2020 season: 0-9, 0-8 in the Big 12
Head coach: Lance Leipold (1st season)
Boy, it sure seemed like this program couldn’t get any lower, but then the Les Miles era happened. Just two years after being tasked with resurrecting the Jayhawks, Miles was ousted this past March after it was revealed that the 67-year-old acted inappropriately around female students during his time at LSU. That led to athletic director Jeff Long, who hired Miles and had only been on the job for three years himself, stepping down later that week.
On the field, it honestly does not get much better. Kansas is clearly the worst program in the Power Five, with an average national ranking of 64.2 over its last five recruiting classes not doing enough to stockpile talent.
Enter Lance Leipold, the former Buffalo and Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach with six Division III championships and a 146-39 career record. A turnaround of this magnitude certainly won’t happen overnight, but Leipold’s credentials are clear and there are a few core pieces on this year’s group to work with.
One of the few bright spots of the 2020 roster was cornerback Karon Prunty, a major reason why the Jayhawks ranked third in the conference in passing yards allowed. However, with Prunty's recent transfer to South Carolina, the Kansas defense is looking more barren than ever. Returning safeties Kenny Logan Jr. and Ricky Thomas will attempt to salvage the secondary, but the Jayhawks' greatest strength is looking weaker than ever.
Up front, the Jayhawks are singing a different tune on both sides of the ball. Kansas gave up 5.2 sacks per contest last year, so if things do not improve in that department, either North Texas transfer Jason Bean or sophomore Jalon Daniels will be running for their life.
In terms of the defensive line, the prospects improve only slightly. Kansas allowed 236.2 yards per game on the ground in 2020, ranking 118th nationally. Marcus Harris transferring to Auburn after posting 29 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss doesn’t help matters, but Caleb Sampson and Sam Burt return to spearhead a potential turnaround.
All in all, Kansas is Kansas. It’s a Power Five program at a basketball school with limited recruiting prowess. But Leipold has worked his magic before, so if there is anyone to turn things around in Lawrence, he might be the guy. Still, this rebuild will take time, so just winning a conference game this year would be a success.
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Max Rego is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor for The Chronicle's 117th volume.