Three games remain in the 2014 Kansas University football season, and just one of them — 2 p.m. Saturday vs. No. 5 TCU — is at Memorial Stadium.
That makes this week’s game — and, really, this entire week — about honoring a group of seniors who have done a lot of losing and fighting back during their Kansas careers.
There, of course, will be an on-field ceremony honoring the seniors prior to Saturday’s kickoff, but the celebration will start long before then. Not each day will include a full-on lovefest for guys like Ben Heeney, Jimmay Mundine, Michael Reynolds, Tony Pierson and many others, but interim head coach Clint Bowen said those guys and their outgoing teammates would be the focus of the non-practice portion of the week.
“We are going to make sure that we show the proper amount of respect and appreciation to these guys through the course of this week,” Bowen said. “(We started Tuesday) with a few things that are senior-oriented. It’s emotional. I think we have tremendous seniors on this team that deserve all the appreciation we’re going to show them. We make it a point of doing that this week and let those guys know that their careers here were appreciated.”
The reason Bowen knows how he’d like to handle it is because he remembers well the way it was handled 21 years as he prepared to play the final college football game of his life.
“The part I remember is the Friday night meeting (when) we got to address the team as seniors in the team meeting,” Bowen said. “Those always get a little bit emotional. I’ll remember that part about mine, seeing some guys who always pretend to be pretty tough get up there and cry like little girls. Myself included.”
Of course, the game itself was pretty memorable, too, although Bowen said after the fanfare and pregame stuff is finished it quickly gets back to being an 11-on-11 football game with a whole lot going on. Still, he said it was pretty tough to forget closing out his college career against the Jayhawks’ bitter Border War rival at home.
“It was against Missouri, and we shut ’em out, 28-0,” Bowen recalled with a grin. “It wasn’t even close. Non-competitive.”
Saturday might not go quite as well. The Jayhawks are four-touchdown underdogs. But they will take the field with plenty of confidence and emotion.
“We look forward to the challenge of playing TCU,” Bowen said. “Listen to a lot of very special seniors before their last game in Memorial Stadium and hope to send them out on a positive note.”