Kansas Jayhawk fans have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Not only is Thanksgiving a time for good food and good company, but it is also a time for reflecting on what we are thankful for.

I have always considered myself thankful to be a Jayhawk.

Especially as an alumnus, I feel a lot of pride wearing the Kansas logo around town or when traveling. And there is nothing better than getting a “Rock Chalk” from a fellow Jayhawk who spots you wearing the crimson and blue.

That sentiment has grown even stronger this year thanks to an historic year from many of our athletics programs, which is something all Kansas fans should be thankful for and proud of.

Kansas men’s basketball

Perhaps no fanbase in the country has it better right now when it comes to basketball than Kansas fans.

Just seven months ago, the Jayhawks cut down the nets in New Orleans as national champions. The win gave head coach Bill Self his second national title and the program’s sixth overall.

Along the way, Kansas also became the winningest program in college basketball history.

Following the 2022 national championship and the retirement of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Villanova’s Jay Wright, Bill Self is now cemented as the clear-cut, best coach in the country.

Self doesn’t appear to be hanging up his whistle any time soon either as he signed a lifetime contract in April 2021 – which means more wins, conference titles, and (hopefully more national championships) for years to come.

This season, Kansas fans have a team that is undefeated and looks more than capable of defending its title – something that hasn’t been done since 2007 when Florida went back to back under head coach Billy Donovan.

On the roster is a potential All-American in Jalen Wilson, a likely NBA Lottery pick in freshman Gradey Dick, and a deep, talented mixture of upper and underclassmen.

Kansas fans have the winningest program, the best coach, the best home court advantage, and one of the best teams in college basketball right now.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Kansas women’s basketball

While the men’s program stole the spotlight this past year, the Kansas women’s basketball team quietly had themselves a terrific season.

Under head coach Brandon Schneider, the Jayhawks had their highest Big 12 finish (fifth) since the 1999-2000 season when they finished fourth under Hall of Fame head coach Marian Washington.

The Jayhawks also reached the NCAA Tournament and won their first postseason game for the first time since 2013.

These finishes earned Schneider a four-year extension that keeps him at Kansas through the 2025-26 season.

That success and Schneider’s extension has already paid off on the recruiting trail, as the staff recently landed their biggest recruit in years in S’mya Nichols – a four-star guard ranked No. 34 in the country from nearby Shawnee Mission West High School.

This year’s squad is currently undefeated and has a great chance to build upon last year’s success.

Kansas football

If ever there was a fanbase that deserved some good fortune, it’s Kansas football fans.

For more than a decade, the program has been a black eye on the university. From embarrassing losing streaks to multiple head coaching failures, it’s been one disaster after another.

That has all changed thanks to current head coach Lance Leipold.

He has steered the once-sinking ship towards respectability and has reengaged a fanbase that has been patiently waiting for the success he’s brought.

For the first time since 2008, the Jayhawks are bowl eligible thanks to a surprising 5-0 start to the season and a convincing win over a banged-up Oklahoma State earlier this month.

Leipold has also helped end numerous losing streaks and guided the Jayhawks to their first ever victories at Texas and West Virginia.

For his accomplishments, Leipold was recently awarded a new contract extension through the 2029 season – a key step in assuring this program continues on its current trajectory.

The future is perhaps brighter than it’s ever been for Kansas football and knowing now that Leipold will be here to guide it for several years to come is a very reassuring feeling.

Leaders at the helm

Jayhawk fans should also consider themselves thankful for the leaders at the University of Kansas who have put athletics in a position to succeed.

The work that Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff has done in less than two years on the job is nothing short of remarkable.

He made a slam-dunk hire with Lance Leipold (in less than two months on the job) and helped negotiate a contract extension to keep him away from the likes of Nebraska and Wisconsin. He signed Schneider to an extension. He’s also made a couple of promising head coaching hires for KU baseball (Dan Fitzgerald) and women’s golf (Lindsay Kuhle).

And unlike many of his predecessors, Goff has been able to finally put into motion the plans to fully renovate the football stadium and develop the surrounding area.

Of course, many of these moves would not be possible without the support of Chancellor Doug Girod, who hired Goff in April 2021.

Like Goff, Girod knows what an important role athletics plays for the university – football in particular – and he has demonstrated a clear commitment to providing Goff what he needs for the various programs to be successful.

Both he and Goff appear to have a great pulse on Kansas fans and alumni – which has helped them make decisions that are best for the student-athletes and the university. And they’ve been about as transparent with fans as you can ask for with those decisions.

Across the board, from the administration to the coaching staffs, Kansas fans are in good hands with so many great leaders at the helm.

Today and every day, we should all considers our thankful to be a Jayhawk.