Kansas fans seeking clues about debut coaching seasons are advised to consider the second year of a new regime instead of the first.
Charlie Weis, who opens his KU tenure on Saturday when South Dakota State visits, is the program's seventh head coach in the last three decades.
Of the six previous coaches, half improved in their second season and went on to greater career success than the other half.
The other three peaked in their first season.
This isn't to suggest all will be well for the Jayhawks if the Weis regime stumbles through the 2012 schedule. Greed is good when it comes to your team. Grab all the victories available.
But keep in mind the progression of the successful group: Mike Gottfried, Glen Mason and Mark Mangino.
Gottfried went 15-18-1 in three seasons, beating Southern California and Oklahoma and posting a 5-1 record against Kansas State and Missouri.
Mason became KU's all-time victory leader (47) when he left for Minnesota after the 1996 season. His teams won two bowl games and delivered a top -10 finish.
Mangino eclipsed Mason's mark, finishing his eight years at 50-48, which included the epic 12-1 season of 2007 and four bowl appearances.
All of them opened their Kansas tenure with their worst season, and Mason's 1-10 and Mangino's 2-10 had fans wondering about the next guy.
Gottfried didn't get his first victory until his third game, same with Mangino. Mason lost his first eight.
The others — Bob Valesente, Terry Allen and Turner Gill — all got off to better starts.
Val started 3-1, Allen 4-1 and Gill was 2-2, including a victory over 15th-ranked Georgia Tech.
But that was about as good as it got for any of them. Allen hung on the longest, five seasons. Three victories over Missouri helped get him to a fifth season, but the team grew uncompetitive in the second half and Allen didn't finish the year. Valesente and Gill were gone after two.
Competitiveness is the buzzword around Weis' program. He's often talked about the misery of watching the Jayhawks' losses get out of hand early last season and understands the first step in this process is to have no more Saturdays like the last season.
There was the afternoon at Georgia Tech, where the Yellow Jackets rushed for 604 yards; at Oklahoma State, which scored touchdowns on all seven first-half possessions and had its starters on the bench late in the second quarter; and at Texas, where KU wound up with 46 total yards.
When a home stomping by Kansas State or a 54-point loss at Texas A&M isn't included on the top three embarrassments of a season it's a wonder anybody thought Sheahon Zenger's should have given Gill more time.
One advantage common to the more successful regimes was the quarterback situation. Gottfried coached Frank Seurer and then landed junior-college transfer Mike Norseth. Mason inherited Kelly Donohoe. Mangino's first class recruiting included Bill Whittemore from Fort Scott Community College. Those are four of KU's top seven in career passing yards.
Weis has taken care of that position with Dayne Crist, who started nine games as a Notre Dame sophomore in 2010 before he was hurt and lost his job the next season. Next year, the job will be Jake Heaps, the Brigham Young transfer, to lose.
I have KU down for three victories, and one in the conference. But the victory total won't be the entire story. The Jayhawks have to belong on the field with the opponent. Start there, and the victories will follow — next season.
Distributed by MCT Information Services