Friday, January 4, 2008


Keegan: Jayhawks prove they’re best ever



2008 Orange Bowl

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2008 Orange Bowl

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Miami, here we come

Journal-World KU reporter Jonathan Kealing is covering the fans in and on their way to Miami for the Jayhawks' first ever BCS bowl game. Check out some pitstops and potholes on the way to Miami and keep up with Journal-World Orange Bowl coverage from Miami on our interactive road trip map.

— The 21st century is young, but it already has clinched the title as the best in the history of a Kansas University football program born in 1890.

Orange Bowl champions.

A 12-1 record.

The last of lingering doubts perished Thursday night in Dolphin Stadium.

The final remaining question that needed to be settled to establish this team as unquestionably deserving to be mentioned as KU's best ever and one of the top handful in the nation this season was answered emphatically: What is the best school Kansas has defeated?

Answer: Virginia Tech, ranked third in the BCS standings. The game didn't feel nearly as close as the final score of Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21.

In talking about KU's lack of football tradition, coach Mark Mangino last month said, "Anyone can have a bad century."

That would be the 20th century, filled with great individuals, names like Gale Sayers and John Riggins, John Hadl and Nolan Cromwell, Ray Evans and Willie Pless.

Big football names for a basketball school.

As for the basketball-only label :

"Those days are over," Mangino said to the crowd of the basketball-only label.

Cornerback Aqib Talib was awarded the game's MVP, largely for his interception return for a touchdown. It was the right call, even if he did get flagged 15 yards for high-stepping into the end zone.

"I was feelin' it," Talib said during the postgame, on-field interview heard by the crowd. "I was feelin' it like Deion."

As in Sanders. One hot dog feeling another.

As always, the less flashy players played huge roles.

Joe Mortensen (blocked field goal, early sack, hard hits all night), Dexton Fields (101 receiving yards), Justin Thornton, Chris Harris and Russell Brorsen starred.

Quarterback Todd Reesing was picked up off the ground and slammed back onto it by 293-pound Carlton Powell on one play. On another, Reesing played the crash-test vehicle, Hokies linebacker Cody Grimm the brick wall. Reesing kept getting back up to attack a defense every bit as good as advertised, though not as good as KU's.

"Well, I got pads on, so it didn't hurt too bad," said Reesing, who was wearing a floppy fishing hat one of his Austin buddies tossed to him on the field after the game.

The cerebral yet blue-collar Mangino, who so had the right feel for this team he was college football's consensus Coach of the Year, made the right call again when he surprised the players by having red jerseys hung in their lockers before the game.

What is it about red that so juices the Jayhawks?

Mortensen smiled beneath his mohawk and answered: "It brings out the devil in us."

And so did the frequent underdog role.

"We constantly, year-round, communicate with our players in a way to try to develop a good, emotional strength about them," Mangino said. "Our kids have it. All the stuff they read, and all the pundits banging on their desks on the TV shows talking about we haven't played anybody, we have no chance against Virginia Tech, it didn't hurt their feelings. It motivated them. I want to thank everybody who did that. It made my job easier."

You're welcome. And congratulations.


KEITHMILES05 14 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Keegan is still a douchebag and should write an article admitting such. Shameful.

Robert Brock 14 years, 9 months ago

Keegan is not the only writer who underestimated the mental toughness of this Jayhawk football team. The team lacks some important elements but it is not lacking in resourcefulness and mental toughness! Special bunch of guys...


goldlighting 14 years, 9 months ago

Ditto 86finalfour, Keegan showed his true colors (puss yellow & puke green) and they definitely were not crimson & blue. What a pompus old goat!

86finalfour 14 years, 9 months ago

Keegan, I've always appreciated your honesty. But your article yesterday was unnecessarily negative and sarcastic. Eat Crow!!

prairie_dog 14 years, 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Keegan,

Didn't you just write an article that said all signs were that VT would win the game?

Greg Woolen 14 years, 9 months ago

I think that is why he said "you're welcome", because he was one of the ones that motivated them.

Greg Woolen 14 years, 9 months ago

Reesing is a tough dude. He just kept getting hit and back up. The one play that they are referencing above where he was picked up and thrown to the ground is just a long way of saying that Todd got suplexed.

Great job last night Jayhawks. You made us all very proud of you and proud to be Jayhawks.

justanotherfan 14 years, 9 months ago

I hope this win can be used as a springboard to future success. Now that we have a nationally recognized signature win, we need to follow that up with at least 9 wins next year to really prove that Kansas football is for real. We cannot just rest on the laurels we have from this year.

I'm torn as to whether Aqib should stay or go. He's a first day pick, that's a given. First round? Maybe. Could he be a first rounder with another year? Maybe. Does it help the team more if he stays around, or if he goes to the NFL and those highlights play on ESPN as prognosticators name the top DBs in the country. We haven't had that type of exposure in a while. Aqib and AC could bring us that right now, but they could also help us win some football games next year.

walkdog262 14 years, 9 months ago

I love how you people can't just enjoy the big win - you have to still talk about a column that was written yesterday! Talk about douchebags.

goldlighting 14 years, 9 months ago

We are talking about a column that predicted KU to lose in their biggest game ever, so bug off and let us have our say. Yes, all KU fans are celebrating the OB victory!

kraus42 14 years, 9 months ago

justanotherfan-Talib is not only a 1st day pick, 1st round pick, he will go in the top 10. With the extra exposure that he received last night (pick 6 and MVP), and the fact that he's a big, strong, quick, smart cornerback who can also be a kick returner...combine all that with the fact that the NFL is ALWAYS looking for the shutdown corners, he's guaranteed to go top 10. In the '05 draft, I can think of 3 DBs that were in the top 9 and a couple more drafted in the first round. Pacman Jones, Rolle, Rogers, Davis, Washington and Jackson. Pacman is a P.O.S., but he can play, Rolle, is pretty dang good too, and Rogers can hold his own against anybody. I have a hard time thinking that Talib wouldn't be the 2nd DB picked in next years draft.

speedy 14 years, 9 months ago

if you have not read my comments about the idiot from the san jose mercury news find it and e-mail something to a REAL idiot!!!!!!

ChicagoJHawk 14 years, 9 months ago

I think this aricle should have read, "Keegan: Jayhawks prove I was wrong and don't know what I'm talking about". Great job Jayhawks, in proving all those critics wrong, even ones that write for

tdub 14 years, 9 months ago

Oh... I see. Keegan was just trying to motivate the team yesterday...

As for draft picks, I couldn't be happier for Marcus Henry when he got his TD. That can only help his draft status, which can surely be on the first day if the chips fall his way.

milehighhawk 14 years, 9 months ago

Keegs gets it both ways.

If we won, he was motivating us. If we lost, he told us so.

Andrew Ledell 14 years, 9 months ago

I gotta say I was hating on Keegan pretty bad yesterday, but this is a well-written column with a nice and subtle admission of wrong at the end. In my eyes, it's time to give the guy a break for yesterday's column. Let's get back to celebrating the win. I know I'm loving being at work today and rubbing this in the face of K-State fans and other naysayers who said we didn't have a chance in this game. Rock Chalk!

seattlehawk_78 14 years, 9 months ago

Lay off Keegan. I read the same article and got a different interpretation. All he was saying is on paper VT is the better team. Most people in the media agree. If you want a cheerleader to write your articles you're in the wrong place.

jprich 14 years, 9 months ago

You're exactly right seattlehawk, I had the same interpretation. The only problem is that most readers on this site want stories that explain why KU is the greatest thing in civilization. They can't handle articles that take a neutral position or, heaven forbid, an article discussing KU's weaknesses, whether real or not.

KEITHMILES05 14 years, 9 months ago

Saw Talib today amongst crowd and he knows how to work the crowd. Very easy on the eyes, polite, thoughtful, and just a great young man.

Hats off to him representing KU and to his teammates who follow after him. All the players were most courteous.

seattlehawk_78 14 years, 9 months ago

Too bad school is not in session. These guys deserve a hero's welcome. Hope they got a nice reception when they arrived in Lawrence today.

actorman 14 years, 9 months ago

Seattlehawk and jprich are right. The last thing I want to read is an article from a homer who just kisses KU's collective rear ends every game. I might not always like it if Keegan (or someone else) predicts that the other team will win, but I would MUCH rather hear (or read) their honest opinion than to just hear some mindless drivel. If I wanted to hear that kind of crap I'd root for the White Sox.

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