Originally published August 7, 2008 at 02:05p.m., updated August 8, 2008 at 02:10a.m.

McCormack to be added to Kansas Football Ring of Honor

NFL Hall of Famer played for KU from 1948-1950

Former Kansas football player Mike McCormack will be honored in September.


Sweet 16

During halftime of the Kansas football team's Sept. 6 home game against Louisiana Tech, former KU tackle Mike McCormack will become the 16th player named to the prestigious Kansas Football Ring of Honor. Here are the other 15:

Nolan Cromwell, Bobby Douglass, Ray Evans, John Hadl, David Jaynes, Bruce Kallmeyer, Curtis McClinton, George Mrkonic, Willie Pless, Gil Reich, John Riggins, Gale Sayers, Otto Schnellbacher, Oliver Spencer, John Zook.

Back before a Hall-of-Fame NFL career got in the way, Mike McCormack wanted to coach high school football.

Coming up through the Kansas University program in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Chicago native always kind of figured he'd end up on a sideline somewhere, barking out orders and teaching the game.

Coaching was an admirable profession, after all, one that held a special appeal for McCormack.

"Most of the men that had any kind of meaning to me when I was growing up were coaches," said McCormack, who earned all-Big Seven honors in 1950. "So that's what I wanted to be."

Then one day, while he was working as an assistant to former Kansas coach J.V. Sikes in the spring of '51, a man showed up in Lawrence, met with McCormack and offered him $6,000 to move to New York and play professional football.

So instead of spending his days directing scatter-brained teenagers around dusty high school fields, as his plans originally dictated, he spent them opening holes for Jim Brown and Bobby Mitchell and piecing together the kind of NFL career that led to all sorts of accolades - pro bowls, titles, a spot in Canton, Ohio.

One more honor came about Thursday, when the KU athletic department announced that McCormack would become the 16th player inducted into the Kansas Football Ring of Honor during halftime of the Jayhawks' Sept. 6 home game against Louisiana Tech.

"I've never been one who sought honors," McCormack said Thursday. "I feel very fortunate that I've received a lot, but I figure that there have been a lot of guys that have worked just as hard. ... But it's a great honor."

When he first arrived in Lawrence, professional football was about a fourth-and-long from McCormack's mind.

This was back in the late 1940s, before HD JumboTrons and FieldTurf and $31 million training complexes that sprang from the dirt.

Back when the main function of Kansas' 60-odd freshman players was to provide the varsity team with punching bags.

"Every time they wanted some fresh meat, our freshman squad would go up and do it," said McCormack, who currently resides in Palm Desert, Calif. "At that time, we didn't even have freshman games, so our only competition was the competition we provided for the varsity."

The experience proved invaluable, though, as McCormack went on to become one of pro football's best offensive linemen with the New York Yanks and Cleveland Browns before moving on to a career as an NFL assistant coach, head coach, and, eventually, team president and general manager.

Over the years, he says, he has kept tabs on his alma mater, which last year pulled off the shocker of all shockers when it finished 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.

During some of the rougher years, like many Kansas alumni, he worried about the program.

Today, however, he sees what's happening with this Mark Mangino-led team, with its fancy offense and its talented young quarterback, and he sees promise.

"What Kansas did last year, the feeling you got watching them play is that they were a team," McCormack said. "They were disciplined. They seemed to enjoy playing with each other. You were able to sense that just from television."

Rivera honored: Jayhawks senior linebacker Mike Rivera, an all-Big 12 honorable mention selection in 2007, is one of 45 nominees for the 17th annual Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors college football players heavily involved with community service.

The list of nominees, which also includes Texas' Colt McCoy and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, is expected to be whittled to a final 11-man team sometime in September.

"Mike embraces the unique opportunity he has as a KU student-athlete to make a positive impact on our community," said Mike Harrity, assistant athletic director/student-athlete development and community relations, in a statement. "... (and) the team has followed his lead, as they participated in more community service events this past year than ever before."

Rivera, a graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High, has also earned academic all-Big 12 first-team honors last season.


14 years ago

They could either redo all of the names with a smaller font, or expand the stadium (as ttoulouse has suggested) after several more blockbuster seasons, providing additional space for more Ring of Honor inductees. My preference would be the latter :)

GoBadgers 14 years ago

" he will be inducted duing halftime..."Nice copy editing.So, he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame 23 years ago and is just now becoming part of kU's football ring of honor? Nice one chickenhawks.

William Cormode 14 years ago

What are you talking about ttoulouse

eastcoasthawk 14 years ago

Well it seems to be either O-line or FB. Rookie move Doogie. I would think that when students left school early back in the day that it was highly frowned upon. Just glad it is being corrected.

number1jayhawker 14 years ago

Gobadger, what do you care since you are not a KU fan? Can you just not post on here for one day?

5DecadeHawk 14 years ago

It is sad that it took this long.I certainly cannot speak for anyone involved in the decisions, but I suspect that very few past stars were very excited to come back for many of those years. Who wants to get inducted into the ring of honor of a half empty stadium when your alma matre is trailing by 3 touchdowns at halftime?Let's face the sad truth. That scenario would have been extremely commonplace for a lot of the last 60 years.We now have a program where the great past players can come back with pride. They can enjoy the weekend rather than suffer through it. They can look forward to seeing their grandchildren see their family name high up on the stadium whenever the national TV cameras pan the stands.The ring of honor actually has more HONOR now than it has had in a long long time.It's sooooooooooo nice that we have KU FB going in the right direction.Coach Mangino and his players are exorcizing a lot of demons.

Ted Toulouse 14 years ago

Dude, it's JOHN Riggins. Please correct this :)So what happens when the "horseshoe" of honor gets full? Maybe that's when they'll expand and stadium! See a need, fill a need.

rgreene 14 years ago

I agree, Badgers, it's sad it took this long, but at least it's getting done. I think the reason McCormack and Riggins were left out was because they both left school early.

JJHAWK 14 years ago

They could always go to flags. Would help make the stadium more colorful.

rgreene 14 years ago

Yeah, Talib and Collins will both be up there eventually, since they met the requirements. Though my guess is it won't be for at least five years. They have no more space in that thing.

Landon Brown 14 years ago

badger, no one cares what you say or think. i do think the powers that be should consider making the names in the ring smaller, something i've thought since i was attending in '96-00. it would be nice to expand the stadium, have to win a lot more to get there. any word on when they're ripping the track out? i know, i know, Kansas relays.

KU1979 14 years ago

Are you a fan of anything, badger, or just a hater?

Chris Weaver 14 years ago

mike mccormack -the only good new york yankee

Drew Bender 14 years ago

it was originally posted as Jim Riggins wcormode

Kirk 14 years ago

The writer doesn't even mention what position McCormack played. Let alone provide the slightest color or background.

GoGators 14 years ago

Kansas football has a ring of honor?!?!?!

JBurtin 14 years ago

I believe KU football is tied with Oklahoma and Texas for first in the Big Twelve with the most NFL Hall of famers.If John Hadl ever gets his due, we'll be first.

Rick Arnoldy 14 years ago

Unless it's been edited, the article clearly states "McCormack went on to become one of pro football's best offensive linemen".

Chicago_JHawk 14 years ago

JBurtin - Here's the breakdown:Texas 44KU, OU, Nebraska 3OSU, Misery 2A&M, Baylor 1KSU, ISU, Colorado, TTech 0Oh, and Florida has 1

actorman 14 years ago

Careful, ohioburg. You're making a mistake, by actually introducing logic to the discussion. Never let reality get in the way of someone using their God-given right to bitch about an LJW article.I will say there's something wrong here, though: 5Decade actually posted on a Dugan Arnett article without complaining that the article was biased because Arnett is a Misuse alum. You feeling okay, 5Decade?

5DecadeHawk 14 years ago

Careful, actorman,You're making a mistake. Never let reality get in the way of you using your God-given right to b___ about someone else's right to make real observations about the LJW.My comments have never been solely based upon the kid's alma matre. Sure, that's been part of it. Mostly it's been the part where I yank the chain of the Mizery fans.The fact is that if Doogie takes my comments to heart and improves his writing to a mediocre level, I'll back off. If he starts writing well, I'll even compliment him. (I'm not holding my breath, but I'm hoping for the best.) I didn't think it was appropriate to hijack the comments of this article. I wanted McCormack to get the respect that he's long overdue to receive. Bagging on Doogie would have distracted people from commenting about Mike. Now you've managed to do exactly that, actorman. Proud of yourself?My more important points have had to do with representing the local community properly. Things like providing the local perspective to an article are important. I've also repeatedly pointed out that just quoting a bunch of last year's statistics is rather lame. It's especially true in this modern internet age where 100 different websites offer statistics out the yin yang.Get the kid up off his rear and get the inside story. Just sitting in a chair writing down whatever is said in press conferences does not make someone a good writer. Good writers go beyond those quotes that every other writer sitting in the room is getting. Doogie took the press release issued by KU and did the bare minimum. It would have been nice to get quotes from former teammates. A Fambrough quote would have been appropriate. That would have required going beyond the press release and some statistics. Of course, why should my valid points get in your way actorman. Go ahead and ignore what you don't have any ability to refute. Hey... if you cannot debate the facts, attack the messenger. Did you ever think about running a campaign for a politician? Attacking the other guy without actually standing up for anything yourself? Yeah... that's the way. NICE JOB. Make the comments about schmucks posting comments instead of honoring a great football player. I look at the comments for this article and I don't see ONE thing from you complimentary to anyone, especially Mike McCormack.It's all about you, isn't it, actorman?

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