Not even death and conference realignment, it appears, can separate Don Fambrough and his arch nemesis, Missouri.
Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday are set to rename the stretch of 11th Street that runs along the north of edge of Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium in honor of Fambrough, who died in September.
And what intersection would that create? You guessed it, the intersection of Fambrough Drive and Missouri Street. As in, meet me at Fambrough and Missouri, and when we get there we’ll cuss, talk about Quantrill, call the Tigers a bunch of cheaters, and, for good measure, cuss a little more.
Thus far, the idea seems to have good support.
“It is perfect because hundreds of his former players and thousands of his fans will line both sides of that street on a lot of future Saturdays,” David Lawrence, a former player and longtime friend of Fambrough, said of the street that has become a prime spot for tailgating on KU football game days.
City Commissioner Hugh Carter has brought the idea of the name change forward, after hearing from former Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack and other supporters of the coach, who was twice the head coach of the KU football program in the 1970s and 1980s and played for the Jayhawks in the 1940s.
Carter said changing the name of a city street would be a way to honor Fambrough for more than just his on-field accomplishments at KU.
“You know, Fam was fired twice by the university as a coach, but neither time did he leave this place,” Carter said. “He loved Lawrence, and he was as much an ambassador to Lawrence as he was the university.”
The proposal calls only for the portion of 11th Street from Mississippi to Missouri streets to be renamed. By limiting the length, the city can ensure that no existing mailing addresses will need to be changed because of the new name.
Several years ago, supporters had tried to get a portion of Missouri Street renamed after Fambrough, but that idea drew concern from neighbors who did not want their addresses changed.
One other street in the area also will be changed to honor the coach. Kansas University is proceeding with plans to rename the private street on the west side of Memorial Stadium to Fambrough Way. Jim Marchiony with Kansas University Athletics said tentative plans are for the university and the city to host a joint celebration at KU’s spring football game in April to unveil both new street names.
Carter said he has heard from only a handful of people who have expressed concern about the idea of changing the city street name. He said most were concerned that addresses would have to be changed, although some said it could be setting a bad precedent or could create problems with GPS readings.
But Carter said the short nature of the street should limit practical problems, and he said he’s not concerned about setting a bad precedent. If anything, he said, the city ought to look for ways to honor other people who have played an important role in the city, although he said it might be easier to do on new streets because of the address issue.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.