Finally, an election free of negative TV commercials and other forms of mud-slinging, crooked campaign contributions, under-the-table promises, phony smiles, dead people voting, bumper stickers and outright lies.
The election process is not entirely democratic, rather somewhere between the way a democracy would conduct an election and the method used by a benevolent dictatorship, closer to the former than the latter. Turner Gill decides whose name is on the ballot — all seniors, except those who have ticked him off. Gill chooses which non-seniors, if any, sneak onto the ballot.
The election’s outcome determines which players will earn the honor of the title captain for the Kansas University football team. Forecasting the names of the captains presents a far greater challenge than it did a year ago, when Texan Todd Reesing and Kansans Kerry Meier, Darrell Stuckey and Jake Sharp earned the honor.
Senior cornerback Chris Harris ranks as the most obvious choice. So, Chris, how’s the campaign progressing? He laughed at the notion he would campaign for the job.
“They know who’s talking out there, who’s being a leader out there,” Harris said with a smile. “They know.”
Harris is personable, has proven he can play and has enough confidence to light up teammates taking it easy for a play or two.
“I definitely see myself as a leader on this team,” Harris said. “I’ve got the most experience on this team and I definitely feel like I’m a leader on the defense, so I expect to be a captain. If they don’t choose me for captain, it’s cool. I’m still going to be a leader, do my role on the field.”
Gill didn’t reveal the date of Election Day and didn’t say how many players earn the honor. For argument’s sake, let’s say four.
The guess here says Harris earns the honor. Defensive end Jake Laptad, as accomplished a player as this team has, is a friendly fellow. He seems to be coming out of his shell, getting more talkative. Count on him nailing down stripes.
Offensive lineman Brad Thorson, a standout student deeply involved in campus government and charitable causes, has opinions, enjoys representing the program and wouldn’t be afraid to get in the face of a selfish teammate.
Beyond Harris, Laptad and Thorson, the guessing game grows mysterious. Seniors Sal Capra, Drew Dudley, Phillip Strozier and Johnathan Wilson make some sense, but Gill might have been sending a clue when he said he could put an underclassman on the ballot. That seemed to suggest he wants a non-senior among the captains, which will help the election chances of one.
Tight end Tim Biere? He’s a rising star, but on the quiet side. Here’s a better thought, a sleeper that makes sense: Wide receiver Daymond Patterson. Watching Patterson blossom from a freshman on the bashful side to a confident communicator ready to lead one TD reception at a time serves as a nice reminder of how participating in college athletics can do a great deal for a student.
Here’s hoping Patterson, who unselfishly spent time on defense for a while, gets placed on the ballot and is elected captain.