My 2007 Sportsmen of the year are the Kansas Jayhawk and Missouri Tiger football teams.
The curtain closed less than five minutes ago on the No. 4-ranked Tigers' 36-28 victory over the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks, and ever since the last two minutes of the game, I have been thinking, "Are there any more-deserving bodies in sports than these two teams?"
Let's look at it. Neither of these teams (especially Kansas) were expected to do much. Both started the year unranked and overlooked. Both play in the Big XII and are in the North division, much regarded as a pushover division compared to the powerhouses of Oklahoma and Texas in the Big XII South. They both got out to quick starts, but they were putdown as the products of an easy schedule.
Aqib Talib wasn't good enough.
Chase Daniel was overlooked.
The Missouri and Kansas football teams defied the odds that were set against them, although Missouri is now in the position to defy even more odds.
They are my 2007 Sportsmen of the Year.
Now to the game.
I don't think I have seen a more meaningful game played in a long, long time. Both teams already had this game circled on their calendars, as it was the annual "Border War" for bragging rights between the two schools. Add to the game that the winner would win the Big XII North and play in the Big XII Championship Game. Add to the mix that the winner could have a number one or number two ranking if they won and a shot at the National Championship. This game was dripping with potential.
I'd have to say it lived up to the hype.
I'll admit, I was tempted to change the channel and watch The Incredibles when Kansas fell behind early and I almost gave it up as a lost cause. However, I felt a great rush of excitement when they start storming back. I joined my father at the kitchen table to watch the last two minutes, when Kansas was trailing 34-28. When Missouri went back to punt, we looked at each other and it was understood we were in for a great finish.
I personally think that Talib should have let the punt go into the endzone for a touchback on the punt, but that's my opinion. When he failed to gain any yardage out of the return, I had a sinking feeling that this was not Kansas' game. My feeling was justified when Reesing was sacked in the endzone for a safety and a 36-28 Missouri lead.
On the kickoff, my dad remarked that the return-man could still fumble and give Kansas hope, but that hope was to no avail.
My heart goes out to the Kansas players, and I sincerely hope that they get a BCS At-Large bid. I would also like to congratulate Missouri and wish them the best of luck in (hopefully) beating Oklahoma.
My Sportsmen of the Year.