Notebook: Mahomes visits game; Texas Tech staff features KU connections
Kansas fans don’t usually find themselves at odds with Patrick Mahomes, but Saturday was a rare exception.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ star quarterback — who played his college ball at Texas Tech, KU’s opponent Saturday — was spotted in the suites near the press box at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, and his wife Brittany posted an Instagram story of Mahomes and daughter Sterling taking in the game a few minutes after kickoff, captioned “Football with Dad.”
Before Mahomes became the face of the NFL, he was a promising young quarterback for the Red Raiders. As a sophomore in 2015, his squad held off a plucky KU team 30-20, and then in 2016 he threw for four touchdowns and exited due to injury before his backup Nic Shimonek tossed four more and Tech won 55-19.
Then, of course, he got selected in the first round by the Chiefs, slid into a starting role his second season, and the rest is history.
He ended up watching a fellow No. 15 quarterback, KU’s freshman walk-on Cole Ballard, for a sizable chunk of Saturday’s game, and saw his alma mater claim a dramatic victory.
Plenty of coaches around the Big 12 Conference have some sort of Kansas connection, but how many can say that they played a role — albeit an unseen, extremely indirect one — in the Jayhawks’ most successful football season of the modern era?
Current Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire came up through the highly competitive coaching ranks of Texas high school football, including a 14-year stint guiding the program at Cedar Hill High School in Dallas County before he made the leap to the college ranks.
That gave him a chance to shape numerous influential college rosters of the 2000s and 2010s, including KU’s Orange Bowl team under Mark Mangino. Kick returner Marcus Herford and eventual NFL wideout Dezmon Briscoe were both part of Todd Reesing’s receiving corps that year and came from Cedar Hill. Mangino also recruited cornerback Greg Brown and linebacker Corwin Hicks from the Longhorns’ program.
That means McGuire has perspective on, as he put it, “the times that they were playing extremely well.”
“Lance coming in, what he’s done in his three years, it’s really impressive,” McGuire said.
Herford was actually recruited to KU by then-linebackers coach Dave Doeren, whose NC State squad McGuire took on in one of his first games at Texas Tech last season. (Doeren’s Wolf Pack won 27-14.)
Other products of McGuire’s Cedar Hill program over the years for KU included wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (2016, a transfer from Texas A&M) and cornerback Brandon Stewart (2015-2016, a JUCO product), though they didn’t get to play on especially successful teams those years under David Beaty.
McGuire also said he had some familiarity with what KU football was like prior to Leipold’s arrival, when “the previous coaches, they probably never got to a full roster because of the old rules (before the transfer portal),” in part because of the presence of Kenny Perry on his staff.
Perry was Stewart’s position coach as the co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach for Beaty those first two seasons, then moved to oversee special teams in the latter two.
He now serves as an associate head coach for McGuire.
“I’m so happy for them and their fans, I mean, honestly,” Perry said Tuesday. “Now don’t get me wrong, I want to beat their ass, but I really am, I’m happy for them because they’ve struggled for so long, coach Leipold’s done a great job.”
He was not at KU for the Jayhawks’ bizarre 2019 win over Texas Tech — though he did call it a “debacle” this week. That was the game in which KU got just its second-ever win against the Red Raiders, and first ever in regulation, when the Jayhawks’ Liam Jones had a game-winning field goal attempt blocked, only for TTU to fumble on a bizarre lateral attempt on the ensuing return, giving Jones another shot, which he converted for the 37-34 win.
“Don’t get me wrong, I bring that up quite frequent,” said Perry, who leads special teams for the Red Raiders.
He has overseen two of Texas Tech’s top performers this year in running back Tahj Brooks and punter Austin McNamara.
More familiar faces
After taking on their former defensive tackle Da’Jon Terry when they faced Oklahoma, the Jayhawks lined up opposite another onetime KU player in receiver Jordan Brown, the younger brother of Gonzalez and a Les Miles recruit who had one catch in two seasons for the Jayhawks.
He stuck around for the first year under Leipold before transferring to Texas Tech (joining former KU interim coach Emmett Jones, who has since left for Oklahoma), where he has had some moderate involvement as a wideout and kick returner. Against Tarleton State this season, he had six catches for 73 yards and his first career touchdown. He had one catch for 2 yards Saturday.
The Red Raiders’ strength and conditioning coach Lance Barilow spent a season at KU on Miles’ staff, and offensive graduate assistant Trent Vasey held a similar position under Leipold in 2021.
Part of the reason why Texas Tech already held a 22-2 advantage over KU prior to Saturday was that the Jayhawks’ best teams under Mark Mangino coincided with the Red Raiders’ best under the late Mike Leach. In 2008, when he had Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, Leach led Texas Tech to an 11-win campaign, the most the program had accomplished in a single season since 1973. That was the only other year prior to 2023 that the Red Raiders had faced a ranked KU team, and they beat that team 63-21 in Lawrence.
When Mangino visited Lawrence last month for Nick Reid’s induction into the Ring of Honor, he recounted the story of Leach asking him, in 2009, years after Reid’s graduation if he could put the name “Nick” onto quarterback Taylor Potts’ jersey in the hopes of instilling some of Reid’s toughness in Potts.
“Mike Leach told me he’s the toughest guy he’s ever seen play in the Big 12,” Mangino said. “You know how many great players have played in this league?”
This and that
Saturday’s game was the first 11 a.m. kickoff for the Red Raiders all season after playing seven of their first nine games at night.
The 1965 meeting between KU and Texas Tech was the first college football game ever to use instant replay.