Growing up, I always knew of Kansas as a basketball school. Then, my senior year of high school, the Jayhawks football team won 12 of the 13 games — and capped the season off with an Orange Bowl victory.
It got every KU fan thinking: Could we also be a football school?
The next year, the Jayhawks were pretty successful. It was a little bit less exciting than the year before, but still enough to give the Jayhawk faithful hope for the future.
Then things went downhill…
Midway through the 2009 season, a bit of a scandal broke involving the head coach, Mark Mangino. Although the team was already off to a disappointing start, the controversy didn’t make things better. At the end of the season, Mangino resigned and was quickly replaced with Turner Gill, a little-known coach from the University at Buffalo.
At first, fans were excited: Whereas Mangino was rough around the edges, Gill was amiable. Gill was also successful at his previous university, so there was reason to believe he would be similarly successful at Kansas. Unfortunately, that’s not how things worked out — for two seasons, Kansas performed horribly.
Last year, Gill was released from his contract and, for the second time in as many years, Kansas got a new coach — Charlie Weis.
With reason for optimism, lots of people showed up for Kansas’ first football game on Saturday. Dan and I were happy to be among them.
I was also excited to be back on campus — it was the first time I really thought of myself as an alumna.
We got to campus about two hours before kickoff to enjoy the festivities.
Some of our friends were tailgating near the stadium, so Dan and I met up with them for some traditional pre-game activities.
Because we were in the shadow of the stadium, we waited until just minutes before the game to go get our seats.
Right after settling into the nosebleed section, the team took the field.
Then it was time for the game to begin.
From the first play, things looked good for Kansas football: A long pass was received and we were in good field position. But, the Jayhawks weren’t able to translate the subsequent plays into points on the board. The ball went to South Dakota State — and they promptly ran for a 99-yard touchdown.
For a moment, every KU fan thought the same thing: “This again?!”
Fortunately, the Jayhawks were able to get their acts together and finish the game with a 31-17 win. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was the best start to the season I’ve seen in a long time. That’s something to be happy about.
P.S. I made the dress I wore for the game! I’m sharing the how-to in a post tomorrow. Be sure to check back!