Coach Mark Mangino, his staff and players aren't the only ones working hard on Kansas football this preseason.
KU's marketing staff was on hand Wednesday night at Memorial Stadium for the Jayhawks' first Fan Appreciation Night, handing out some of the 15,000 posters and 110,000 schedule cards that were printed to promote season-ticket sales.
Wednesday's event, which featured a scrimmage and autograph session, drew about 700 fans as KU wrapped up two-a-day practices. A similar event, Jayhawk Football Kids Day, drew about 500 fans after an Aug. 11 practice.
"It went really well," Lee Johnson, KU's director of marketing, said of Wednesday's festivities. "The turnout was good. You need to get in as many places with as many faces as you can."
That approach seems to be working. KU has sold about 22,600 season tickets, its highest total in 25 years.
Today will be particularly hectic for Johnson's staff, which will have a table on campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wescoe Hall. From 4 to 6 p.m., the promotions staff will set up shop on KU's Edwards Campus in Johnson County. The staff will wrap up the evening at Mill Creek Brewery when Mangino speaks to KU fans at 5:30 p.m. in the Westport bar.
Johnson has been targeting students, who begin classes today, in recent weeks. His staff has attended several back-to-school events, such as Traditions Night. Students can purchase season football tickets for $25 or football and basketball tickets for $99.
KU marketing also is staking out some unique locations. The staff has set up a table every Friday this month at Kansas University Medical Center.
"We've had a lot of success," Johnson said. "The first day we were there, we sold about 12 season tickets."
Fans also can purchase tickets every Saturday at Hy-Vee, 4000 West Sixth St.
Whether KU can eclipse the school record of 27,624 season tickets could depend on the outcome of the Jayhawks' season-opening road games at Iowa State and UNLV.
"Any momentum we can build in those road games will help us, not only with season-ticket sales but with walk-up sales for individual games," Johnson said. "It's a very attainable goal. Success on the football field in those two games would make it a very attainable goal. The excitement around coach Mangino and the team is evident."
Mangino and the Jayhawks hope to generate some excitement when they attend a Sept. 12 pep rally downtown to promote the Sept. 14 home opener against Southwest Missouri State. No time has been set for the rally, which will take place in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street.
Mangino and senior captains Leo Etienne, Greg Cole and Justin Sands all thanked the fans for attending Wednesday night's scrimmage and reminded them to come back during the season.
"You'll see a lot of changes this year," Sands said. "I want to see the stadium full. We'll make it worth your while."
The team's open scrimmage lasted about an hour. Mangino used all five of his quarterbacks, including freshman Joe Hogan and red-shirt freshman Brian Luke.
Senior Jonas Weatherbie led a scoring drive against the No. 1 defense, capped by his short touchdown run. Junior college transfer Bill Whittemore had a short touchdown run and tossed a short TD pass to sophomore receiver Brandon Rideau.
Junior Zach Dyer, who leads Whittemore and Weatherbie on the depth chart, threw a short TD pass to freshman receiver Charles Gordon.
After Gordon's touchdown, sophomore kicker Johnny Beck missed the extra-point attempt wide right. Beck then attempted three more PATs, bouncing one off the right upright and making two.
Junior running back Reggie Duncan also scored on a short touchdown run.
Mangino said on Tuesday that Duncan likely would start the season opener and that backup Clark Green had been slowed by nagging injuries. Green, a red-shirt freshman, participated in Wednesday's scrimmage.
KU is expected to release an updated depth chart today.