The Jayhawk Walk Is Back!

I was unable to be at the KU-Southern Miss game last Saturday due to a family commitment, but I have seen the game twice thanks to the miracle that is the DVR.

One reason I watched it twice was to try and pick apart why KU had to work so hard for this 35-28 win. The answer: because Southern Mississippi is a really talented and well-coached football team that knew exactly what weaknesses to exploit.

Reason number two was so I could look once again and make sure that I saw what I thought I saw during a very tight, exciting second half. What I thought I saw were big open spaces in the student section. Sure enough, I did. This begs the question, why? The answer: I have no fricking idea.

Apparently a significant number of KU students have become so used to winning and winning big that they don't really see a lot of benefit to sticking around for the second half of a game, even if the score was 21-14 at the half.

Maybe they assumed Todd Reesing would go absolutely nuts in the second half and that the KU defense would start channeling the Pittsburgh Steel Curtain defenses – which they did at some key junctures – and that KU would pull away, 48-21.

I suppose it's hard to argue that the second half of a 48-10 blowout of some directional school doesn't hold much entertainment value. Winning big and losing big both can be tedious from the stands. A lot of KU fans have seen both.

Back in the old, old days – I'm talking all the way back to the 1980s and most of the 90s here, if you can imagine that  – Jayhawk fans took a lot of crap from opposing fans for what was known as the Jayhawk Walk. It usually happened shortly after halftime. Back then, most KU fans stuck around to see and hear the band. It was usually the most well-executed and most entertaining part of the game.

When the second half started, KU was typically down two or three touchdowns – four or five if Nebraska or Oklahoma was in town – and the 26,000 or so fans in attendance stuck around into the third quarter.

As soon as the Jayhawks' opponent scored to put them down one more score, the migration started. Suddenly the aisles at Memorial Stadium looked like the scene in "The Ten Commandments" when Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt. All the scenario needed was some livestock and Charlton Heston.

Now that KU is winning, in a bizarre twist, the Jayhawk Walk occurs during and sometimes even before halftime.

I don't get it; after all, it's tough to beat a beautiful fall day at Memorial Stadium . But last Saturday, I really didn't get it. You don't leave the stadium at halftime of a 21-14 game against a quality opponent. You just don't. It's a slap in the face to the KU team – both teams, in fact – and an insult to what head coach Mark Mangino has built.

Maybe KU students don't like having the sun in their eyes during the second half. May they're afraid The Hawk and The Wheel are going to run out of beer. Maybe KU students still simply aren't knowledgeable football fans. I don't know.

What I do know is that it looks bush league. Students, it looks like you either don't understand or, worse yet, don't care.

Barring an unexpected  loss to rebuilding Iowa State in the friendly confines or a bad Colorado team in a half-empty, mostly-stoned Folsom Field, the Jayhawks will start preparing for the biggest game in the history of the program. Kansas will be 6-0, on the brink of a top-10 ranking and awaiting the Oklahoma Sooners.

I guess it's good to know that if the Jayhawks manage to come out of that match-up with a potentially program-changing win, there will be 2,000 or so bandwagon students who are primed to celebrate. After all, they will have been in that comfy corner booth at The Wheel for the entire second half.

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