KU Shouldn't Need a Bigger Bandwagon

Nationally-televised win over OSU means the national media will jump onboard – but do the Jayhawks want them?

Kirk Herbstreit finally said to the country Saturday night what a lot of Kansas fans have known for some time now: “The Kansas Jayhawks are the story of the year in college football.”

If Herbstreit said it, it must be official, right?

And didn’t Brent Musberger say he was going to introduce the country to the Kansas Jayhawks when they traveled to Stillwater?

Gee whiz, it’s just like being blessed by the Pope – a loud, obnoxious Pope whose main purpose in life is now lending his broadcasting idiosyncrasies to a drinking game.

Sixty-three percent of the country, including New York City, had the privilege of watching the ‘Hawks beat Oklahoma State, 43-28. They saw the Kansas defense contain one of the country’s more balanced offensive attacks while the KU offense had its way with the Pokes’ defense much of the night.

That kind of exposure is never a bad thing for an up-and-coming football program. It got KU bumped up one spot in each poll and even got them seven first-place votes in the USA Today/Coaches poll and eight in the Harris poll – the first time KU has garnered first-place ballots since 1968.

The bottom line is, it looks like a little bit of national credit and credibility came from a really good win over Oklahoma State.

Now that KU is 10-0 for the first time since 1899, everyone wants into the party. I just wish Mark Mangino was working the door, telling them to take a hike.

Mangino doesn’t pay attention to rankings, and he most certainly doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what others think about him. “If we keep winning, everything will take care of itself,” he says.

That’s true, but it’s a shame that it took 10 football games before football fans and the media across the country realized that this edition of the Jayhawks isn’t about smoke and mirrors. It’s about punching people in the mouth on defense and scoring in big, juicy bunches on offense.

It stinks that it took 10 football games for people to realize that a quarterback who isn’t 6-5, 255 and ripped can somehow manage to overcome all his deficiencies and still lead his team to a perfect record while throwing for 265 yards a game and an ungodly 26 touchdown passes against just four interceptions on the year.

It shouldn’t have taken 10 games to realize that a pair of running backs – one that’s too slow and another that’s too white – could rush for a combined 165 yards per game as part of a team that rushes for over 200 each week.

Ten games seem like a little much before the football literati had the epiphany that the 119th-ranked pass defense in 2006 might have gotten better over the course of a year.

Finally, it shouldn’t be such a surprise that a guy who played a prominent role in the resurgence of Kansas State football in the 1990’s and was the offensive coordinator of the 2000 national champion Oklahoma Sooners might be able to coach a little bit.

It’s true that trends usually move from the coasts inward, but this one should’ve gone the other way. People had multiple chances to get behind the Jayhawks; they chose not to.

Now, everyone wants on the bandwagon. That’s fine, I suppose, but for those fans who were in on it from the opening kickoff of the Central Michigan rout, enjoy the rest of this season like you’re in on an inside joke.

The team and coaches should go ahead and put a big ol’ chip on their collective shoulder, playing and working for themselves and each other.

When all-American candidate CB Aqib Talib called his shot of 10 wins at Big XII media day, even hardcore Jayhawk fans wondered if he’d taken too many shots to the head. Now it sounds like he knew exactly we were all in for.

By the way, let’s avoid another slight toward this year’s football team: Saturday is the last time KU will play in Memorial Stadium this season. It’s also Senior Day for Brandon McAnderson, James McClinton and their teammates. They deserve a sell-out. Buy your tickets, and wear your blue.

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