Brian Haines did his best to make it hospitable.
The Ohio tight ends coach cleaned up his office before Saturday’s 42-30 victory over Kansas. Yes, the pink stick-it note from his daughter remained posted on the wall — “I love you” it read — but folders that included call logs and film evaluation were neatly stacked into a file on the corner of his desk.
There was good reason for this. Room W503 that towers over Peden Stadium doubles as the visiting radio booth, and though members of KU’s broadcast team were a bit cramped, they did their best to not disturb Haines’ space.
It was only one example of the disparity between the two programs — at least when it comes to resources off the field.
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While KU football completed a $2 million locker-room renovation last year — including a new recruiting lounge with popcorn machine — Ohio’s recruiting lounge literally is the press box, a 40-by-15-foot room with temporary seating for a second row. As KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger prepares to release official plans for a $300 million Memorial Stadium renovation project, Ohio stuffs a full uniformed football player mannequin in a narrow hallway between two offices, likely because there’s no room for it anywhere else.
The disadvantages of being a Mid-American Conference school are stark and obvious. Yet, none of that would have been evident by watching what happened on the field Saturday, as Ohio looked like the team with the better facilities and recruiting advantages as it controlled its Big 12 foe from the start.
KU was especially outmatched defensively, getting dominated by a non-Power Five team for the second straight week.
“The thing that sticks out to me the most is we’ve got to do a much better job of limiting big plays in the passing game,” KU coach David Beaty said. “That’s not something that you’re not going to be able to see if you look at tape.”
The Jayhawks were most exposed during a first half in which they fell behind 25-14. Ohio — a run-first team under coach Frank Solich — rotated two different quarterbacks then while still throwing for 175 first-half yards and two touchdowns.
“They came out and whupped us,” KU linebacker Joe Dineen said. “The two quarterbacks, they played great.”
The Bobcats averaged 8.7 yards per play before halftime while scoring on four of their five non-kneel-down possessions.
“We’ve got some young safeties back there that are playing, and they’ve just got to grow up fast,” Beaty said. “And we’ve got to find some other guys that can help us back there to stabilize that.”
KU’s offense, after struggling early, kept the game close for a while. Khalil Herbert found an opening for a 56-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and receiver Chase Harrell later brought down a jump ball in the corner of the end zone to complete an 18-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
It wouldn’t be enough. Just when KU built some momentum early in the second half with a Mike Lee interception, quarterback Peyton Bender gave it back on the next play with a turnover of his own on a pass deflected by receiver Steven Sims.
“Our offense threw the pick so fast, I was like, ‘Dang, I just caught a pick. We just turned the ball over again?’ ” Lee said. “I still was tired a little.”
Ohio followed with touchdown to make it 32-14, and KU wouldn’t threaten after that.
The loss was the Jayhawks’ 42nd straight on the road, a streak that is two away from the all-time Division I record. KU’s next two away games are at Iowa State and TCU in mid-October.
The Jayhawks, 1-2, open Big 12 play next week at home against West Virginia. They are likely to be double-digit underdogs in each of their remaining games.
“I really feel like a lot of the times, we were in position to make plays,” Dineen said. “We just didn’t make them.”