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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Woodling: Cornish bitter over loss

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— Try to imagine what was going through Jon Cornish's mind late Saturday afternoon.

Cornish had just eclipsed Kansas University's 15-year-old single-season rushing record, but the Jayhawks had been humbled, 42-17, by perennial rival Missouri.

A bittersweet moment, right? Guess again.

"That was one of my most bitter moments," Cornish said. "There was nothing sweet about losing in this fashion."

Further postgame conversation led to even more bitterness. Cornish clearly wasn't happy he wasn't used more against a defense that ranked among the bottom feeders against the run.

"The game plan was to dominate with the run, and we were doing that," he said.

Then Cornish asked the media gathered round to check his average number of carries against the number of times he carried against the Tigers.

A quick check showed the 6-foot, 205-pound senior was averaging a little more than 21 carries a game.

On this day, Cornish carried only 15 times - eight times for 94 yards in the first half (including a nifty tightrope job down the left sideline on a 42-yard touchdown gallop) and seven times in the second half for just 32 yards.

Although he caught a short pass in the fourth quarter, Cornish didn't carry the ball once in the last 15 minutes.

Coach Mark Mangino stressed he abandoned the running game because the Jayhawks had fallen so far behind - thanks mainly to a sieve-like pass defense that brought back nightmares of the second half of the Oklahoma State game - and Cornish couldn't hide his dismay about that alteration of the game plan.

Audio clips

2006 KU-MU football

"I'm not a coach," Cornish said. "That's not my call, but we were running over them the whole game."

Uh, Jon, let's make this perfectly clear. Are you bitter about not carrying the ball more or bitter about losing?

"I'm bitter about losing," he replied. "I mean, they were trying two-point conversions on us. It was insulting."

For the record, in what may have been his final game in a KU uniform, Cornish gained 126 yards to push his season total to 1,457. That's 15 more yards than the school record established by Tony Sands in 1991.

Debunkers may point out, however, that Cornish needed 12 games to bypass Sands, who played in 11 games during his record-making season. In this case, however, it's not games that count, it's carries, and Sands carried the ball 272 times in '91, while Cornish has 250 - 22 fewer.

Yes, Cornish's record is strictly legitimate. Dubbed the Canada Kid by some in the media because of his Vancouver, B.C., origins, Cornish has been the feel-good story, the most dependable player on an inconsistent team.

Cornish is living proof that patience and determination pay off. As a freshman, Cornish carried the ball once for three yards. As a soph, he didn't carry the ball at all. Last year, he ran for 780 yards.

Then in his senior year, with minimal foreshadowing, Cornish became the single-season rushing leader at a school that produced Gale Sayers, John Riggins, Tony Sands and June Henley, among others.

What does it all mean?

"It's just something in the book," Cornish said. "The only thing that matters to me is my friendship with the guys."

One for the book, but not one for the buddies. All bitter. No sweet.

Comments

William James 13 years, 2 months ago

Pack a lunch Napoleon. He is the best coach in Lawrence in my lifetime and like Ive said he aint goin anywhere. After next year he might get another pay raise. THINK BIG!

Saad Saifeddine 13 years, 2 months ago

ridiculous! im glad it's now basketball season. And I agree with Napoleon, Mangino was outcoached in key moments time and time again! and that's a fact!

William James 13 years, 2 months ago

Yea, you just stick to bball 007. Did Mangino get out coached last year against Mizzou, or two years ago in Columbia, or the year before that when Mizzou was nationally ranked and in the top 25. I'll take 3 out of 4 against Mizzou anyday. Just stick to basketball, we got a game against DePaul this weekend. Find an article about that.

William James 13 years, 2 months ago

Correction- Mizzou was nationally ranked and undefeated when we blew them out in 2003. THINK BIG!

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