The fact that it was Kansas State doing the routing didn't really matter, although it certainly didn't help. The last five weeks, everyone's rolled Kansas. In the last five weeks, KU has been pounded by Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and KSU, 287-124. Kansas has lost the third quarter alone, 80-7, the last five games.
Any and all belief that KU could upset the top-10 ranked Wildcats disappeared in a matter of a minute and eight seconds.
Kansas scored a touchdown with just 14 seconds left in the first half to cut Kansas State's lead to a very manageable 28-14 and take some much-needed momentum into the locker room. I began to admire the Jayhawks' resilience. It didn't last long.
KU squibbed the ensuing kickoff and Wildcat Laton Dowling returned it to the KSU 43. With just 11 seconds left, only one bad thing could happen... and it did: on the next play, the KU secondary absolutely and totally blew their assignments and Kansas State QB Collin Klein found WE Tyler Lockett wide open down the middle of the field for a 48-yard gain which set up a 26-yard field goal to end the half. That bumped the score to 31-14, Wildcats. It was just three points on the scoreboard, but it may as well have been 14.
To make the afternoon even more special, Lockett ran back the second half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown (38-14), and about a minute later, after KSU's recovery of a Tony Pierson fumble at the KU eight-yard-line, Klein scored from the one (45-14). In 68 seconds, Kansas State told the hapless Jayhawks, "Not today, little fella."
The better coached, more disciplined Wildcats managed to score twice more, mainly running out of the wildcat formation in order to eat up clock time.
Nevertheless, after the latest loss, Gill continued to believe.
"I still believe in my ability to coach. I still believe in my ability to develop. I believe in this staff's ability to teach and develop," he said.
Well, Coach, you may be the only one.
Gill's team was flagged for nine penalties and 105 yards versus the Wildcats. That lack of discipline is inexcusable.
Each week, we hear about correctable mistakes. The next week, they aren't corrected.
I'm not so sure a coach this far into his second season can still play the "We've got a lot of inexperienced players" card anymore.
We've been told, "It's only one game."
The first time we heard it was after the mighty FCS – translation, NCAA Division II – North Dakota State Bison came in and beat KU, 6-3, in Gill's debut as Kansas head coach.
We've heard it several times since. I was surprised we didn't hear it again in the post-game presser.
Yes, it is just one game, but it seems to be the same bad game over and over. Every Saturday I expect my alarm clock to wake me up with, "I Got You, Babe." If this is Saturday, this must be Punxsutawney.
The last coach I heard talk so much about his team's inexperience this far into his tenure was Quin Snyder. Remember him? Boy, he was a hoot! We loved making fun of him. We can only imagine how much fun the rest of the conference is having with Gill.
I've been watching Kansas Football for a long time, and I'm afraid to report that I've seen this look before. I've heard this tone. I've seen this body language. This team is getting used to losing. They expect it.
At some point, Gill can't depend on his players' belief in things unseen. Or boosters. Or boss Dr. Sheahon Zenger. The improvement and hard work Gill keeps preaching needs to be made believable in a very tangible – not to mention, visible – way. He needs to put a watchable product on the field, quickly.
It's virtually impossible to defend Turner Gill anymore. More and more, this is looking like another awful Lew Perkins hire – both from a coaching standpoint and a financial standpoint. Between Gill's $6 million buyout and the $2.5 million annual salary it's going to cost to hire a coach Jayhawk fans will be happy with, replacing the coach will be a monumentally costly deal.
Only Gill can defend himself, and the best way to do it is by fielding a competitive, disciplined football team for the first time since early September. Frankly, I'm not sure all the belief in the world can get it done.