Harris: No place like home for Kansas coach
Kansas interim coach Clint Bowen grew up in Lawrence and played defensive back for the Jayhawks. In 1993, he led Kansas with 114 tackles. His father was an All-America football player at Lawrence High. Bowen played on some of the same Kansas teams with older brother Charley Jr. Wife Kristie was named Miss Kansas in 2001 and Mrs. Kansas in 2014.
Bowen’s Kansas ties are obvious. So are his intentions. He wants athletic director Sheahon Zenger to remove the interim tag from his title and name him the Jayhawks’ fulltime coach. A near victory over TCU may have sealed the deal, but strong performances in the final two games at Oklahoma and Kansas State could be the tipping point.
“It started from Day 1 when Dr. Zenger and I talked about (how) we needed to create an identity of what Kansas football is going to be,” said Bowen, a longtime Kansas assistant who’s 1-5 since replacing Charlie Weis.
Following losses in Bowen’s first four games as interim coach, Kansas defeated Iowa State, 34-14, and had TCU on the ropes, 27-17, in the third quarter last week, before losing, 34-30.
“It’s been a message to our kids for weeks now that they’re Big 12 football players, too,” Bowen said. “They belong in this conference. They chose to come to Kansas to play in Big 12 games, to play against teams like TCU. We’re continuing to do those things that I believe are going to be our foundation, is going to create our identity.
“They’ve created a culture amongst themselves where the teams come together a lot tighter, bonding together. They’re starting to realize that when you’re that truly invested and good things happen, the excitement comes with it.”
Sliding at Stanford
Stanford coach David Shaw heard boos from the home crowd last week when he punted instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of a 20-17 double-overtime loss against Utah.
Disgruntled fans come with the territory. After losing a combined five games in two seasons, which included appearances in back-to-back Rose Bowls, Stanford is 5-5 this season and in danger of not playing in a bowl for the first time since Jim Harbaugh’s last season in 2008.
Stanford has lost two in a row, ending Shaw’s 10-0 record with the Cardinal following a loss.
“If I knew exactly what the team needed, I’d give it to them right now,” Shaw said. “Practices are great. We’ve got great leadership on this team. The attitude and the approach, I couldn’t ask for anything better. The character of our team, the caliber of the young men on this team, I’d put them against anybody.
“I’m sad for those guys but also proud of them. These guys these last four, five years have been as good if not better than anybody that’s played Stanford football. And there will be people out there that want to make this a downer at the end of their career. Have the slings and arrows come towards me, not these young men.”
Fitzgerald does it again
As a player in 1995, Pat Fitzgerald starred at linebacker with 11 tackles as Northwestern, a 28-point underdog, upset No. 9 Notre Dame, 17-15.
As a coach in 2014, and in his first trip to Notre Dame in 19 years, Fitzgerald guided Northwestern to a 43-40 overtime victory over the Irish.
“Our program is in a totally different place,” said Fitzgerald, a consensus All-American and two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year who became Northwestern’s coach in 2006 following the death of Randy Walker.
Fitzgerald the player helped the Wildcats to a 10-1 record in 1995 and a Rose Bowl berth for their first postseason game since 1949. The win that year at Notre Dame was the school’s first over the Irish since 1949.
This year, unranked Northwestern again was favored to lose at Notre Dame, which carried a Top 20 ranking into the contest.
“It’s a special part of our tradition and history,” Fitzgerald said. “It started in ’95 and from a standpoint of renaissance of this program and it’s never been stronger.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].