LAWRENCE, Kan. Kansas coach Mark Mangino’s message to cheering students at Jayhawks football games is simple: Be loud, but tone down the language.
The coach of the defending Orange Bowl champions issued a video plea yesterday to students to put an end to the “Rip his [expletive] head off” chant that is shouted at every Kansas kickoff.
The chant, borrowed from a line uttered in the 1998 movie “The Waterboy,” has been around a few years, but it became louder and more noticeable this year with more students attending the games and the team getting national exposure.
The university informed students about Mangino’s 34-second message in an e-mail. The video is posted on the university’s Web site at http://www.ur.ku.edu/mangino_video.shtml.
Looking into the camera, Mangino thanked students for their support and said the fans “are the classiest in the country.” Then he got to the point.
“Get loud. Get really loud. But do us a favor. Let’s cut out that kickoff chant,” he said. “We’re better than that. Let’s think of something better.”
Neither Mangino nor the players were available yesterday because they were preparing for their home game tomorrow against Colorado, said Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director.
He said the idea for the video came from student leaders during a meeting last week with him and Todd Cohen, university relations director.
“The coach was asked because he’s somebody people listen to. When Mark Mangino talks, students listen. He has their respect,” Cohen said.
Memorial Stadium holds some 50,000 people, with about 8,000 students seated in an area between the end zone and 40-yard line. At the start of each game, fans chant the traditional “Rock Chalk Jayhawk.”
At kickoff, students make noise by jangling their keys, then issue forth with their head-ripping chant when the football goes flying. YouTube has video from various game of the kickoff chant.
“My freshman year, it was a minority of students, but now it’s a thunderous noise. There are more students and the students are more enthusiastic,” said Matt Erickson, editor of The University Daily Kansan student newspaper who organized the meeting that led to the video.
“For me, the biggest thing is the image of what KU students are. I’m afraid it will put across an image of KU that I’m not comfortable with,” said the senior from Olathe. “I don’t think it’s very original. It’s a line from a mediocre movie.”
He said the newspaper was considering sponsoring a contest for students to come up with a replacement chant.
“I would like to see what KU students can come up with that is more creative and less profane. We want it to come from the students,” Erickson said.
He said there’s another reason for change.
“It’s a bit inconsiderate of the other people in the stadium. Families are coming to the games with children, and it probably makes them feel uncomfortable,” Erickson said.
But not everyone thinks change is a good thing, including freshman Charles Pantoga, of Chicago, who voiced his views after watching the video on his laptop.
“Our generation is different. Times are changing, and it’s time to get used to that. I get a kick out of it that people are getting upset at it,” said Pantoga, wearing a blue “Rockchalk Jayhawk” T-shirt.
Daniel Donovan, a freshman from Grantville, agrees the chant needs to go and believes Mangino’s plea will have an effect on some, but not all, students.
“The people who want to support the team will do what the coach asks,” he said.
Seniors Juliana Tran, of Dallas, and her friend, Kendra Caspers, of Topeka, didn’t mince words.
“It’s ridiculous, and it’s very inappropriate,” Tran said.
“It’s so high school,” added Caspers.