Prior to the 1965 football season, Kansas traded TCU for Texas Tech on its schedule. Many local fans exuded a huge sigh of relief, thinking KU had found a softer touch to take the place of a dominator. Not even close.
The KU-TCU series began in 1942. From then through ’64, the Horned Frogs built a 15-4-3 lead. The game traditionally opened the season for both teams, and you could almost hear a gleeful Horned Frog ribbiting: “Send more Jayhawks ... they’re delicious!” There was no cha-ching at the box office; time to change.
People around here didn’t know much, if anything, about Texas Tech and figured it was KU’s turn to try another Southwest Conference opponent as a punching bag. Sure, a Techster named E.J. Holub earned All-America honors as a center and linebacker in ’59 and ’60, then became a Kansas City Chief pro legend. But that was just one guy, the KU Nation reasoned.
Yet when Kansas went to Lubbock to open the series in ’65, the Red Raiders had another All-American in harness — halfback Donny Anderson, another eventual all-pro dandy. Tech got things rolling with a 26-7 romp, and Kansas went 0-7 before it scored its first victory, a 34-31 overtimer in 2001 at Lubbock. As the Jayhawks strive to end a two-game losing streak this Saturday, the series mark stands at 1-10.
But no cries to “bring back the Horned Frogs,” please. Unbeaten TCU under Gary Patterson has developed a poisonous venom that would turn KU inside out.
Texas Tech has had numerous football stars, even if scads of fans never heard of them. Receiver Michael Crabtree recently developed a high profile, of course. But Techsters contend they never have had anyone better than Emil Joe Holub and halfback-punter Anderson.
At 6-3, 250, Holub started two Super Bowls as a linebacker and center. Even after nine surgeries he made a huge impact for the K.C. Chiefs. He would spend hours in the training room, watching blood and other fluid drain from a knee, then take the field and perform like a non-injured rookie. He gave way to Jack Rudnay after 1970 but remains a T-Tech legend.
The 6-3, 210 Anderson was taken No. 1 by Green Bay in 1965 in a draft that included Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Joe Namath and Fred Biletnikoff. He played six seasons for the then-powerful Packers and three for the then-St. Louis Cardinals. With the Packers, Donny originated the concept of hang-time in punting. He kicked higher and shorter but created more time for coverage. One season, opponents were able to return only 13 of his 63 punts for a total of 22 yards. He’s in the Green Bay Hall of Fame.
But stars, schmars! KU has to worry about the 2009 Raiders so it won’t stumble home singing: “Happiness is Lubbock, Texas, in a rear-view mirror.”
Earlier this year, I wrote that this KU team could be hindered by delusions of adequacy. That’s not a bad mind-set to pursue for a five-game stretch in which Kansas could lose at least three more games. Adequacy would amount to at least three more wins ... Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri. An upset of Texas Tech could give the team a 9-3 record that would produce something far better than a nondescript postseason dalliance.