By Kevin Kietzman
It's been a bad couple weeks for KU basketball and my inbox and Twitter are stuffed with more than I can handle. So here's an open letter to all those I can't respond to and any fans of any other teams in the past or future that will be upset with our work on Between the Lines:
First let me say that I greatly appreciate anyone that listens to the show, it's been an honor to do this going on 17 years. Over the years, we have angered the Chiefs, Royals, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri fans equally. We were the first to report the drug dealing scandal in the locker room at Arrowhead. I was the guy that confronted Gunther Cunningham about his two point conversion chart, proving it was wrong and it was changed. I challenged Scott Pioli about his position on quarterbacks and created quite a stir. He was fired months later.
We've beaten a drum constantly about David Glass never moving to Kansas City as he promised and putting his son, clearly in over his head, in charge of the Royals. Kansas has had a volatile football coach banned from his own son's high school football games and an FBI ticket scandal that''s landed employees in prison. We got clobbered by fans for reporting these things and providing edgy commentary. I was the guy that made fun of Kansas State President Jon Wefald when he made some comments about the University of Texas and tried to take them back saying he didn't know the internet would reach all the way to Texas. Bill Snyder famously called our studio control room years ago when I was reporting a story that he had not given his Big 12 Title rings to his players months after they won, because he wasn't happy with the way they were performing. I first reported the rift between Frank Martin and AD John Currie's compliance staff and weeks later he left KSU for South Carolina.
And Mizzou, well, they haven't been real happy with my stance on the SEC and they hate it when I say they don't play Kansas anymore because they chose to leave. We played the Ricky Clemons tapes on the air. And we reported, way back in 1999 that Norm Stewart was out at Mizzou and fans and other media outlets were saying our report was just an April Fool's joke.
This is why I cannot, and will not, take any e-mail or Tweet seriously that accuses me or our show of bias. We have years of proof on our side. Currently, Kansas fans are mad at us because Bill Self put his foot in his mouth. I didn't do it for him and he's normally great in the media and great at handling this stuff. But the Joel Embiid injury situation has been an uncharacteristic fiasco. The contradictions in all of this continue today as Self, just hours after saying he wouldn't have any further comment, talked to KU.sports.com's Tom Keegan about the timeline of all that went down with Embiid. As much as I love Tom Keegan, and Bill Self for that matter, I was left asking even more questions. "Why" is always the best question and it's even more unclear today. Why, if the diagnosis didn't change Monday, did Embiid's playing status change?
Bill Self told ESPN mid morning Monday that he was "100 percent" certain Embiid would play in Kansas City at the Big 12 Tourney or next week in the first round of the NCAA's. The second opinion was a "precaution" and there won't be any change. Ten hours later, KU basketball announces Embiid is out for Kansas City AND the first round of the NCAA's? Set aside for a moment that this is KU and think of it as Mizzou. Or KSU or OSU or anyone else. Wouldn't you think that something actually changed by visiting the second doctor? I sure think that and most people do.
But the lifeline of college basketball is recruiting and the last thing Kansas wants, whether as fact or the mere appearance of such, is for potential recruits and families to think KU botched something with a stress fracture in the back of the number one pick in the draft. I'd be in damage control mode, too.
And finally, no matter who your team is or what the issue is, know this. If you reach out to me in any way accusing me of an agenda or bias, I will laugh inside and you will have just complimented me on doing my job extremely well. It's worked for nearly 17 years so pack your lunch. I've got at least 17 more left if I choose.