The velvet has been ripped off Missouri's notorious Antlers. The jock-shockers have been suspended from operating in the Tiger basketball and football venues for at least a year. The time had come to take this gang to the woodshed.
It's to the credit of the MU administration that it finally got its fill of the problems these muckers created. Chances are somebody will apply for reinstatement in a year, but you can bet there will be firm guidelines before there is any parole.
Some say the Antlers never resorted to obscenities and profanity, but I've seen some of the printed material they produced and have heard enough about them to question that. For quite a while coaches like basketball boss Norm Stewart went along with the boorishness and bad taste.
In contrast, Roy Williams would never allow the abuse and humiliation the Antlers sometimes dumped on visiting athletes. And don't shortchange former KU coach Larry Brown. There were a number of instances where Larry faced down sections of the Allen Fieldhouse audience that strayed from the path of relative decency.
The sad thing is that such groups like this have devised some tremendously clever and enjoyable projects that will be missed. As in the case of Cary Carrabine, a former Oklahoma basketball player who used to run wild against the Tigers.
Carrabine was from a town in western Illinois and MU's Antlers decided to trade on this. They worked out a deal with Carrabine's younger brother, not yet in college, and secretly brought him to the MU-OU game in Columbia. During the warmups, the Antlers sent a message down to Carrabine as he sharpened his eye.
In effect, the note read: "OK, Cary, nothing personal, strictly business -- if you cut loose against our Tigers again tonight, well, let's just say we have your brother -- and we might not be able to guarantee his safety." Carrabine looked up where the Antlers hung out and there sat his brother, blindfolded, handcuffed and looking appropriately fearful, surrounded by guys in black and gold.
After a horrendous laugh, Carrabine proceeded to carve up the Tigers again. At last reports, his brother was alive and well.
Clever things like that are a delight. That's the kind of thing a group like the Antlers could do. But the Antlers got to trying to hard for toppers and they overreached -- much like the struggling, long-look, few-laughs Saturday Night Live television show in recent years.
Oklahoma State faithful once worked up a marvelous gag after coach Billy Tubbs, then the basketball boss at arch-rival Oklahoma, was out jogging and got hit by a car. He was running on the wrong side of the road and doggone near died after suffering substantial head injuries. Okie Staters, after Tubbsy recovered, got white T-shirts with the message on the front reading: "I jog with Billy Tubbs." Then running up the back was a heavy black tire track.
Always bombastic, Tubbs seemed to get into a lot of extra scrapes after his recovery. They asked Missouri's Stewart, a friendly rival, if he thought perhaps the jogging mishap had left Tubbs a little nuttier than usual. Replied the ever-compassionate Norm: "Hell, it may have helped him. I think he's saner now than before!"
Then there was the Journal-World's April Fool gag about the Great Kansas State Fieldhouse Heist back in the early 1950s, when you could have more fun in this business. The recent Allen Fieldhouse 40th anniversary events got me to thinking back to it.
Kansas State had a fieldhouse, Ahearn, about five years before KU got Allen. Wildcat fans, coaches and players loved to lord it over us Jayhawks. Rich Clarkson, our photographer, hatched a plan to transpose a photo of the K-State fieldhouse over the Lawrence site where the KU arena was to be built. Then we cooked up a goofy cutline based on the old bit about "What'll those crazy college kids think of next?"
The caption on the front-page picture told how a batch of prankish KU fraternity types decided to sneak up to Manhattan overnight, put the K-State fieldhouse on rollers and tow it down Highway 24-40 to Lawrence. "Things went pretty well," read the cutline, "until the guys got the fieldhouse to the Chi Omega circle. They had a whale of a time getting around the curve, without damaging the fountain, and then easing it down the hill to the site."
There followed all sorts of "it's a joke," April Fool-type disclaimers, but obviously some folks didn't read far enough.
No sooner had the Journal-World hit the streets than a Lawrence police officer who shall remain nameless stormed into the squad room at the station and exclaimed: "I'll swear, I don't know how in the hell they pulled it off!"
It happened, honest, and the guy went to his grave still being ribbed about his gullibility.
Ann Landers is right: You can't make things up wilder than they really are. As somebody who handled "letters to the editor" for more than 35 years, I can attest: It's not that people don't know anything, just that they know so much that isn't true.