How long has it been since Kansas reached mid-October with the level of two-sport fan frenzy it now enjoys - a 6-0 football record and legitimate prospects for making the NCAA Final Four in basketball? Closer than you might remember.
Glen Mason's 1995 Jayhawks ran off a 7-0 victory string before falling 41-7 at Kansas State. The Masonites capped a 10-2 season with a 51-30 walloping of UCLA in the Aloha Bowl after Glen talked chancellor Bob Hemenway into letting him return to KU after taking the Georgia job. Roy Williams' basketball team completed a 29-5 season in the NCAA Regional finals. Not a bad year for a "basketball school."
KU's best doubleton since then was in 2005-06 when its 7-5 was the first winning football season since '95. Kansas closed with a Fort Worth Bowl victory, and Bill Self's court crew ran up a 29-5 record that concluded with that sour note against Bradley in the NCAA first round.
Mark Mangino's Jayhawks can enter a highly notable group of past teams by handling Colorado Saturday and joining the 1995 team and the 1968 Orange Bowlers of Pepper Rodgers with a 7-0 start. KU has every reason to believe it can handle the Boulder Buffaloes as well as did Kansas State. Except the Buffs can be cantankerous in their high-altitude domain, and better Jayhawk teams than this one have been gored.
The good news is that KU goes to Colorado with a lot more weapons, skills, depth and swagger than it's had for some time. Kansas seems sure to benefit from watching how K-State dealt with the Buffs and dispensing some of the same commodities.
But once again, we get the old bit about how KU can be good in basketball or even now and then in football but never consistently notable in both, a la Florida, Ohio State, UCLA (in bygone years) and Michigan. Generally that's true. Kansas State also knows that pattern.
KSU once was highly formidable in basketball, often giving KU far more than it could handle. But in the incredible 17-year reign of coach Bill Snyder, K-State, once legitimately judged the worst major college program in the land, developed as a "football school."
All the while, of course, coach Roy Williams was orchestrating a brilliant 15-year record on the court, dispatching K-State with amazing regularity, while football fell short of Roy's Boys' scintillations.
Kansas may never again enjoy the football-basketball eminence it did in 1951-52 and 1952-53. J.V. Sikes' 1951 gridders were 8-2 and, in case you missed it, Phog Allen's '52 basketeers went 28-3 to win the national and Olympic championships. Came autumn '52 and the Sikesters were 7-3 in football. Next thing you know, Phog and Co. were in the NCAA finale again and lost by one point to Indiana.
Only one league team went to postseason games then (always Oklahoma) but under today's policies, both the '51 and '52 KU teams would have wound up in major bowls.
Now the stage is set for an 8-4 or better '07 football record while Bill Self's '08 basketball outfit can go the distance, and I'm not just talking about the Big 12. Yet if the current footballers really want to elevate their sights to a stratospheric level, they can aim for the 10-0 record Fielding Yost's Kansans posted in 1899 and the 9-0-0 mark Bert Kennedy's game fashioned in 1908.
Heck, Mangino and Co. have surged this far, why not finish out with another 6-0 run?