Kansas opened the 2009 season ranked 25th, the second season in succession that the Jayhawks opened a season ranked, and the first time in school history that Kansas has achieved that feat.
Kansas set a school record in posting 20 wins over two seasons, but are the Jayhawks a dominant force? In 2008, Kansas went 1-5 against BCS competition that finished the season with a winning record. Of those games, the Jayhawks were 1-4 in the Big 12 against winning teams, with the four losses coming by an average of 23.5 points.
Coming into the 2009 season, Kansas, under head coach Mark Mangino, has posted a 4-17 record against the Big 12 South, with no wins in 2008.
The Jayhawks set a school-record in 2008 in posting a 305.6 yards-per-game average. That figure, however, was only good enough for fifth place in the Big 12. Similar results with total points (33.4 points per game, second best in school histroy; eighth in the Big 12) and total offense (432.4 yards per game).
In the Jayhawk fight song, the six of the other members from the Big Eight Conference are mentioned by name. Which one is not?
"Talk about the Sooners, the Cowboys and the Buffs,
Talk about the Tiger and his tail,
Talk about the Wildcats and those Cornhuskin’ boys,
But I’m the bird to make ‘em weep and wail …. ”
Answer: The Iowa State Cyclones. (Oddly enough, the song goes on to mention the Tigers of Missouri and the Cornhuskers of Nebraska twice. In-state rival Kansas State merits only the one mention).
The only conference title won by Kansas in football since the inception of the Big Seven in 1948 came in 1968, when quarterback Bobby Douglas and running back John Riggins led the Jayhawks to a 6-1 conference record.
Kansas tied with Oklahoma for the Big Eight title, and, despite losing to the Sooners, 27-23, earned the trip to the Orange Bowl since Oklahoma had been to Miami the year before. In the Orange Bowl, the Jayhawks lost to Penn State, 15-14, to finish with a 9-2 record and a No. 7 ranking.
The 2007 Jayhawks matched the1968 team’s final ranking, finishing seventh, after a 24-21 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl gave Kansas a 12-1 final record. Last season marked just the third time that the Jayhawks have finished in the top 10. The 1995 team finished with a No. 9 ranking on the heels of a 10-2 season (still, that No. 9 national ranking was only good enough for fourth in the Big Eight, as in ‘95 Nebraska finished No. 1, Colorado was No. 5, and Kansas State finished ranked No. 7).
Kansas did finish the 1960 season with a 6-0-1 conference record, but forfeited wins over Colorado and Missouri for using an ineligible player.
The Jayhawks 40-15 win over Nebraska in 2005 broke a 36-game losing streak, the second longest in Division 1-A history (Notre Dame over Navy stands at 43 straight in favor of the Fightin Irish, Navy broke that streak in 2007). The KU/NU series, dating back to 1906, stands as the longest uninterrupted series in Division 1-A (The Minnesota/Wisconsin series started earlier, but the teams did not play in 1906).
The “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” cheer dates back to 1886. A KU chemistry professor came up with a cheer for his Science club. Patterning a chant after the cadence of a train, the professor came up with “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU”. The “Rock Chalk” was added later. It was added as an allusion to the limestone formations on nearby Mount Oread—and because it rhymed—the “Jayhawk” is a mythical bird. It portends to combine the traits of a blue jay (a noisy, contentious raider) and a sparrow hawk (a stealthy hunter).
Famous football alumni including Bobby Douglas and John Riggins, above, the Jayhawks have had three consensus All-Americans. Gale Sayers (1963-64), John Zook (1968), and David Jaynes (1973).
Ohter famous alumni include Bob Dole (Senator), Don Johnson (actor), and Jim Ryun (track)