93 Days: The Best Tournament, Round One, Games 3 and 4

Four greats, but only two move on in our The Best Tournament
KC Star file photo
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Earlier in our yearly 100 Days until Kansas football countdown, we started a new knockout tournament featuring the greats of Kansas football. We’ve already gone through two matchups, and you can click here to check them out. Now we head to the other side of the bracket, but first, a quick rundown of how this tournament is going to play out and how you can contribute.

Each of our writers will have a vote in the competition and so will you, the Kansas football fan. In this article as well as through our social media accounts (instagram, threads and X), you will have a voice in determining the greatest Jayhawk ever. The winner in the fan vote will be counted as equal to each vote from our contributors. We will continue down this path until we have determined who is the best player to ever don the crimson and blue.

Here’s a quick look at this sie of the bracket and the first round matchups:

15 Nolan Cromwell vs 18 Mike McCormack

In a matchup featuring two Ring of Honor inductees going head to head, this might be the most tightly contested matchup of the first round. Who ya got?

Nolan Cromwell, 1973-1976.

At Kansas, Cromwell started off as a safety and only moved into the QB position in his final two years on Mount Oread. He was the 1975 Big 8 Offensive Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American. Cromwell was a second round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers and played safety in the NFL for 12 seasons before retiring in 1988.

Mike McCormack, 1948-1950.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever put on a jayhawk uniform, Mike McCormack was more than just an offensive tackle. Sure, he was an all-Big Seven selection in his final two years at Kansas. And yes, he played 13 seasons in the NFL then coached in the league for 17 more before moving on to front office duties. And finally, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.  But he also passed over a prime year of playing early in his career to serve in the United States Military. Quite honorable, indeed.

10 Tony Sands vs 23 James Sims

We have a positional battle in our second match of the day. Which running back will advance to the next round to face a defensive ace?

Tony Sands, 1988-1991.

This man was rightfully inducted into the Kansas Ring of Honor last season, and will probably go down as one of the great guys in KU history as well. Of course, Tony Sands is most well known for his Herculean effort against rival Missouri when he rushed for 396 yards, an NCAA record at the time. He scored four touchdowns in that game. He stands second and fourth on the all-time KU rushing lists for yardage (3,788) and touchdowns (28) respectively.

James Sims, 2010-2013.

Third all-time on the Kansas rushing charts with 3,592 yards on the ground, James Sims is one of the most underrated players in KU history. While none of his single season rushing totals gets him in the top 10 on the KU charts, Sims was remarkably consistent.  His least productive year saw him run for 727 yards and nine touchdowns while his most productive season on the ground garnered 1,110 yards. Over his four year Kansas career, Sims averaged 4.5 yards per carry. His 34 rushing TD’s is good for second all time at Kansas, but Devin Neal is hot on his heels, only one behind.

Remember to vote for who you think should advance wherever you follow Blue Wings Rising on Social media.

Derek Noll


An avid Jayhawks fan his entire life, Derek graduated from the University of Kansas in 1999 and has been writing about the Jayhawks since 2014, getting his start at Rock Chalk Talk.  He specializes in uniform analysis for basketball and football and offers a humorous take on player performances through Player Ratings posts.