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If you can’t savor Kansas-Kansas State, (don’t) jump in the lake

LAWRENCE, Kan. — From a distance, Potter Lake may look like an abandoned, neglected lagoon, perhaps on the edge of college town, with all the goal posts thrown at it in all the news stories over the decades. Up close, on a lovely fall day, it turns out to be… uh – right in the middle of the Kansas campus and pretty much right behind the football stadium, not to mention a picturesque pond to meditate on or stimulate meditation by throwing a phone in it.

Old Lake didn’t seem nervous this week. The 113-year-old coder has seen goalposts before.

In a strange land where goal posts sometimes make the unintentional tour of college towns on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, Lake Potter is lucky to get another visit from the hardware this weekend, and the fact that it does says a lot. Kansas State was often good for a generation, but Kansas almost always wasn’t. Now, thanks to the wonders of a mighty three-year Kansas construction project, No. 25 Kansas (7-3) vs. No. 21 Kansas State (7-3) is among the delights of the upcoming Saturday , even with Kansas perhaps. hamstrung to a third-string quarterback. He even figures in the cramped Big 12 title hunt.

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This rivalry, close in its history (65-50-5 against Kansas) but not in its recent history (26-4 against Kansas State since 1993), has acquired such relevance that non-Kansans everywhere might even learn the name of his rivalry, the Tournesol Showdown, surely the most fragrant of rivalry names. It also brought to the fore an old moral question: At what point in the successful journey of a fledgling program should students stop perpetuate the tradition, more than a century old, of attacking the goal posts?

Of all the schools with all the goals, all the potential dizziness and all the security concerns, Kansas is perhaps the most ripe for such gleeful vandalism. In the early to mid-1990s, when coach Glen Mason’s Jayhawks won two Aloha Bowls, these became the first bowl victories since that 1961 Bluebonnet. In 1999, during a 5- 7, when Kansas beat hated Missouri, 21-0, two weeks after a 50-9 loss to Kansas State, coach Terry Allen said, “I’m just happy to see something happening at Potter Lake.” .” In the 11 seasons between 2010 and 2020, Kansas went 21-108, with only half of the 18 wins coming at home against Power Five opposition.

This gives every win a marquee feel, so according to media reports, the goal posts went to the lake after the 31-19 win over West Virginia in 2013, the 34-14 win over Iowa State in 2014 and the 24-21 overtime. upset of Texas in 2016. For brains addled by college football, it might become a thing to read about Potter Lake and wonder about the nature of that Potter Lake. The goal posts also made the trip last season after a 37-16 win over Oklahoma State and this year after a 38-33 win over previously undefeated Oklahoma. (By the time the Sooners boarded their bus to leave Kansas, the Oklahoman reported, those fallen goal posts had already been replaced.)

According to the Kansas City Star, they were even toppled in an empty stadium in 2015 – when the Royals won the World Series.

During Kansas’ last surge in the 2000s, as coach Mark Mangino and administrators loudly warned about safety, thoughtful University Daily Kansan students raised the moral question. “Last season,” the editorial board wrote in the 2006 preseason, “the student body broke the record for the most goal posts torn down in a season, making three trips to Potter Lake. » The board recommended that their comrades stop and “act like we’re supposed to win” because such after-goal shenanigans, while obviously a lot of fun, exist “for teams with low expectations “.

The low expectations of course resumed.

One coach after another came after Mangino until their total reached five with the hiring of Lance Leipold in April 2021, just after the school had to chase Les Miles at an odd time of year ( March) because of what an investigation at LSU, his former employer, denounced his behavior towards female students. Leipold came from the University at Buffalo, where he had come from Wisconsin Whitewater.

When he and Kansas State coach Chris Klieman come together Saturday in mutual admiration, it will appeal to every skillful coach in the lower divisions. On the one hand, both men also know what it means to win, where victory is seen as a right rather than an accomplishment. Liepold, 59, went 109-6 over eight seasons (2007-14) at Wisconsin Whitewater, a Division III dynasty. Klieman, 56, went 69-6 over five seasons (2014-18) in the North Dakota State Football Championship Subdivision kingpin.

Imagine the horror of these “6s”.

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Once in Manhattan, Kan., native Iowan Klieman went 37-23 in five seasons with a 2022 Big 12 title. Once in Lawrence, native Wisconsinite Leipold went 2-10 with a win in extension 57-56 in Texas in 2021 to 6-7 in 2022, then 7-3. That means he’s at 15-20 and closing in on the .500 wonder.

“For us to play them,” Leipold told reporters during his news conference Monday, “they’re the defending conference champions, and we’ll come in with the same records, and it’s a home game, and All these things – I think we should play freely in this game. You know? We’re just going to continue to work to close that gap, and we’ll see where it goes on Saturday. And that’s the way it should be.

“Seeing what they’ve done over the last few years is really impressive,” Klieman said during his press conference. “It doesn’t surprise me, because I know what kind of coach Lance is and I know what kind of staff he has because I’m friends with a lot of those guys.”

“It was going to be our responsibility,” Leipold said, “to start making this rivalry a better game. And I think we’re taking our steps, but we have to go out and play that way.

That means 2023, plus the very concept of a Kansas upset loss, which happened last weekend against Texas Tech, could result in a second scoring parade at Potter Lake. University officials did not return messages seeking information about the small lake, but university history says it arrived in 1910 “as a water source in case of fire “. Human swimming there lasted from 1910 to 1927.

And as Courtney Bierman wrote in the University Daily Kansan in 2015: “Potter Lake has been drained twice in its history, once in 1957 and again in 2011. Objects found at the bottom include a desk, a machine sewing machine, a time capsule and a Model T Ford.” Potter Lake exists. His water lilies won’t shake at kickoff. And if Kansas can keep this up, it might even stay quiet one day.

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