It’s been a long time since Kansas Jayhawks football meant anything on a national scale besides being a low-hanging, worn-out punchline. In fairness, it’s not like there was much to celebrate from mid-October 2009 through the 2021 season.
During that stretch, from Oct. 17, 2009 through the end of the 2021 season, KU tallied an overall record of 23-125. Seven different head coaches ran the program during that stretch (including eight games with current Lawrence High School head coach Clint Bowen at the helm in an interim role).
The last 13 years have been brutal for the Jayhawks.
That’s all the more reason to block out the noise and enjoy the ride as much as possible now.
The seventh coach in that aforementioned group is Lance Leipold, who in merely 17 games in charge of the program has taken it to heights not seen in years. “Culture” is maybe the most overused, overvalued word in the modern sports lexicon, but the way he has transformed the one at Kansas is undeniable and one of the biggest reasons why the Jayhawks are ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time 674 weeks.
It’s no wonder that the whole college football world is hyping up KU, from the bloggers who got in on the ground floor to the national personalities who swiftly flipped from cracking jokes to placing Leipold and the Jayhawks on a pedestal.
Nobody should be told how to be a fan or how to support a team, but if you’re a diehard Kansas fan, or even one of those crimson and blue-clad folks who pays passing attention in the fall before packing Allen Fieldhouse in the winter, how can you not enjoy year with every fiber of your fandom?
College GameDay, one of America’s most iconic sports programs, is coming to Lawrence for the first time ever this week ahead of Kansas’ game against TCU, a fellow undefeated Big 12 team. Your quarterback is receiving Heisman Trophy hype and as is one of the nation’s biggest breakout stars this year. Other schools and major programs likely want to take your head coach.
Consider that last part again: Kansas, a team that has been a doormat for a decade plus, has maybe the most desirable coach in the country. Given what he and his staff have accomplished in almost an instant at KU, it’s no wonder that a collapsing star of a program like Nebraska may crave that kind of stud to bring it back to life.
Leipold has been as firm as he can be in reaffirming his commitment to the Jayhawks without making an actual guarantee, but Kansas fans shouldn’t stress about the future for their beloved second-year coach.
Admittedly, that sounds like a tall task. The rest of the college football landscape is almost egging on a potential coaching change, and to the benefit of Nebraska? That team you played for over 100 years annually before they dipped out for the Big 12? It feels gross and it’s easy to view that as a strain on what’s been a magical season thus far.
On the flip side of that argument, why would you let that get you down right now? The Jayhawks are the hottest topic in the sport and are playing at a level that’s put them on the precipice of bowl eligibility for the first time since Dezmon Briscoe eviscerated the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 2008 Insight Bowl.
There’s so much noise in the sports world that’s constantly trying to rip our attention away from living in the moment. From Twitter to viral message board posts to screaming talking heads on TV, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on right in front of us. This is the ultimate time for Jayhawks faithful to try tuning out that noise and choosing to embrace the glory of the 2022 squad while they have it.
KU versus TCU should be one of the best matchups of the weekend, or at least it appears that way on paper. While the Horned Frogs are favored, understandably so, there’s a legitimate chance that the Jayhawks reach bowl eligibility in the minimum number of games needed: six. Even if TCU comes out on top and Kansas goes home with a loss, this has been a thrilling first half of the season for the team. That deserves all the attention and celebration it can possibly get.
If Lance Leipold wants to leave this offseason for Nebraska or Wisconsin or somewhere else, it will happen. It won’t be for any lack of effort on the KU side. But that can’t be handled and fretted over down the road. Right now, a massive opportunity for the Jayhawks is on the horizon, both to prove that this team’s season is for real and that the fan base will support a winning, well-funded program.
What’s here, now and real deserves attention far more than the worry about what could arrive in the future. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to have the time of your life while wondering what the rest of that life may look like.