NEW YORK -- Rob Riggle, the actor, comedian, Fox NFL Sunday contributor, and Dos Equis “Most Interesting Fan” spokesperson, is a Kansas Jayhawks football fan.
I’m not talking about just in a lip-service way. I mean he’s an alum of the school and passionate to the point that when he hosted the ESPYs a couple of years ago, he had the house band play the fight song and was flanked by KU cheerleaders for his entrance.
Kansas football has been moribund for pretty much its entire history. The Jayhawks have had only three 10-win seasons ever and have been to 12 bowl games in 117 years. The 2007 season was strange for a ton of reasons, but one of them was that KU went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.
Riggle called it the greatest year of KU football he’d ever seen.
“I’m a Jayhawk. I’m very proud of it,” he said.
Along the way in 2007, the Jayhawks beat the absolute brakes off Nebraska, 76-39. Riggle recalled that as his favorite moment as a fan.
“It was payback for so many years, decades, of humiliation, and they just beat on us so much and so consistently my whole life,” Riggle said. “To hand Nebraska the worst defeat they’ve ever suffered in school history might be a special moment. I know that sounds vindictive and petty, but did it feel good and did I celebrate? Yes.”
He’s right. To date, the 76 points the Jayhawks scored is the most ever scored by a Nebraska opponent.
“I think we rattled off 11 consecutive touchdowns at one point? I remember talking to a coach on the sideline and saying, ‘Hey, let’s try to score 100!’” that KU QB, Todd Reesing, told SB Nation this summer. “They had beaten the pants off of Kansas for, what was it, 50  straight years before we beat them in 2005? And often by pretty lopsided margins. I thought we could get them one real bad whoopin’! That was one really enjoyable game to play. It was a beautiful day in Lawrence.”
Other moments near the top for Riggle are the Orange Bowl win later that season and the 1992 Aloha Bowl appearance.
“We had suffered a long stretch of really, really bad football,” Riggle said. “And we had turned it around in a matter of three or four years and gone to a bowl game and won. I liked that.”
But as with any Kansas fan, there is the matter of Missouri.
The blood rivals no longer play on the football field, which they did for the first time in 1891. That series ended when Mizzou left for the SEC in 2011. Riggle doesn’t particularly care if the two teams ever meet again.
“No. Missouri can go do whatever they want to do,” Riggle said. “Good luck. They made their choice. When you sneak out of a conference in the middle of the night, a conference that you helped found, go enjoy the Southeastern Conference, and good luck to you. Whatever, it’s fine.”
He may be apathetic about that rivalry, but there’s another that he can’t ignore. His wife, Tiffany, is a Kansas State fan.
He says maternal cousins got ahold of his daughter’s allegiances, and to needle him, she likes the Wildcats. His son, however, is a different story.
“I wasn’t gonna let that happen again with the boy,” Riggle said. “So I got to the boy early and often. He is locked-in Jayhawk.”
Riggle tries to go back to his home state for a Kansas City Chiefs game every year and tries to time it so he can hit the Chiefs and the Jayhawks in the same weekend. He travels the world, and his most random KU sighting was a flag on a military base in Uzbekistan.
These days, when he goes back, he returns to a football program that’s back in the cellar of the Big 12. KU finished 1-8 in the league last season. But on the recruiting trail, coach David Beaty has made some noise, recently snagging three commits from the same New Orleans high school.
If Beaty can start turning wins on the trail into wins on the field, Riggle can go back to rubbing Jayhawk success in the faces of Wildcats and Tigers, whether they’re playing on the field or not.
“He’s got to overcome a lot,” Riggle said. “But he is a recruiting machine. I’m so excited about him.”