the removal of Gonzalez served as another lowlight.

Beaty hand-picked the speedy receiver, whom he recruited to and coached previously at Texas A & M, hoping Gonzalez could aid a massive rebuild at Kansas.

The receiver the KU coach had previously called his “son” blew a chance to help Beaty look good, and instead disobeyed guidelines established by the man in charge.

Blown out after bye week

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) can't stop Texas Tech defensive back Justus Parker (31) as he runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter after an interception on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) can't stop Texas Tech defensive back Justus Parker (31) as he runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter after an interception on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The goal coming off an in-season idle Saturday is to return to the field feeling fresh and looking improved. Extra time off for KU in late September did nothing of the sort.

Following the Jayhawks’ Big 12 opener, a 56-34 home loss to West Virginia, the staff and players had more recovery and preparation time than usual and responded by laying an egg at Memorial Stadium versus a Texas Tech team that would go on to finish eighth in the Big 12.

The Red Raiders clobbered KU, 65-19, in front of a season-worst announced home crowd of 21,050.

Baldwin disappears

KU always needs help on its offensive line, and from the day Charles Baldwin, a former five-star junior college prospect, arrived in Lawrence, it was assumed the 6-foot-5, 305-pound tackle could provide just that.

Baldwin proved as effective for KU this past fall as he did in his short-lived spring stint with Alabama in 2016. By early September, the right tackle disappeared from the depth chart. Shortly after, his No. 58 uniform was nowhere to be seen on Saturday — not even during warm-ups or on the sidelines during home games, where even seldom-used backups typically participate and spectate.

Armstrong falls short of preseason honor

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (2) comes in to wrap up Iowa State running back David Montgomery (32) during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (2) comes in to wrap up Iowa State running back David Montgomery (32) during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Back in July, at the apex of the offseason optimism surrounding Kansas, media members who cover the Big 12 voted defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. the league’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Following that unprecedented distinction for a Jayhawk, though, the junior from Houston couldn’t duplicate the statistical success of his breakout sophomore season.

While KU’s defensive schemes and altering of Armstrong’s responsibilities played a factor in the drop-offs, the 6-4 D-end’s production went from 20.0 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2016, to 9.0 TFLs and 1.5 sacks in 2017.

The only unanimous selection to the media’s preseason all-league defensive team, Armstrong finished the year as a second-team selection of the Associated Press.

Tune spurns Kansas — twice

Most who follow college football recruiting realize a prospect backing off a verbal commitment always is a possibility. But for a potential signee to do so twice — to the same program — is bizarre.

That’s how quarterback Clayton Tune’s recruitment played out with KU. The Texas prep first pledged to the Jayhawks in February, then de-committed in October, when he checked out Baylor and Kansas got embarrassed at TCU on the same Saturday.

Somehow, the day after KU’s season ended, Tune re-committed as members of the coaching staff visited his home. The reconsideration proved fleeting, though, as Tune began exploring other options in December and reneged yet again.

Sternberger leaves KU

Kansas tight end Jace Sternberger (7) gets up to celebrate a touchdown by Kansas tight end Ben Johnson (84) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas tight end Jace Sternberger (7) gets up to celebrate a touchdown by Kansas tight end Ben Johnson (84) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

When tight end Jace Sternberger cut his time with Kansas short this past spring, opting to transfer out of the program ahead of what would have been his redshirt sophomore season, it didn’t seem especially devastating at the time.

However, the 6-foot-4 target needed just one fall at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M to remind everyone of his potential.

While Sternberger could’ve become a natural replacement for Ben Johnson at KU in 2018, he instead became the first prospect to commit to new Texas A & M coach Jimbo Fisher. Sternberger signed with the Aggies in December.

Comments

Kevin Robert Fest

Im sure the list could have been expanded beyond the initial 17 but then that would have been perceived as piling on. Lol.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

Reading the headline and being very disappointed with the retention of beaty and zinger, I thought this was going to be a pile on. It may be, but it shows several things that are dismal about the program and the ineptitude of Girod to act.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Strayer

I know it was part of an already bad game mentioned, but what about the offensive line play that blew up Twitter for a short while? The one in which all the linemen miss their blocks, end up face first on the ground and four defensive linemen all met at the KU QB for a gang sack. That was such a fine display of the inability of this coaching staff to teach the games fundamentals to the players.. I haven't even seen anything that bad at a middle school football game!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

Im telling you I'm sure that there will be in number of posters who will list things about the season that was not listed. I think he stopped at 17 just because it was the year 2017, there were probably 200 things he could have listed.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

The o-line play of shame was bad.

Consider this, losing at home to a winless Baylor team - a team that lost at home to an FCS team, coached by the first coach that Zenger fired, and with a younger roster than Kansas - didn't even make the bottom 17 moments.

So, I'll add that. And my number one? Beaty refusing to meet the media after officially converting the program to JUCO U status. And Zenger allowing him to do it.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

I don't know about Charlot or Baldwin maybe they thought coming to KU from Alabama that they didn't have to work hard or that they thought they would just see the field as soon as they were after sitting out a year. But with Sternberger leaving and after only one year at a JC he gets an offer from TAM. Maybe the coaching staff really isn't developing the players or not using them correctly. Could just be that Sternberger didn't want to wait his turn as players are apt to do. Ben Johnson is no bum but l felt was very under utilized in the offense and maybe Sternberger could see TE wasn't going to be a go to position in our offense. Either way that is another talented player not on the roster for whatever reason.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Brazelton

Two experienced DBs might have turned a couple of our early season losses into wins. The 2017 season tanked with too many injuries and not enough experienced back-ups to take the place of starters. The 2018 season will depend upon senior and junior on-the-field leadership. Coaches can coach, but players have to produce on the field. Let's hope that our current players are tired of losing football games and can get it started during the pre-conference games.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Or, maybe, the coaches can't coach. Or maybe they can't coach the players they recruited to play here?

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Al Martin

And of course it's not on the coaches to make sure that there are experienced players at important positions. It's all on players having to get tired of losing.

I'm still waiting for your prediction of wins for next year.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Richard Duran

How about getting mercy ruled at TCU?

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

Then watching Beatty complain about it.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

I don't know how the retention of Beatty didn't make the list. I think a lot of people don't understand how a program goes significantly backwards after two record breaking dismal seasons and still retains the coach.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

Very good point Jeff, keeping Beaty that should have been #1. I don't know what lm more afraid of. That he wins a few games and they keep him for another year or next year looks like last year and they just wasted another year on him. Either way is a waste.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Titus Canby

It's a toss-up for me between the entire Baylor game where the team was shameful, and the banner at the K-State game where some "fans" were shameful..

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

The fake handshake by a poorly coached team was the most shameful on this list. the fire zinger sign reinforces how inept Girod is.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Joe Norgay

What's shameful about fans voicing their displeasure with a university that seems ok with historically terrible football?

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Titus Canby

There are better and more effective ways to voice that displeasure.

If the goal of the banner was to fire Zenger, it didn't work. If the goal of the banner was to humiliate the team and the university in front of the opposing team and fans, and chase away recruits (such as those who later de-committed), it worked.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

I'm guessing very few recruits know who the AD is, the fans do. I guess I wonder how many recruits decided to decommit because we retained our athletic director. My wondering got me to zero.

However, because Girod did not fire Zinger and lead to the retention of Beatty without an evaluation after the season, the recruits saw a coach that has been dismal at winning and they chose other locations, mainly non p5 schools.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Layne Pierce

I still do not care whether recruits are juco or not. What I care about is can they play, and will the coaches use them in a way that maximizes their skills. The disgrace of this progam is monumental.

I am totally amazed that there are those who say we are hurting the program by telling that truth. What are we trying to preserve? When you have an infected stinking cancor you don't put a bandaide on it, you lance it.

Honestly we are getting close to the point of dropping down a level, or just quitting football altogether, in which case we will not be in a major conference, The day when this matters is coming sooner than we want to admit. Bill Self has said he will not coach here if we are not a major 5 conference school. Don't worry, we can get in the Mountain West, or the American Conference.

Think about it!!! Denying it won't chance the reality.

Rock Chalk
Jayhawk

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Steve Corder

Not enough "ink" if it was December, 1999 instead of 2017.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Joseph Gorski

You forgot to mention Beaty being retained!!!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Richard Duran

Our next football coach should be Jim Leonhard, the DC @ Wisconsin.
He's only 35 but he has one of the best Defenses in the country. Take a chance, he may end up being our Mike Tomlin or Bill Snyder.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Al Martin

Speaking of which, I'm watching Wisconsin get the Orange Bowl trophy and thinking, "ten years ago that was us." Sobering and depressing. Also, it seems way longer than ten years.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Edward Daub

You are correct, that Jim will be "a hot candidate"! Will the Wisconsin Native (from Tony Population 113) elect to "Stay in the Cold" at his Alma Mater? He walked on at WIS and started at Safety , played about 10 years in the Pros, and is now only in his 2nd year of Coaching. Would he consider Kansas? I don't know!

By the way, I love that Badger Offensive Line! Looks like a "Herd of Dairy Cattle"! Why can't KU develop the same "smash mouth" mentality?

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Joseph Gorski

Because when it comes to cattle we always get the runts of the herd.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Richard Duran

We could, lots of big farmboys in Kansas play football. I grew up in Garden City and know them boys are strong. Why can't we get the Cody Whitehairs of the world to come to KU?
Isn't that what Beatty was going to focus on?

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Andy Tweedy

Love the uniforms! Wish I had something more to say that's positive about 2017!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Edward Daub

"Speed" Gonzalez must have conducted himself in egregious fashion to be dismissed from the Team! We certainly missed his "after burner velocity" on kickoffs! However, his "punt catching skills" were suspect!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryson Stricker

@Edward I think one would say stealing thousands of dollars worth of stuff is conducting yourself in egregious fashion xD.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Edward Daub

Thanks Bryson! I never saw a Police Report or any discussion about Criminal charges filed against "Speedy". Must have been asleep at the wheel!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Robert Brock

The lowest of the lowest was the new Chancellor retaining Sheahon Zenger. Disgusting!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Richard Holmes

The way I see it is that you cannot get top recruits if you don't have a winning program and you can't have a winning program withlout top recruits. This is the downward spiral that we are currently in. What top recruit wants to come to a school with a loosing record with a loosing coach? NO ONE.
Just look at our basketball team; a winning team with a winning coach. And that draws talent.
So how do you change this? Spend the money and hire a big name coach who top players want to play for. Otherwise we are stuck in this quagmire saying the same thing for the next 5 to 10 years and beyond.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

I do not like the title of this article...lets focus on the future...lets never revisit this past season...flush it...I am saying my prayers for coach ...I wish him success....less golf and more time in the weight room for coach....he needs to show that he can out work his players,,,so they will listen to him and play for him....sometimes things like that actually work...ask Scott Frost...Happy New Year to all ...I enjoy reading all your comments.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Oklahoma handshake was maybe the lowest point ever in Kansas sports history....so classless...Zenger and Beaty should have been fired immediately after that....embarrassing to all Jayhawks...something Missouri might do....lets hope it never enters the mind to repeat such low life behavior. Anyone okay with it....needs to really reevaluate some things....We are Kansas..Good sportsmanship should never be compromised..its more important than the game itself.....Do everything with CLASS PERIOD!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Hart

Lowest point ever was the no handshake? I don't know... having our basketball player punch an opposing player in the junk with a closed fist in the NCAA Final Four is worse in my book. And what did Self do about it.. bench him? Nope...let him play even though the referee told him exactly what happened and it was all over the national televised in-game replays. Yet in football, Coach and AD should be fired for the players deciding 10 mins before the game on their own... that they would not shake hands. What a crock. That is not under the coach's control. If you feel that way, then Bill Self should be fired for all of his players off the court issues. But no, you all are going to welcome back Billy Preston(IF allowed by NCAA) with open arms, aren't you? And Bill Self gets a pass for recruiting these guys with questionable character and integrity. And on the other side of the handshake incident, we have Baker Mayfield.. and his reaction and behavior was absolutely inexcusable. He still gets rewarded for the Heisman trophy, which by the way is "awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.". Integrity... Baker Mayfield... right.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Mike...you make well thought out arguments... my point is.........I just think doing that in front of the those kids on the 50 yard line was horrible....maybe Self should be fired also...like I said...sportsmanship is the most important thing and should never be compromised and champions...true champions do things the right way and carry themselves with Class in everything they do....Champions are not always winners on the scoreboard...but winners in the eyes of those who cross their path...you know a few i am sure....they stand out...the have a glow

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Armen Kurdian

Or in other words, how EJ single-handedly lost the game to Michigan?

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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El Golfdog

I thought that not shaking BM's hand was a HIGH POINT. You guys were the only ones who had the guts to do that, and most of us in Ft Worth were laughing our butts off. Good job!

6 months, 1 week ago

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