Tag Archives: Brian Banks

A Kansas fan sees his feelings change on Ol’ Roy Williams. And Brian Banks, getting one more shot at glory


Today’s lead item is written by a guest blogger here on Wide World of Stuff; I’d love to have more if any of you feel motivated to write about something that moves you; drop me a line at sweeterlew@yahoo.com.
Today’s post is written by Matt Roberts, one of my loyal readers who immediately earned my affection when I discovered he had “Dread Pirate” in his email handle (It’s a reference to “The Princess Bride” and the Dread Pirate Roberts, only about the most perfect movie ever). Matt is a big Kansas basketball fan, so I thought he’d be the perfect person to write about the weird relationship Jayhawks fans have with the man they again vanquished on Sunday, former coach Roy Williams. Matt, the floor is yours…

About ten years ago, minutes after his Kansas team lost the National Championship game to Syracuse, Bonnie Bernstein of CBS asked KU coach Roy Williams about his level of interest in the recently opened North Carolina job. A direct quote from his response was on t-shirts the very next day in Lawrence, Kansas: “I could give a s— about North Carolina”.
It was jarring to hear that kind of language from Ol’ Roy, but it also fit, given that everyone knew how much he loved his players.  The vast majority of KU fans loved Roy and all the winning he brought to Kansas in his 15 years.
Just the seventh coach in 105 years of Jayhawk basketball, we thought Roy would stick around, like he did three years before when the North Carolina job last came available.

A week later, that optimism turned to dread and bitterness, as Roy headed home to his alma mater.  KU grad Dean Smith urged him to return to Chapel Hill, making the loss hurt even more.  How could the guy who grew up down the road from Lawrence and played on KU’s 1952 National Championship team engineer the departure of our beloved coach?

In hindsight, it appears Coach Smith was only looking out for the good of his alma mater.

A few days later, when Bill Self was announced as the new head coach at Kansas, not many Jayhawk fans thought too highly of the move. We had memories of playing his brutish Illinois team in the 2001 Sweet Sixteen. Kansas always played an up-tempo, fun style of basketball.  How could we adjust to this new, plodding system? Pretty easily, it turns out.  Bill Self preaches tough man-to-man defense, but he has shown a willingness to adjust style of play to his personnel. His teams may not play at the breakneck speed of the Williams era, but entertainment still abounds. Winning helps.

While Roy Williams maintained a remarkable 80.5 win percentage in his ten years at Kansas, Bill Self has won 83.8 percent of his team’s games through almost ten full seasons. Of those ten years, KU won the Big 12 championship in all but his first season, when they finished second and made the Elite Eight.  North Carolina won two NCAA titles in that time.  Kansas won one and made the final last year.

Even with the two titles at UNC, you would be hard pressed to find a Kansas fan who wishes Roy stayed in Lawrence ten years ago. The bitterness has mostly dissipated, thanks in large part to Bill Self’s 3-0 record against Roy, all in the NCAA tournament.  Instead of the boos and harsh words you could expect in years past, ask a KU fan what they think about Roy now, and you will probably get a Cheshire cat grin and some words about how Bill Self is the greatest.

Personally, I will always love Ol’ Roy. He coached my favorite team from the time I was in 4th grade through my college years. His teams always brought me great joy, and they continue to do so today. Especially when they lose to the Jayhawks.

brian-banks1**Finally today, “60 Minutes” did a terrific piece on former high school football star and NFL hopeful Brian Banks, who I wrote about last year. Banks was imprisoned for five years on a false rape charge, and since getting out he’s tried to re-start what was a once-promising career.
What I’ve always found admirable about Banks was his total lack of bitterness about his past. I really hope he makes the NFL this year; if anyone deserves a break, it’s this kid.

Please take a minute and watch the “60 Minutes” piece here.


A father and son bond over love of music. A paraplegic bowler rolls a 300. And a falsely imprisoned football star finally gets his shot

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And a happy Good News Friday to all of you.

Wanted to start today with a great essay written by my former boss at a newspaper in Florida, David Markowitz.

One of the most beautiful things in the father-son relationship is the passing on of great music. Not having become a father myself yet, I can just go off the musical experiences I shared with my dad. He exposed me to some great music (Harry Chapin and Barbra Streisand come to mind) and some “eh” music (the Neil Sedaka and Dionne Warwick tapes he’d play never really did much for me).

Music, like sports, is such an emotional bonding experience for parents, and if you’re fortunate enough to have your kid like the same kind of music you do, then, you’re especially blessed.

Dave has that blessing; his son Sam is a lover of music as well. In his always-interesting music blog this week, Dave wrote about taking Sam to a concert featuring jazz pianist Marcus Roberts.

It’s a beautiful piece about fathers and sons, and how we pass along our loves to those who share our DNA. Well worth your time to read it.

**Saw this in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section and it immediately piqued my interest. A paraplegic in Texas named Shawn Beam did something incredible last week: He bowled a 300, and became what’s believed to be the first person ever to roll a perfect game while in a wheelchair.

Born with a pinched nerve in his neck, Beam has been in a wheelchair his whole life.

What a wonderful example of someone with every reason in the world to fail, succeeding at such a high level.

**Finally today, you may have heard about this story recently, as it’s been all over the news. A former high school football star named Brian Banks was falsely accused of rape when he was 16.

He spent five years in prison, and another five on parole (having to wear a GPS tracking device the entire time), until finally last year his accuser admitted she made the story up. (Tangent here: In college I wrote a column wondering why we always name the accused but not the accuser in sexual assault cases. I took a lot of heat for that column, but I still wonder about the double standard)

Now 26, Banks is putting his life back together, and had a tryout Thursday with the Seattle Seahawks. Far from being angry at the miscarriage of justice done to him, this is what he had to say:

“Look where I am today,” Banks said, motioning his arms toward the Seahawks’ indoor practice facility. “I thank God for this. This is a blessing. The last thing I want to do is be bitter.”

I hope he makes it to the NFL. Falsely imprisoned for five years, few people deserve to run free on a field more than Brian Banks does.