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."
"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."