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Archive for Friday, September 14, 2007

Mayer: It’s time to enjoy schedule

September 14, 2007

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Enough of the purist wailing about Kansas University's soft football schedule. It's here, let's relish it.

KU has needed a break like this for a long time. If it can get through four live scrimmages unbeaten and without injuries and can go to Kansas State 4-0, there's no telling what might happen. KU badly needs an 8-4 or even 9-3 record to prove it has finally arrived. Either of those is in reach.

Mark Mangino's enthusiastic charges have collective skills and tools they've lacked for some time. There's glorious speed, and marvelous receivers are on the roster. That little quarterback thinks he can beat anybody, and his teammates have faith in his doing so. A quarterback needn't call the perfect play if the other guys think it is. Hot Toddy Reesing is a gritty, persuasive salesman. An able backup finally is emerging.

Let the Jayhawks fine-tune all their many talents for at least a 4-4 run in Big 12 play. Could be 5-3, and wouldn't that be a hoot?

Jim Carothers, KU faculty guru who knows almost as much about sports as he does about English, dredged up an old Bear Bryant zinger during a recent conversation about how good KU really is and how good it can be. The Bear noted that when a team is 9-1, nobody asks who the nine were. So there are patsies, cupcakes. They still go into the "W" column now and forever more; the guys who put them there have every right to be pleased and proud.

KU wins nine games and how long will zealots commiserate how easy four of those might have been? Turn 'em loose and let's enjoy their steady improvement to load up for K-State.

l What's the greatest fear you ever sensed in a locker room?

Nothing can top the concern in the Kansas quarters about this time in 1952 when team physician Alex Mitchell announced that he'd just hospitalized junior end-fullback Morris Kay as an apparent victim of polio. Mitchell said it seemed to be a mild case, and there was no evidence of paralysis. But Alex made it clear the husky kid from St. John probably would not play the rest of the season - or maybe even the next.

Who has been exposed, who might be next, what precautions should be taken? Lots of sleepless nights ahead for a lot of KU gridiron people. There were countless furtive glances with guys resembling fearful squirrels coming down a tree trunk.

The former president of America, Franklin Roosevelt, had been stricken with "infantile paralysis" in 1921 and heroically won four terms in the White House. Nobody knew for sure how to combat this scourge because Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin were almost a decade away getting their miraculous vaccines approved so the world could enjoy the security it does today.

If you grew up in the 1930s and '40s, you couldn't go swimming, to a movie, even associate with neighborhood kids because your folks were so scared, and you trembled as they did. Little wonder the Jayhawks of '52 went through so much torment - until The Moose was cleared to get back into society. Lo and behold, he played and captained the '53 team, J.V. Sikes' last one here.

After that, Kay was a state legislator, ran for governor and Congress, headed the Kansas Republican Party quite a while and worked for the EPA. He lives here and considers himself supremely blessed to have dodged that terminal polio bullet 55 years ago.

As Phil Silvers used to say, "Gladda see ya, Moose!"

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