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The Kansas Jayhawks 2007 Football Season Seems Impossible All These Years Later

Mark Mangino
Mark Mangino versus Missouri | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Remember that time the Kansas Jayhawks were good at football? Like, really good. The 2007 Jayhawks football team went 12-1 and beat fifth-ranked Virginia Tech in the BCS Orange Bowl. If any other school had that kind of season out of nowhere, it would be worth talking about, but Kansas? Kansas is as bad a football school as they are a good basketball school.

The guy who invented the sport of basketball coached at Kansas. If you ignore the 2007 football season, it's unclear if anyone ever even explained the rules of football at Kansas. While the Jayhawks have won three NCAA basketball titles, they have just four football seasons with 10+ wins. Kansas has more seasons with double-digit loses in the last decade than it has seasons with double-digit wins in the school's entire 128 year old history. Kansas basketball's last sub-.500 season was 1983. Kansas football went winless in 2015.

So where did Kansas get off going off for an entire season? Quarterback Todd Reesing threw for 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. In 2010, he was cut by the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders during training camp. Running backs Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp combined for 25 touchdowns and over 2,300 yards from scrimmage. The one stud of the entire team was future five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib.

So it must have been the coach that took an unranked team to a BCS bowl game. The incredible leadership of coach Mark Mangino. A coach so impressive he inspired one of the best baby Halloween costumes of all-time in 2008. What kind of leader was Fully Grown Adult Mangino? Well...

The season started with a 52-7 win over Central Michigan. The Jawhawks' fourth touchdown came on a 77-yard punt return by Raimond Pendleton, who dove into the end zone and drew a penalty. It was the kind of thing that would upset any coach, but Mangino came unhinged.

Mangino apparently had quite a few incidents where he screamed at people, from players, like linebacker Artist Wright, to Kansas staff issuing him parking tickets. It all came to a head in 2009 as Kansas slid back to mediocrity,

Still, 2007 was something to remember. They started the season unranked and stayed that way until week six. By week 12, they were No. 2 in the nation. They could have played for the BCS National Championship, but fourth-ranked Missouri and Chase Daniel upset them in the regular season finale. Finishing the season with a win over No. 5 Virginia Tech seemed to legitimize the season. A true fraud would have lost the Orange Bowl. Kansas was for real.

According to Wikipeida, the team's performance earned them the "Stanley Tools Breakthrough of the Year Award," which seems to have been given out at the annual college football awards. Wikipedia is the only place on the internet where you can find the words, "Stanley Tools Breakthrough of the Year Award" typed in that order until this post.

2008 was a down year as the team fell to 8-5. That was the last time the football team had a winning record. In 2009, they lost seven straight to end the season and Mangino was on his way out. Jason Whitlock wondered in the Kansas City Journal if Mangino was so angry because of his weight. Whitlock thought if Mangino took two years off and dropped a few hundred pounds he'd be an excellent and even-keeled BCS or NFL head coaching candidate. Instead, after a few years off and another stop at Youngstown State, Mangino was run out of Iowa State and retired in 2016.

After winning 12 games in 2007 and having a legitimate shot at playing for a National Championship, things have gone back to normal in Lawrence. Kansas has won 12 games total since 2014. Meanwhile, the basketball team was again headed towards a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

Order has been restored. Kansas is bad at football again. Annually. What made everything fall into place for four months? Who knows, but they are the reason that every athlete is allowed to believe it could happen to them. Even if it ultimately doesn't.