A look at the highs and lows of Kansas athletics over the past three years and a chance to answer the question of how bad things really are in Lawrence.
Please welcome Owen Kemp to SB Nation Kansas City. Owen is SB Nation's resident Kansas blogger. He can be found at Rock Chalk Talk blogging about the Jayhawks on a daily basis. Take it away, Owen...
Is this the bottom?
College sports fans are more than familiar with the roller-coaster ride that comes with being a fan. For every emotional high, there is an equal low, and just when it seems you've reached the peak, you coast down an incline hoping the fall isn't too steep. The ride up is always the hardest to enjoy, and the ride down always the most painful to weather.
For Kansas fans the last three years have seen both and the past week could just be a bottom. Two years ago the Jayhawks were riding a wave of optimism following an Orange Bowl victory and a basketball national championship.
Being a Jayhawk was about as good as it could get. Lew Perkins seemed to have found the magic formula, Mark Mangino had turned a corner and Bill Self now had the feather in his cap to take the Kansas basketball program for a long and productive ride.
The high was as high as it had ever been with success across the entire athletic department and a renewed commitment to long-term success.
Now is when it would have been good to remember that things are never as good as they seem.
During the 2009-2010 academic year, just two years later, the Jayhawks have seen a promising football campaign end well short of expectations. Kansas has seen a coach who appeared to be one of the first long-term solutions pushed out. Maybe worst of all, the bread and butter -- the Kansas basketball program -- turned in an incredible regular season, but fell well short of the ultimate goal. Even the less glamorous sports at Kansas appeared cursed as the baseball and women's basketball teams suffered early-season injuries which led to both teams falling well short of expectations.
Throw in a ticket scandal, internal blackmailing charges and now the unstable position in conference realignment and you have a giant slap across the face and a pretty big wake up call for Jayhawks fans.
Now what? Time for a little humble pie? This would seemingly be the low, and just as it's important to keep the highs in perspective, the same could be said here. Things are never as bad as they seem.
In football, Kansas still has the opportunity to take advantage of the Orange Bowl success and the fallout from the 2007 season despite the face plant of 2009. The university has made the facility improvements, it has made the commitment to the program and it now has a new face, a fresh start and a team with young talent stockpiled following that successful season of 2007.
Kansas basketball still has Self, and if there was any question as to how the national championship would affect his standing in the sport, take a look at the list of players he's pursuing over the next three years. Despite the tournament stumble, Self is recruiting at an elite level, he's a phenomenal ambassador for the university and is there isn't a fan in the country that wouldn't be thrilled to have him running their program.
Yes, the athletic department blunders have been embarrassing and the current state of limbo within the conference is concerning, but "scandals" pass and often aren't nearly as bad as the initial punch in the gut. If you are looking for a true scandal and one to be concerned with, head to Southern California -- the Trojans have cause for concern.
As far as the conference realignment, it's humbling being in the passenger seat and waiting for things to play out, but again, if Kansas can find a strong conference that positions the basketball program to compete at the highest level and offers the football program the opportunity to continue to grow, the Jayhawks will be fine. Kansas isn't in the best position, but it certainly isn't in the worst.
Once the dust settles and Kansas finds its new home, then the the page can finally turn. It's not necessarily going to be easy and there will likely be a few bumps, but the climb makes it all worth it. The good news for Kansas is that this low is coming off a HUGE high and as bad as things might seem, it's more uncertainty than anything and things could definitely be much worse.
Rest easy, Jayhawks. Better days are ahead.