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Archive for Sunday, October 24, 1999

WOODLING COLUMN - SHOWING UP THE SHOW ME STATE

October 24, 1999

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Back in 1820, Maine and Missouri were admitted to the Union in what was known as the Missouri Compromise.

Don Fambrough has always called it the Maine Compromise. Fambrough doesn't care much for Missouri, especially the university.

In fact, if you asked the former Kansas University football coach he'd probably tell you the U.S. has only 49 states. In Fambrough's revisionist history, Harry Truman was from far eastern Kansas, not Independence, Mo., and St. Louis is really in western Illinois.

Fambrough has been known to avoid the tiger cages during visits to zoos. It is also believed the last money Fambrough spent in the Show-Me State was a buffalo nickel.

"You can tell he has a strong dislike for Missouri " to put it mildly," KU defensive back Greg Erb said following the Jayhawks' 21-0 victory over Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Fambrough spoke to the KU players on Friday night -- he usually does before the Missouri game -- and dredged up every bad thing he could think of about Missouri, starting with Quantrill's raid and ending with last year's 41-23 loss to the Tigers in Columbia.

"You could see it in his face how much he hated Missouri," added free safety Carl Nesmith.

"Yeah, he told us old stories about Missouri," echoed defensive back Quincy Roe. "He hates those people. I'm glad he likes me, though."

Roe is from St. Louis. If you're from Missouri and matriculate to Mount Oread, you're OK in Fambrough's book.

Minutes after the game ended and the goalposts were headed for their customary post-biggie win graves in Potter Lake high up Campanile Hill, Fambrough and Terry Allen were hugging each other as they hurried toward the Kansas locker room.

Once inside, the players began to chant Fambrough's name. Momentarily, Allen awarded Fam one of the game balls.

"I'm 77 years old," KU football's elder statesman told them, "and today I feel like I'm 18."

Fambrough, who was the Jayhawks' head coach from 1971-74 and again from 1979-82, had to be doubly pleased Kansas had posted only its second shutout victory over the Tigers since 1934. He wasn't even 18 then. He was 12 and didn't know a Jayhawk from a jaybird.

Fambrough was jolly, in large part, because the Kansas defensive secondary, stripped naked as you-know-whats most of the season, didn't surrender a pass longer than 20 yards on Saturday.

Last week, in the 34-17 loss to Texas A&M, the KU secondary was toasted repeatedly. On Saturday, the toastees were the toast of the town.

"It's something we knew we could do," said strong safety Kareem High, who forced two fumbles in addition to his solid pass coverage. "We put it together. This was a good time for the secondary to step up and we did."

It's about time, some would say. The Jayhawks couldn't have dropped much deeper in NCAA Div. I-A pass efficiency stats. They were No. 108 out of 114 after the A&M game.

"Our backs were against the wall," cornerback Muhammad Abdul-Rahim said. "We were getting dogged."

Not that the defensive backs were taking all the credit.

"The d-line played great," Roe said. "They sent the house at them. Dion (Johnson) was creating havoc. And the linebackers were dropping back, too."

Nesmith, making his first career start at free safety, led the Jayhawks with eight tackles, including a couple of big hits.

"We kinda took it personal because people had been shooting down our secondary," Nesmith said.

Actually, it was more like opposing quarterbacks shooting fish in a barrel. Not this time. Not Saturday. The fish shot back.

-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is cwoodling@ljworld.com.

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