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Jayhawks finish winless Big 12 season with thud

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Jayhawks finish winless Big 12 season with thud

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) If Charlie Weis had his druthers, he wouldn't have accompanied his team back to Kansas on Saturday night. He would have hopped on the next plane to Texas or Florida or California or some other recruiting hotbed.

After watching West Virginia's Geno Smith torch his Jayhawks in a 59-10 defeat to West Virginia that left Kansas 1-11 and 0-9 in the Big 12, it became painfully evident what is lacking in Lawrence: Talent. Speed. Guys who can make plays on both sides of the ball.

``There isn't time for me to reflect on the season,'' said Weis, the former Notre Dame coach who was hired in December to piece together a program fallen once again on hard times.

``I'm fully aware of our deficiencies,'' he said. ``In about five seconds, I want to be out recruiting so I can plug some of these deficiencies. You saw a gross mismatch out there and it didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out whose players were exposing the other team's players.''

It was a harsh assessment of the team he inherited, but an honest one.

Kansas won its season-opener against lower-subdivision South Dakota State, and then lost every game the rest of the way. There were blowout losses to rival Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma along with an overtime defeat to Texas Tech and a last-minute loss to Texas.

Over the course of the season, it became clear the Jayhawks were improving, particularly on defense, where Weis lured former Dallas Cowboys coach Dave Campo to shore up that unit.

The Jayhawks held Oklahoma State's high-flying attack to 20 points, and held the Longhorns to a pair of touchdowns until the final minutes of their game in late October.

``I feel like we laid the foundation,'' said wide receiver Daymond Patterson, one of several seniors who went through three coaches after committing to former coach Mark Mangino.

``We didn't have as many wins as we wanted, but we got better, and I think people noticed.''

Nevertheless, the 11 straight losses to finish the year are the most since the school had a 17-game losing streak from 1953-55.

So on Saturday night, when their finale against the Mountaineers was beginning to spin wildly out of control, Weis was already turning his attention to next season.

``I had several conversations with a bunch of players during the game, some with the young guys who aren't even playing,'' he said. ``I took a couple of redshirts that we weren't playing and I said, `Are you watching this?'

"When the game was out of control, I was already working on next week and into the spring. You don't wait. It's never too early to start moving forward.''

The Jayhawks were expected to be improved over the ragtag, 2-10 bunch that got former coach Turner Gill fired. Weis had to scramble to put together his first recruiting class, but it was buoyed by the influx of several Division I transfers taking advantage of an NCAA rule that would allow them to play immediately if they'd already graduated from their previous school.

The highest-profile among them was Dayne Crist, who was recruited to Notre Dame by Weis and had to watch this season as his former teammates put together a dream season that could culminate in a national championship, all while he was eventually shunted to the bench.

Crist completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for 1,313 yards with four touchdowns and nine interceptions before giving way to redshirt freshman Michael Cummings, who will go into next season knowing he'll have a fight on his hands to keep hold of the starting job.

Sitting out this season was another transfer, former BYU starter Jake Heaps, another high-profile recruit whom Weis lured to Kansas in an attempt to turn things around.

Kansas will lose its top three wide receivers, their tight end, half their offensive line and a handful of seniors on defense, though the number of wins they've compiled suggests they the losses won't leave massive voids. Rather, they'll provide an opportunity for Weis to bring in his own players to shore up a program just five years removed from the Orange Bowl.

``We need to fill these voids quickly with players that can play now,'' said Weis, who has made no secret that he intends to heavily recruit junior college players.

There is talent returning, particularly at running back.

James Sims is expected back for his senior year after eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark against the Mountaineers, something few thought possible when he missed the first three games of the year for violating team rules. Taylor Cox and Tony Pierson will also be back in the fold.

There are a few workable pieces on defense, too, but not nearly enough.

``I'm really excited about the buzz in recruiting right now at Kansas,'' assistant coach Tim Grunhard said. ``I really believe in this product and I really believe in what we are trying to do here, so it's not difficult for me to sell it. If you show that enthusiasm, then I think the kids will see that and buy in.''

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

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Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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