My hopes always soar at the beginning of a season. It’s a habit that sets me up for disappointment every time. I am imprisoned by the notion that faith is what makes victories happen, that my team’s fate is somehow in my hands.
If that’s the case, y’all are welcome for the South Dakota State win and I’m sorry for the Rice loss. But for once I’m not worried about the team. I’m worried about the fans. Will they show up this week?
The official attendance at the season opener was 46,601. That’s a nearly full Memorial Stadium (official capacity is 50,070). Charlie Weis had people excited about Kansas football again. And we won! For the first time since Sept. 10, 2011. Jayhawks were flying high. Change was a-comin’, we could feel it.
So the next week 44,683 showed up, confident that even the worst team in the Big 12 could (probably) beat Rice.
The worst team in the Big 12 did not beat Rice. Instead, Rice kicker Chris Boswell made a 45-yard field goal — twice, because KU iced him.
It’s worth noting that Boswell is 3 for 4 on field-goal attempts of 40+ yards while the entire Big 12 is 2 for 10. He won that game as much as Kansas lost it.
And it’s worth noting that nearly half of Rice’s coaching staff has connections to KU. Offensive coordinator John Reagan was an assistant coach under Mark Mangino, while Ryan Cantrell, Adrian Mayes and AJ Steward all played at KU while I was a student. So Jayhawks are still succeeding in football, just not the Jayhawks we’d prefer.
But none of that comforts a Kansas fan. We’re programmed to tune out the bad sports for our own survival. All we can hear is Rob Schneider’s “We suck again!” echoing like the Campanile.
What will the attendance be Saturday when TCU comes to Lawrence? Even in the Mangino era, attendance would drop off once Big 12 play got tough. We’d show up to Homecoming and for Mizzou, Nebraska and K-State. But I know I’m guilty of skipping out on a few 11 a.m. kickoffs against a team I knew we couldn’t beat. (In my defense, it gets very cold toward the end of the season.)
I’m not saying Kansas can’t beat TCU, but the Frogs were Mountain West champions last year and they’re a 21-point favorite. It could get ugly. Would you show up to an 11 a.m. beat-down?
This year, I would.
Remember what I said about giving this team more support than you might think is warranted? Now is when that kicks in. You can’t rebuild a program by giving up. You can’t restore pride by hiding your face (and your KU logos) in shame.
If Kansas wants to attract top recruits and top coaches, it has to create a stronger football culture. If you want a stronger future for this program, you have to stand with this team.
Sports scenarios are the only time I find it appropriate to reference Ryan Gosling’s speech from “The Notebook”:
So please, for the sake of my emotional health, don’t let your tickets go unused this weekend.