There's nothing outlandish about Kansas University's football slogan this year.
"The thing we tried to do is stay away from any promises and predictions. We didn't pick a saying like `We've Turned the Corner' or `This Is The Year,''' says Kip Helt, KU's director of marketing. "We're guaranteeing hard work. We guarantee our team will not be outhustled. That's `Hawks At Work.'''
You may have seen that slogan on posters and in newspaper and television ads. Featured is a close-up of senior linebacker Curtis Moore staring menacingly and sweating profusely.
"WE'VE HIT Lawrence hard, flooded Kansas City and taken posters to Topeka and Wichita and other surrounding towns," Helt said. "I think what we've seen is fans' perceptions are changing. In the past maybe some would have scoffed at our posters. Now people want to hang them up, give them out. I think it's a credit to coach (Glen) Mason and the team. They've made inroads.
"That's why we're working to put 45,000 fans in the stands Saturday. I really think the No. 1 factor in beating Virginia, besides stopping (quarterback) Shawn Moore, is getting a big crowd."
Assisting KU for the third-straight year is Fleming Foods. The company is distributing 10,000 tickets. Fans purchase certain food items at selected stores and receive a ticket in return.
"They've been fantastic to us for three years. They supported us when we were down. We're not gonna forget them when we're 8-3. The help they've given has been tremendous," Helt said.
THE BEST way to get a big crowd is to sell a batch of season tickets.
So far, KU has sold 16,324 season tickets. Last year at this time, that total was 14,425. In all, 6,311 student sports-combo tickets have been snapped up, although student football season tickets alone are still available.
Helt believes KU's schedule is attractive from a fan standpoint.
"A lot of people say the schedule is bad," Helt said, "but for a season-ticket holder, it involves playing two rivals Kansas State and Missouri at home. Also you get giants in Colorado and Nebraska and an up-and-coming Pac-10 team in Oregon State. It's not good to be away from home five straight weeks, but the actual games are attractive.
"I know there's no better opener. You open against the No. 15 team in the country. Your stadium is beautiful with new turf. It's a prime time to knock off a big-name team."
KU WILL not fill the end zone with sand for pre-game volleyball like last year. But the students will be involved again at Game One, Helt said.
"We're having the Rock Chalk Challenge," he said. "At 10:30, teams of eight students will compete in three events and we'll have a radio station in here. There will be prizes, music, things to get the students excited about the game."
Helt's goal is to enthuse fans about the football program.
"We had a good year last year. Another good year this year and the next and I think we can have in football what we have in basketball people camping out in front of the stadium," he said. "Coach Mason is a big fan of the students. He wants to get them in the games. He'd carry everyone in on his back if he could."