Jayhawks' title march now begins with on-campus embarrassment
I'm still planning on putting Kansas No. 1 in my preseason rankings. The Jayhawks are too experienced, too talented, too deep to be ranked anywhere else. I know what I saw last season, when point guard
Those were all positive images. But now?
The mood is funereal, for whatever good reputation they had built up around hoops nation has died. Taylor dislocated his left thumb in a fight with KU football players the previous evening, and the crew in the video has just been involved in a third physical altercation with Jayhawk footballers -- reportedly over girlfriend issues -- in less than 24 hours, each incident drawing responses from campus police.
Collins is there, with his head bowed and his hat pulled down and to the side; so is
What it loosely resembles, though, is a perp walk. And that's the picture of Kansas basketball, a month and a half before it begins its run at a second national title in three years: That of a team foolish enough to brawl -- thrice -- with its own school's outsized football players in the middle of campus, all while coach
Taylor has the most to live down from this mess, as he served up a series of incriminating Facebook messages that have already become entered in the
Shortly before that, he had written,
Three pre-fight status updates from Tuesday seemed to make rather bold threats at the opposing party. At 11:12 a.m., Taylor wrote,
The latter is a quote of a Lil' Wayne song,
What we really learned here was that Taylor, who came from the well-regarded St. Anthony's program in New Jersey and was by all accounts an exemplary member of the U.S. Under-19 team this summer, thought protecting his own street rep was more important than maintaining his team's public rep. Perhaps
Taylor wasn't the only one who got physical: At the third altercation, on Wednesday morning,
Collins was also said to be involved. A student source quoted in
By late Wednesday, however, after the basketball and football players had been shepherded away from Wescoe Hall -- and spoken to by athletic director
The damage had already been done, thanks to Facebook and streaming video. While watching Wednesday's clip, I thought back to the national title game in San Antonio in 2008, and how I'd encountered a number of unaffiliated fans who were rooting for Kansas to beat Memphis because, well, they thought the Jayhawks were more virtuous than the "thuggish" Tigers. That assessment may not have been fair to Memphis, but Tigers forward
Dorsey was never charged with a crime then, and neither were any of the Jayhawks on Wednesday. But there were fewer bystanders in Dorsey's case, and no video of the aftermath. There's video in Lawrence. It ends with that white van, full of players, pulling out of the loading dock and into the harsh sunlight. That, unfortunately, is where Kansas' road to the Final Four begins.