Three years ago, I gave you “The Charge of the ‘Hawk Brigade.” Two years ago, with much more optimism, I took a more light-hearted outlook with “A Visit From Les Miles” - which may be just a little more creepy now in light of recent events. And last year, I gave you “The Jayhawks Are Coming” sung to the tune of “Hakuna Matata.”
This year, we’ll return back to our classic poetry roots. With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I give you an abridged version of Paul Revere’s Ride as: Lance Leipold’s Flight.
Listen, my friends, as you are told
Of the midnight flight of Lance Leipold
On the thirtieth of April, in Twenty-One
Hardly a fan has yet begun
To remember the latest hire so bold.
He said to his friend, “If the Jayhawks come
By car or plane into town tonight,
Send a message by text and do not succumb
To the fading sun, stay up to mid-night,-
One if by car, and two if by plane;
And I on the opposite end remain,
Ready to ride and spread the good news
Through every middle state village perfuse
For the country-folk to be up and not snooze.”
Then he said “Good night!” and with faith galore
Silently walked to the Buffalo shore,
Just as the moon rose over the town,
Where swooping in the sky through downtown
A blue jay-hawk, Kansas bird of lore:
A phantom bird, with its beak and wing
Across the moon, a majestic king,
It had a large head, that stared eagle-eyed
Straight through his soul, left Lance mystified.
Meanwhile, his friend, through office and phone
Wanders and watches websites well-known,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the office door,
The sound of speech and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of administrators
Marching up to the elevator.
Then he grabbed his cell-phone from off the desk,
He silently typed, with stealthy tread,
To his head coach and department head
The startled staffers thought, “Kafka-esque!”
With somber expression, he unlocked his phone
He swiped through the password well-known, -
With trembling fingers he paused a bit,
Wondering if the coach would commit
Then he paused to listen and look down
A moment at the phone and its sound,
And the blue light flowing from it.
Meanwhile, impatient to meet Mr. Goff,
Hooded and bluetooth, cell phone screen off,
On the opposite side was Lance Leipold.
Now he was ready to take off
He cared not what the past had unrolled.
Then impetuous stamped the earth,
And thought about what his talents were worth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The phone in his hand from his lake shore perch.
As the waves roll up on the still sand,
Everything going according to plan.
And lo! as he looks, his phone lights up bright,
A ringtone, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to his feet, toward town he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second text on his phone he discerns!
A hurry of steps in a quiet street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath from the roadway, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a man that moves fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom of the night,
The fate of ‘Hawk nation was flying that night;
And the spark struck out by the man, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left Buffalo and embarked on a plane,
And beneath him, he flies over Champaign.
He has a plan on how to change the tides,
A program in trouble, has lost its edge,
I will bring them back, he now says his pledge,
With plans laid out for the new team he guides.
You know the rest. On the ‘net you have read,
How the transfer portal opened, and fled,-
How our starters went to play SEC ball,
An offense and defense overhaul,
Coaches went for new players too,
Crossing the country, come play for the blue
Under the lights at the low of the hill,
And never stopping; pride to instill.
So through the night flew Lance Leipold;
And so in the plane he went to break down
To every middle state village and town,-
A shout of confidence, and not of old,
A calm voice in chaos, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the legends of the past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The Jayhawks are coming, listen and behold
The hurrying footsteps Goff decreed,
And the midnight flight of Lance Leipold.