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Friday, September 12, 2008

Classy reunion

KU, USF coaches worked together at KSU

Kansas coach Mark Mangino, left, and South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, who will face each other at 7 tonight in a nationally televised game, both worked for former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino, left, and South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, who will face each other at 7 tonight in a nationally televised game, both worked for former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

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Journal World/AP File Photos

Kansas coach Mark Mangino, left, and South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, who will face each other at 7 tonight in a nationally televised game, both worked for former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

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KU football vs. South Florida

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Full video coverage of the Jayhawks' Week 3 showdown with South Florida.

Years ago, when Kansas University coach Mark Mangino and South Florida's Jim Leavitt were toiling away as members of coaching legend Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State, it was inconceivable they one day would be in the position they are today - coaches of two of the top programs in the land.

Back then, in the mid-90s, they were too busy worrying about keeping their heads above water. There were game plans to be developed and video to break down and recruits to pursue. There was no time to dream.

"A lot of us were just a bunch of young guys, working hard, just trying to stay employed," Mangino says of the group of assistants, many of whom went on to become successful head coaches. "Nobody had time to sit back and think about, 'Well, maybe I'll be a head coach someday.' Or, 'When will that happen?' Heck, you're trying to win games, get a paycheck, take care of your family and just keep at it."

Added Leavitt: "You're just trying to get your work done in the morning, maybe go for a jog at the noon hour and then get out there to practice and go."

But here they are, on the eve of one of the biggest nonconference games of the young college football season, and both coaches are sitting, improbably, at the pinnacle of their profession.

Mangino, in his seventh season at Kansas, was the 2007 consensus national coach of the year. Had South Florida not endured a three-game losing streak after climbing to the No. 2 spot in the polls, Leavitt would have been Mangino's main challenger for the annual postseason honor.

And entering today's 7 p.m. game at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, the coaches have helped pave the way for the unlikeliest of matchups: Kansas vs. South Florida in a game that not only will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2, but figures to have significant postseason implications.

Adding to the game's intrigue, there are countless similarities that exist between the two programs, from their offensive schemes - both run a variation of the spread - to their undersized quarterbacks - Todd Reesing at Kansas and USF's Matt Grothe - to their rise from relative anonymity.

And in the past year, both programs have managed to create a significant buzz within their local communities.

Without question, the Jayhawks' 12-1, Orange Bowl-championship 2007 season has tilted the axis of power in Lawrence. Previously a "basketball school", the recent success of the football program has evoked an interest never before seen - as evidenced by the school-record crowd of 52,112 on hand to watch the Jayhawks' season-opening victory over lowly Florida International.

In a state long dominated by traditional powers Florida, Florida State and Miami, meanwhile, South Florida has managed to develop a burgeoning fan base of its own, one that this season purchased more than 27,000 season tickets, up from 20,043 a year ago.

And they've managed to matter in a city that already has the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs and Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, whose improbable playoff run is the story of the season.

"They have big billboards of George Selvie and the quarterback (around the city)," said Tertavian Ingram, a Kansas wide receiver and Tampa native. "When I got back home, I got kind of mad seeing all those billboards, knowing we had to play them."

Despite all the PR firepower, however, tonight's game is shaping up to be a low-scoring affair, based on statistics through the first two weeks of the season. While the Kansas defense has yet to allow a touchdown this season, giving up a single field goal, South Florida has been equally impressive. Through two games, the Bulls have given up an average of just 161.5 yards per game (67.5 rushing and 94 passing) and feature a number of defensive playmakers - foremost among them, defensive end Selvie.

"(This) is a big game for us," said Selvie, an All-American last season. "It's a big statement game for them. Both teams got a lot on the line."

A loss for either team, of course, wouldn't derail the season. Nor would a victory validate it. Today's game simply offers both teams an opportunity to test themselves against a Top-25 opponent early in the season.

"In no way am I trying to downplay this game," Mangino said. "No way. We're going there to play well and do the best we can to get a win. But this early in the season, if we beat South Florida, I can't tell you after the game that we're going to cruise through the rest of the season. And if we don't, I can't tell you that the rest of the season is going to be a failure, because it won't be."

Comments

6 years ago

Was the last ranked road non-conference team Notre Dame (#18) when we played them in South Bend in 1999? If we had played smarter, we might have had a chance. Way too many mistakes. We need to get the Irish to return that game soon :o)

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Ben Kane 6 years ago

seems like the only believers are Holtz and Flutie and both seem to be waiting for KU to prove people wrong before they advertise their support. That way they can say I told you so, when all they really say now is that we're not as bad as people think.

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Kevin Sontag 6 years ago

I want to punch Mark May in the eye. Just, right in the eye, man.

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mbmerriman 6 years ago

13-9 hawks, grind it out game kind of like CU last year

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KU 6 years ago

OMG, do we have to use the "beak 'em hawks" line? It takes me back to the bad old days of KU football.We don't want to beak 'em! This ain't intermurals! We want to rip their f'ing heads off!

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Jacobpaul81 6 years ago

Seems like no one's picking Kansas to win tonight. Once again the Fighting Manginos are the underdog. I'm excited about that. Knock them Kansas doubters on their hindends!

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JBurtin 6 years ago

I think the running game will come around finally tonight.South Florida does have some pretty good defense, so I don't think we'll run for a ton, but I think it will be a solid part of our offense in this game instead of a liability.My theory last week was that the line wasn't playing with a sense of urgency earlier in the games. They only started busting open holes late in the game because the onus was on them to keep the clock rolling. The fact that the coaches put Quigley out there by the third quarter let them know that something was definitely amiss in the run game and they'd better start playing harder. Don't get me wrong, I think Quigley's a great back, but there's no denying that he had holes to run through and the other two didn't.New thought: perhaps Quigley has the stones to get ticked off and call them out when there isn't a hole for him. If Sharp and Crawford are being too good at being team players, they may not be willing to call out their O-line when they give a weak effort.Anyway, my prediction is that this is a big enough game that our line should play with a sense of urgency right off the bat. They have some good linebackers, so it may be hard for our backs to do too much at the second level, but they'll at least have a hole to run through to give them a chance.

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chicagoeddie 6 years ago

does the South Florida scoreboard go into triple digits...? They might need to look into once Todd and the offense is done with them. =D

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PJ Karasek 6 years ago

If anybody can believe it, Mark May on ESPN picked against the hawks. Seems like I remember him picking against KU every game last year saying "this is the week it all ends." When is this Big(11)/Pac10/SEC loving idiot going to realize that there's football in other conferences too. Sorry we're not the perennial name yet, but it seems like he has a personal vendetta against us.Rant overAs for me, I'm going to go 38-6 KU as our defense keeps its no touchdown streak alive and the rushing game starts clicking.

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Brandon Snook 6 years ago

I hope the game is entertaining, and I expect it will be. We both have smart QBs, that's for sure. The line is 3.5 for USF, so that means it's pretty even (they give 3 points automatically to the home team). And hey, how many games did we win last year as the Vegas underdog?!?

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NH_JHawk 6 years ago

Let's just hope Spikes can slow down Selvie a little. Protecting Reesing, imo, is the biggest key to tonight's game. It would also be extremely helpful if we can actually run the ball between the tackles. This is something we're going to HAVE TO do in order to be competitive during the conference schedule. I'm looking at you Jocques!

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jayhawkarmy 6 years ago

I was at the state fair in hutchinson ks last night at the puddle of mudd concert and they are from kansas city and they were screaming out rock chalk jayhawks during the show everyone in the stands was going crazy it almost brought a tear to my eye to be a jayhawk fan...and i also just got done reading some espn picks yup no love for the hawks even after beating number 3 v-tech last year tonight we shut them all up nah that wont happen they will make up some excuse if we win like the qb for the bulls had the flu god i hate espn...sorry for blabbing go hawks

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JBurtin 6 years ago

"One more thought: we HAVE to keep Grothe in check. That guy scares me more than anything -- I was at the game two years ago in Larry when he was just a redshirt freshman, and he made some seemingly impossible plays with his legs. Stop him, and you've stopped USF. ROCK CHALK!!!"I agree, keep Mortensen at home as a spy for Grothe. I don't think he can beat you with his arm alone. He gives them balance, and that's the strength of their team. If given a choice, it's usually a good idea to take away the run and take some chances with the pass. The run keeps the clock rolling and almost always results in positive yards if you don't focus on it. A pass results in 0 yards and nearly 0 time off the clock if it doesn't work, so it's much riskier for them. With Grothe's history of throwing just as many interceptions as touchdowns, I like our chances.

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jayhawkarmy 6 years ago

Jayhawks 42 Bulls 19 NUFF SAID!

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KU 6 years ago

JBurtin......I mentioned on another blog that we should spy Grothe, so I agree with you on that point. I don't think Mortensen will be in the game that much to spy, do you? I think we'll spend a lot of time in nickel coverage because of USF's spread offense and I believe Mortensen comes off the field in that case, or is it Rivera? Besides that, Mortensen isn't fast enough to cover Grothe. They would be better off with Holt spying on Grothe.

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OhioHawkfan 6 years ago

Reesing has another 300 yd, 3 TD game, Quigley/Crawford/Sharp adds a ground TD, and the defense will get on the board with a TD of their own. 35-7 'Hawks. And pj, don't worry about Mark May . . . he picked against KU in every game last year. He's definately an SEC 'homer' (and an idiot).Can't wait to watch tonight boys!!! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!!!

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justanotherfan 6 years ago

One more thing, if it rains tonight (only a 20% chance, but still), we had better be able to run the football, because if it rains, it's likely to rain hard and turn the game ugly. If the game is a slopfest, I expect very little kicking to go on, which means red zone production will be at a premium. No rain prediction 28-24 KURain prediction 13-7 KU (two tds, missed PAT)

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bmcmich1 6 years ago

I have to believe that the O line is fully aware that they are being called out as the weak link on this team, and hopefully that p*sses them off and they come out tonight with something to prove. Hopefully they come out jacked up and blow some holes wide open for our rb's. I'm not so naive to think that their D won't get some big plays, but I think mangino has the team ready. After last year, most of these guys know what it's like to play in a big game.USF is a good team, but it took all they had to beat UCF last week. It's good that they won for two reasons: 1) It makes a W tonight for KU all the more legit, and 2) If USF had lost last week, they'd be coming out very angry and looking to get back on track. I think both those things will play in our favor as we escape with a W tonight.One more thought: we HAVE to keep Grothe in check. That guy scares me more than anything -- I was at the game two years ago in Larry when he was just a redshirt freshman, and he made some seemingly impossible plays with his legs. Stop him, and you've stopped USF. ROCK CHALK!!!

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kvskubball 6 years ago

Who can answer this two part question for me?When was the last time that KU football played a nonconference regular season road game 1) against a top 25 team? 2) and had a chance to win?Thanks for the help!Go Hawks!

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Jonathan Briles 6 years ago

I agree with feedback71 I think that KU has great chances in this game and will win the game, but I highly doubt this will be a blowout. I'm not being down on KU I think we are an outstanding team with a great O but we are going against one of if not the best defense in the country tonight. I do believe our O is good enough and our D is MORE than good enough to put us on top at the end of the game but I see more of a 17 to 6 type of score. We will score and we will get good yards but dont be surprised or upset to see us turn the ball over a few times and spoil some good scoring opportunities. KU will win and it will be amazing to watch but I plan on being a lil frustrated at times.

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Chad Dexter 6 years ago

Wow, all you guys are picking blowouts. That's crazy. I like KU's chances, but I don't think we will blow them out. I think it will be a close game. However, if KU were to blow them out, I would be ecstatic. Just get the W, Hawks.

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Ben Kane 6 years ago

RockChalk! Go get 'em boys! Ike's out of the way and the weather should be perfect! Too bad I have to go to work before heading to the game. We should play a game in florida every year. It's gotta help with recruiting and the TV exposure should be awesome (if they ever stop talking about USC-OSU).Jayhawks 35 - 10

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jayhawkarmy 6 years ago

I must add this who agrees that the coach for the bulls is goofy looking and has a very annoying voice i mean i know mangino is no bachlor of the year but there coach got a big ol nose lol

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mariochalmersfan15 6 years ago

It's Going To Be One Hell Of A Game!!!!! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!!!!!

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railer1122 6 years ago

I remember when Lou Holtz said we should be number 2 about half way through the year, and everyone else laughed at him. He knows his stuff, the other guys like to hear each other talk and thats about it. Go Hawks. 27-20

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KU 6 years ago

We have kept the playbook pretty much closed for the run game thus far. I hope to see a breakout game on the ground. If we rush for 200 yards, we should win with relative ease....maybe 10-14 points.If we can't run the ball, it could be a long night.I'd love to see KU do what UNC did to Rutgers last night! Think we'd be respected THEN?

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Dan Harris 6 years ago

It will be a defensive struggle for 3 quarters. This might be obvious but the differnce in the game will be turnovers and special teams. I predict the Hawks in a squeaker-20-17! RCJH!

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bmcmich1 6 years ago

Tx - I think you're right - the Eddie Robinson Classic I believe. We hung with 'em for a good part of the game, sad to see that one slip away. But, that was a different time; obvious statement of the year/decade/century: we're better now!

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kvskubball 6 years ago

tx and bmc thanks for the help!First half pretty good. Grothe got one, mostly because 81 stepped in and lost contain. CAN NOT do that with a qb who scrambles well. Otherwise, very happy and impressed with first half effort on both sides of the field. Wilson made some good catches and great effort after the catch. We should of had another touchdown, freshman (Patterson?) ran too deep a route and then stuck his hand up for a pass meant for Wilson. Reesing has been super.Keep it up Hawks!

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