Sam Mellinger

Mellinger Minutes: Marcus Peters, Patrick Mahomes & a suggestion for Kansas football

Seven potential candidates for the Jayhawks head coaching job

Here are seven potential candidates to replace David Beaty as head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks.
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Here are seven potential candidates to replace David Beaty as head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Kansas football is a rare disaster, and requires a rare fix. You don’t brace for a century storm with a bottle of water and a can of soup, and you don’t attempt to fix a program so laughably irrelevant that Charlie Weis is its most successful coach of the last decade by following the established playbook.

You must swing hard, and you must be willing to swing where others won’t.

This is not a column telling KU athletic director Jeff Long who to hire. We’ll get to that later. This is what he was hired to do.

But here is a suggestion on how to do the hire: as soon as possible, and with a twist.

Because KU has a unique need matched by a rare opportunity as long as it is willing to be unorthodox. So whether it’s Les Miles or Dave Doeren or Sean Littrell or someone else, the university should expedite the process without sending fired coach David Beaty on vacation.

Put the new guy on the road, tell him to live out of a suitcase for the next month or so, recruiting the next class of Jayhawks while Beaty coaches what’s left of this lost season.

This is a version of what Bob Huggins did before taking the Kansas State basketball job in 2006. He had the added benefit of being free of NCAA recruiting restrictions, meaning he could talk to whoever he wanted and wherever he wanted.

That allowed him the time necessary to recruit and eventually bring to campus Michael Beasley, Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton, Bill Walker, Luis Colon and others. Different schools, different sports, and different coaches. But K-State hasn’t recruited anyone like Beasley before or since.

If KU can find a workaround with a handshake agreement or memorandum, then go for it, but even if it has to be through a signed contract there are 11 days remaining in the current recruiting period. The new coach can be on the road unencumbered by the burden of coaching the end of a lost season he had nothing to do with.

Kansas has just one verbal commitment for the 2019 recruiting class, according to Rivals, which is one two-star running back away from the brightest flashing warning light possible that the program is about to be set back even further.

No other Power 5 program has fewer than eight (K-State, incidentally). Even Maryland — with all its problems and instability — has 10. KU has just one.

That’s a problem that won’t be fixed conventionally. KU’s institutional insistence on making counterproductive decisions helped put the football program in this hole. It’s too late to fully make up for that, and no matter what the next coach will almost certainly be working with a light freshman class next season.

But the school has to be willing to push convention and give the next man all the time possible to find what he can for next year and a running start on the 2020 class.

Long has said over and over he wants to break the cycle. That requires pushing boundaries, trying new solutions, and giving the next coach every possible chance to succeed.

The only way to do this is by reversing the university’s history of putting coaches in positions to fail. Be bold. Be different.

This week’s eating recommendation is the short rib at Gram and Dun (and my guy Jacob makes a great old fashioned) and the reading recommendation is Rob Neyer’s new book Powerball. If you like to think about baseball, and want to know more about where the game is going, it’s a terrific read.

Please give me a follow on Facebook and Twitter, and as always, thanks for your help and thanks for reading.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&lt;Excuse to talk about Justin Houston&gt;</p>&mdash; Will Weber (@WeberwillKU) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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A lot went the Chiefs’ way on Sunday. Let’s talk about it.

The Patriots got blow’d out by the Titans. Setting aside what that may or may not mean about how good the Patriots are — the Titans are underrated, but only the Jags and Bills managed fewer yards against them — it gives the Chiefs what is basically a 1 1/2 game lead for home-field advantage throughout the AFC with six games remaining.

That means if the Patriots win out (their toughest games are the Vikings at home and Steelers on the road) the Chiefs could lose just once and host a hypothetical AFC Championship game.

The Steelers are 6-2-1. This is effectively a two-game lead, but here it’s worth noting that the Steelers play at the Jags, at the Broncos, Chargers at home, Patriots at home, at the Saints, and Bengals at home. They are not winning out.

The Chargers are 7-2 with a game at the Chiefs remaining. This is the kind of thing I always have to look up to make sure, but if the Chargers beat the Chiefs and the two teams have the same record the tiebreakers are, in order: record in division games, record in common games, record within the conference. There are more tiebreakers after that, which you can read here.

But, point here is, the Chiefs control their way toward home-field advantage and have a one-loss cushion, unless that loss is to the Chargers.

That’s significant.

Less importantly, and a bummer: Cooper Kupp’s ACL tore. That changes the Rams. Kupp was third on the team in targets, catches, and yards, and first in touchdown catches. Not a season-changing injury for them, but a significant one.

OK. All that said, the most important thing that happened on Sunday is that Justin Houston played and played well.

This was not Houston at full strength (he’ll work his way back toward more snaps), but it was Houston better than most players’ best — better than Breeland Speaks’ best, and better than Tanoh Kpassagnon’s best. Right away, he made an impact.

Wrote about this some in the game column, but he was a consistent problem for the Cardinals on screens to his side. And not just the one he intercepted. Houston is exceptionally strong, particularly his hands, but he’s also smart to the point of becoming instinctual:

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Houston can wreck a screen by himself, which means teams would be wise to run fewer screens, or at least run them away from Houston. In turn, that means the Chiefs are better positioned to defend in many different ways.

Look, Houston has played one full season since 2014 and he missed the last four games. Nobody can be sure he’ll remain healthy. But if he is, and he’s this effective, it fundamentally changes what the Chiefs are capable of accomplishing.

They need to prove it against a better opponent than the Cardinals, and the Rams are about as good as it gets. But the requirements of the Chiefs’ defense are so low and so specific that if he can diminish screens and provide consistent pressure to the quarterback it amplifies the strengths of Dee Ford and Chris Jones enough that you can see a way for this defense to be an aid instead of an anvil.

That’s a big deal.

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We’ll get into the Marcus Peters part of this more later — though you can click now to read a more in-depth look on his (surprisingly) terrible season so far — but this is about much more than one player.

There is nothing as irrelevant as an NFL power poll, with the possible exception of a preseason college basketball poll, but either way these are two of the best three teams in football right now.

That’s a hell of a thing, rare for the Chiefs to be involved in, and a win would be a significant boost to their chances of staying home in the AFC playoffs.

I understand what you’re saying about the Chargers (the Ravens are a lot less scary now than a few weeks ago) but that’s also a familiar opponent that the Chiefs have beaten nine straight times.

The Rams are a name-brand power, with stars like Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald and perhaps the game’s premier young offensive coach.

This is a legitimate potential Super Bowl matchup, played in Week 11, and that will never not be interesting. The Chiefs just don’t play a lot of games like this.

I’d actually quibble with your last point, too. I think there’s a ton to look forward to and learn from, and I’m not even (only) talking about Peters.

Gurley might be the worst individual matchup in the league for the Chiefs. I want to see what happens there. The Rams’ offensive line is pretty solid, so I want to see if the Houston-infused pass rush is real.

I want to see how the interior of a makeshift offensive line handles Donald and Ndamukong Suh. I want to see Sean McVay and Andy Reid call plays against each other. I want to see Patrick Mahomes on a big stage.

I’m not telling you how to see it, and I recognize that in some ways it’s literally my job to be interested in this kind of thing. But if you’re not looking forward to this game on this stage, I’m just not sure what you’re going to be interested in.

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For a minute, let’s forget about great. They don’t even need to be good. They just need to be bothersome.

Maybe a disclaimer is appropriate. I might be overreacting here. The Cardinals stink, particularly with protection, and nobody would be surprised if Houston was injured again at some point.

But there are a few factors that won’t leave my head. One is that I’m not sure how often Houston and Ford have both been that effective in the same game. In the past, there has been a feeling that they were both better from the same side. Here, they were coming from opposite edges and often meeting at the quarterback.

This is so different, requiring running backs to choose a side if they stay in for protection, spreading more attention across the line. Obviously, that leaves less attention for Ford or Houston or both, but it also means more opportunities for Allen Bailey and Chris Jones (who, let’s just be honest, is the Chiefs’ best defensive player now) in the middle.

The Chiefs will give up some points. The middle linebackers haven’t been good enough against the run, there are still problems covering backs in the pass game, and the safeties are still an issue.

But, without getting too far into the football weeds here, the Chiefs defense will be playing with some advantages. The offense is so good that opposing teams will often feel hurried and pressured, which leads to more passing downs, which tilts away from one of the defense’s biggest weaknesses (stopping the run) and toward it’s single greatest strength (rushing the quarterback).

We’ve seen that all year. Despite giving up more yards per rush than all but two teams, the Chiefs have faced fewer rush attempts than 14 teams. The Chiefs defense ranks 17th in yards per attempt, but nobody has faced more attempts.

If the offense can help maintain that lack of balance for the Chiefs, it helps everyone.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Yesterday was 1st time this season I was concerned about O-Line play. Chances we see Mitch Morse &amp; LDT on the field together again this year?</p>&mdash; Tyler Watterson (@thebiggszone) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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I don’t know, and I don’t know that anyone can give you much more than a guess.

Morse has a history of concussions. He wants to play, but the Chiefs (and him) are smart to take their time. Duvernay-Tardif’s injury is obviously more serious than the initial postgame diagnosis.

So, nobody knows.

But I’m including this question here because I want to make a point about the offensive line. They’ve been solid this season. Not great, not awful. They’ve been fine.

Mahomes faced more pressure against the Cardinals than we’ve seen this season, and a lot of that is obviously on the line. Chandler Jones beat Eric Fisher clean for two sacks, which caused all sorts of other problems.

The Cardinals’ third sack, for instance, came when center Austin Reiter appeared to be expecting help from left guard Cam Erving, who instead was helping Fisher with Jones:

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But there were also some snaps where Mahomes just needs to get the ball out. Here’s one:

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When we’ve complimented the offensive line this season, I’ve tried to make the point that at least some of it is a credit to Mahomes. He can make them look better, either by erasing mistakes or sometimes even turning some mistakes in front of him into big plays downfield.

To be fair, he did some of this against the Cardinals, too. Here, Jones got around Fisher after about 2.5 seconds — which isn’t terrible by Fisher — and Mahomes escaped just in time for a first down scramble:

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So, the problems against the Cardinals were mixed. Some of it was the line, some of it was a credit to the Cardinals (Jones is a beast) and some of it was Mahomes.

All of this comes at an interesting moment because...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I woke up in a cold sweat last night... Had this horrible, vivid nightmare of Eric Fisher being physically abused by the Rams front four. Tell me it was only a silly dream and everything will be ok.</p>&mdash; BillW4KU (@AskMeL8r) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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This shouldn’t diminish your fears, but the strength of the Rams’ front is actually up the middle with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, which means matchups against Erving, Reiter, and Andrew Wylie.

That could be a major problem.

Fisher had an awful game on Sunday. Easily his worst of the season, and one of the worst of his career.

But the Rams are actually a better matchup for him, because Chandler Jones is better than anyone LA has on the edge (though the trade for Dante Fowler should be an upgrade).

The Chiefs will have to plan for the Rams’ talent.

Against the Cardinals, it looked like they shifted protections toward Jones, helping him with backs or tight ends. I think it was Vahe who pointed this out, but on a 22-yard pass to Chris Conley — the one that set up Mahomes’ second touchdown to Hill — the Chiefs blocked Jones with three guys.

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They’ll have to do some of this against the Rams, but the good news is they’re well equipped for it. They have a lot of speed stuff to either side they can run, they have the shovel passes where they can suck the rush back and beat them quickly, and they have two running backs who are good blockers.

None of that means the Chiefs will win, necessarily. To me, the bigger question is how the heck they can stop Todd Gurley. All I’m saying here is that the Chiefs have some counters to Aaron Donald’s freakishness.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Is Hill a top 5 reciever in the NFL? My inner chiefs fan says of course, but he doesn&#39;t get a lot of love from the national media. I understand the not being a possession receiver and red zone target arguments against him, but he&#39;s scorching secondaries and DC&#39;s have to hate him</p>&mdash; grant gould (@gouldg) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Top five feels ambitious. Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green and Julio Jones have been doing it longer and generally better. That’s five. Michael Thomas is a monster. Adam Thielen is so dang productive. That’s seven, and we haven’t mentioned Davante Adams, Mike Evans, Robert Woods, Keenan Allen and others.

I can’t say I watch enough of those other guys to argue the point with any passion one way or the other. I watch all the Chiefs games at least three times, and try to watch their opponents when I can, but I’m not studying tape of how Stefon Diggs cuts out of his routes, for instance.

My sense is that Tyreek Hill ranks somewhere in or around the top 10. He is uncoverable at times, a mixture of freakish speed, terrific ball tracking, reliable hands, and improving route running.

He is somewhat limited in the red zone, like you mention, and he’s not going to break a lot of tackles (though he’ll run by them).

It’s absolutely remarkable how far he’s come. He would not have been available in the fifth round if the Chiefs or any other team believed he was this good, and that’s not a slam on any scouts. There wasn’t much college tape to support it.

His emergence is a credit not just to his natural gifts, but his willingness to work at the more subtle points of receiving.

Speaking of Hill...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Let&#39;s talk Mexico! Do you think Andy purposefully goes after 22 early on, like specifically? Also, we&#39;re going on a season and a half w no personal fouls from Kelce. Does he bait Peters into one or does Peters get him first....or just boring old offsetting?</p>&mdash; Tucker Hagedorn (@Tuckhag) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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I know Andy Reid was frustrated with how it ended with Peters. Part of Reid’s success is in reaching players other coaches can’t, and this is a relatively rare whiff by Reid, who went into it knowing everything he needed to know.

But Reid is also incredibly disciplined, and calculated. I bring this up to say that I don’t think Reid will “go after” Peters from a place of spite, or to prove a point. This man is 20 years into a head coaching career that so far has peaked with a team that lost the Super Bowl.

It’s hard for me to believe he’d let any pettiness distract from what could be his best opportunity.

Now, the above three paragraphs are a very different thing than saying the Chiefs won’t go after Peters, because I believe they will. They’ll especially go after Peters if they can isolate him against Hill, because that’s a schematic mismatch — the league’s fastest player against a corner whose weakness is speed.

But that would true even if Peters was Reid’s all-time favorite player.

Peters has been awful this season, and I do hope you read my attempt to figure out why. He could be playing hurt, he’ll be better when Aqib Talib returns, and from what I can see the Rams aren’t doing him many favors.

Peters is talented, and there should be no surprises if he wrecks a drive or two with an interception. He will be more motivated for this game than any of the season, with the possible exception of the opener at Oakland (when he sealed a win with a pick-six).

But he’s shown himself vulnerable, particularly over the top, so I’m assuming the Chiefs will try to get him isolated on Hill as much as possible. If that happens, it won’t be personal. Just business.

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This will be a topic until the game, especially since the Rams are training in Colorado this week to prepare for the altitude of Mexico City.

Azteca Stadium is 7,200 feet above sea level, which depending on how much you trust the signs is 1,920 feet higher than Mile High. I asked someone with the Chiefs about this on Sunday, and they said the data does not support breaking routine.

I think he was referring to the specific history of games in Mexico City, but he also could’ve been referring to the science which says you need much more than a few days for any real benefit.

My sense: this is one of those things that doesn’t really matter but we all spend way too much time overanalyzing because football.

Now, the important stuff. I’m flying down on Sunday. Normally I try to take the last flight out to spend more time at home, but I’m making an exception here to get a little extra time in a city I’ve never been to and probably won’t ever visit again.

I’ve had a few recommendations, food and otherwise, but if you have a spot let me know.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sam, on Sunday:<br><br>76,712 Kansas Citians* packed <a href="">@ArrowheadEvents</a> at noon (100.3% total capacity)<br><br>19,918 Kansas Citians* packed <a href="">@cmpark</a> at 2pm (107.8% total capacity)<br><br>It&#39;s such a great time to be a sports fan here.<br><br>No question, just a comment.<br><br>*and surrounding areas</p>&mdash; Brandon Barelmann (@barelmann) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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It’s pretty remarkable, for real.

These things tend to be cyclical, but if the least interesting local team is the one that won the World Series three years ago it’s a pretty good time.

Speaking of the Royals, they sometimes try to play both sides of this. They’ll point to market size when it comes to payroll, and point to population-attendance ratio when it’s time to compliment their fans.

Both things can be true, to an extent, but it’s always been interesting to me how smaller markets can often have comparable attendance to markets twice as big.

Some of this is simple logistics. You can talk about New York having 8.6 million people in the five boroughs, more than four times the population of Kansas City, but a LOT of those people in New York live in places that make attending a game unrealistic. It just takes too long to get there and back.

But you can live in Shawnee, clear on the other side of the Kansas City metro, and get to Kauffman Stadium in less than 25 minutes.

Some of it is the volume of entertainment options. New York is four times as big as Kansas City, but there might be eight times the number of concerts, museums, comedy shows and festivals.

Whatever the causes, I do think it’s true that almost by definition sports teams have more of a voice in places like Kansas City than is possible in New York or Los Angeles. The bigger markets are a bigger deal locally, but the teams in those markets cannot mean as much as those in smaller markets mean to theirs.

This is probably one of those things you only think about if you live in Kansas City, and particularly if you happen to make your living writing about sports in Kansas City, but it’s a special thing. I know it’s one of the things that makes writing sports columns here special.

We can make jokes about the crowd estimates, but I’m not sure how many places a parade can draw a quarter or more of a metropolitan area’s population.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We have had a lot of fun sports teams here as of late. In your whole career which team (or teams) were the most fun to cover?</p>&mdash; Andrew Corrao (@penguinxcrossin) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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I could live a long life with an amazing career here but the 2015 Royals will probably always hold this title. That’s the most fun I’ve ever had working, and I’ve (almost) always had fun working.

So many of the specs range from unique to rare. That was not just 30 years without a championship, and wasn’t just 29 years without a postseason. It was, realistically, 29 years without much hope.

Baseball is personal in a way that is difficult for other sports to match. You spend your summers with these guys, watching them every night. NFL teams play 16 times. The 2015 Royals played 16 playoff games.

You get to know them, or at least their stories, and their styles. That’s particularly true for that group, most of which was familiar to Royals fans even before reaching the playoffs.

This is the most fun Chiefs team I’ve covered though, just being honest, that’s a pretty low bar. My first year covering the team regularly was 2010.

The NFL is obviously more popular than baseball, and at least when it comes to a championship the Chiefs have underserved their fans worse than the Royals ever did.

If this thing goes the way a lot of you hope, maybe it’ll end up feeling like the 2015 Royals, only bigger. It’s a likable group, for the most part, and Patrick Mahomes is a star the likes of which that Royals group simply did not have. He is what Chiefs fans have been waiting 50 years for — only, somehow, he’s better than expected.

A Super Bowl run would mean terrific stories about Eric Berry’s resilience and playing for a championship in his hometown*.

*Yes, I know.

It would mean Justin Houston achieving the thing that so many great pass rushers before him did not. It would mean another round of Tyreek Hill stories, of Travis Kelce’s rise, of Kareem Hunt’s path.

It would mean the context of Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer making the franchise relevant again in the 1990s, but unable to push through, then the disastrous Scott Pioli years, Clark Hunt needing to grow into the job of chairman, John Dorsey’s drafts, Andy Reid’s brilliance, and of course (if it went this far) one of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in NFL history.

That’s a mouthful. And if it happens, maybe I’ll have to rethink the question.

But for now, that Royals team stands alone. It’s easy to forget just how small baseball felt in Kansas City 10 years ago. Football hasn’t felt small here since the 1980s.

Sporting is worth a mention here. Soccer is a long way from the scale of popularity of pro football or baseball, but relative to the sport, what Sporting has done and continues to do is similar to the Royals’ championship core.

The club has lifted a sport in a city, which in a lot of ways is more important than lifting a trophy. This specific group in this specific year is more enjoyable to watch than any I can remember.

Also, you might be wondering about college teams, and I love college sports, and have some favorite teams — in recent years that’s highlighted by 2012 Mizzou basketball, 2012 K-State football, and 2018 Kansas basketball.

But covering those teams always feels different. Much as I love soccer and college sports, those are still a little niche-y. Lots of people simply don’t care or (bizarrely) actively dislike soccer. Lots of people are angry when someone else’s college team is doing well.

So there’s a limit to how much those runs can mean.

Professional football and baseball don’t have those same limits, at least not here in Kansas City. We saw what the Royals did with their chance. We’re watching what the Chiefs do with theirs.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">So uhhhhh, <a href="">@SportingKC</a> really tried to have a <a href="">@Chiefs</a> playoff moment there didn’t they? Does this mean soccer has finally <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MadeIt</a> in Kansas City?</p>&mdash; Corey Anglemyer (@canglem) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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I love this question so much.

I know there’s a joke somewhere about Daniel Salloi’s no-look goal being soccer’s version of Patrick Mahomes’ no-look passes, but I just can’t find it.

Let’s just move on.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Should SKC fans be more worried about the potentially porous defense, or more excited that it seems they&#39;ve figured out how to score in big games?</p>&mdash; Andrew Bay (@DownBy_ABay) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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The only thing that matters is they moved on. That’s it. That’s all. Done.

This entire season, Sporting has shown itself to be well-rounded and dangerous, especially when healthy. This is the best the club has been since 2013, with its best attack ever. That’s using a sample size of an entire season.

So, look, I get it. The second leg was closer than you’d like. A weird bounce here or there, or Real Salt Lake hitting a could-have-been open net and we’re having a completely different discussion. Sporting is a possession team now, and it was beaten in possession.

But a sample size of one afternoon should not be more important than 34 games. Besides, Sporting won, and deserved to. They pressured the bejesus out of Real Salt Lake, and took a two-goal lead early.

I get what you’re saying about “potentially porous defense,” because they gave up too many chances. But in the end, a defense centered on Matt Besler and Tim Melia squeezed out the result.

That’s enough, because it was enough. That’s all that matters. Winning 5-0 wouldn’t give Sporting any better or worse chance of beating Portland in the conference final.

This is a really, really good team. We can pick apart their chances at Atlanta or New York if it gets that far, but by that point we’ll be talking about a team playing for a championship.

Anything less than a championship will be disappointing, on some levels. But this group has earned trust, too.

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If Les Miles is willing to take the job then Kansas should give him whatever he’s asking for and add a 20 percent gratuity.

I know what some of you are thinking! Wait, Sam, is Les Miles sort of like Charlie Weis? And weren’t you against that hire from the beginning? SO WHY THE CHANGE HUH GUY?

And I’m glad you asked.

Miles is not like Weis, at all. Weis was a blowhard who did not really want the job as much as he wanted the paycheck. He had not been successful as a college coach before (he won with Ty Willingham’s players but quickly burned the place down and Notre Dame couldn’t wait to get rid of him).

Other than one season in which Matt Cassel must’ve set an NFL record for most dropped interceptions, he had not been really successful since leaving Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Who, you know, have been doing OK without him.

Weis was the offensive coordinator at Florida for one year before Kansas hired him. Florida was 44th in the nation in scoring the year before Weis was there, and 71st with him, with the same quarterback.

A reporter called Florida State legend Bobby Bowden to get his reaction to Charlie Weis being hired at Kansas.

“As the head coach?” he replied.

So, look. Miles has some rough spots, and he’s 65 years old. But he also made more bowl games in four years at Oklahoma State than the program had been to in the previous dozen years, and he won a national championship at LSU. He won 10 or more games in seven of his 12 years at LSU, and never won fewer than eight in a full season.

If Kansas football is able to hire a human who has both a national title and regular pulse then that should be the end of the conversation.

If it doesn’t work, you can always go back and hire an up-and-comer later.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Had a buddy (who is normally intelligent when it comes to sports) try to argue that Jerry Rice isn&#39;t the best WR of all time (he argued Moss)... Other than that, What&#39;s the dumbest sports take you have ever heard?</p>&mdash; Lee Beck (@RightfulLee_So) <a href="">November 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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You think that’s something? I know a guy who — just trying to paint a picture here — is stunningly sexy but also said the Chiefs were going 8-8 this year.




Bad sports takes are one of life’s most abundant resources. They grow naturally, and replenish themselves. Hell, I once thought Todd Haley would be a good offensive coordinator in the right situation, because he’d learn from his mistakes.

Luckily for all of us, Fred Segal runs the Freezing Cold Takes account on Twitter, which as far as I know is the world’s greatest collection of arrogant and wrong sports takes. Fred follows me on Twitter, which is a little ominous, but so far at least I think I’ve avoided his wrath. Something to aspire to!

Here’s the deal about bad sports takes, though. We all have them. It’s part of the fun. The only time it gets obnoxious, to me at least, is if the person ignores it, can’t laugh at it, or somehow tries to talk around it.

The best example I can think of here are all the people who not only called for Ned Yost to be fired but openly mocked him before August 2014 ... and now pretend Yost is a brilliant tactician.

But, man, there are some debates that are just laughably silly with a little hindsight. The first sports bet I ever made was with my dad, over who would have the better NBA career between Christian Laettner and Shaq. The other day I was reminded of a bet I made before the season about who’d have more fantasy football points between Case Keenum and Patrick Mahomes*.

*I was on the right side of both bets, thank you.

Mike Moustakas made a liar out of a lot of people. Same with Josh Selby and oh-my-god as I’m typing this I’m remembering the time Charlie Weis spiked the ball in the end zone for getting Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps to transfer.

“I wanted to address quarterback, and how’d I do?” Weis said. “That’s not too bad.”

Weis, man. That was a trip.

The Royals selected Juan LeBron with the 19th overall pick in 1995, and brought him to Kansas City for batting practice.

“You’re going to remember this day,” a scout told some reporters.

And, actually, I’ve probably learned more about being wrong from baseball scouts than anyone else in my life. I mean that sincerely, and as a compliment. Almost without exception, the scouts I know are humble in their assessments and projections, knowing the odds and how many factors are out of their control. They are unafraid to be wrong, and comfortable in admitting it and talking about why.

We could all have a little more of that in us, me included.

This week, I’m particularly grateful for an early snow. I know, I know. Come at me, bro. I hate that it makes people forget how to drive, but I love how it looks, love that means we’re having fires at home, love that the kids love playing in it, love that it means a pot of chili is basically always on, and love that it reminds me of my mom.

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Sam Mellinger

Sam Mellinger is a Kansas City Star sports columnist.

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