Kansas coach Terry Allen said KU's fans displeasure was warranted Saturday against San Diego State.
Only once before in his 11-year head coaching tenure had Terry Allen heard the friendly confines turn as unfriendly as Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Back in 1991, Allen was in his third year as head coach at alma mater Northern Iowa, and the Panthers played host to Weber State in the first round of the NCAA Div. I-AA playoffs.
"We played to win," Allen recalled Wednesday after his regular weekly press conference, "and we almost lost. We almost got booed out of the stadium by a lot of naysayers."
Times have changed.
Memorial Stadium denizens were booing a loss, not a win, last Saturday when Allen heard the universal voice of displeasure for just the second time in his coaching career.
As the Jayhawks headed to the halftime locker room trailing San Diego State, 31-0, boos and catcalls cascaded down from the Memorial Stadium seats. KU went on to lose 41-13, its second straight loss and third straight to an NCAA Div. I-A opponent.
For Allen, this is all new ground. In his eight years at UNI and his two-plus seasons at KU, he'd never started a season worse than 2-2.
The boos were not only unusual to Allen's ears, they were merited, Allen said.
"I've never had to face the adversity of having a team at home that played as bad as we played in the first half," Allen said. "We were deserving of the criticism -- but we sure don't want it to happen again."
To make sure it doesn't, Allen has wracked his boo-addled brain. Should he resort to fire and brimstone? Maybe throw in a gimmick, like Colorado coach Gary Barnett's imitation of "Patton," complete with military fatigues and camouflage face paint?
"I thought about that, but that's not me," Allen said. "I told them I'd be honest with them. I'm not a gimmick guy. I'm going to treat them like young men, not children. I motivate by communication."
In the wake of two consecutive devastating losses, can communication alone overcome KU's malaise? Allen is confident it can.
"Sure. It's the whole gamut of things," Allen said. "Is it the play calling? The players? How we coach? The mental part of it? It's the whole scheme of things. Through it all, it's important to be yourself. If I changed completely, if I came in here and ranted and raved and screamed, that would be bogus, and the kids would see right through it."
Actually, Allen said Wednesday, he saw the SDSU outcome coming after the previous week's loss at Colorado.
"After the Colorado game, there was a lot of finger-pointing," he said. "Now, we've all gone back and looked in the mirror and realized we all have to do a better job. " We're looking within ourselves to get better."
Allen admitted he'd like some of his players to step up into a vocal leadership role. So far, none has emerged.
"Unfortunately, you always are who you are," Allen said. "We don't have a lot of vocal leaders. Some of our captains are struggling. It's hard for them to step to the occasion. And there are a lot of new faces in there.
"There are several people you'd like to see stepping up. But it's difficult for some kids when it's not in their nature. There are a half dozen or a dozen seniors who are playing you'd like to see step up."
If there has been a common theme to all of Allen's discussions with the Jayhawks this week it's this: We're all in this together.
"All we have is ourselves," he said. "We're not going to get players off the waiver wire. All we have is what we have."
Kansas will play host to SMU on Saturday. Kickoff for the homecoming game is 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
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