Jayhawks get some love
Kansas jumps in poll at No. 20, but team not partying - yet
Kansas University’s football team has no party planned, so don’t expect an invitation.
The Jayhawks were ranked No. 20 in all three major polls – the Associated Press, the coaches and the Harris polls – which were released Sunday, one day after Kansas beat then-No. 24 Kansas State, 30-24, in a huge Big 12 Conference showdown in Manhattan.
The Top-25 ranking is a breakthrough for a Kansas program muddled in mediocrity for more than a decade. It’s the first time KU has cracked the Top 25 in the AP poll since 1996.
Still, there will be no cake, no balloons and no pin the tail on the donkey.
Not yet, anyway.
“We’re appreciative of it, but we’re only headed to week six,” KU coach Mark Mangino said Sunday. “We’ve got a lot of football to play. We’ve got a long way to go.
“We’re more interested to see how we’re ranked when it’s all said and done.”
That’s still at least seven games away, so forgive Mangino for not high-fiving his assistant coaches and telling them to take the rest of the month off.
After all, a trip-up Saturday against Baylor and the Jayhawks would leave the Top 25 as quickly as they entered it. And if that happened, where’s the joy?
“We look at is as more of a by-product of playing well,” Mangino said. “If you play well and play well on a consistent basis, those things come. It’s not any particular goal that we’ve set up. Our goals are more football and performance than that kind of thing.”
It still is a monumental achievement for Kansas, now 5-0 overall and 1-0 in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks were ranked by 61 of the 65 voters in the AP poll, with one writer ranking them as high as 14th and three others ranking them 15th.
Most of the voters ranked them between 18th and 25th.
The Jayhawks last were in the AP Top 25 on Sept. 28, 1996, when they were ranked 20th based in part on their 1995 season when they went 10-2. KU dropped out of the polls for good after losing at Utah, 45-42, in the third game of the ’96 season.
Now they’re back. But a day of back-patting isn’t planned in the football office.
“Here’s how it works, and our kids understand this,” Mangino said. “When they’re saying a lot of good things about you, don’t believe it. They understand that. They know the only thing that is important to them is their performance on the field.”