Inside Jayhawk Nation

September 23, 2009 11:10 PM

KU Fight Club: Is Bad Press Better Than No Press?

By now most sports fans have heard how the KU football and basketball teams did their best Brad Pitt and Edward Norton impressions.

It's easy to say how the fights will be a black eye to the University -- and to some point they will. But will the old saying "bad press is better than no press" ring true with these two teams?

Of course everyone knows the Jayhawk basketball team is good, but does anyone on the east coast think they are better than Kentucky? For some reason, they are still viewed as choke artists on messages boards, despite defeating a one-loss team (one that supposedly even cheated) in the NCAA championship just two years ago.

The football squad, despite winning the 2008 Orange Bowl, and going 23-6 this past two-plus years, apparently is just helping basketball fans pass the time until November. Anyone east, west, south, or north of the Kansas border (and even most inside Manhattan) don't think too much of the pass-happy, no defense-playing Jayhawks.

But now, Scott Van Pelt, Stu Scott, and their buddies have a reason to talk about the 'Hawks on SportsCenter. Anchor Jon Anderson was probably salivating during yesterday's production meeting, and will probably be giddy as a school girl while reporting what happened.

While I don't condone fighting, I've seen (and been in) scuffles during open gym basketball games at the KU REC center. If tempers can flare there, of course they can when dozens of talented, competitive athletes hang together. Especially if one group of those athletes, ahem, basketball players, feels threatened by the popularity of the other group.
Why it happened, how it happened, or who started it, doesn't matter. What matters is that Tyshawn Taylor, an integral part of the basketball team, is out probably 4-6 weeks. And it also brings some light to a football squad that feels it is not appreciated. Unfortunately for the football team, head coach Mark Mangino probably liked that his team was flying under the radar. He wants to still sneak up on people. If they are known as the Fightin' Jayhawks the rest of the season, everyone will be prepared to play them.

So, while this is bringing some national exposure to the program, in the end it probably isn't a good thing. Not only does it give Mizzou fans message board fodder, it gives everyone on the east coast, a chance to ask, "KU has a football team?"

Hopefully no one gets suspended or arrested (I'm looking at you Dezmon Briscoe), and this can be shoved to the back burner. At this point, the "bad press is better than no press" adage doesn't ring true. It isn't going to do anything to help either squad, but more than likely they will both move on with nothing more than embarrassment. Oh, and a dislocated finger.

Two months from now, if both are playing well, the headlines will read how the Jayhawks grew up, matured and became one of the best teams in the country. If the football team chokes and Taylor's injury lingers, the Fighting 'Hawks will fall back into obscurity.

Thanks a lot Brad and Ed.

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