I’m probably the only one who remembers this, but I clearly recall third-year KU head football coach Mark Mangino standing up at football media day 2004 and saying that he was excited for the upcoming season because he finally had guys who looked like Big 12 football players.
He talked about how the work in the weight room and the off-season
conditioning was going to start paying. “We’ve
finally got some guys with Big 12 bodies,” he said.
That got me all charged up as a fan. After all, I’d seen what
his predecessor had considered a Big 12 caliber-body, and 255-pound
defensive tackles weren’t going to get it done against a
Kansas State offensive line that, at the time, would’ve been
the fifth largest in the NFL. You heard right: not the NCAA –
the National Football League.
Lack of success against Kansas State was, in fact, one of many, many,
many reasons Mangino’s predecessor was shown the door. When
Mangino walked onto Mount Oread, KU hadn’t beaten Kansas
State in nine years. That first year, Mangino had to endure a 64-0
beatdown at the hands of his old mentor, KSU coach Bill Snyder, that
could have been 100-0 had Snyder wanted it to be. It wasn’t
until Mangino’s third year as head coach that KU finally beat
the Wildcats, 31-28, in Lawrence.
Since then, we’ve seen Kansas players get bigger and
stronger, and we’ve seen the program make tremendous
progress. KU is 4-2 against Kansas State since Mangino took the helm,
including Saturday’s 52-21 rout that also made it three in a
row against their cross-state rival.
Don’t get me wrong, now. I won’t say that Saturday
wasn’t fun, or that last year’s Kansas win at Bill
Snyder Family Stadium (where the Jayhawks hadn’t won since
Bobby McFerrin was telling us to be happy) wasn’t fun. It
was, but I’m also feeling a little frustrated.
For the better part of 15 years, I watched Bill Snyder and his purple
football machine steamroll the Jayhawks in Manhattan. I saw them do it
in Lawrence. If they’d have played in Aferica, KSU
would’ve won there, too. I looked forward after each of those
ugly losses to the day that KU would somehow manage to find enough
horses to compete year in and year out against the markedly bigger,
faster, stronger Wildcats.
Fast forward to last Saturday. Everyone expected a competitive game
between two teams with potent offenses and suspect defenses. Not so
much. For three quarters of football, the Jayhawks defense looked like
the ’85 Chicago Bears.
I confess, I hadn’t seen Kansas State play this season, and
if I did, I blocked it out of my mind. That said, I had no
idea that they had fallen this far.
From what I can see, KSU has one lineman – Ian Campbell
– who looks like a Big 12 football player. Every one of Ron Prince’s linemen on both sides of the ball are 6-6 or 6-7,
which is great, but they all weight 260 and have skinny arms, little
butts and long, lean legs. That’s great if you’re a
power forward; it’s lousy if you’re ramming heads
40-some odd times with someone who outweighs you by 35 or 40 pounds who
can bench press.
Kansas State’s skill players, with the exception of QB Josh Freeman and RB LeMark Brown are little. I mean, really little. Not
undersized -- little. I’m talking teeny.
Side note: if LeMark Brown had someone blocking for him, he’d
be really good. He is an athletic freak.
KSU coach Ron Prince says he wants long, lean athletic linemen with
speed and quickness. Well, Ron – can I call you
“Ron?” – I saw Texas Tech up close and
personal, and the Red Raiders are stocking up on kids who are 6-7, 340
or 350, who can run a 5.0 40. You can bet Texas and Oklahoma are, too,
and the rest of the conference won’t be far behind.
Remember, Ron, when you tried to sneak your QB into the end zone on
1st-and-goal from the one in the first quarter, only to watch him
finger roll the ball into the end zone, ala George Gervin, from two
yards out? One reason he was two yards out was because Mangino sent
Darius Parish (6-7, 341) and Jamaal Green (6-4, 310) into the trenches.
No sooner was the ball snapped than KSU’s offensive line
found themselves abruptly shoved two yards backwards.
Sorry. I know I sound like a KSU fan, as frustrated as I am. But I got
real tired of KU going 11 years without even being close to having the
horses to play in a big rivalry game like this. Now that they have a
few, Kansas State doesn’t have any. Some steps in rebuilding
this rivalry were skipped. The tide wasn’t supposed to turn
this fast. There were supposed to be a bunch of good games in the
Saturday’s game showed us that not only has KU’s
football program passed Kansas State’s, but in fact, Ron
Prince has turned the bus around and is headed the opposite direction.
Recent KU Success Over KSU Fun, Frustrating
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