1-Who is the best coach
in KU football history?
In 1999, a blue-ribbon Jayhawk panel voted for Jack Mitchell as the
best coach in KU football history, followed by Don Fambrough, J.V.
Sikes, Pepper Rogers, George Seurer and Glen Mason. Surprisingly, A.R.
(Bert) Kennedy was not on the list. The winningest coach in KU history,
Kennedy guided KU to a 53-9-4 record during his sevens seasons from
With all due respects to Kennedy, Mitchell and all the others, it’s got
to be current head coach Mark
Mangino, who’s brilliantly resurrected
football after taking over what he described in many ways a
Division II type program under predecessor Terry Allen. Heck, in just
his second season at Mount Oread, Mangino led the once morbid KU
program to the Tangerine Bowl, KU’s first bowl since 1995.
Mangino, the 2007 National Coach of the Year, hasn’t stopped there. In
seven seasons at KU, Mangino has accomplished a lot of firsts,
including guiding KU to:
- most bowl games (4) of any coach in Jayhawk history
- back-to- back bowl games for the first time in school annals
- first BCS game (Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech
- three consecutive bowl wins for the first time in school
- Twenty wins in a two-year period (2007 and 2008), the most
in consecutive years in Jayhawk history
- ranking in a school-record 19 consecutive AP polls from
2007 through half of 2008
- top three total offense seasons in school history and top
two passing seasons in KU annals
- top three rushing defenses in KU history
And he’s done so much more. With his demanding tough love, Mangino has
changed the program’s attitude, morale, discipline, toughness and
overall perception. He recruits winners and demands nothing less on the
practice field, game days, and in the classroom and off the field.
What’s left for Mangino and his staff to accomplish is start winning
Big 12 Championships and beating Big 12 South powers like Oklahoma,
Texas, and Oklahoma State
on a relatively consistent basis. This could
be the year that starts. Look for KU to upset preseason No. 3 OU at
home on Oct. 24. If all goes according to plan, that would put KU at
7-0 and tie Mangino with Kennedy for all-time wins at KU with 52.
His next win, hopefully at Texas
Tech the following week, will give him
the distinction of becoming the winningest coach in school history. But
for me, Mangino is already the best coach this school has ever seen.
2-Will Jake Sharp rush
for 1,000 yards in his farewell season at KU?
In fact, I’m betting he rushes for at least 1,200 or 1,300 yards,
barring injury. Sharp rushed for a career-high 860 yards last season
while averaging just 14.3 attempts per game. However, he didn’t emerge
as the team’s top running back until the fifth game of the season.
Discounting his first four games, he averaged 17.8 attempts per game on
4.84 yards per carry for 86 yards per game.
As the main man this year from the get-go, expect the senior to carry
the ball at least 20 times per game. And if he matches his 5.1 yards
per carry career average, he’d rush for 102 yards per game. With 13
games (12 regular season and one bowl game), that would put his total
at 1,326 yards, the most since Jon
Cornish rushed for 1,457 yards in
And here’s something more amazing. If Sharp maintains his 5.1 yards per
carry career average and carries the ball at least 134 times (just 11.2
attempts per game), he will tie Hall of Famer John Riggins' school
record for the highest yards per carry (5.1) for a career with a
minimum of 500 attempts.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharp breaks Riggins’ record. This is a
guy motivated by doubters, people who’ve questioned his size and game
at every level. He has a big chip on his shoulder and wants to prove he
can carry the load this season as KU’s big-play back. Sharp is also
motivated by people counting on him. As a senior and co-captain, that
will definitely be the case this year.
“If you have people counting on you,” Sharp said, “you’re going to do
absolutely everything you can not to let them down.”
This is his college swan song, and he’d like nothing more than to
continue playing football at the next level. Sharp knows a great season
will help his cause. But if this is his last season playing football,
he surely wants to go out with a bang as well.
As Mangino said, it will be a sad day for Sharp when he’s no longer
playing the game he loves.
You can bank it. Sharp rushes for 1,000-plus yards in 2009, and don’t
be surprised if he breaks the 1,300-yard barrier.
3-What will be the final
score in KU’s season opener against Northern Colorado?
KU has racked up at least 40 points in each of its last three season
openers. Expect this game to be more of the same against a Northern
Colorado squad which went 1-10 last season and 1-7 in the Big Sky
Conference. UNC, which returns 13 starters, will be no match for Kansas.
Look for Todd Reesing
to pass for 325 yards with both Kerry
Dezmon Briscoe having 100-plus yard receiving games. The Jayhawks win
52-10 and are on their way towards a magical season.
See you at Memorial Stadium.