KU seniors living history
Were my eyes playing tricks on me Sunday night, or did I really see footage of students skipping a basketball game to camp out for Kansas University football tickets?I never thought I'd see the day that happened, but it's fantastic. It's great to see that KU students aren't letting this unbelievable season pass them by. They're firmly on the bandwagon, and they've been there since day one when they packed Memorial Stadium in blue for the season-opener.The current KU students are lucky to see so much quality football, and they're not taking that for granted.The odds are good that you watched a lot of bad football if you graduated from KU during the past 50 years.KU mustered a 16-29 record (1998-2001) during my four years as an undergrad, and the lone marquee victory was Oct. 24, 1998 in a Homecoming upset of No. 17 Colorado, 33-17. The Jayhawks were 7-25 in Big 12 Conference games during that time.Throw in the 2-10 season (0-8 Big 12) in 2002 and the 6-7 campaign (3-5 Big 12) in 2003 during my grad school years, and that's 24-46 mark during six years. For you math majors (I needed a calculator for this), that's a .342 winning percentage. Not good.That's what makes this year so much more exciting. Kansas is 10-0 for the first time since 1899 when Fielding H. Yost was the coach and James Naismith was leading the basketball program. The Jayhawks have won 10 games in a year for just the fourth time in program history (They've also had four 10-loss seasons).Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are 6-0 in the Big 12 and in first place in the North Division. They're ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press and coaches' polls and No. 3 in the BCS rankings.This makes my college days seem so long ago.Then again, these aren't your recent graduate's Jayhawks. Or your father's. Or your grandfather's.If anything, they're your great-grandfather's Jayhawks.The Class of 2008 will become just the ninth graduating class in the last half-century to walk down Campanile Hill having watched above-.500 football during their four years of college.As of today, the Class of 2008's four-year seniors own a 27-18 record - a 60-percent victory rate - with three or four games to go, depending on if KU makes it to the Big 12 Conference title game.To put this in a little more perspective, including this year's seniors, only 13 four-year graduating classes ever have witnessed 27 or more wins during their college careers at Kansas. Of those, 11 occurred prior to 1950. The most recent group to see this many victories during a four-year span was in school during the 1992-1995 seasons when the Jayhawks won 29 games. You have to go back to the 1946-1949 seasons to find the next group that witnessed this much success (27-11-3 during that span).The Jayhawks only have won 30 or more games during a four-year span four times in history. They were 30-6-2 from 1905-1908, 30-7-3 from 1903-1906, 30-9-1 from 1902-1905 and 32-6 from 1896-1899.With a few games left on the schedule, the current seniors have a good shot at joining the exclusive 30-win club.A few years ago the KU basketball team adopted the slogan "Old School" and focused four-year senior standouts Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich's throwback style of play - winning with hustle, heart and fundamentals. Perhaps the Kansas football team should use that slogan, too, because we're witnessing the return to the roots of Jayhawk football. With a program that has the fundamentals in place to win for years to come, we're in position to see history repeat itself. If that happens, KU's juniors, sophomores, freshmen and future students are in store for a lot more wins - and that campout list will become awfully long.