Archive for Thursday, December 27, 2007

Woodling: Miami unkind to KU

December 27, 2007


KU gearing up for Miami

The Kansas offense has been fantastic all season long, but the Jayhawks' stiffest test of the year comes in just over a week against Virginia Tech. Enlarge video

Jayhawks leave for Miami Thursday morning

The day the Kansas football team plays in a BCS bowl game for the first time ever is fast approaching - in fact, Thursday morning the Jayhawks leave for Miami. Enlarge video

Yes, I know Virginia Tech is favored over Kansas in the Orange Bowl. The Gobblers aren't turkeys, and the combined record of the 11 teams KU defeated was a lackluster 50-80.

Fortune may or may not need to smile on the Jayhawks next week, but a grin or two sure wouldn't hurt. From a historical standpoint, however, KU fans already have one reason to jump for joy.

As you know, the Orange Bowl is now staged at Dolphin Stadium, not in the Orange Bowl itself, a rust-encrusted, 70-year-old relic scheduled for demolition sometime in 2008.

That's good news because the Orange Bowl stadium has been a chamber of horrors for Kansas, and not just during its 1948 and 1969 post-season appearances. KU actually has played in the Orange Bowl stadium three times. Back in 1990, the Jayhawks met Miami University in a regular-season nonconference game inside the decaying steel structure.

In all three games, strange things happened to the Jayhawks, none of them serendipitous.

In the '48 Orange Bowl, KU appeared headed for a late tying touchdown when quarterback Lynne McNutt attempted a quarterback sneak a mere two feet from the end zone and lost the ball. Controversy raged as to whether McNutt fumbled or was stripped after the whistle. Georgia Tech won, 20-14.

In the '69 Orange Bowl, the Jayhawks appeared to have stopped a Penn State two-point conversion attempt in the waning seconds to preserve a 14-13 victory. But KU was whistled for having 12 men on the field. The Nittany Lions tried again, succeeded and won, 15-14.

Then there was the Jayhawks' third and last appearance in the decrepit stadium - a game that featured an unusual pregame incident as well as a phantom touchdown.

That Kansas-Miami game in '90 wasn't close. The Hurricanes, 35-point favorites, won 34-0 (at least the Jayhawks beat the spread) after their customary pregame intimidation tactic of disrupting the opposing team's warmups by running through them on their way out from the locker room.

Unthrilled by this unsportsmanlike display, several KU players bumped and jostled a few of the Hurricanes' players in a surreal spectacle about half an hour before kickoff. The scuffling lasted for a minute or so.

Then there was the touchdown that wasn't.

Kansas was inside Miami's five-yard line, facing a fourth-and-goal, while trailing 20-0, when KU coach Glen Mason rejected a short field-goal attempt.

Most coaches probably would have attempted a pass in this situation, but Mason, who usually considered a pass nothing more than a short cut through the mountains, sent tailback Tony Sands into the Miami line. Sands was stopped about the two. Worse, he fumbled.

Mason looked like an idiot. But wait. KU center Chip Budde had covered the loose ball in the end zone. Kansas had scored, after all. Mason looked like a genius.

For a minute or so, anyway. Or until the officials waved off the apparent touchdown. What the :???

Well, as it turned out, just a few months earlier college football poobahs had adopted a new rule stipulating that if a ball was fumbled inside the five-yard line on fourth down, the ball could be recovered only by the fumbler. That rule, incidentally, is still in effect.

Now all KU football fans can do is hope a change in venue will mean an end to the Jayhawks' misfortunes in Miami.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.