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Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2001

Simultaneous success in hoops, football possible

Jayhawks have won in both sports at same time

July 7, 2001

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Nothing too mysterious about what new Kansas athletics director Al Bohl must orchestrate: Turn KU into a basketball AND football school.

You know, help fashion the Jayhawk gridiron legion to where it not only gets onto an even keel with archrival Kansas State but eventually dominates the Wildcat gridders as KU football once did and the way KU basketeers do now against their Manhattan counterparts.

Around Kansas and throughout the Big 12 Conference KU is a "basketball school" while K-State is a "football school." Both could be both. Kansas has managed it for short periods of time; Kansas State never has tasted such a delicious doubleton.

KSU with its football momentum under Bill Snyder and its likely basketball resurgence under Jim Wooldridge appears closer to that two-ply feat than Kansas. K-State has the juices flowing for football; Kansas is desperately playing catchup. KSU delightedly flaunts an eight-game victory streak against the Jayhawks.

You don't have to go to night school to realize that it's far tougher to get a football program rolling than to revitalize basketball. K-State people are getting enthusiastic about basketball for the first time since Dana Altman coached. Kansas needs similar excitement to produce football's first winning record since 1995 and get that KSU monkey off its back.

Bohl needs to shed his symbolic Jayhawk baseball cap and crimson and blue tie and hit the ground running to keep the Purple People from gaining even more ground. KSU football is set for another banner season; Kansas's Terry Allen faces a vicious schedule and lots of personnel question marks; he will have a tortuous time winning the four games he did last year.

The new athletics director knows, as does Terry, what might lie in store. If the two of them combine their talents to get KU five or, wonder of wonders, six victories, they might be cast in bronze and placed alongside the Phog Allen statue at the fieldhouse.

But back to that football-basketball doubleton which, as I said, KU has enjoyed at times while K-State never has.

In the 1930s, Kansas generally owned area basketball but did not exactly enjoy a Notre Dame-type reputation on the gridiron. There was that 6-2 record under Bill Hargiss that produced a Big Six title in 1930. Then a Hargiss-Ad Lindsey coaching caper brought a 5-3 in 1932 and Lindsey had a 5-4 in 1933. KU didn't post another winning season until the 7-2-1 of 1946; little wonder it was considered a "basketball school." Kansas State, meanwhile, was no threat for either.

Perhaps the finest two-way wallop Kansas has ever swung came during the 1950-51, 1951-52 and 1952-53 academic years. Coach J.V. Sikes's footballers went 21-9 in those three seasons ('50, '51 and '52), with records that easily would have put them in bowl games nowadays. Phog Allen's basketeers ran the table with a 63-17 record for the 1951-52-53 campaigns. They won NCAA and Olympic title honors in '52 and finished second to Indiana by a single point in the '53 NCAA finale.

Kansas State under Jack Gardner had emerged as a national contending court power. The 'Cats finished second to Kentucky in the 1951 NCAA title game and were probably the No. 2 team in the country, behind Kansas, in 1952, when the NCAA allowed only one team per conference in its 16-team field.

But in those three seasons KU was 21-9 in football, Kansas State was 2-27-1; Kansas beat the bejabbers out of KSU each meeting. Bill Snyder was 36 long, painful years in the future.

Kansas had a 36-20-3 football surge under Jack Mitchell from 1959 through 1964 while basketball in the final five years of Dick Harp and the first season for Ted Owens was 85-68. Not a lot of titles but the good times rolled more often than not.

The '57 basketball season saw KU under Harp make the NCAA finals with Wilt Chamberlain as the hub; the preceding fall, football had gone 5-4-1 in Chuck Mather's swan song. Pretty good combo, but no cigar.

KU basketball was rejuvenated from the 1984 through 1988 seasons with Larry Brown and Danny Manning sparking a 135-44 record and a national title. That same period, KU football was 19-35-2 in three seasons under Mike Gottfried and two under Bob Valesente.

Kansas football under Glen Mason was 14-9 in '91 and '92 while Roy Williams's cagers were 56-12 the two corresponding seasons. Then there was 1995-96 when Mason's guys were 10-2 and a bowl champion and Roy's Boys were 29-5. There was promise until Mason pulled his on-again, off-again capers with Georgia and Minnesota.

K-State once was a "basketball school" with coaches Jack Gardner, Tex Winter, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Jack Hartman and Lon Kruger holding the fort with a 377-86 record while football floundered. Snyder was 1-10 in his '89 debut but has been incredible since. KU under Williams has been a basketball hotbed but football hasn't had a winning year since 1995. Then there's that 0-8 albatross with K-State.

Now Williams is looking over his shoulder at the likes of Wooldridge at K-State and Quin Snyder at Missouri while the Jayhawk brain trust tries to work a miracle for football. Hope I'm wrong, but it could be a little while before Bohl translates into "football bowl" for Kansas. Will we ever see both with Bohl?

For a carrot on a stick, there's always Kansas State's excruciating football futility prior to 1989.

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