Archive for Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Woodling: Former QB roughed up in only start for Kansas

April 13, 2005


On Halloween eve nearly 23 years ago, Kansas University football coach Don Fambrough turned Mike Bohn into a pumpkin.

Bohn, Colorado University's new athletic director, started one game at quarterback for Kansas University. The date was Oct. 30, 1982. The opponent was Nebraska, then ranked No. 6 in the polls.

Do you remember? I don't blame you if you don't because Fambrough doesn't, either.

"I could make something up, and it wouldn't be the first time," the 82-year-old former KU coach quipped, "but all I remember is that he was a super kid, but not a great athlete."

To tell the truth, I also didn't remember much about Bohn's only start as a KU quarterback, so thank goodness the Journal-World has every issue stored on microfilm.

Frank Seurer, who remains KU's career passing yardage leader to this day, was the Jayhawks' regular quarterback that season, but Seurer had suffered a partial shoulder separation two weeks earlier and had reinjured the arm the previous week.

Thus the decision was made to hold Seurer out of the Nebraska game. However, instead of starting back-up QB Mike Frederick, Fambrough opted for Bohn, a senior who hadn't even played until that season, and only as a late-game mopper-upper at that.

"I'm sure Mike never felt he'd play a down of varsity ball, and now he's starting against Nebraska," Fambrough said a few days before the game. "We just figured he's more mature and able to handle the starting role than Frederick."

Those of us covering KU football in those days suspected, however, that Fambrough's motive for starting the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Bohn was to try to save Frederick for the next Saturday when the Jayhawks would face Iowa State, a much more beatable team than Nebraska.

And so, prior to the KU-NU kickoff at Memorial Stadium, one press box wag cracked that all the media-types should pause for a moment of silence in respect for Bohn because he was about to be thrown to the lions.

Bohn survived, of course, despite the Cornhuskers rolling to a 52-0 triumph. Bohn wasn't injured, even though he was sacked five times for 54 yards in losses. He also was intercepted twice. But he did complete four passes for 63 yards.

"He did the best he could, and that's all I could ask," Fambrough told reporters after the game.

And what did Bohn have to say about his first (and only) college start? He invoked the name of the Stanford University quarterback who would finish second in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year (to Georgia's Herschel Walker).

"I don't think John Elway or any other great quarterback would have had success today against that defense," Bohn said. "I gave it my best shot."

And so he did. Seurer returned the next week and Kansas knocked off Iowa State, 24-17. Bohn didn't play. In fact, he would run onto the field only one more time that season.

A week later, Bohn mopped up in a 28-3 loss to Colorado in Boulder, Colo., his hometown. Thus Bohn played his last high school game and his last college game in Boulder.

Bohn never would have left the Flatirons if CU hadn't fired head coach Bill Mallory and his staff during Bohn's senior year at Boulder High. Bohn wound up at Kansas because Tom Batta, one of Mallory's aides, had joined Fambrough's staff.

"I really liked Colorado until the coaching change," Bohn said. "Coach Batta had recruited me at Colorado, so when he came here I got an interest in Kansas."

Later, Bohn was interested in Kansas again. Twice. After Bob Frederick resigned as Kansas AD in 2001, Bohn's name came up. And after Al Bohl was fired in 2003, Bohn's name came up again. But Bohn never received an interview.

Now at the age of 44, Bohn is the new AD at Colorado and he will face difficulties not unlike the ones that loomed in front of him before his only college football start.

At least this time he has a chance to resolve them. He had no chance on that late October afternoon in 1982.

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