Nothing could dampen my enthusiasm this morning. Not my wife ending my sleep earlier than planned by slamming doors all over the house to express her displeasure with me leaving the garage door up last night. Not the ice storm that is descending on Northeast Texas. Not the fact that my furnace is out, and my heater guy is AWOL. Not the neighbor out racing his four wheeler around the neighborhood. Not the disturbing news out of Tucson, or the reprehensible response from the Phelps clan, who are a constant embarrassment to my home town.
Today is a big day for Kansans, no matter where they live now. The Chiefs are back in the playoffs, and the Jayhawks have a chance to go undefeated in non-conference play. (A quick thanks to the scheduling gods for not overlapping these games.) I have a big screen LCD, and the only thing that could possibly dampen my spirits and person today would be if my satellite dish were to ice up. I already have the ladder set up against the eave of the house, to prepare for this eventuality, which partially explains why the garage door is up. I’m hoping that if the icing happens, it will wait until halftime, or the short window between games.
Coach of the Year: Haley
If the Chiefs win today, Todd Haley will most likely be a shoe-in for Coach of the Year. He has turned around a Chiefs team in record time, and surpassed even the most faithful fan’s expectations for this season. We all hoped that this team would be better, but few, if any predicted that KC would be anything other than the last-place finisher in the AFC West. The Raiders, despite their perennial underachieving ways, were still a good team, the Broncos were optimistic, and the Chargers were preseason Superbowl favorites. There was no way the Chiefs could compete in this division- it isn’t the NFC West, after all.
Todd Haley ignored all of the prognosticators, and put together a team that not only made the playoffs, but hosts a playoff game in Kansas City for the first time since that heartbreaking puntless loss to the Colts in 2004. That was a Dick Vermeill led, pass-happy, all-offensive team… vastly different from the balanced, run-oriented team that actual fields a defense.
Coach of the Year: Self
Dick Vitale is eating crow for his pre-season predictions, and although I can’t find any confirmation, it is being reported (on Twitter) that he has named Bill Self his mid-season Coach of the Year. Vitale had previously predicted Kansas to finish fourth… in the Big 12, putting them on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. After losing Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, and X Henry this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks. Instead, we have seen a wildly talented group of underclassmen extend the NCAA’s longest active home winning streak to 68 games. We’ve seen the Jayhawks win with and without leaning on the Morris twins. We’ve seen Thomas Robinson and Josh Selby play spectacularly when they were needed. And we’ve seen this group start to play defense, and gel into a team. Credit Coach Self for this, Dick Vitale certainly has.
Well, I’ve apologized to the wife, plugged in the space heater and gathered blankets, including my KC Fleece and KU Snuggie, devoured my biscuits and gravy (thanks, hon!), and settled into my lounger. Have a great day, everyone!