The Border War (cont.)
Posted: Friday November 23, 2007 8:12AM; Updated: Saturday November 24, 2007 12:37PM
Max Falkenstien, who called Kansas games on radio and TV for 60 years, remembers it this way: "The game was getting out of hand and Pepper ostensibly flashes the peace sign to Dan Devine over on the other side. Let up a little bit, you know. And Devine returns only half of it over to Pepper. Devine gave him one finger back."
Devine denied making any such gesture. And Kadlec remembers it the other way around. "Pepper Rodgers gave Dan Devine half a victory sign with his finger," he says.
When Missouri lost 42-23 in Lawrence in 1995, Tigers coach Larry Smith got so angry about Kansas throwing a touchdown pass with 1:28 remaining that he served up a one-armed gesture to the sideline across the field. Kansas coach Glen Mason said he didn't see it, but The Kansas City Star reported that Mason smiled when he heard about it.
"Hey, maybe this is getting to be a real, heated rivalry again," Mason told The Star. "I know you guys would love that. It would make your day if we had rolled around on the field or something."
Corby Jones was a freshman and started at quarterback for Mizzou in that 1995 game. He says Perkins should "be kicking himself" for moving the game to Arrowhead this year and giving up a Kansas home game. Missouri will do the same next season, but that doesn't bother Jones.
"They play a lot better in Columbia than we play in Lawrence," Jones says. "To have a neutral site game in a year like this is crucial. We're OK as long as we don't have to go there. My junior year, we had the best team we had had in 14 or 15 years. We go there -- and Kansas is terrible -- but I throw an interception in the end zone and fumble twice. We lose [15-7] to a team that we were twice as good as. I'm telling you, that place is evil. I hate that place."
Lawrence merchants were angry at Perkins when the move to Arrowhead Stadium was first announced. With so much hype about this game now, most of that debate has been swept away. Perkins, who left Connecticut in 2003 to restore "the swagger" to KU athletics, says 70 percent of the crowd Saturday will be pro-Kansas. He has no regrets.
"It's our rivalry and we wanted to showcase it even bigger and better," Perkins said. "Now it's an even bigger stage than we thought it was going to be. People said there wouldn't be an appetite for football here. There's definitely an appetite for football and we are doing it without hurting basketball. I still can't understand why it hadn't happened here before."
A sign in Lawrence's Memorial Stadium last Saturday urged KU fans to "Party Like It's 1899." That's when Fieldng H. Yost coached the Jayhawks to a 10-0 season. But the last time Kansas truly was playing football at this level in November, Douglass was the quarterback.
"We were the biggest thing going in '68; kind of like this team is this year," says Douglass, who loves the way quarterback Todd "Sparky" Reesing directs the KU offense. "Going to a major bowl was a big thing back then .. I don't remember a lot of pep talks. We were very confident and we really thought we were as good as any team in the country. To this day, I think we probably were as good as anybody [despite losing to Penn State in the Orange Bowl]."
McMillan, who lives in Dallas now, is so enthralled with quarterback Chase Daniel he made a stop in Columbia two weeks ago and asked Pinkel if he could meet the Heisman Trophy candidate. "I've never done anything like that since I've been out of school," McMillan said. "This is the first time this game has made a difference in years. We lost to them in '68 and we felt like we should have beaten them. We had a very good team. A Model-T will get you to and from work. But a Lexus will get you there faster. That's the difference between our team and this team."
It's a long way from Quantrill's Raiders to Arrowhead Stadium. All the stories, all the memories, all the games, coaches and players have made this a special rivalry spanning three centuries. Saturday will be the 116th meeting, and this time the Jayhawkers and Tigers are willing to share their party with the rest of the nation.
The clock is counting toward kickoff, so it must be time for another pep talk. Cue the fight song and bring in Coach Fam.
"We've always preached around here, that if we could beat Missouri in the last game of the season, well the winter wouldn't be quite as cold," Fambrough says. "It's just a football game and we have a lot of fun with it.
"But let's keep it like it's supposed to be. It's the Border War."
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