This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Many times it's the moments of greatness in sports that define how we view a team and our fandom. At the same time it can be the absolute bottom that makes those moments so much sweeter.
When I think of the most memorable moments of my time as a Kansas football fan three games come to mind. Three games that I was a part of and in attendance at, and three games that covered the range from where Kansas football was to where Kansas football is or could be.
The first memorable moment is a moment that isn't a good one. In 2001 as we all recall there was a week where football was put on hold as our country faced a much bigger crisis. In that same year, Kansas football would hit rock bottom, Terry Allen would see his career come to an end and one game symbolized the sad state of affairs for Kansas football.
The game was the make up contest between Kansas and the Wyoming Cowboys. The Cowboys rolled into Lawrence on a rainy Saturday two days after thanksgiving. I pulled up a seat with my future wife, grabbed a hot chocolate and had our pick of seats in the stadium. If I'm not mistaken the announced attendance on the day hovered around 24,000. The actual was likely closer to 10,000. Memorial stadium was empty. The Jayhawks won the game, but nobody really cared. Kansas football was in shambles, and the view from the bottom was ugly and memorable for me.
The second most memorable moment for me would come seven seasons later on a Thanksgiving Saturday that was a complete contrast to the game in 2001. The Jayhawks were a year removed from the Orange bowl, and the second edition of the Border War in Arrowhead was taking place. To go from a rainy stadium primarily filled with the family of players in 2001, to a 78,000 seat Stadium in Kansas City nearly full despite horrid weather was a big change.
The game itself was absolutely incredible. It started as well as the Jayhawks could hoped, but the entire first half you could sense the Jayhawks had left too many points on the table and a very solid Tiger squad would make a run. The back and forth second half eventually came down to an incredible fourth down play and a blocked field goal. I can't recall another time when I was so excited and yelled so loud in the stands. There were bigger games certainly, but the 2008 Border War was an incredible contest and an amazing finish.
Finally the game following that Border War, the Insight Bowl in Tempe. If you've been to a Bowl game or a Final Four where Kansas is involved you know what I'm talking about when I say that the sense of community is unreal. To see thousands of Jayhawks who had made the journey to Tempe to enjoy some good food, good football and a few adult beverages, the feeling was pretty amazing.
The game itself was a good one, I sat three rows up from Greg Ostertag which was a nice consolation prize, but in general the entire day and a half trip from Denver to Tempe was as memorable a sporting event as I've been to. From the airport to the hotel to any bar in downtown Tempe, there were Jayhawks. I told myself then that any time Kansas goes to a bowl, it will be a priority of mine to be there. Here's hoping 2010 might just provide me with a surprise trip in December or even early January.
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