The 2007 football season was the arguably the greatest in Kansas history, when the team went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. 10 years later, the football program is again hoping to make an unlikely run to relevance in the college football landscape. Before we turn toward the upcoming season, we take a look back at the season where most of our football dreams came true. The entire SB Nation network is looking back at that season, and we are buying in fully, with lots of content coming to you the rest of this week to commemorate that wild season.
Being a fan of any team is all about the experience. We live and die with our teams. Their victories become ours. Their shortcomings can be a personal affront. Our fandom is defined not just by the games we witness, but also by the thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences that surround those games.
To help in remembering the insanity that was 2007, I asked our contributors (both current and former) a series of questions meant to explore their memories and impressions from that time frame. This is the first in a series of 7 articles, with each exploring a different question.
Check out our answers, and then share your answer below in the comments.
10 years ago, Mark Mangino, Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and many more were looking to improve on a 6-6 season without a bowl appearance. Despite the multiple close losses in 2006, what were your expectations coming into the season?
dnoll5: Bowl game. That’s it. For one thing, I kind of remember being a little upset at the idea of Kerry Meier not being the quarterback after hearing so much about him before he arrived at KU, so going into 2007, I was a little skeptical of Reesing being the full time starter, replacing Kerry. Seemed like a downgrade for whatever reason at the time.
Winmore: I won’t lie and say I saw 11 straight wins and rising up to #2 in the national polls, but I did have high expectations for the ‘07 football ‘Hawks. As a long time KU football fan though, high expectations for a season was 8+ wins and a bowl game. The main reason for my optimism was the team’s defense. Since 2003 Mangino and his staff had steadily built a solid defense with each successive year. It’s a credit to Bill Young, one of the most underrated Defensive Coordinators in the college game. The ‘06 ‘Hawks easily could have finished with 9 or 10 wins. The double OT loss to Toledo, the OT loss to Nebraska (a game in which Jon Cornish was absolutely unstoppable), and three straight blown fourth quarter leads in a row against Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Baylor, all could have just as easily been wins. Piss poor, inconsistent quarterback play sank that team. Whether it was Kerry Meier a year older, or Todd Reesing building on some of the fantastic play he’d shown in small doses in 2006, I felt the quarterback play would be much better in ‘07 and it would flip some of those close losses to wins. All of that combined with the fact that Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech (the best teams in the south division of the old Big 12) were not on our schedule had me feeling like if KU finished 6-6 again that it would be a huge failure.
Mike.Plank: I honestly didn’t expect much going into the season. I didn’t even get season tickets that year. I did get to go to several games. I went to the opener against Central Michigan. I was actually at all of the non-conference games. Also, in August, a group of 8 of us bought tickets to the KU-MU game for $25 apiece. As the season rolled along, each week just became more and more surreal. By the time the MU game rolled around, our $25 tickets were worth $200 each. I definitely did not expect the defense to be as good as it was the year before, and I’m not sure anyone could have predicted that the offense would take off in the way that it did.
David: I don't recall what my exact expectations were, but I distinctly remember being upset when the depth chart was released. We were benching Kerry Meier for a guy was 5’10 at best? Starting a 230 pound fullback as our premiere RB in a spread offense? At that time, Briscoe was an unknown true freshman and no one knew Meier would become a standout receiver, so I was very skeptical of the offense. They very quickly proved me wrong.
KU Grad 08: Expectations were very high. You knew the defense would be better. It was literally the exact same unit returning a year older. I didn’t know they’d improve like they did but you knew it would be better. You knew QB would be better (either Meier a year older or Reesing must be pretty good to unseat him). WR was going to be good (senior Fields and Henry, Briscoe added, Fine was a good tight end). Offensive line would be good.
Throw all that in and mix it with the fact that the team the year before went 6-6 and had three clear “blown games” (games they were the better team and should have won) regarding Toledo, Texas A&M, and Baylor and I was expecting us to go somewhere around 9-3 that season. We should have gone 9-3 the prior season...
Andy Mitts: It’s hard for me to remember exactly what I felt at the time, as I had just graduated the prior year and football wasn’t exactly the first thing on my mind. But I do remember being concerned about losing Jon Cornish and what that would mean for the offense as a whole. There was some concern on the defensive side as well, at least in the secondary due to the new faces that we were going to see, but that overall unit was solid and returning most of the contributors, so I wasn’t as worried. But in terms of results, I was thinking somewhere in the 8 to 9 wins, decent bowl game neighborhood. Kansas should have been invited to a bowl game the prior season with their 6-6 record, but somehow ended up with the short end of the selections, denying them their first back-to-back bowl trips in a long time. I was confident that they would make it 2 bowls in 3 years, it was just a matter of exactly where they would be partying in December.