Blue Blood Arms Race To The Top

  • In recent years, it has become obvious that KU and UK have been competing head-to-head in men’s basketball, both on the court and off.

    When UK created luxury dorm rooms to house their basketball team, KU felt the need to respond by approving the construction of their version of housing luxury for Jayhawk players. Was it done in order to remain on the same competitive level? Or was it just one school playing copy cat off another?

    Now the targets have been set to upgrading basketball venues. For some time, Lexington town counsel members (along with the Lexington Center Corporation) have been pushing an upgrade to Rupp Arena that would create the most-expensive building in the State of Kentucky, spending over $350 million to accomplish it. Rupp Arena would be encased in glass, with a massive, artistic crystal entombment of beauty and function.

    But now it appears that promoters of the project have bit off more than the State of Kentucky can chew, including a choking of support from the UK administration.

    Meanwhile, back in Lawrence, the beat moves on in development of the DeBruce Center, the KU response to the UK proposed development (with some similarity in looks) and also the new housing for the recent acquisition of the original rules for basketball.

    The developers in Lawrence seem to have a more-realistic approach to glass improvements. The KU project will cost a mere $18 million… pennies in comparison to the Kansas counterparts in Kentucky.

    So the arms race moves on… and while it seems the movement in Lexington has come to a standstill, few believe their upgrade development of Rupp Arena will die, but it may have to be redesigned to a more modest proportion.

    If the Rupp development comes down to, say, a $100 million improvement, still trumping the DeBruce Center in total mass, will Kansas feel the need to respond with a further addition to stay competitive?

    I was around for the cold war pitting America against Russia. We built a bomb shelter in our backyard. It served us well against the threat of tornadoes. But the bombs never came.

    How far will this current “blue blood arms race” go? Until one school collapses under the financial or political pressure?

    What is left to develop? Where do we go from here?

    Are there other basketball blue bloods entering the race?

    I guess since we refuse to update needed infrastructure, like our bridges and roads, we should look upon any development positively because it puts people to work.

    I’m not sure I’ll feel that way if another bridge collapses. Perhaps the issue here is where the development funds come from… public or private sources.

  • I am happy to see that UK project on hold as they should be considering something reasonable. I also think KSU went over the top on the football stadium for that matter. I can’t remember the mix, but I hope the vast majority of that money is private.

    As for living in the land of Friday Night Lights-we just voted down a 25 million dollar bond to build a second football stadium in our district. That was a good decision by the community.

    If the towers are that obsolete and we need new digs for our athletes, okay by me- just keep it reasonable.

  • @drgnslayr Where this kind of thing scares me the most is when I consider the climate of collegiate athletics 5-10 years down the road (if that long). Considering all the things that are being thrown around lately - paying college athletes, unionizing, etc. - I think the situation is at risk to go very far down hill very quickly if things aren’t done right. You ask what is left to develop, the only thing I can think of is the benefits offered to the players themselves.

  • Banned

    @drgnslayr – You raise a most interesting topic. It is something that should be talked about and discussed. To be honest I think UK and KU are showing signs of being desperate. However who could blame them.

    With the last few years filled with conference realignment, and dreams of super conferences. The rules of how we do business have changed. As much as we KU fans hate to admit it, but football is the driving force, the money maker.

    However not all is lost. As we we’ve seen with the fallout of conference expansion. A national brand of basketball as value. See the Big 10 wishing they would’ve took KU when the Big 12 almost exploded. They won’t make that mistake again. In fact I would venture to say the Big 12 would be no more if the Pac would’ve said no to Texas Tech and instead said KU comes. However that is just my opinion.

    Trying not to be to long winded with worthless points of view. UK and KU are going to double down on what they are good at. Even if Football is the driving force. As everybody found out, college basketball can be a money maker. Especially filling air space on a Conference Network when the boys of the grid iron aren’t playing.

  • @DoubleDD

    I never thought of it that way… but it makes perfect sense. KU and UK are in the same boat; both with blue blood basketball programs and neither with elite football.

    Their best move is to maximize their potential in basketball.

    I’m sure conference alignment has something to do with this.

  • @drgnslayr UK does not have elite football. I’m not sure KU even HAS football. Sorry for the negativity, but the last 5 or 6 years have kind of wiped me out.

  • @nuleafjhawk

    I hear you… it has been depressing. Imagine how awesome it would be if we had an elite football program?

  • During my years at KU we went to two bowl games-there was something in the Kansas water at the time. These Kanssa born and bread athletes were either all-Americans or played in the NFL-some for a short while. David Jaynes QB, Bonner Springs, Laverne Smith RB, Wichita, Nolan Cromwell, QB/SS Ransom, Billly Campfield, RB Derby and I think Tom Dinkel LB was from Topeka?

    I was sure happy when the schedule favored us in 2007/8 ending in the orange bowl win but the drought since then is flat out embarrassing.

  • @JayhawkRock78 You left out a few guys who played in the NFL that you may have never heard. Lynn Dickey. Tom Owen. Bobby Douglas. Barry Sanders. John Hadl. But I think they all were just backups. Or maybe they just made the taxi squads. I’m getting too old to remember.

  • @Wigs2 Yes, I was just counting the Kansas born and breds I went to school with that played a big role on successful ku football teams of the mid 70’s.

  • @Wigs2 The only real backup on your list was Owens. All the others started at one time or another in the NFL. I am pretty sure Owen got a start or two as well. Thanks for an enjoyable read. Takes me back to the good ole days!

  • @JayhawkRock78 Yeah, I remember that those players you named were from the mid 70s. I guess I didn’t realize that you were so young. You’ve got a long time to go yet.

    Another one from around that time was Steve Grogan. I think Grogan, Owen, and Jaynes all graduated the same year–maybe 1974. I doubt that Kansas has ever had that much QB talent in the same year.

  • @Wigs2 A good friend of mine was a trainer for KSU football when Grogan played. Years later he was at Mass. General Med School when the Boston Patriots came in for physicals. He pulled a prank on Grogan when he came through-can’t remember the details but I remember it was a hoot.

    Grogan had a decent NFL run for a while. Isn’t it funny how college QB 's vs NFL careers are so topsy tervy in both directions

  • @Wigs2 I know the folks here run all ages. While I cherish my KU years in the mid 70’s I have a ton of respect for those who preceeded us at KU or anywhere else for that matter.

  • Yes, Jaynes was a senior my freshman year and lived at the same tower we did. The first time I saw him at the training table he was wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and looked larger than life as a pre-season All-American candidate. When he got drafted he bought a Bently-Delvin Williams bought a Caddy.

  • @JayhawkRock78

    Don’t forget Steve Towle at LB. He went on and started for the Miami Dolphins. Great guy too.

  • Absolutely-I remember Steve as being a total stud!!! Was he a Kansas kid as in played high school there? And Mike McDaniel-a real stud at KU but I don’t remember if he made it to the NFL- I can’t remember if he went to a kansas high. School.

  • @jaybate 1.0 Maybe I am not working the "chat"button right - but I was thinking since it’s a bit slow that you, HEM, Slayer, and others could look at a thread under GENERAL DISCUSSIONS called “A Nation of KU Fans” and let us know your story how you became a ku student/fan/athlete/ .

  • Let’s not forget the “Ramson Rambler” Nolan Cromwell, perhaps the best all-around athlete ever to play football at KU.

  • @drgnslayr

    I have it from a big time donor that Elon Musk’s Space X has been secretly approached to move Allen Field House in numbered blocks and frame pieces to stationary orbit for enclosure within a vast geodesic Fuller Dome. Some wags inside the athletic department are already calling the domic future home of KU basketball Baja Tralfamadore. Field house seating will include lap belts for the zero G environment. The roof of AFH will be left off so that about 500,000 fans can hover weightless with in the confines of oxygenated dome to watch KU games from unprecedented angles. Space X will be paid handsomely for moving AFH into orbit and for its reassembly, while Space X will build a shuttle fleet for moving fans from the parking structure next to AFH’s current location up to the orbiting AFH. The name for the dome around AFH will come from an auction with high bidder getting the first basketball facility in space named for him. It is not yet clear how games will be affected by zero G, but TV networks are reputedly excited about the prospects for more offense.

  • @drgnslayr

    There are huge two differences between Rupp Arena and AFH that I will guess most people are not aware.

    Location - Many people don’t know that Rupp arena is located off campus and is part of a big complex that involves a convention center and hotels. The upgrade contemplated for Rupp was designed to make the entire area a bigger destination, along the lines of what the Power and Light district is in Kansas City, and hence the huge cost. A project of this type cannot be built around AFH. Also the city of Lexington has a population of over 300k while Lawrence is under 100K, so the type of development they can build, and more importantly support, are completely different.

    Ownership - Even less people know that Rupp Arena is not owned by the University of Kentucky and they are simply a tenant with lease due to expire in about 3-4 years. This is the main reason why the UK president does not seem interested in committing school money to a project that is not owned by the school and will likely result in higher lease fees in the future, while providing zero benefit o the school. Yes, the surrounding area would be much nicer but the beneficiaries would be the private business in the area and not UK. The arena itself would not change that much and UK already sells out regularly. KU, on the other hand, owns AFH and any improvements would have to be financed by the school (and Athletic Program) and any additional revenue would directly benefit the program.

    In this particular situation it is not an arms race between UK and KU since UK “leases” the biggest college arena in the country and KU “owns” the most storied and historically significant in college basketball, and the facilities are located in quite different size markets.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Nolan was on my original post-and yes best all around athlete of his time. I think Ray Evans was a football/basketball star from an earlier generation but it’s hard to rank guys from different eras.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Great post-I didn’t know anything about Rupp-now the price tag makes a bit more sense.

  • Born, reared, and educated Jayhawks would include John Riggins? He was a stud. How about Gayle Sayers? The Kansas Comet was a total stud. I can’t believe you missed those guys. But, maybe I missed the point of your discussion. Barry Sanders fell short. I’ll always hold him leaving for OSU. Funny how he went to OSU because at the time many schools passed on Sanders. Then he had individual success in the NFL. He never thrived with a team to a Superbowl.

  • @truehawk93 My original post was about the Kansas born,bred, educated kids who lead KU football teams to two bowls games when I was at KU 1973-1978. Others added more-some I missed-

    some from were added on this thread that played before my KU years.

    I made the post because my expectations were high from the get go while at KU and I think Kansas had a bumper crop of high school athletes that made big difference.
    Another great player was Chris Golub. A team captain on his way to the NFL who lost his life in a tragic car wreck.

    So I miss the decent football teams and I expect more from our program-we at least deserve 5 or 6 wins a year-I know we’ve had at least 3 additional wins in our grasp the past two years. It is time to get better NOW.

  • @JayhawkRock78 Towle went to SM West.

  • Coming from the SM District I can’t believe I forgot that Steve Towle went to West.

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