Boy, it's going to be tough to realign loyalties for Big 12 athletics! At this early juncture, it's difficult to figure who you want to do what and with which and to whom.
Never thought I'd see the day I'd root for Missouri in a "league" game, yet that's just what I was doing the other night when that hurricane hit Austin during the Texas-Mizzou battle. My disdain for the Columbia Tigers was inbred. (I first learned to dislike them from my mom and dad and have since expanded that animosity, thanks to guys like the late Don Faurot and Weeping Dan Devine.)
So how in the world could I be for Mizzou in anything? Because of Texas' elitist attitude, and the fact UT and the other Lone Star schools just joining the conference give the impression they'd just as soon snatch the reins from the hands of us hicks up north even though we flat out saved their ahtletic derrieres. How great it would be, I concluded after watching Missouri challenge Texas early, if one of the old Big Eight's weakest teams could dump the Lofty Longhorns on the debut weekend.
I'm guilty of even greater infidelity. When Texas A & M was playing Brigham Young in that early thriller, I found myself pulling for the Cougars because A & M has had so many recruiting scandals, via coaches like Bear Bryant and Jackie Sherrill, and because of Aggie zealots I encountered in Air Corps training in 1943-44.
We had lots of arrogant, loudmouth Tex-Ag cadets in our navigation training squadron. They demanded the rest of us learn "The Aggie War Hymn," the school fight song. Those who refused had strange things happen, like decaying sardines showing up in the pockets of shirts, canine fecal material being left in the toes of shoes lined up under bunks, and a labeling change to make a Preparation H tube look like toothpaste. Even Burnt Orange Texas Exes were intimidated by the College Station bandits, although it was more fun than terror. The "Aggie War Hymn" is a rouser. You could quickly get into a mood to zap Hitler and terrorize Togo while singing it during a march to the mess hall.
Up to now my favorite team has been Kansas and any league team playing Missouri (I pulled for the hated Tigers in non-league games for the good of the Big Seven-Eight order). But I swung over to MU against Texas. It may have been a one-night stand because MU with guys like Norm Stewart is hard to adore. Most of the times rooting for Mizzou will be like making a choice between a date with Cyd Charisse or k.d. lang. No-brainer. (If you have never seen Cyd Charisse in her prime, I'm sorry for you. As for k.d. lang, how come she looks like a combination of John Lennon and Wayne Newton and sings better than both?)
Kansas State? I'm always for the Wildcats in every game, league or non-league, any sport, unless they're playing KU. Wasn't always that way, but have been now for a long time. We Kansans have too many ignorant detractors, like Texans, to keep hare-lipping each other.
Big 12-wise, it may be a long time before I start loving the Texas teams as I do my old friends north of the Red River. As for the Lone Star schools rooting for each other, forget it. Their hatred and subversion were big factors in breaking up the Southwest Conference. If you've ever seen Hook 'Em Horns nuts and A & M warriors going at it, you won't expect any quick conversions. Don't sell Texas Tech and Baylor short. They can lay a pretty good hate on UT and A & M themselves. Maybe they also got it from mommies and daddies.
- On page 177 of last year's Kansas basketball media guide, there's a photo of the late Phog Allen with six other guys from the 1942-43 Jayhawk squad. We've been asked who they are, since only Phog and Bob Dole are identified.
They're Paul Carpenter, Dole, Bob Fitzpatrick, Gene Sherwood, Paul Turner and Jack Ballard. Carpenter, now a highly successful and respected physician in Kansas City, has told friends his chief claim to fame is that he stood between the immortal Phog Allen and presidential candidate Bob Dole in the squad picture. Don't believe it. Paul, a noted Wyandotte High graduate, has carved out a great career in medicine. But was he ever as young as he looks in this picture?
I happened onto a photo of that 1943-43 KU wartime squad from which the Phog-Carpenter-Dole bit was snipped, and there were 24 guys on the roster. The others were Charlie Black, John Buescher, Ray Evans, George Dick, Max Kissell, Don Blair, John Short, Armand Dixon, Harold McSpadden, Hoyt Baker, Ed Linquist, Bill Forsyth, Warren Jacks, Bill Brill, Bob Heaston, Stan Hansen, Otto Schnellbacher and Jim Roderick. Is that a collection of memories, or what?
Blair, Evans and others went straight to Fort Leavenworth for Army induction the morning after their final game. You'll notice Phog had a lot of football players. He saw early on that brawn was a growing factor in a "non-contact" sport; he loved the combative spirit of gridders. But Doc admitted that maybe the late Don "Red Dog" Ettinger, God rest his ferocious soul, was a little too rough even for his tastes.