Reesing Will Be Back

Kansas head coach Mark Mangino is one loyal guy, perhaps to a fault? Phog.net's Jim Williamson on the sputtering Jayhawks, inside.

There have been a lot of great things about writing for The Phog the past seven-plus seasons. I get to watch the game from the press box. I get to sit next to Kevin Flaherty, a man who's forgotten more about football than most Kansas fans will ever know. I also get to enjoy several all-I-can-pound pregame meals each season, courtesy of Carlos O'Kelly's.

Well, two out of three isn't so bad.

I also get to sit in on head coach Mark Mangino's post-game news conference – all of it. On the radio, you get to hear what Nate Bukaty asks. After that, he answers questions for the media.

The questions from the media tend to be a little more pointed. There's less "Tell me about the great play of..." and a little more "Explain why you..."

You learn a little bit about Mangino when Nate's microphone goes off. You see him laugh a little sometimes, smile a little. You also see media members slouch down in their chair, ducking for cover, when a new media honk who's never had an audience with The Big Pasta suggests that one of his players is selfish or lazy or maybe that his coaches don't work hard enough for the premier in-state recruits. You learn about the coach, what's important to him and his football philosophy.

I know there's a raging debate going on amongst the Phlock, whether or not Reesing should take a seat on the Kansas bench. After three bad performances in which six Todd Reesing turnovers have accounted for 42 points for his opponents, that's understandable.

Reesing, whose picture is next to the word "cocky" in the dictionary, has looked a little dazed the past few games. He's holding the ball a second longer, and you're not quite sure if he's waiting for a receiver to get some room or if he's tentative, losing confidence. A quarterback known for his pinpoint accuracy has been all over the place, usually leading his receivers by a step or four.

In fact, it could be argued that he's hurt the Jayhawks more than he's helped the last three games. Clearly, something's wrong with Todd Reesing.

So that's why I say with complete and utter confidence that there's no way in hell that Todd Reesing gets shut down for the season.

Mark Mangino likes to win. He likes to win like I like my Memorial Stadium halftime dilly bar, compliments of Dairy Queen.

There's something else Mark Mangino values just as much as winning, however: loyalty.

After the Oklahoma game – a 35-14 loss at home – Mark Mangino told the gathered media that unless Jake Sharp's ankle injury was so bad he couldn't run, Sharp was going to continue to get carries for his football team. Mangino acknowledged Sharp's not as explosive, and there are some things that KU won't try to do now, offensively, because of that. So why is he going to get his carries, Coach?

"Jake Sharp has done an awful lot for this program," Mangino said.

And that's all you need to know.

Mangino is loyal to a fault. Mangino took tremendous heat – like nuclear testing site heat – for retaining the services of offensive coordinator Nick Quartaro into the 2006 season, a season in which draw plays on 3rd and eight and fade routes in the red zone were the rule rather than the exception. KU went 6-6 but didn't see post-season play, and I'd still bet the house and the car that Mangino didn't fire Quartaro willingly.

Which brings us to Todd Reesing, the individual who has done more, with the exception of Mangino, to make people sit up and take notice of Kansas Football.

Reesing is the most productive quarterback in Kansas history. It's not even close. Anyone who states otherwise knows less about football than I do. He needs 37 yards passing next Saturday to go over 10,000 yards passing in his career. Unlike most who hit that milestone, Reesing was not a four-year starter.

He's been nails for three-plus seasons. He's played hurt. Reesing couldn't raise his right arm above shoulder level prior to the Missouri game last season and proceeded to throw for 375 yards, including a 23-yard TD pass with just 28 seconds left to beat the Slavers, 40-37. He's been playing with a groin injury now for three weeks.

His win against Colorado back in 2006 helped KU get to 6-6 after Mangino spent much of the season watching buzzards circle his job. The next year, with Reesing as starting quarterback, Kansas went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. He's also been the face of Jayhawk Football and helped elevate the profile of the program to heights it hasn't seen since KU's football heyday back in the 1960s.

Let's also not lose sight of the chance that next Saturday is the Saturday that Reesing breaks out of his slump. And I pity the defensive coordinator on the opposing sideline the day that happens.

Is Reesing playing well right now? No.

But unless he's bleeding from the eyes, his coach will hand him the ball. Mark Mangino's kind of funny that way.

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