Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Keegan: Nothing to hate about this

November 21, 2007

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She enrolled at Kansas University as a freshman in the fall of 1940 and has been a fan of the football team ever since, but that doesn't mean Scottie Lingelbach wastes negative energy hating on all things Missouri.

On the contrary, some of her fondest memories date back to when she and her late husband, Dale, lived in St. Joseph, Mo. They would attend the KU-Mizzou game annually with friends who were Missouri fans. When the children were younger, the couples pooled resources and had one sitter watch them all. As the children grew, they joined their parents at the games.

The Lingelbachs moved to Carthage, Mo., and continued the tradition of going to the games with their friends from St. Joe.

Scottie Lingelbach, who now lives in Lawrence, remembers preparing to leave Carthage for St. Joe on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, when news broke that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

"All the way up we listened to developments on the radio," Scottie wrote in an e-mail. "We spent the weekend (in St. Joe) watching the unfolding events on TV."

The game was postponed until Nov. 30.

It shouldn't take the assassination of a president to remind everyone that a football game is not so important as to inspire some of the ridiculous behavior going on with racist T-shirts and talk of hatred far, far away from the practice fields.

Saturday's game at Arrowhead is a big one all right, with more at stake than any in the history of the rivalry that started in 1891. That's all the more reason to keep the focus on the field, where the teams have a combined 21-1 record and have legitimate shots at the national title.

Before this Kansas team moved to second in the national rankings, the 1968 Pepper Rodgers-coached Jayhawks were the school's highest-ranked team, climbing as high as third in the nation. Back then, peace and love were cultural buzzwords. In honor of that era that gave us bell-bottom pants, sideburns to match and vans with curtains, why not concentrate on loving your team instead of hating the other one.

There's a lot to love about this game.

Both teams feature spread offenses, but do so in an old-school way that values balance, not in a Texas Tech complete-the-pass-or-fail way.

Both teams have entertaining, daring quarterbacks from Texas. Chase Daniel and Todd Reesing have combined for 60 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

Both teams have versatile big-play athletes. KU cornerback Aqib Talib is a threat to catch a touchdown pass, receiver Kerry Meier a threat to throw one.

Mizzou's Jeremy Maclin, a freshman, has 885 receiving yards (397 yards and five touchdown receptions in the past three weeks), 287 rushing yards, 256 punt-return yards and 881 kick return yards. Maclin has scored 16 touchdowns, at least one in each of those four ways. After reading all those numbers, this surely will come as a shock: He's really fast.

It takes more than speed to win. Football's a rough game. It will be on the officiating crew to make sure it doesn't get unnecessarily so. In the stands, it will be on the passionate supporters of both teams to make sure things stay civil, to make sure that the focus remains where it belongs, on the achievements of the athletes who make up two remarkable teams.

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