Saturday, November 28, 2009

Season salvager? Jayhawks say win today could ease sting of season

KU coach Mark Mangino yells from the sideline against Southern Mississippi on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 in Memorial Stadium.

KU coach Mark Mangino yells from the sideline against Southern Mississippi on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 in Memorial Stadium.


The Kansas University football team’s season can be salvaged today.

That’s how senior defensive back Justin Thornton sees it, anyway.

Yeah, Thornton knows his team is mired in a six-game losing streak, that a shot at a Big 12 title long since has evaporated and that the Jayhawks are taking on a Missouri team that is a 7-4 and sprinkled with future NFL Draft picks.

But he also knows this: “This game holds a little bit more power than every other game on our schedule,” the St. Joseph, Mo., native said. “Even though we’re 5-6 right now, we pick up this win and beat Missouri and go 6-6, and everyone’s (still) disappointed with the season we’ve had, but at least we beat Missouri. And say we get to a bowl game and win a bowl game and finish 7-6.

“For as bad as things are, it doesn’t look too terribly bad.”

That’s the hope that Thornton and the rest of his senior teammates are clinging to for today’s 2:30 p.m. Border War matchup with Missouri at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

For Kansas, it has been a Murphy’s Law-type season from the start — from the fights between members of the school’s football and basketball teams in September to the inexplicable four-game slump of senior quarterback Todd Reesing to the current KU investigation into coach Mark Mangino’s treatment of players.

There have been plenty of other things, too. Dropped passes. Tough calls. Extensive turnovers. Each week, it seems, has brought a truck load of adversity and disappointment.

Things got so bad last week, in fact, that former Kansas coach and noted Missouri-hater Don Fambrough organized a pep rally following Wednesday’s practice to show support for the players and the distractions they’ve been forced to deal with over the past two weeks.

All things considered, however, there’s still something to play for today. There’s still a chance to get a sixth victory — a development that potentially would lock up a third-straight bowl berth for the program — which means there’s still a chance to make something of this broken season.

“I’m not ready to be done here at KU,” senior receiver Kerry Meier said. “I’m going to do whatever needs to be done to try to get a victory Saturday.”

Added Thornton, “This is our Super Bowl right now. This is for all the marbles. Everything’s on the line right now.”

The team’s seniors will use today’s game as an opportunity to cement a legacy that has been tarnished a bit in recent weeks.

Without question, the group will go down as one of the most accomplished in school history: back-to-back bowl victories in ’07 and ’08; an Orange Bowl trophy in ’07; an unprecedented 20 victories in a two-season stretch.

But there’s no denying that the that past month and a half — based on the hefty expectations heading into the year — has represented a black mark.

“Anytime you go through so much adversity in a season, it’s always important to end it with a victory,” senior safety Darrell Stuckey said. “What better way to resolve the whole season than to end with a victory over your rival, to go out as a senior and wanting to do the best you can to keep the team going and moving in the right direction?”

What they have is one more game guaranteed, and, to hear players tell it, there’s no lack of motivation going into it.

This is a game against Missouri, after all — not just a despised rival, but a team that spoiled Kansas’ otherwise perfect 2007 season, ending the Jayhawks’ hopes of a national championship game appearance.

“I know that’s all I got my mind on,” Thornton said. “Enough said. You don’t have to pump me up or give me any kind of speech. It’s Mizzou week, so I’m ready to go.”


PureKansas 10 years, 6 months ago

I think Meier is my all-time favorite KU football player.

Let's go Seniors/Jayhawks! One more win over Mizzou! RCJ!

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

a win over Mizzou would be a nice reprieve from this awful, awful season. the players deserve it. c'mon hawks!

Seth Peattie 10 years, 6 months ago

MU can SUCK IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

troutsee 10 years, 6 months ago

Wow. In this morning's KC paper Jason Whitlock echoed what many of us have said from the beginning, Mangino should be fired. It's time to move on. I am not a MM loyalist, that is for sure. And there are many of us out there who give Lew an A and Mangino an F.

I hope we smash the tigers and then I hope we drop the ax on MM.

CougIsLJW 10 years, 6 months ago

If Whitlock thinks Mangino should be fired, then I feel much better for wanting to keep the Buddha.

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

great day for tailgating at arrowhead. we're serving fried, boiled, baked, steamed, grilled kitty. taste like alligator.

for any of you not already on the road; When they yell M-I-Z

we join them and yell GoKU Rock Chalk Jay Hawk Go Ku.

here kitty kitty.

Pacer 10 years, 6 months ago

The problem goes far beyond winning a football game against a purported archrival (outside of Kansas and Missouri, I'm not sure fans who aren't affiliated with these universities care much, if anything, about this game). The crux of the problem is that both Mangino and Perkins have cut corners and manipulated the system to serve their own ends. They have both bent the rules to try and get ahead while squeezing every last hard-earned dollar out of an overzealous fan base. With people like Mangino and Perkins in leadership positions, it was just a matter of time before a scandal of this nature arrived at KU's doorstep. Chancellor Hemingway and others at KU are now left with the unenviable task of cleaning up their mess. Chancellor Hemingway is a person of the utmost integrity who always represents the best of KU. With all of the pressures he has tugging at him, Chancellor Hemingway has always put the welfare of the students (and the university at large) first. Can anyone honestly say the same about Mangino and Perkins? About the only thing unresolved is what will be Mangino's buy out package so KU can get out from under it's colossal mistake. It's unclear if Perkins will be able to survive this purge or if the higher ups have also tired of his act. This situation bears watching.

vmwskywalk 10 years, 6 months ago

Hemmingway is retired. Way to go Pacer. Showing some superior knowledge on the situation. Now I'd like to hear more about those corners that are being cut, since you have proven to have inside information.

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 6 months ago

Pacer: Internet idiot at the upmost! LMAO.

CRob2006 10 years, 6 months ago

Does anybody know if there is a live stream of today's game?

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

President George Bush announced today that Pacer's tax returns are being investigated.

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

Pacer: wtf do you mean "purported" you an IU fan or Boilermaker? Doesn't matter, get your arse off the bar stool at St. ELmo's head out of your beer, as no you won't sniff a final four in the forseeable future. surmise you are a big ten fan, go check your conf. record in the orange bowl the last 50 years. weak.

PS we don't care that no one cares about our border war, big wup. what you got Mich Ohio State. that's precious.

No one cares how many holes of golf are inside the brickyard, go find a sand trap and get it it.

if you are a closet jhawk then have coffee with coach fam and then tell us 'purported rival' you tool.

Lynn Stuart 10 years, 6 months ago

Like I said I have watched KU football since 1971 and we always have such a good coach, but yet no one has ever done what this group of players have done or what this coach has done in KU history, get a grip we have a good coach if he wasn't he wouldn't have worked for who he has, these kids need to realize this is becomming a big time program which we all have prayed for now these kids need to grow up stop thinking they will be pamperd and just stop freaking crying PLAY BALL !!!! GO HAWKS BEAT THE TIGERS!!!!!!!!

jhokfan 10 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone care about ANY rivarly other than the two teams involved? Seriously. I could care less about Michigan and Ohio State and wouldn't know it existed were it not for those two dimwits that host First Take. There constant chatter is mind numbing. The Big 10 is only the most over rated conference in the history of college sports. I'll take the border war anyday.

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

lighthawk.....haha. i get the joke, if no one else does

GoBigRed1 10 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps, if ya'll are real lucky ... next year you and K-State will team up for a new version of the classic "Toilet Bowl" series. BWA HA HAA

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