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 seventh 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.
After experiencing the entire season, how did that affect your Kansas football fandom?
dnoll5: I rarely watch football of any kind any more. In fact, the last several years, the only games I watched on TV were KU football and the inevitable Chiefs playoff loss. KU football is the only reason I’m interested in the sport in the least, so I guess you could say that it had a major impact on my football fandom because it is the only thing that has kept it alive.
Winmore: After 2007, I didn’t think KU was close to, nor they would ever be, a national championship caliber football power. But I thought they were capable of being something like what Sonny Lubick had put together in Fort Collins at Colorado State in the late 90s and early 2000s. That is a consistent bowl team that wins an average of 7 or 8 games a season, with a few dips to 6-6, a few double digit flirtations with the Top 10 in the polls, a division title or two, and maybe, just maybe, a conference title game win during a down conference year. That’s why it’s been so demoralizing to watch them fall apart since the second half of the 2009 season. It’s like all their recruiting chips were on the table to make a run at a special season in 2007.
That ‘07 season fit a pattern for the Jayhawk football program though. In every decade since the 1940s KU has had at least one special season. In ‘47 they went to the Orange Bowl and finished #12 in the nation. In ‘52 they finished #7 in the nation. In ‘68 they went to the Orange Bowl and finished #7 in the nation. In ‘73 they went to the Liberty Bowl and finished #18 in the nation. In ‘81 they won 8 games and went to the Liberty Bowl. In ‘95 they won 10 games and finished #9 in the nation. We’re running out of years in the 2010s, but if the pattern follows suit, the ‘Hawks are due to put something worth watching on the field at some point over the next three seasons.
Mike.Plank: I’ve always been a KU football fan first, which means my football watching has mostly suffered a lot of disappointment. 2007 almost made it worse, because it gave me hope that KU could actually be a solid, respectable program. But as Winmore mentioned, it turned out to be just another flash in the pan, another spectacular season in a decade full of mediocrity (or worse). Bill Snyder can’t coach forever, right? I think once he’s out of Manhattan, if KU has the right coach in place - is Beaty that coach? - the Jayhawks can be a perennial bowl team, despite what 100 years of history tells us. We know there’s someone out there that can win in Lawrence, which means there’s someone out there that can continually win in Lawrence.
KU Grad 08: It was vindication for the last few years for me. Watching KU blow lead after lead the year before. The frustration. Seeing a team that was good but couldn’t quite reach the next level. Seeing a team lose so many close games. All the games I went to, all the time invested… it paid off. Because when I sat there in Florida and watched us throw Oranges around and get a BCS trophy, I knew I had earned my place in those stands. I had been to all the games while I was in school. I had followed the team through the ups and downs. Unlike a lot of other students and even good friends of mine, I didn’t start dragging myself out to games in October of 2007 and suddenly pretending like I knew the team inside out. I felt like I deserved it, even if that sounds weird...
Andy Mitts: I’d like to say that this season gave me hope that things can get better going forward. But I’ve been a Royals fan for way too long, so I know that it can take forever to turn things around and then it doesn’t last very long. This season gave me an opportunity to see how good it can get, but there is no longer any expectation that it is going to last for any length of time. I’m still holding out hope that Beaty or some other coach in the near future can turn the program into something respectable, but I just can’t get my hopes up too high anymore. But that still won’t stop me from being overly optimistic at the start of every season, and resigned and disappointed once the team is out of the running for a bowl game.