Avert your eyes, John Calipari. The basketball schools, as it turns out, are apparently football schools now, too. Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke, the four winningest programs in men’s college basketball history, are all 3-0 in football — which has never happened before. (UCLA and Indiana, both top-10 in hoops wins, are also 3-0 in football.)

Kansas is hosting Duke on Saturday in a “College GameDay”-worthy event — ESPN whiffed by not picking Lawrence, by the way — that isn’t basketball. How cool is that? The question now is whether all (or any) of the hardwood bluebloods are for real in football. Only No. 8 Kentucky is ranked, although UNC and Kansas are receiving votes, so are we witnessing a blip or the beginning of something here?

Who better to investigate a football uprising than The Athletic’s trio of basketball scribes stationed near Lawrence, Lexington and Tobacco Road?


How did they get here?

Kansas: ??After botched hire after botched hire in the post-Mark Mangino era, Kansas finally found a quality coach in Lance Leipold. What he has done is reminiscent of how Mangino won: find some hidden gems in recruiting, sound coaching to limit mistakes made on both sides of the ball, some creativity on offense and then nail the quarterback position.

In addition to some of the terrible hires — Charlie Weis and Les Miles were the belles of the (ineptitude) ball — the Jayhawks haven’t been able to find a QB since Todd Reesing. Mangino had some legitimate NFL players. Aquib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. were two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in their primes. But the Orange Bowl doesn’t happen without Reesing, known in at least one KU-centric circle as “Todd the God.” In defense of the quarterbacks since, they usually were operating under duress because of poor line play. Jalon Daniels is a star, and he’s operating behind what appears to be a quality offensive line. KU ranks second nationally in rushing yards per play, and Daniels has yet to be sacked.

The hope this year was that Kansas could win a few games and at least be competitive in the rest. Leipold expedited the process by crushing the transfer market, signing the 21st-best transfer class according to 247Sports. That’s a luxury Mangino didn’t have in his day. Between Daniels, the transfers, the coaching and this offensive line, there’s hope that Leipold just may have Kansas ahead of schedule. Leipold’s wide zone blocking scheme is working, and the play-calling is bold and creative. Just look at this play on a crucial fourth down against Houston.

This level of execution has just been absent for years. KU had two road wins post-Mangino under its next five coaches. Leipold already has three, with the back-to-back roadies at West Virginia and Houston actually earning KU’s football team votes in the AP Top 25. Like real votes. Not someone just trying to be funny.

The highlight thus far was the OT win at West Virginia. The Jayhawks blew a lead late, and in past years, they would take the moral victory of actually being competitive and expect a loss was inevitable. But Daniels and this offense are something entirely different. Daniels led a five-play scoring drive to take the lead, and then Cobee Bryant ended the game with a pick-six. And while West Virginia is probably one of the worst teams in the Big 12, Houston was the preseason AAC favorite. And a Big 12 road win, no matter the opponent, is an accomplishment. Especially at Kansas. So those are two legit wins for the Jayhawks, and here we are with real hope for the worst Power 5 football program of the past decade. Give Leipold a lifetime contract. Seriously.