Saturday, November 21, 2015


Tom Keegan: Rivalry game looming, plenty of drama left

Kansas defensive tackle Kapil Fletcher, left, (90) watches as West Virginia offensive lineman recover a WV fumble early in the first-half against the West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive tackle Kapil Fletcher, left, (90) watches as West Virginia offensive lineman recover a WV fumble early in the first-half against the West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, at Memorial Stadium.


Not all Big XII entertainment derives from the top half of the loaded football conference's standings. Sometimes it’s amazing what you can find rummaging around in the basement too.

For example, former Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino was at the center of a Twitter explosion by doing nothing more than typing one sentence and then retweeting every response, no matter how derisive of him, to it.

Around the same time West Virginia was wrapping up a 49-0 blasting of winless Kansas, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads’ team had blown a 10-point lead in the final 90 seconds to lose to Kansas State, 38-35. Had Rhoads instructed his quarterback to take a knee three times with 91 seconds left and K-State down to one timeout, it’s doubtful the Cyclones could have found a way to lose.

Rhoads, you might recall, fired Mangino as his offensive coordinator in midseason. What nobody in the Twitter fire seemed to remember was that later that week, Rhoads during a halftime interview en route to a 24-0 victory vs. Texas mocked Mangino by saying that the team just needed to “keep sawin’ wood.”

Rhoads, apparently, never was told not to poke a Bear because Mangino exacted his revenge by tweeting Saturday, “There is no doubt at all... The Fat Lady is singing!”

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Rhoads’ pet two-word combo is “no doubt.” Did Mangino mean the fat lady had sung on Rhoads’ tenure at Iowa State? That’s the obvious inference.

The fact that Mangino’s son, former Lawrence High quarterback Tommy Mangino, is Rhoads’ wide receivers coach added gasoline to the bonfire. Twitter nation, forever cloaked in class and dignity, was aghast that Mangino could put his son in such a pickle.

Fans from Iowa State and Kansas State unloaded Twitter ire on Mangino, whose account, presumably run by him, responded by retweeting every one of them.

Rhoads failing to instruct his quarterback to take three knees reminded me of one of Mangino’s more memorable quotes, uttered his last day on the job: “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.”

Mangino was quite good at saying nothing when he felt like it, famously once turning to a radio host before the start of a half-hour show and saying something close to, “Don’t ask me any questions about my team and don’t ask me anything about the opponent.”

That pretty much left a half-hour discussion about the weather, unless of course the forecast could impact the gameplan, in which case that was out too. But when Mangino went off script, look out! In the wake of losing to Texas on a controversial call, Mangino snapped, saying, “That’s right. BCS. That’s what made a difference in the call in front of their bench. Dollar signs.”

That led to then next-door neighbors Mangino and former KU athletic director Lew Perkins meeting for cigars that night with Perkins explaining the serious implications of making such an accusatory statement aimed at game officials.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m looking for reasons to stall in getting to writing about the game I just watched in Memorial Stadium. It was tough enough looking at it, especially with the unsightly backdrop of empty aluminum bleachers mounted on aging concrete. So let’s fast-forward to next week, but stay on the topic of Big 12 basement-dwellers Kansas State and Kansas.

Since K-State stormed back from a 35-14 halftime deficit to stun Iowa State and prompted Mangino to toss a hand grenade into the middle of Twitter — always a calm, reasoned place — the season still has meaning for the Wildcats. They can gain bowl-eligibility with road victories in Lawrence and Morgantown, West Virginia.

Given that and that it’s only an 85-mile drive from Manhattan, it’s worth pondering which school will have more fans in the stands for Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff, a season finale for Kansas. And: Would the game be a sellout if Mangino and Rhoads engaged in a cage match at halftime?

Kansas sophomore linebacker Joe Dineen, unquestionably was the team’s best player Saturday, logging 16 solo tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup. Before he played for KU, he rooted for them.

I asked him to put himself back into the shoes he wore as a KU fan and give an honest answer as to whether he thinks KU fans will show up Saturday in greater numbers than 'Cat backers.

“I hope so,” Dineen said. “I definitely would show up because it’s a rivalry game. Records are kind of thrown out the window in rivalry games. We’re 0-11, and if we win this game it will make our season. This would be huge for us, and obviously we want all the support we can get from the fans.”

I asked head coach David Beaty if he thought Kansas fans had it in them to look past 0-11 and show up in big numbers Saturday.

“I certainly hope they will,” Beaty said. “I think we have the greatest fans on the planet, bar none. We do. The Jayhawk Nation, they deserve better than what we’re giving them right now. I would ask them to value the rivalry next week, show up, be there for us. You are literally the magic, and we need you there next week. It’s going to be a great environment. It always is. So we need them.”

Kansas certainly has great basketball fans, and consistently rewards them with an excellent product. It will be interesting to see how much fight the Kansas football fans have left in them for a day in which the school is in danger of completing its first winless football season since 1954 (0-10).

— See what people were saying about the game during’s live coverage.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia


Robert Brock 4 years, 3 months ago

KU salutes you, Chuck Mather. You were ahead of your time!

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm probably in the minority but this doesn't feel like a rivalry game. If it was a rivalry game then I'd say we have a chance. Win, lose or draw I'll be grateful when this season has come to an end.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 3 months ago

It would have been a more even game if the clone's hadn't coughed up a hairball. Even though the purple kitties technically are still potentially bowl eligible, we are still playing for a chance to get out of last place. It didn't seem like a good match-up before this game, but even less so after reading that WVU had over 400 yes rushing. Gramps is going to pound the ball down our throats. Hopefully, it won't be 49 - 0.

David Kemp 4 years, 3 months ago

49-0, that game could've been 60 or 70 if they wanted to. KSU needs momentum going into their bowl eligible game. They will pound Hawks by 50. One word of advice, go for it on 4th down and quit punting because defense can't stop anybody anyway.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 3 months ago

We'll be there to the bitter end. Saturday is our 25th wedding anniversary, so a win over the kitties would make for a great day.

I'm hoping that the spanking by WVU will motivate the guys to get refocused. It's them against the world, so they need to Billy Jack the purple infestation that's about to enter Lawrence.

Keep hammerin' Hawks!

JD Roth 4 years, 3 months ago

Iowa State didn't surrender a ten point lead late. They surrendered a 21 point halftime lead, but at no point were they up by ten. Kansas State outscored them 24-0 in the second half. Saturday will probably get ugly with the momentum KSU has now. All the injuries to key players Kansas State has had, they keep battling. Hopefully KU will get to that point some day soon.

Chris Bailey 4 years, 3 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about the lead. They were up 7 then KSU won the game with a filed goal. A 10 point swing but no they weren't up by 10 ever.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 3 months ago

Isu handed that game to kstate much in the same way a valet hands you the keys to your car.

Randy Glenn 4 years, 3 months ago

Not tootin my own horn but Ill make the 5 1/2 drive to be there!! This is our chance to make up for the rest of the season. Its one thing to witness an empty stadium vs West Virginia cus its too far for their fans to make it...but to see us out numbered by the Purples in our own stadium is a horrible feeling. Show up n support...u never know....IT might happen!!!!!

Bee Bee 4 years, 2 months ago

I fully expect KU to lay down and die. Again. Sad but true.

Humpy Helsel 4 years, 2 months ago

The only things these two teams have in common is they are both near the bottom of the Big 12 (10). If we played in the Big 40 we'd be 40 right now. Prediction: KSU by 40. Would like to see the KU band do something with the Power Cat's mouth at halftime worthy of some type of suspension. We can only hope for some form of respectability in the score and at least as many fans as they will have there for the party. I live for the day we wipe those smiles off of their faces in football. At least I hope I'm still alive to see it...

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 2 months ago

Thumbs up on the KU band part of your post.

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