Thursday, August 27, 2009


Practice provides glimpses


Threatening weather forecasts kept many away, so those who attended Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium generally were folks who spend a lot of time thinking about the upcoming Kansas University football season filled with promise.

Reed Halverson, sophomore history major from Emporia, noticed Dezmon Briscoe returning kicks during Wednesday’s practice, and immediately his mind went to work.

“He’s a great receiver, and if he returns kicks the way he did against Missouri, he could win the Heisman,” Halverson said.

Which, of course, would give Kansas two Heisman Trophy candidates on the same team.

“Like Texas Tech last year with (Michael) Crabtree and (Graham) Harrell,” Halverson said.

It’s not too wild a thought. Briscoe did look phenomenal, contorting his body and showing Velcro hands to make one catch. Everything about the way the guy moves screams touchdown waiting to happen. He stood out more than anybody at the show put on for the fans.

Brad Thorson, the Wisconsin transfer, also had a loud game, blocking with an angry edge, blocking past the whistle and on one play standing up Maxwell Onyegbule in dominant fashion. Thorson was working with the first team at left guard. Something suggests Thorson’s aggressive nature will energize the entire offensive line, provided he can avoid penalty flags.

All you can go on is hunches in glimpses of practices. Sometimes those glimpses can be misleading. After all, Kerry Meier dropped a couple of passes. Maybe he spotted a spy in the stands and figured he’d send the eavesdropper home with bad information. Or maybe Meier’s two drops for the year are out of the way. Either way, the fans appreciate Meier, and the feeling is mutual.

“It’s changed quite a bit from the days I got here back in 2005,” Meier said during a recent interview. “The buzz around the community, not much excitement then. Each year after the Orange Bowl, a little bit more. Last year after the Insight Bowl, it’s a little bit more. Right now, here we are in 2009, and it’s the talk of the town. I know basketball’s going to have a heck of a year, but right now it’s the fall.”

Not all the interesting Fan Appreciation Day developments happened while the players ran plays on the field.

Popular down-to-earth coach Mark Mangino stole the show when he spoke to the crowd from the heart; that would be the heart stationed just south of his blue collar.

“A lot of people come here and they say, ‘Boy, Memorial Stadium is a pretty place,’” Mangino said, looking toward the hill, which under a gray sky looked cooler than ever. “We don’t want pretty. We want hostile. You make it hostile.”

Awesome stuff during an age when urging hostility of any sort is a major no-no.

Throughout the stands, young men in blue KU shirts handed out two-for-one coupons for the Northern Colorado game. Nobody can deny excitement is in the air for the 2009 KU football season, but evidently the enthusiasm doesn’t spill over to the first game. With Oklahoma and Nebraska both visiting Lawrence this season, Northern Colorado, even at two-for-one prices, is a tough sell. Kansas football is anything but.


gardenjay 10 years, 5 months ago

Pretty towards the hill is a good thing, never block that hill.

Mangino wants to win.

One can imagine that he drools over the kind of nightmare venue Allen Fieldhouse is for opponents. He knows the capability of KU fans.

Using that logic, then since Allen Fieldhouse = Hostility, can Memorial Stadium = Allen Field House? Hmmm.

Perhaps if we made the KU basketball fan more comfortable in the foreign environment. Since it's the athletic department, there would be no budget issue.

So the stadium could have a hemi-dome (i.e. still open to the hill, of course!), and we need to come up with a bunch of banners to celebrate everything we can back to that 1908 team. Huge banners hung from the rafters.

Then the basketball chants can work, especially on football opponents un-used to that sort of silly kind of hostility. Saying 'whoosh!' when we get touchdowns will then come naturally.

But seriously, I would love to go to any game, and Northern Colorado would be great. It's sad that geography and life circumstances limit some of us to writing these messages as our main means of support.

I am pretty sure I was one of the more fanatical supporters at those games, and it didn't matter which games they were. I also always hated it when people left before a game was over. Winning or losing, KU is family for cripes sake.

Plus, isn't part of it the re-connection with other fans in the fall? It's the first game, and making friends around a grill and a beer should be worth the ticket price right there. Some people just do not realize how lucky they are.

phogthedog 10 years, 5 months ago

Gardenjay, we'll be there for you. RCJH

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 5 months ago

The crowd ought to do the "woosh" cheer on every extra point.

labbadabba 10 years, 5 months ago

Uh, why isn't the No Colorado game sold out? The first game of the season should be so sold out that you would need a wait list just to sit on the Hill.

Come ON folks. This is a big deal. If we want to continue the momentum we need to teach the citizens of Lawrence and of KU in general how to be football fans. Obviously, not enough of them are getting the message.

We've got a tiny stadium, this year of ALL years we should be rocking with 5,000 people SRO for every game!

Freaking weak.

gardenjay 10 years, 5 months ago

I agree, it is so lame.

But again, if we make the basketball fan base feel comfortable in the foreign environment, I think we will lick this problem. Writing these posts will not get them off their lazy rears, because they, gasp, don't read posts! Crimony!

So again, we need to get Mangino what he needs to succeed. It only involves opening the formidable athletic department coffers 'one more time' for a massive new construction project, that is a basketo-feel hemi-dome with sky boxes. Why fight the silly inclinations of the local fan base? Just go with it.

BTW thanks phogthedog, and thank you ohioburg for your improvement on this important movement.

sevenyearhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

"One can imagine that (Mangino) drools over the kind of nightmare venue Allen Fieldhouse is for opponents. He knows the capability of KU fans." - gardenjay


KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

Definitely the hands-up, hands-down "whooosh" for the extra points. Nice.

What's a hemi-dome? Sounds cool.

I'm at that age where I love to see the old structures in their original state, but also want to see something built while I'm a part of it. A kick ass modernization of Memorial Stadium would be tremendous. Besides, all the improvements to the periphery seem a little lost without a fresh and imposing centerpiece.

Kinda like KU has been awarded the Olympic Games and they need to build a stadium worthy of the world's gaze. Excuse me China, but a Hawk Nest, if you will.

A totally new kind of convertible stadium. Throw in some solar, wind or crowd-noise power. Make it totally green. A self-sustaining monument to both the rise of KU football as a power, and to a new eco-friendly way of life.

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