Saturday, October 17, 2009

KU win vs. Colorado far from shoo-in


Kansas University football fans, particularly since 2005, understandably have become optimists. A 38-17 record, including the current 5-0, and three bowl victories will do that to followers who too often have been triumph-deprived. KU’s overall record of 566-543-58 is far from shameful, but it has suffered too many droughts.

Yet while it’s OK for onlookers to think KU has a fairly easy touch tonight at Colorado, a Jayhawk football team which doesn’t view this test with fear, maybe even terror, is in perfect shape to get ambushed. Particularly if the linebackers and secondary can’t muster far fiercer restrictive actions than they did in the squeaker past Iowa State.

Lots of folks don’t seem to realize that Colorado holds a 41-24-3 series lead on Kansas and enjoys a 23-9 advantage at Boulder. The Buffaloes, whatever their problems, have a history of yanking the rug from beneath KU’s collective feet.

Kansas repeatedly has sent promising teams to Colorado with a crying need for a victory and has been sent home shedding tears. The 1961 Jayhawk club with stratospheric preseason hopes suffered one of the hardest slaps in the face in league history. Imagine leading, 19-0, two minutes into the fourth quarter and losing, 20-19.

While the heralded 1961 KU season ended 7-3-1, and the cold winter was a little warmer due to a Bluebonnet Bowl victory over Rice, there was a near-disastrous start, and Colorado drove a third nail into the coffin. KU had a fantastic 1960 season that officially was a 7-2-1 before a pair of forfeits to Colorado and Missouri were forced by the Bert Coan ineligibility case.

Most of those ’60 stars were back in ’61, and the Jayhawk Nation sensed a brilliant run-up to the Missouri finale. Talented KU planned revenge since its 23-7 romp over the unbeaten Tigers in ’60 was snatched away mainly by MU finagling in the league-meeting room.

The ’61 start, however, was a debacle. A TCU field goal created a 17-16 upset in the season opener; then Bob Devaney guided Wyoming to a 6-6 tie here. The Colorado game was seen as KU’s first victory. With Texas A&M; transfer Rodger McFarland playing quarterback and normal QB John Hadl back at left half, where he had been as a sophomore, the Jayhawks powered to a 19-0 lead.

Also working in that KU backfield were Curtis McClinton, Lee Flachsbarth, Jim Jarrett and Ken Coleman. Enter CU quarterback Gale Weidner, who used ends Ken Blair and Jerry Hillebrand to get the three TDs. Hillebrand kicked the deciding points. Wally Barnes booted the lone KU extra point; McClinton fell short on a pair of two-point conversion rushes.

What had shaped up as one of KU’s greatest years was off to an 0-2-1 start. The next week, Kansas got on track with a 21-7 victory over Iowa State, and ran off a 6-0 string until it was dumped (ouch!) by Missouri, 10-7. A lot of politicking by coach Jack Mitchell and friend Bud Adams of Houston allowed KU (7-3-1) to save face and salvage pride in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

That ’61 KU team, top to bottom, was better than this 2009 edition. It got sidetracked at Colorado; the same could happen to the ’09 guys tonight. Let’s hope the thin air, rebound-eager Buffaloes and a highly questionable KU defense don’t combine to keep these Jayhawks from greeting Oklahoma with a 6-0 record.


Michael Leiker 11 years, 8 months ago

Disagree Bill. Last thing I want is to see these kids come in with any "fear" today. This defense needs to play with reckless abandon and you can't do that if you're apprehensive.

MinnesotaJay 11 years, 8 months ago

I remember that 1961 game well. Our family was listening together on the radio while we were on a long road trip, traveling from south of Wichita to a cabin in Buena Vista, COLORADO. We were loving the game until that horrifying finish. I hadn't heard the name Gale Weidner since then. I can't exactly say 'thanks for the reminder.' The team could very easily have gone undefeated that year instead of 7-3-1. The lopsided Bluebonnet Bowl win was nice, and it did salvage some pride, but a lot was left on the table.

Ben Kane 11 years, 8 months ago

another meyer article focusing little on the present and relying on story telling for the past. Good to know, fun to read in the off season, totally irrelevant today. I'm with 100 who posts this over and over, but just worry about today. Beat Colorado.

eastcoasthawk 11 years, 8 months ago

I wasn't around for that year but appreciate the story. It is not irrelevant today. There is nothing wrong with getting some history and possibly, just possibly learning from it. It is here for the fans more than the team. When it comes to the team I am with 100 and Mangino and even chuckberry in worrying about today's opponent. But as a fan I want to hear as much as possible about my team and it's history. I was glad to see the number of articles on the football team the morning after late night. And will read all of the articles including the soccer team's win. RCJH

John Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

I don't underestimate the CU game especially in Boulder. I've considered CU a measuring stick for our program because they used to be good and yet we would travel to CU and almost upset them. Nothing in KU's program today resembles what it was in the past. Mangino is different, the kids are different, the game is different. The significance of today's game is if the hole in the defense has been fixed.

KUFan90 11 years, 8 months ago

Why did KU go for 2 twice in running up a 19-0 score? Kick those extra points and KU wins 21-20. Seems strange to go for 2 if your opponent hasn't even scored yet. Was this common strategy back then? I guess after losing games like this a few times coaches learned to just kick the extra point.

waywardJay 11 years, 8 months ago

Rah rah Team.... Your bound to lose because in the past you have lost.

I'm not sure i get the point of Bill Mayer... I mean i understand he's a curmudgeon (sp ?) but I just cannot understand why it benefits us to ALWAYS be reminded of how weak we once were.

Bill, Based on advances in strength training, the advent of the Spread Offense and general conditioning, comparing those olden days teams to todays teams is really ineffective. While I do agree there is no metric to measure Heart and Will-To, Speed and strength have made huge strides even at your most beloved University.

Colorado should not be "feared." They should be Respected, these are kids who once were winners and any given night can become winners again. You don't get to D1 without being the best of the best, unless you are willing to outwork the best of the best. The former can sometimes get complacent and the latter rarely loses motivation.

We aren't getting the Best of the best. We are getting some talented Project players, people who have to Work to get better even though they do have alot of Direct ability. We tend to get the latter catergory and a down game like Colorado is rare.... hence why since the facilities have increased, our players have gotten better, Quickly.

Frankly, I don't see Colorado scoring 36 points against us. THey have some talented runningbacks, so if we let them stick with us... they can grind it out and one posession game can hurt us. If we haven't fixed the Zone reads, that could be trouble.

We are in any game based on our Offense, and do i think Colorado has enough spark plugs to fire with us. No. That's even before i consider whether we are playing Sharp or not.

This article has a better place next week when we realistcally have a team that CAN cause us problems offense defense and Special teams. With Bradford going back down, it's likely we are seeing Jones Next week... so we'll see about them tomorrow. As for tonight, as long as Todd can avoid the excessive celebration penalties on the road. I think we shoudl be fine.

TwistedFish31 11 years, 8 months ago

The ramblings of an old tenured journalist...

brownhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Has it been announced that the KU vs OU game is going to be aired on ABC during the 2:30 P.M. slot and not the 7 P.M. slot? I just finished watching the Texas OU game and they announced that Texas would be playing Mizzou on ABC at 7 P.M. and I know they were going to wait until sunday to decide which game would be played at which time according to the post a couple days ago.

KURocksChalk 11 years, 8 months ago

I liked the article and think it is relevant. Yet, I also agree that D must be the aggressor and inspire fear. A Defense that is fearful plays on its heels and will get burned. To me, this article speaks to the coaches as much or more than the players.

larimercyclist 11 years, 8 months ago

It is fun reading these posts after the game is over. You have a great qb. But the Buffs still own KU in football. I had to laugh at some of the ku students walking around bragging that their bb team are national champs. Yes, and so have been our ski teams, cross country teams. Let's just play one sport at a time. Today, the Buffs prevailed. Not pretty, but small steps since West Virginia, Texas and now the win over KU. Rock Chalk crumbles.

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