Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

Mayer: Just plain ‘KU’ good enough

October 2, 2004


The image-adjusters are at it again, and there is a new movement sparked by advice from costly outside "consultants" that Kansas University should begin billing itself as "The University of Kansas."

You know, Snob Hill, where the elite meet to eat, even if that might be at down-home redneck tailgate parties.

A number of people are understandably covetous of KU's role as the "flagship" school in the state and think the official name should sound more prestigiously academic. Like The University of North Carolina?

Maybe they're right, but it seems to me there are far more pressing issues facing the school and its hierarchy right now -- like the fact Kansas State has been doing a better job of outreach and public relations.

But if the eggheads win this one, how long before somebody wants it to become The University of Kansas State, The University of Wichita State or The University of Emporia State or Fort Hays State or Pittsburg State? What about the University of Duke or the University of Stanford, or maybe The University of Princeton, or Harvard, or Yale?

One Jayhawk grad back in Columbus joshed that it's not likely they'll start calling them The University of Ohio State Buckeyes, The University of Purdue Boilermakers or The University of Northwestern Wildcats. But he added in an e-mail: "You pay those consultants big money and they might try anything." You hire a consultant to solve a problem and before long the consultant may be the problem, as in the Al Bohl fiasco. These guys don't come cheap, either.

Around the Big 12 Conference, will somebody try to con us into The University of Baylor, The University of Texas A(gricultural) & M(echanical), the University of Iowa State or The University of Texas Technological Institute (imagine what coach Bobby Knight could do with that)? What about The University of Mankato State or The University of Lousiana State, or Louisiana Tech?

Back in the 1950s (this has been going on for eons), some KU academics would gig me about writing about Kansas University instead of you know what. I had a mindless comeback. There had been pep groups like the female Jay Jaynes and the male Ku Ku's. How ghastly would it have been to change them to the Uk Uk's, huh?

The late John Bremner, a journalism teaching immortal and a terrific researcher, would back me up by declaring that the seal-worthy slogan of Kansiensis Universitatis means Kansas University rather than "that other damned thing."

There also seems to be sentiment to develop alternative Jayhawk formats to get away from the cutesy, grinning creep that appears on so much "official" gear. There could be one for the academics (like the medical school doc with the stethoscope), one for the jocks and, ultimately, maybe even one for buildings and grounds or the traffic department.

Me, I've always been partial to the fierce 1929 version that looks like he's out to kick tail and take names. I took him into the Air Corps. They came up with a 1941 wartime version but he never quite cut it, then we metamorphosed to the commercialized 2004 product.

When they spend the kind of money they are for image changes, something's going to happen; a lot of it may not be good. But if KU can somehow manage to win another national basketball title and ring up a Big 12 football title or two, they can use any symbols and labels they want. And wear floppy coveralls and thongs for uniforms. That's how desperate a lot of us are for big-time two-sport success.

  • It hasn't always been this way -- the annual football woodshedding of Kansas by Nebraska. For the benefit of neophytes on the bandwagon, KU ran up a 5-0 record against the Cornhuskers from 1957 through 1961. True, Kansas has only 21 victories against the Lincoln Logs and the 1968 and '69 seasons produced KU's last victories. But living here are the only two ex- quarterbacks who went 3-0 for their varsity encounters with the Cornhuskers.

Duane Morris was first a running back but then a quarterback in the 1957-59 span that saw the Huskers fall every season. In '59 as a senior, he orchestrated a backfield with sophomore John Hadl at left half, Curtis McClinton at right half and the late Doyle Schick at fullback. Next season, Hadl went to quarterback and led Kansas past NU in 1960 and '61. Kansas posted a 28-19-1 record in the 1957-61 period.

True, the versatile Morris, who also helped win games with his straight-on placekicking, and All-American Hadl were the triggermen for that 5-0 windfall. But Jayhawks who were sophomores in the seasons of 1957, 1958 and 1959 and stayed the course also left with 3-0 marks against NU. Freshmen weren't eligible then.

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