Oranges in March: Reliving the Greatest Year in Kansas Athletics History

Andrew DoughtyCorrespondent IIDecember 14, 2012

SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 07:  Mario Chalmers #15 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots and makes a three-pointer to tie the game to send it into overtime against the Memphis Tigers during the 2008 NCAA Men's National Championship game at the Alamodome on April 7, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It is difficult to walk around Lawrence, Kansas without hearing whispers of 2008, the greatest year in University of Kansas athletics history.  The Jayhawks football squad started out 2012 exactly the same way the Fighting Mangino's started out 2007, with a win, but they proceeded to drop their next 11 games to finish 1-11. 

The 11 losses were, yes, 11 times more losses than the Orange Bowl-winning team of 2007-08, and with the Kansas basketball team's one loss thus far this season, their combined losses hit 12 before we reached December.  That is three times the loss total from both teams combined during that glorious year known as The Greatest Year in Kansas History.

The combined 49-4 record from that improbably glorious year was a record for most victories by a Division I program, and they became just the second school to record a BCS bowl win and basketball national championship in the same academic sports season. 

With the recent recruiting surge on the gridiron for Charlie Weis and high hopes surrounding Bill Self's hoops team, here is a look back five years ago to that improbable season: 


July 19, 2007: Kansas football receives 63 votes in a Big 12 media poll, good enough for fourth place in the North division and exactly 13 less than the number of points they would later score in a 76-39 win vs. Nebraska four months later.

October 13, 2007: A victory against the hated Wildcats of Manhattan gave the Jayhawks a 5-0 start and a No. 20 ranking in the AP poll the following day.  Todd Reesing, Aqib Talib and Brandon McAnderson had the crimson and the blue rolling toward a bowl game.

November 9, 2007: Bill Self and the Jayhawks hoops team opened their campaign as the No. 4-ranked team in the land, blowing out Louisiana-Monroe at Allen Fieldhouse.  Todd Reesing was completing final preparations in Stillwater before fifth-ranked KU defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys 43-28 to solidify themselves as legit BCS contenders.

November 18, 2007: One day after obliterating Iowa State at Memorial Stadium, KU football received its highest ranking in school history at No. 2 in the nation.

January 3, 2008: A three-point underdog, KU defeated the seasoned veterans of Virginia Tech in the 2008 Orange Bowl to achieve a final ranking of No. 7.

January 12, 2008: One week after the football team's BCS bowl victory, the No. 3-ranked basketball team traveled to Lincoln, where it defeated the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 opener to remain undefeated at 16-0.

March 1, 2008: The Jayhawks adequately paid back the Michael Beasley-led Wildcats and while they were not in Africa, KU appeared ready for a Big 12 tournament run.

March 16, 2008: A 10-point victory over Texas at the Sprint Center for the Big 12 title further padded their tourney resume.

April 5, 2008: Less than a week after stopping the red-hot Davidson Wildcats, Kansas blitzed former coach Roy Williams and the Heels in the Final Four.  A first-half lead of 25 points proved to be enough as they advanced to their first title game in five years.

April 7, 2008: A nine-point deficit with less than two minutes to play against Memphis was erased seconds before the buzzer as junior guard Mario Chalmers hit one of the biggest shots in NCAA Tournament history.  The Kansas basketball team would continue its stunning run in overtime and prevailed for the fifth national title in school history.  It would also cap the best year in Kansas history.