Gosh only knows what became of Ralph Graham, but if it weren't for that long-forfotten Kansas State head football coach it's likely Floyd Temple would have taken a different fork in the road.
Come June, Temple will retire after spending parts of five decades associated with Kansas University athletics, most recently as an assistant athletic director for operations.
Temple came here for the first time as a tough but undersized fullback out of Coffeyville Junior College back in the late 40s. I knew that. I did not know, however, that he had originally accepted a football scholarship from Kansas State.
What's the story?
WELL, IT actually involves two people Graham and a young Coffeyville redhead named Beverly Brooks.
"I was all set for Kansas State," Temple told me. "Then Bev and I decided to get married that summer. I called him (Graham) and told him I was getting married and I asked where we could live. He told me I didn't have a place to live, that I'd be staying in the dorm with the rest of the players. When he told me that, I told him to. . ."
Uh, I'm afraid I'll have to leave it to your imagination what Temple told Graham.
"There I was," Temple continued. "I was getting married and I didn't have a school."
His search soon centered on Kansas where head man J.V. Sikes seemed more amenable to married players. Not only did Sikes offer Temple a scholarship, he put the newlyweds up in the Eldridge Hotel for a couple of weeks until they could rent an apartment.
That's a violation today but, as Temple noted, "There wasn't much of an NCAA then."
TEMPLE NEVER set the world on fire as a football player, but he was a pretty good third baseman on the KU baseball team. After graduating, he tried pro baseball for awhile, then settled into a teaching job in Paola. In the summer, he managed pro baseball teams in the low minor leagues.
"I was in my second year of managing the Iola Indians in Class D when Earl Falkenstien called me," Temple related. "We were in Ponca City for a three-game series. Earl said they had an opening in the athletic department and wondered if I was interested."
Falkenstien, father of long-time KU broadcaster Max Falkenstien, was the Jayhawks' business manager back in the early 50s, and was calling on behalf of athletic director Dutch Lonborg.
"I called Dutch and he said he wanted to talk to me," Temple continued. "I was 26 years old and the night before I was coming up I didn't sleep at all."
Lonborg offered Temple a job as assistant athletic director and head baseball coach.
"I TOLD HIM I'd take it," Temple related. "Then I asked him when he wanted me to report. He said July 1. That was five days away."
Temple reported, and he's been here ever since.
"I made one mistake, though," Temple said, smiling. "I didn't ask Dutch how much I'd get paid."
It was a wallet-busting $4,900 a year.
Temple spent 28 years as the Jayhawks' head baseball coach before becoming a full-time assistant AD in 1981 at the age of 55.
Why did he give up coaching?
"I'd seen three or four guys like John Simmons (at Missouri) and Toby Greene (at Oklahoma State) that I felt continued coaching past their prime," Temple said. "I'd been thinking about it when Bob Marcum became athletic director and out of the blue came into my office one day and asked if I was tired of hitting fungoes."
TEMPLE QUIT coaching cold turkey and became the man in charge of all the facilities, maintenance and operation of the KU athletic department.
Through it all Temple, whose legacy will be fair-minded discipline and the ability to make a quick decision, has never been able to kick chewing tobacco.
"It's a bad filthy habit," Temple told me, "and I'm probably gonna quit."
He didn't say when, though.