AUSTIN, Texas — Todd Reesing grew up about five minutes from Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and used to attend Texas home games with his father, Steve, a UT alum.
With Reesing's roots planted here and having sprouted all the way up to Lawrence during the last four years, tonight's game between the Jayhawks and Longhorns was supposed to be the perfect celebration to cap the career of the most prolific quarterback in KU history.
Instead, it was game week, and Reesing walked to the podium on Tuesday surrounded by dozens of reporters. He was asked if his senior season had become "nightmarish."
"It's definitely not the way I saw it going four months ago," Reesing said, "but I wouldn't call it a nightmare."
Certainly, Reesing would be just fine if he woke up this morning and found himself in his hotel room in Boulder, Colo., five weeks ago. Nobody could have foreseen the Jayhawks, then 5-0 and No. 17 in the country, going on a five-game losing streak. And nobody could have predicted that KU coach Mark Mangino would be subject to an investigation into his treatment of players, stemming from an incident that occurred the Friday before that Colorado game with senior linebacker Arist Wright.
"I don't wanna stand up here and have to answer questions about this," Reesing said, "but the reality is that I do because it's happening. All I want is the next 11 days I have guaranteed as a football player at this university to be fun and to be enjoyed with the rest of my teammates and coaches."
Reesing stood at the podium for 11 minutes — the same length as Mangino. During the last three seasons, in which he has gone 25-11 as a starter, he has become the face of the KU program. He must speak for everybody.
"First off, there's no turmoil with the team," Reesing said. "All the guys on the team understand what's going on. No one is pointing fingers at anybody. It does suck that we're going in there against a very good Texas team riding this losing streak, but at this point all we can do is keep fighting."
The amount of fight in Reesing has never been in doubt. He was a star quarterback just down the road at Lake Travis High, where he won the Class 4A player of the year award his senior season. Still, none of the high-profile Texas programs showed any interest.
That landed Reesing at Kansas, where he has stood out despite his 5-foot-11 frame. During the last five games, losses in which Reesing combined to complete 56 percent of his passes and throw as many touchdowns (five) as interceptions, he has never stopped trying to bring the Jayhawks back.
Even before the investigation of Mangino and the revelations that have followed from former players, this game against No. 3 Texas was going to be a great challenge for Reesing. First, there's the Longhorns' stingy pass defense, which is giving up just 181 yards per game. And there's the matter of Reesing being able to control his emotions playing in front of friends and family, most of them Texas fans who will be wearing blue in his honor.
"There's gonna be a whole bunch," Reesing said.
They'll be watching the last days of a gunslinger and his wounded posse. After KU athletic director Lew Perkins met with the team on Monday night to announce the investigation, Reesing spoke to his teammates.
"I told them that this was going to be something that was going to be hard to handle," Reesing said. "As you can tell, I've been talking here for five minutes, and I've answered zero questions about the game against Texas this Saturday. Needless to say, it's something we're gonna have to deal with. We're gonna have to find a way to stay focused on this football game."