Giving Thanks

A lot to be thankful for with Saturday's Border Showdown looming

College Football Preview: Week 13

> The Red Zone  |  Tape It Up  |  Strike The Pose  |  Breaking The Code
> B.J.: Love and Hate  |  Amsinger: Weekly Picks  |  Sorenson: 10 Qs  |   Braff: Backups Crash and Burn
> Trev: Love Woodson's' Poise  |  Michigan's Next Move   |  Hart: Giving Thanks At The Border
> Blackburn: Miles To Ann Arbor?  |  Palm: Impact Games Galore  |  Roland: Mizzou To End Kansas' Dream
> Caparell: Long Time Coming For Mississippi State  |  Crystal Ball: Weekend Predictions

Nov. 21, 2007

By Tom Hart

Special to



Tom Hart calls football play-by-play for CSTV and is a contributor to
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As I watch college football's collective eye focus on Arrowhead Stadium this week, I'm thankful the Missouri-Kansas rivalry is getting the attention it deserves.  This is the rivalry I grew up with, and I'm willing to share it for a weekend.


If everyone after Adam and Eve was born into Original Sin, then every sports fan over the last century has been born into a rivalry.  The carry over among generations is imperative to the success of sport as we know it.  That continuation allows fans to discuss the old times, sharing stories with others about their time on the field, or perhaps the former star they shared a class with.  It allows all of us to stay connected to our youth, and look forward to the future. 




This weekend features the Iron Bowl, Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Bedlam, Texas against A&M, Virginia Tech vs. UVA, The Egg Bowl, and South Carolina-Clemson, and this applies to all.


Every rivalry win is a chance to text a college buddy, every loss is an opportunity to commiserate with your dad.  I'm thankful for that, but that's not all.  Because as fans we are shaped not just by the games, but by every experience we have related to our team. 


So as you cut into that bird this week and hope to flush the tryptophan before kickoff, sit back and count your blessings.  I already have.


I'm thankful I sat through a Jon Sundvold shooting clinic.


I'm thankful I saw Tom Whelihan kick a 62-yard field goal - barefoot.


I'm thankful there's only one Tony Van Zant.


I'm thankful Skip Grossnickle intercepted Steve Spurrier.


It hurt, but I'm thankful I was there for the 5th down and Nebraska's kicked ball.


I wish Bob Sundvold hadn't been the fall guy.


I was at the last Bid Day Bash - and I'm thankful that party has ceased to exist.  Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of dudes wheeling kegs down the street in shopping carts - but that was the Armageddon of parties.


I'm thankful for the group formerly known as the Antlers.  I just wish they wouldn't have told a national TV audience "Corey Beck has syphillis".


I'm thankful the genius who ran Norm Stewart's basketball camp invited a scantily clad aerobics instructor to get everyone's blood going early in the morning. 


I'm thankful M.C. Hammer invited Doug Smith on stage.


I'm thankful I stayed past closing time to hear Rich Daly's recruiting stories.


I wish Chris Lindley would have never gone to the stockyards that night.  I wish he hadn't lost his leg in a freak train accident, and I wish he could have battled his high school teammate Javon Crudup in college basketball's greatest rivalry.


I'm thankful I got to watch one of the best Kansas-Mizzou games you've never heard of.  Future Jayhawks Todd Richey and Lindley teamed up with Crudup and other camp All-Stars to take on a group of Missouri players on a side court in the Hearnes Center Fieldhouse.  The high schoolers gave Anthony Peeler, Doug Smith, Nathan Buntin, Lee Coward, John McIntyre and company a great game.  That same group of Tigers won the Big 8 and went to the Sweet 16.


I'm thankful I'm not married to just one team, but to all of college sports.


I'm thankful for Vols running through the T, for Legion Field, Kyle Field, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Darryl K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Lane Stadium. 


I'm just as grateful to have seen the Gorilla Walk at Pittsburg State, and to have visited West Texas A&M, Nebraska-Kearney, IUP and Grand Valley State.


I'm thankful Randy Sanders was introduced to Andre' Woodson.


I'm thankful for the chance to watch John Calipari conduct a Memphis basketball practice.


I'm thankful freshmen are ineligible for the NBA.


I'm thankful I no longer have to skip out of the office to watch March Madness, although it certainly takes some of the fun out of it.


I'm thankful for blogs, message boards, fantasy football, Every Day Should Be Saturday, Deadspin and Awful Announcing.


I'm thankful I call games for a living.


I'm thankful I'm a fan.


This rivalry thing is going to the next level this weekend.  For two football programs in the Midwest that know winning like Britney knows class, this is one odd Thanksgiving. 


If you would have told me Missouri and Kansas would each be Top 5 teams and go head to head in front of 80,000, with a possible national championship on the line, I would say you were as crazy as Ricky Clemons jail tapes.  I should be smarter, because growing up in College Town, USA I learned to expect the unexpected. 


And so on the eve of the most irrational, absurd, demented, preposterous college football game ever, I came to the realization that no one on the face of this earth has ever seen it all.  Although Charlie Sheen has come close.  This matchup is just another event that helps make my little world spin.


I never thought I'd see a 5th down.


I never thought I would see Steve Stipanovich riding a 10-speed.


I never thought I'd see Derrick Chievous at a bar in his pajamas.


I thought Tony Sands would never stop running.


I thought Wayne Hightower fouled Charles Henke.


I never thought I'd see Jon Sundvold shoot baskets for 30 minutes without missing.


I never thought I'd see Kiwane Garris miss the game winning free throw - twice.


I never thought Gary Leonard was Mizzou's hope for a big man in the middle.


I never thought I'd go to a Super Bowl party at Dan Bingenheimer's house.


I never thought the Kyle Field cannons would fire before I made it into the stadium, and 10 more times in a 73-0 Mizzou loss.


I never thought I'd see seven-footer Greg Cavener duck into my third grade class room.


I never thought I'd see Mizzou land a 5-star recruit - from St. Louis nonetheless.


I never thought the Big 8 would fold.


I never thought I'd see Norm Stewart dance and rap in "The Cats From Ol' Mizzou."


I never thought I'd see Sammie Haley on a dance floor in Myrtle Beach.  Or was it Simeon?


I never thought Bud Adams should have flown Bert Coan out of Ft. Worth.


I never thought I'd see Eric Piatkowski's shot rim out at the buzzer, sending the Tigers to an undefeated Big 8 season.


I never thought I'd see Tommy "Gunn" Morrison on the Oklahoma sidelines.


I never thought Brian Bosworth would be a better actor than NFL player.


I never thought I'd see Roy Jones - an unknown boxer at the time - sit courtside while watching his buddy Paul O'Liney shoot 3s.


As you know by now, this is why we love sports.  There is no script.  For Appalachian State vs. Michigan, for Stanford over Southern Cal, and for Arizona beating Oregon.  We loved Northwestern in the Rose Bowl.  We were thrilled with Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl and George Mason in the Final Four.  Chaminade beat Ralph Sampson. 


We don't necessarily love the underdog, we just love what they represent.  If those teams can do it, why can't ours?  We watch and cheer and yell and paint our faces and burn couches and fly flags because our team ALWAYS has a chance. 


Hope is older than spring training, and it goes hand in hand with college sports especially.


So your football team isn't going to a bowl?  You want your coach fired?  Then fire up the plasma Saturday night and watch two teams that aren't that different from yours.


Both Kansas and Missouri needed a new coach not that long ago.  One chose a man that doesn't fit the physical profile of a modern day coach/CEO.  The other chose another who came to town with the personality of 40-grit sandpaper.  They were apparently both right.


If Missouri can do it, if Kansas can do it, then there's hope for everyone.  Be thankful.