College Football At a Basketball Institution

   A little background to start. I grew up as a Minnesota Golden Gophers fan and my favorite players growing up were Lawrence Maroney, Marion Barber III and Eric Decker. Notice that they are all football players. Growing up my parents wouldn’t let me play football, so I played basketball in the fall and into the winter. But none of my favorite Gophers growing up were basketball players, because frankly, we didn’t have any memorable players or teams growing up. For me it was college football or bust.

   I am now a student at the University of Kansas, the self-proclaimed epicenter of basketball. The original rules of the game written by Dr. James Naismith are housed here, and that same man was the universities first head coach. Having been to a couple of games, Kansas basketball is special. The atmosphere of winning, especially at home, is unprecedented. This year they are playing for their thirteenth straight Big 12 regular season title. But this past Saturday, if only for a day, the now 3-1 Jayhawks with a win over then number one Duke were not the talk of the town. It was the 2-9 Jayhawk football team headed by a freshman quarterback who took down the Texas Longhorns for the first time since 1938.

   There is a majesty behind college football. The players walking through the tailgating fans into the stadium, the band playing all day long, and the feeling that the sport is still pure. The players aren’t getting paid, and they are still out there playing to get noticed. It is a different kind of football, and a different kind of desperation in college football. The players are playing for the history of the program, the name on the front of the jersey still means more than the name on the back of the jersey.

   Now a little background on Kansas football. In the 2015 season, the Jayhawks did not win a game. With a first year head coach, and players that he did not recruit, the team was horrendous. They lost by an average of 30.8 points per game. So to start the 2016 season, expectations were low. The only way to fill the stadium would be if Gayle Sayers could figure out a way for another year of eligibility. To start the season, Kansas played the worst team in FCS football, the Rhode Island Rams, and handled them like they should. Some students rushed the field because they thought it might be the only win of the season (childish in my opinion but another topic for another time). But then came Saturday November 19th, 2016, or the day that solidified college footballs reign over college basketball for me.

   Kansas Basketball is special. I love march madness as much as the next guy. But College football is played with the same intensity and meaning as any NCAA tournament game every single week. Each game is important for the program and for the coaches future. So to watch Kansas not only win a conference game for the first time in 27 games, and beat Texas for the first time since 1938, but afterwards to see the emotional press conference by Charlie Strong really put it all together. College football simply put is the best, and it was summed up in this one moment.