A day before being inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, Mark Mangino sat at a table in the Chancellor’s Lounge of the Anderson Football Complex, some 40 feet away from the windows overlooking Memorial Stadium.
Mangino, who was inducted into the hall of fame alongside the 2008 Orange Bowl Team at the half of KU’s 38-16 win over Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, was asked if there was a message he could deliver to the current Jayhawk squad. He shrugged it off, saying they could learn more by simply opening their eyes.
“Just take a peek at ‘em,” Mangino said, pounding on the blue tablecloth in front of him to emphasize his point. “(The Orange Bowl team) will be walking around out on the field before the game and on the sideline. Just take a glance over there and see how they carry themselves, how they’re sure of themselves, how they fear nothing. That’s the lesson these kids can learn here.”
View a gallery of images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Redhawks at Memorial Stadium.
Sure enough, the presence of the Orange Bowl team was picked up almost instantly, by the players, crowd and — briefly — the athletics staff. More on that in a second.
First onto the field was Talib, who was honored in between the first and second quarters by having his name added to the Kansas football Ring of Honor.
Talib was in his final season on the Orange Bowl squad and added to an already impressive college career. He received unanimous first-team All-American honors as a junior and ended up as the MVP of the Orange Bowl, coming away with an interception in the first quarter and returning it 60 yards for a touchdown.
After the presentation on Saturday, Talib returned to the sideline, where he chatted with several Jayhawks such as Hasan Defense and Mike Lee. He even managed to pull defensive coordinator Clint Bowen away from the action for a brief embrace, but those interactions were simply the finale of a weekend that saw him speak to the squad about the right way to play the game.
"(Talib) just was telling us what it took, like what their team was set on," said wide receiver Steven Sims. "That's the energy we need to have in everybody on the team."
Anthony Collins, the other inductee into the Ring of Honor and an All-American in his own right, was unable to be in attendance, so Talib returned to the field, along with Brandon McAnderson, James McClinton and Derek Fine, the other captains from the 2008 Orange Bowl, as the presentation took place between the third and fourth quarters.
But by far the biggest spectacle came from the former players, as a group.
With time winding down before the half, the '08 Orange Bowl champs packed into a spot on the sideline, several of them beaming as they took selfies in front of the crowd of 32,134. As more and more players filled the sideline, they had to be moved back to make sure they’d keep off the field — that is until it was their time.
The players took their spot on the field, being honored as a package played on the video board. They walked across the turf to the opposite sideline, with several players running up to the student section and high-fiving fans in the first row.
Among those unable to watch the spectacle was KU coach David Beaty, who was at least able to peek over at the players during the presentations between quarters. Beaty said after the game he wished he could've been out there to see the former players at the half, but said there was still plenty to take away from the weekend overall.
"We want (our players) to see the shoulders of giants that they're standing on, and we want 'em to look 'em in the eye," Beaty said. "What a great time that was in KU history here. And the good news is, for us, we know exactly how they did it. And I'm not afraid to steal it."
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