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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Keegan

Keegan: Mangino wins fans with class

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Orange Bowl changes K-Stater's opinion

Ardent Kansas State fan Larry "Cowboy" Wiezorek of Gene Fritzel Construction talks about how the final play of the Orange Bowl turned him into a Kansas fan.

Ask him his name and he'll answer, "First name, 'Cow,' last name 'Boy.'" Refer to him as Larry Wiezorek and some of his friends might not know the name. They know him as Cowboy, the proud Kansas State fan working in Lawrence as project superintendent for Gene Fritzel Construction.

"I bleed purple," Wiezorek said. "Always did."

Cowboy said he shocked co-workers the day after the Orange Bowl when he showed up wearing a KU baseball cap, bandanna and sweatshirt.

"First thing I did the following morning was go to the store and buy them," Wiezorek said. "I knew they'd sell out, so I went early. My boy goes to school there, but even after that, I didn't own anything KU."

Why the transformation?

"My hat's off to Mr. (Mark) Mangino," Wiezorek said. "He made me a fan."

How?

"That last play," Wiezorek said of the first-and-goal from the one, on which KU let the clock expire rather than try to run the score up to 31-21. "I honestly think the players will learn more about sportsmanship on that play than they learn from the rest of the season."

Technically, Kansas could have fumbled on the game's final play, and it could have been returned the other way for a touchdown, so taking a knee gave the Jayhawks an automatic victory. There was more to it than that. Not rubbing it in took precedence over putting up a score that would have impressed voters.

"He did the class thing, the Mangino thing," Wiezorek said.

Senior running back Brandon McAnderson didn't give a thought to KU cheating itself in the ratings by not going for a score on the final play.

"Taking the knee and getting out of there with a victory is more important than the rankings," McAnderson said. "You can't do anything about what the voters think about you. The ranking really doesn't change anything. We won the Orange Bowl, and they can't do anything to take that away from us. We beat a team that was good enough to play in the national championship. Virginia Tech was one of the best teams in the country, by far, No. 3 team in the country (in the BCS rankings, heading into the Orange Bowl). When we beat them, the voters didn't think it was impressive enough for us to be ranked any higher than No. 7. When we beat a team the caliber of Virginia Tech, we validated our season. We proved we're a legit program, and we'll be around for a while."

USC (Stanford) and West Virginia (Pittsburgh) each suffered an embarrassing loss and finished with two losses. Kansas lost once, to a Missouri team that finished ranked fourth in the nation. Ohio State lost twice and didn't have a victory against a team nearly as good as Virginia Tech. Sound minds would have to agree that KU was treated unfairly in the final rankings and deserved to finish either third or fourth, either just ahead of or just behind Missouri.

Now the question is, does it matter?

"Rankings aren't even in coach Mangino's vocabulary," LHS football coach Dirk Wedd said. "There is no place in athletics to run up the score. I think it shows you how class coach Mangino is and how class KU is by doing that."

Comments

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

showing mercy at the end of the Orange Bowl will reverberate around college football for YEARS to come ...

John Brown 11 years, 9 months ago

Mangino showed class at the end of the game also when he credited VT for being well coached and for having an awesome defense. I think that the media tried to trap him into saying something negative but he held his ground and represented KU well! Go Mangino, good luck with recruiting!

JBurtin 11 years, 9 months ago

I guess some Va. Tech fans were a bit surprised that little KU didn't want to stick it to them and run up the score to prove themselves.

The funny thing is, when I saw us get that last first down to put us in position to run out the clock the thought of scoring again didn't even cross my mind. I knew our next play would be to simply take a knee and I was already celebrating before the final play was run.

The fact that we happened to be close to the goal line was more a factor of them trying an onside kick and giving us a short field rather than us trying to get in scoring position. It's a much more convincing show of strength to get that close to another score and let the other team know that you could do it if you wanted to, but since it's not necessary, you simply take your knee with class and move on to next season. Scoring again would have done nothing more than convince voters that KU must have run up the score all season long when they were ahead to try and make themselves look better. In truth, many of our games could have had much larger spreads if our coaches didn't act with class and put in the scrubs for the entire 4th quarter.

Once again, incredible job coaches, you've made us all very proud to be Jayhawks.

Kevin Long 11 years, 9 months ago

I think they were trying to get Mangino to say something stupid. I could see that he was very nervous, but I thought he did well on all his answers. I really liked the "basketball school" question. You could tell he had been wanting to say that for a long time.

kujayhawk7476 11 years, 9 months ago

LHS football coach Dirk Wedd said. "There is no place in athletics to run up the score."....except at Nebraska and we all know how that is coming around to bite them! Ha! Ha!

troutsee 11 years, 9 months ago

Great article, Keegan. Couldn't agree more. Sometimes sportsmanship is a show of power. Very classy indeed, Mark.

In an another month, most people won't remember which team was in the top ten, let alone their rankings. Another winning season next year will validate KU football once and for all. I really think we will beat most of the teams on our schedule next year. An undefeated season might be far fetched but 10-2 sure isn't.

Another certainty, KU fans are starved for a consistent winner in football. If opposing teams dread coming to a packed, loud Allen field house, they haven't seen anything yet. Believe me, a consistent winner will fill Memorial stadium with loud, enthusiastic crowds.

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 9 months ago

I agree that taking a knee was a classy thing to do. Unfortunately no one except local press seems to have noticed. All the national write-ups just said we got the ball on the off-side kick and "ran out the clock" as though we didn't have a chance to score. Not even the game announcers commented on it. Probably because it's such an unusual gesture in this day and age they didn't recognize it.

Alan Halvorsen 11 years, 9 months ago

We got Rod Harris, this guys gonna be a stud for us next year as a sophmore!

63BC 11 years, 9 months ago

Forgive me, but isn't the reason to take the knee there to win the game?

If you score a TD, you give VT the ball back and a miracle is at least mathematically possible. Take a knee and the you kill the clock and the game ends. It's the surest way to win the game and that's the reason to take the knee.

Just like Westbrook did in the Eagles' win over Dallas.

Sportsmanship is dandy, but the reason to take a knee is to clinch the game.

Armen Kurdian 11 years, 9 months ago

At the one-yard line, I was immediately reminded of the Steelers-Colts playoff a couple of years ago when there was about 1 minute left, Steelers up three, just took over on downs, and Bettis in trying to run it in had the ball knocked loose and Big Ben made his biggest play ever in tackling the guy running it back for a TD. Yes it was class, but it was the right call from a tactical viewpoint too.

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