Archive for Sunday, September 28, 1997


September 28, 1997


Memorial Stadium, echoes of Mad Mike -- though most Kansas football spectators seem to agree that Mike's noise infestation of the 1980s was not nearly so oppressive as the current electronic bombardment.

Lots of people, especially those who enjoy such old-fashioned things as conversation or good band music, have been howling about periodic bomb runs by questionable "music" on the Jayhawk stadium sound system.

Miller, Goodman, James or Dorsey it ain't. It's great to have high volume on a modern sound system for some things, like announcements or scores of other games. But when a funkadelic hammer threatens to break your eardrums or makes your chest pound to where you fear a heart attack, reassessment is in order.

Suppose you're a KU band member who has fattened a lip or worn off a derriere practicing to play and march for a game. Suddenly you and all your other compadres are competing against a modular monster in a battle you can't possibly win.

If they're determined to put music on the system, why not hook it up to let more people hear the KU band play "Home on the Range," which it traditionally does after games? If there must be electronic enhancement, use it to let more people hear the chords, the changes and the nuances Bob Foster's and Tom Stidham' charges offer on a beautiful arrangement of our state song.

Considering the modern commitment to "hip" sound stuff and outlandish lures to get more people into the stands, chances are nothing will change and I'll lose still another battle. But considering how many complaints have been lodged, something ought to give in favor of plain old socializing and unfettered KU band music.

  • Mad Mike, you ask? You had to be here to understand how bad it was in the early 1980s when, again, KU was trying to dream up gimmicks to generate more crowd support and reaction.

There was this Kansas City guy, Mike Somebody, who had sold promoters, including some with the Kansas City Chiefs, on the merits of a roving cheerleader in the stands rather than down on the field with the pom girls and such.

He'd dress in the uniform of the day, a KU jersey in Lawrence, a Chief shirt in KC, and run around, as if he truly was mad, periodically beating this god-awful drum. The bad news was when you couldn't hear him pounding away. Beware the Ides of Percussion!

He was like those German buzz bombs Adolf and Co. sent putt-putting over England in 1945. As long as you could hear it, you were OK. When it stopped was when you began to pucker up. If you heard the explosion, no problem. Those who didn't hear it were in it -- already on a long, long way to Tipperary.

Anyway, Mad Mike would roam through the aisles at KU, then all of a sudden, no warning at all, there'd be this "BAM! BAM! BAM!" If he'd sneaked up behind you, you ran the risk of embarrassing involuntaries.

I looked down one day and Mike busted loose. He happened to be standing right behind KU loyalist Gene Morgan, who had had some heart trouble. It jolted the daylights out of the unsuspecting Gene and he wanted to kill Mike. I knew then it wouldn't be long before The Little Drummer Boy would be history. But Morgan survived and, good news, he's building a place out at Brandon Woods and plans to move to Lawrence soon.

Still, the current sound assault is a far worse auditory mugging than Mad Mike ever dished out.

  • First time I heard it was from the late Paul Christman, onetime Missouri All-American and quarterback of the Chicago Cardinal team that won the 1947 NFL championship. Paul became one of the first, and still rates as one of the best, jocks to become a television commentator. He was here to do a KU game.

"Any time a team interchanges two quarterbacks, it doesn't have a quarterback," Paul commented. At the time, the Cardinals and Chi Bears were the weekend television diet here and Chicago was shuttling Ed Brown and George Blanda. Never did win big that way.

There's a lot of conversation about senior Matt Johner and sophomore Zac Wegner in the Kansas offensive scheme. Johner can run better but takes too long to get off his passes. Wegner is quicker on the trigger but supposedly is a bit glue-footed. Neither has been sensational but KU is 3-1 going into the Oct. 4 Oklahoma game. Both were zilch in the Jayhawk El Foldo at Cincinnati, but Wegner seemed to a bit more effective.

So who gets the call for Oklahoma? Coach Terry Allen is senior-loyal but maybe now is the time to change. Anything's worth a try, considering OU will be heavily favored, same as Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas State and Texas.

Right now, only Texas Tech and Iowa State seem within the Jayhawk reach, even if a quarterback emerges. But remember, in mid-August we were saying a 5-6 season would be a notable start for Allen and Co. Considering the Cincinnati shock, that looks pretty good right now.

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