Archive for Monday, October 11, 2004

Wood: Trash talk backfired on KSU

October 11, 2004


If anything, Kansas State's football players should have learned a valuable lesson Saturday: keep their mouths shut.

In the days leading up to Kansas University's 31-28 football victory Saturday over the Wildcats at Memorial Stadium, K-State media reports were rife with bulletin-board material that easily could have been taped in every KU locker.

K-State players were angry that talk preceding the game speculated the once-immense gap between the two teams had shrunk in a short time.

In hindsight, the prediction was accurate. But some K-State players had no interest in waiting around to find out.

Instead, they chirped.

"They can say whatever they want to say," K-State defensive tackle Jermaine Berry had said. "But for the last couple of years, I've seen the Governor's Cup in our locker room."

Berry was gentle. K-State's backup tight end, Rashaad Norwood, was the least intelligent when speaking on the record.

Norwood, as you may recall, committed to KU a few months before signing day in early 2003, but changed his mind and went to Kansas State at the last second. Why? Because he wanted to play for a winning team.

This week, he made sure he got his name in the newspaper. And not just because he picked up the first reception of his career Saturday.

"The guys I know at KU keep telling me, 'This is the year for us to beat you,'" Norwood said to K-State beat writers before Saturday's game. "They really think they've got a chance. But they don't. KU's still nowhere near K-State at all."

Comments like these are shocking from a Bill Snyder-run program. KU coach Mark Mangino, a Snyder protege, makes sure he and his players are tight-lipped about everything -- injuries, 40-yard dash times, trash-talking.

It can frustrate sportswriters, but it does prevent the upcoming opponent from being tipped off -- or ticked off -- about anything.

The Wildcats weren't good enough to be running their mouths before the in-state showdown. It can be argued no team is good enough to run its mouth before a rivalry game.

The trash talk wasn't what won or lost Saturday's game, of course. KU's defense and special teams won the game. The Wildcats' lack of a first-half touchdown came back to bite them. KU's fourth quarter was full of fireworks, with spectacular plays by Mark Simmons and John Randle providing the necessary points for victory.

The fans, 50,000 strong, made it impossible for K-State to communicate on the line of scrimmage. The student section was awesome.

That's what won the game. But it certainly didn't help the Wildcats to dump gasoline on a Jayhawk flame that continues to glow brighter.

I asked Mangino on Sunday if K-State's loose lips had any effect on KU's pregame motivation.

He wouldn't acknowledge it. It was the smartest answer I heard all week.

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