July 19, 2005

Jayhawks ready to move forward

All the talk about the Kansas Jayhawks over the last four days has had very little to do with anything on the football field. Following a Friday afternoon press conference at which KU announced findings from an internal investigation that included academic fraud in the football program, no one has talked much at all about what the Jayhawks will do on the field this season.

At Tuesday's opening session of Big 12 media days, head coach Mark Mangino tried to put the focus back on his team and its 2005 season.

"First of all, let me say, because the situation is unresolved, it would not be appropriate for me to discuss that situation," Mangino said. "We've gotten better every year in football. We were able to get to a bowl game in our second year. We feel like we have a chance, a great chance, for postseason play this year. Take a look at our recruiting. Our recruiting now is stronger than it's ever been. They're selling season tickets at a rapid pace at KU. There's a lot of positive things that are going on and I'm confident that the positive things will be the focus at KU football. There's no question in my mind."

Surprisingly, hardly anyone seemed all that interested in talking about the findings of fraud or the impending NCAA investigation. Of the dozen or so questions lobbed at the Jayhawk coach during the group interview session, not a single one addressed the allegations against his program.

The three Jayhawk players in attendance said the findings and the investigation are not even on their radars.

"As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't affect us at all," said senior linebacker Nick Reid. "We'll let the people upstairs worry about that one."

"I don't really feel like I can comment on it. I don't know that much about it. I don't even know what's going on about it," said linebacker Kevin Kane. "I know myself, I do pretty well in academics. I can't speak for others, I can only speak for myself."

The team has not had a meeting on the subject. Lineman David Ochoa says there will likely never be one. Instead, the Hawks wanted to talk about how they will make their ways to the head of class in a North division that seems to be ripe for the picking.

"We're extremely excited about the season coming up. We think it's going to be the best football team that we've put on the field at Kansas. We are bigger, stronger, faster and a much smarter football team, because we have some experienced players, than we've been during my tenure at Kansas," Mangino said. "We've heard a lot of talk about the North being wide open and I've taken some time to think about that. If it's wide open, it's because I think every team in the North is getting better and I think that's a key reason. If you look at every team in the North across the board, they're probably going to be better."

"We want to be a part of that and we will be."

Rivals.com will provide complete coverage of Big 12 media days from Houston throughout the week. Look for daily notebooks, photo galleries and stories focusing on each team throughout the event.




 

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