The Boys of Fall

It is, after all, football season, and I am in Lawrence, Kansas so I would be remiss if I said nothing about the remarkable season our football team is having. Thus far, it has been remarkable. The Jayhawks first four opponents were relative cupcakes, so it was hard to tell what the team was capable of. Since the pushovers, they have gone on to defeat Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado, and Texas A&M, several of which are not pushovers at all.

The result is that we are 8-0 for the first time in about 100 years. We are used to that sort of performance out of the Jayhawk basketball team. It is somewhat unique, in my limited experience (I’ve only been here eight years), for the football team to be doing so well. Tomorrow (Saturday) the football team lines up against Nebraska, my alma mater, and I will be cheering for Kansas. Nebraska has had its share of football success over the years, and I always like to see success spread around a little.

I still have not completely sorted out my feelings about our coach. Mark Mangino, who is pictured above, is a bit of an enigma. He does not go out in public much, and admits as much. Perhaps it is not easy for someone of his size to find a place to sit. Perhaps he is just shy around people who are not football players. A celebrated video ( of him during the Kansas State game proves that he is not always shy. The students at KU have been creative, as usual, and have sold in some quantity a tee shirt that says (on the front) “Kansas Football” and (on the back) “Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach.”

The contrast of the positions of the two coaches involved in the Kansas-Nebraska game could not be more different. Mangino is having his best year (by far) and has probably cemented his job for some years to come. Bill Callahan, the Nebraska coach, is undoubtedly just playing out his lame duck season. The Nebraska football crowd has no patience for losers, and Callahan is 4-5 on the year. The Nebraska Athletic Director has already bitten the dust, and Callahan will be moving fast to keep the door from hitting him in the butt the day the season ends.

Beating a team like Nebraska is never a sure thing. If Kansas manages that feat during Homecoming weekend, their season may get more interesting yet. Oklahoma State is rarely a pushover, and we have to go there. We should be able to handle Iowa State at home. But Missouri will be a very tough game. That game is being played at a neutral field (in Kansas City) because college sports is not about sports at all; it is about money. But wherever is was played, Missouri would be a difficult opponent. They always are.

Should all the cards fall right, and should Kansas win the Big Twelve North, they would probably have the honor of playing Oklahoma in the title game. If nothing else erases that zero from the end of the Kansas record, a game against Oklahoma might well do it. But there’s a long way to go before a title game. We’ll take a look at things again when we get there.

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