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With Iowa State as the standard, Kansas football sets sights on taking down the Cyclones this week to move to 5-0

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold paces up the sideline during the fourth quarter on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

While things have gone about as well as he could have hoped during the first four games of his second year in charge of the program, Kansas football coach Lance Leipold still remembers a time when he was a little awestruck by the challenge he was facing.

That came during the 2021 season, when the Jayhawks arrived at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, for their game against the Cyclones last October.

KU went on to lose that game 59-7, but, the way Leipold remembered it this week, the mismatch showed up well before the teams took the field.

“That was one of the biggest games (where) they looked a lot different than we did,” he said Tuesday at his weekly press conference previewing Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. matchup with the Cyclones in Lawrence. “Also, when we pulled up to their facilities, (I remember) how much different that was. That was an eye-opening, humbling 30-some hours.”

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Kansas head coach Lance Leipold greets Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, right, before an ...

Iowa State has done a lot to renovate its football facilities and rebuild its football program in recent years and the Cyclones have reaped the rewards of that work. Under the guidance of head coach Matt Campbell, Iowa State averaged seven wins per season during Campbell’s first six years in Ames, including a 9-3 mark during the 2020 season.

They’re riding a streak of five consecutive bowl games and are off to a 3-1 start this season. But Leipold has always looked to ISU as a sort of model for what could be done at Kansas and has talked openly about that since arriving in Lawrence.

Leipold referred to Campbell’s ability to establish a clear culture and benefit from player development and retention from year to year as “all the things you strive for.” And he said ISU’s recent success in those areas — and others — has been a big part of the reason the Cyclones have emerged as a Big 12 contender.

“When I talk about my respect for Matt Campbell and the staff and the program and what they’ve done, you can see they didn’t have to go out and add a lot to keep themselves going in the (right) direction,” Leipold said.

He added that, seeing that, along with the shiny facilities and product on the field, “helped set my expectations for what I need to do here as the head football coach.”

Very few people expected Leipold to make this much progress this quickly on his path to bringing Kansas back to respectability. But now that he has, the goal, he said, is to sustain it and to carry on as if nothing has changed.

That may be easier said than done. With each victory, the spotlight on Kansas football has become brighter. ESPN’s College Gameday was in town this week to film a special segment on KU for its Saturday preview show and there has been all kinds of local and national chatter this week about how Kansas, which sits in the No. 26 spot in the Associated Press poll, deserves to be ranked in the Top 25.

Leipold hears all of that. His players do, too. But their goal is to block out the noise and continue to focus on the work that needs to be done. Leipold said he never has thought or worried much about rankings an accolades, other than to appreciate them when they arrive.

“National recognition, recognition as a whole, is something that obviously we strive for, but we don’t control,” he said Tuesday. “If you spend a lot of time worrying about if you should or shouldn’t (be ranked) you probably won’t be (in that position) long anyway. So as far as chatter goes, I am not in that group text.”

KU quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has received as much individual attention for KU’s 4-0 start as anyone not named Leipold, said the players have followed their head coach’s lead on that topic.

“When it first came out, we were just like, ‘OK. Looks like we have to keep doing more,’” Daniels said of this week’s poll. “It’s not something that we really harp on (or) think about in the locker room. That just means that we have to keep on doing what we’re doing. Keep getting better. Keep trying to win games.”

The idea of staying locked in on the process is exactly what the coaches have emphasized since Day 1, and Leipold is hopeful that, even with greater attention and new distractions, the Jayhawks are able to keep their minds on the work that needs to be done.

“I want to keep this team in a good mindset, stay focused on Iowa State,” Leipold said Tuesday. “We left a lot things out there Saturday (versus Duke) that we have to get better at. Those things stack up on you over time.”

Added Daniels, when asked if he had allowed himself to think about what it might look like around here if KU does keep winning: “i don’t really look too far down the line. I like to play week by week, game by game, day by day, especially with my preparation. I just am hopeful that we’re able to keep on doing what we’re doing, keep the same mindset, keep the same mentality through the whole season.”

Comments

David Robinett

Personally, I’m pretty satisfied to have moved from #325 to #26 …

2 months ago

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Ryan Mullen

As long as we have Daniels we will have a shot against any team in the country. I trust Daniels more than Coach. And I freaking love Coach Leipold. But we are probably 1-3 right now if Bean is starting, and no one is talking about Coach leaving. That is how important having a good QB is.

2 months ago

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Rodney Crain

Which Country?

AL, GA, OSU, MI you mean those states, um countries?

2 months ago

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Pamela Shanks

Fun read if you haven't seen it yet. https://www.espn.com/college-football...

2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

So, when Dane Crist came to KU, he recruited a couple of guys based on the Anderson Strength Center being better than Notre Dame's. We added outdoor practice facilities next to the stadium. We added an indoor practice facility next to the stadium. When Leipold says our facilities aren't up-to-snuff, I'd like some details. Exactly what is it that these people need? A "VR" bench press that mimics a game-situation thrust?

Because......here's the thing......we have better facilities than South Dakota State, more scholarships and a bigger budget. And we lost to them at home. Also true with North Dakota State. And Nicholls. And Coastal Carolina.

This football arms race b.s. is for the weak. And it is also ludicrous. Just do your job, build your program and you'll have all of the resources you need. This constant whining about the stadium and the facilities is a theme for weak people. Win games, fill the stadium, count the money. And then buy whatever the heck it is that you think you need. Because these players aren't pampered at all.

2 months ago

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Al Martin

I've wondered about this, too. We've upgraded facilities a few times in the past 15-20 years. Were those upgrades done on the cheap? Or is it really as you described: a continuous arms race?

2 months ago

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Rodney Crain

It might be easier to just say the whole thing.

2 months ago

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Dale Rogers

Likely it's being more attractive in potential future realignment situations and matching what recruits see in other P5 schools, the schools we compete with for recruits. I'm on the west coast so have no recent first-hand familiarity with any of the facilities but have read much saying the stadium needs serious upgrading, including restrooms, concessions, and who knows what else.

2 months ago

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Brad Watson

Good article...I had a different take away from what Coach said....I do not think Coach will be satisfied with 7 win seasons...I think Coach will only be happy with titles...Campbell runs a good program I guess..if Coach says so...I trust him...but personally they haven't really impressed me that much...I think he(Campbell) is maybe a little overrated as a coach...they have been hyped every year and only win 7 games...7-5 is border line successful IMO...everyone goes to a bowl game these days...getting to a bowl means nothing to me...all it really is ..is a 13th game played in a half empty stadium somewhere....and some extra practices...which every team should be able to have...if they go to a bowl or not...that rule needs to change IMO.......Winning them all... winning the conference...and getting into the playoff is all that matters...that's a successful season to me...and I know that is how Coach thinks....because Coach is a WINNER and that is how winners think!...I am so happy he is the leader of our program...we are very very lucky!

2 months ago

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Rodney Crain

7 win seasons is their low, they have had 9 and 8 win seasons. Sustained over 5 years that success would be great here.

The take away from this story is that compared to what ISU has to offer and what KU has, it was an eye opener for our coach.

ISU has invested in their football program, coach/stadium and is a respectable competitive team.

We have not.

IMO

2 months ago

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Dale Rogers

Where/how can I watch that College Football Preview Show? ESPN? Watch ESPN? Which day and time? Anyone know? Thanks.

2 months ago

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Tim Orel

I think the College Football Preview Show is 10-noon on Saturday morning on ESPN (I'm in the Mountain time zone, so it's 9-11 out here).. It's the show where they have the Gameday crew sitting and talking about the day's upcoming games at the site of their game of the week. Lots of fans watch the show, so it should be very good exposure for KU. Then, providing we keep winning, we'll likely get to host one of the shows later in the season.

2 months ago

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Dale Rogers

Thanks, Tim.

2 months ago

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Edward Daub

Kansas Football was destroyed last year at Ames. The game was over by half time. It must have been a very humbling experience for Lance Leipold.

That being said, KU should be competitive this weekend with the current ISU team. I would forecast another tough, close competitive game. And as Lance often says, get to the 4th quarter with a chance to win. And in fact, KU has often been ahead going into the 4th quarter, this season.

The goal for KU is perfectly clear on SAT, to defeat the Iowa State Cyclones! Rock Chalk!

2 months ago

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Jim Stauffer

The program will improve incrementally. Recruit and develop
We do not possess the talent yet to compete with the big boys.
What Coach is doing is getting the most out of our talent.
Then you hope to upgrade your talent and get the most out of that group. Eventually you reach the level of the big boys.
That is what Campbell is finding hard to do.

2 months ago

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Andy Godwin

Yes, sports facilities make a difference in recruiting. Ask Bill Self who got the University to build “private” high-end housing for the basketball players in walking distance of Allen Fieldhouse. He has also been able to get them to upgrade the locker room multiple times in AF. Before NIL, showy facilities might be one of the biggest tools used by coaches to recruit 17- and 18-year-olds. The Anderson Family Football Complex completed in July 2008 and built during Mangino’s reign is very nice; however, that is the only football facility I have toured. The indoor practice facility is okay, nothing showy but functional (and much needed). I have no idea of the state of the locker rooms at Memorial Stadium.

Yes, Memorial Stadium is a dump for fans. How does that effect players? They want to play in front of a pack house and until last week many fans decided to stay away for the past 12 seasons. Another loyal fan turned to me during the Duke game and asked where did all of these fans come from?

Memorial Stadium is the only venue I have known when growing up in Lawrence watching KU football as a kid and getting my own season tickets when I was 12. Memorial Stadium was opened on October 29th, 1921 – nearly 100 years ago! It was renovated in 1998, 2006, 2014, and 2017. Most of the noticeable major upgrades and expansions were adding the press box and suites, improving the infrastructure, and removing the track which are just okay, but did not enhance the experience for most fans. In the end, winning and happy donors go hand in hand. That is the only way KU will be able to make significant upgrades to help recruit players and appease fans. Andy Katz listed Allen Fieldhouse as the best venue to watch college football. Memorial Stadium would be ranked near the bottom to watch football. Allen Fieldhouse has charm, Memorial Stadium has “fill in the blank”. Rock Chalk.

2 months ago

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Doug Roberts

I toured the training facility when it opened and it's great, first class. The new indoor practice facility is perfectly fine. What do you want? Neon lights and pooled lighting? For that you'll have to go to the locker room which looks like a night club. It makes the Kansas City Chiefs locker room look Spartan. The facilities are fine. The stadium is what needs work. Everybody knows it. You gotta "load the wagon", but you can't put it before the horse. Team's gotta get better first (and sustain it), then fans show up, then they complain about amenities, then boosters get involved.

All other facilities are fine, we're just 10-12 years behind in the sustained quality team area for donors to foot the bill for a new stadium. Remember, just a month ago we were hoping KU could win 3, maybe 4 games this year.

2 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

Last year we have played two teams that we played this year:

Duke we lost at Duke 52-33...Kansas won this year by 8 points; this is a 27 point swing (19 Point lost to an 8 point lead). We were also favored in this one first the first time in a long while.

WVU last year we lost 34-28 at home and this year (Kansas tied with a win by 13 on the road). Depending how you look the team either improved by 6 or by 19 (I'll take the 19).

Last year we lost 59 to 7 to ISU there. That's going to be a large swing to overcome.

I'm hoping, but this is a true challenge and a team that is ready. They know this is important to their program and their bowl hopes...both teams.

2 months ago

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Michael Maris

Does anyone really ever pay attention to the stupid questions that get asked before being able to read these sports stories?

Today's question to me, asking if I had heard of all the different Military Branches.

Answer: I marked all.

Question 2: Which branch would I consider purchasing?

Answer: I don't intendto buy.

Question 3: In the next 6 Months which one would I consider purchasing?

Answer 3: Skip the question....

I mean really..........

Lollollollol......

2 months ago

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Brian Jahelka

Step 1: Hold on to HCLL and OCAK
Step 2: Win more games
Step 3: Get better athletes
Step 4: Win more games (against the upper half of the B12)
Step 5: Improve Stadium

Oh yea, Step 0: In the mean time, fix the lines for adult consumables. =)

Is it Saturday yet??? RCJH!!!

2 months ago

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