Archive for Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Woodling: Collapses not a new problem

October 24, 2006

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What goes around, you'll often hear coaches say, comes around.

In other words, if something unfortunate happens, the scales will eventually balance through a stroke of good fortune.

Unless, of course, you're talking about Kansas University football. What goes around is definitely not coming around.

In four-plus years as KU's coach, Mark Mangino has suffered through an unbelievable string of quarterback injuries. At the same time, the Jayhawks have blown a staggering number of second-half leads.

In some cases, an injury to the starting quarterback was a factor in the late meltdowns, but mostly the two albatrosses hanging over Mangino's program are mutually exclusive.

As difficult as it is to believe, a dozen of the Jayhawks' last 23 defeats - more than half - have happened after KU either led or was tied at halftime. Five of those 12 have occurred in this season from post-halftime hell.

Yet none of this year's pratfalls have been as bad as that Texas Tech game two years ago when the Jayhawks led 30-5 late in the first half, then disappeared after intermission, allowing the Red Raiders to rally for a stunning 31-30 victory. That's the biggest blown lead in school history.

When it comes to back-to-back nightmares, however, nothing can match the last two weeks when the Jayhawks squandered a 17-0 halftime lead against Oklahoma State, then watched a 35-17 halftime advantage evaporate at Baylor.

One inexplicable aspect of the Jayhawks' swan dives under Mangino is their abundance in even-numbered years. Last year, for instance, KU blew only one halftime lead, and it was just three points. The Jayhawks' led 3-0 at Kansas State, and eventually fell, 12-3.

Two years ago, however, KU wasted leads in three of its seven defeats and lost another game - Northwestern (20-17) - that was tied 3-3 at the break. The three second-half fades - all at Memorial Stadium - were against Texas Tech (see above), Colorado and Texas.

Colorado overcame a 14-10 KU lead to post a 30-21 victory. A week later, Texas rallied from a 9-7 deficit for a 27-23 win that dented Mangino's wallet after he blamed the officiating.

Kansas dropped six games in 2003, but blew only one lead. KU led Colorado, 35-24, after the first 30 minutes in Boulder, but the Buffaloes escaped with a 50-47 win in overtime. Also that season, KU and Texas A&M were tied 14-14 at the half in College Station, Texas, before the Aggies exploded for a 45-33 triumph.

Mangino took over KU's program in 2002 and his first edition was so bad it lost 10 games, most of them blowouts. Still, that team did pull one late gag job by allowing Baylor to score 10 points in the last 1:18 to salvage a 35-32 triumph.

Saturday's late tailspin in Waco gave those who remembered the Jayhawks' collapse four years earlier a sense of deja vð, and caused many of them to wonder if what seemed like an isolated incident in '02 wasn't actually foreshadowing.

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