A Jayhawk’s lament: A Tiger on my tires

Having to buy four new tires for my minivan was bad enough: more than $500, including alignment.
But it got even worse when I finally looked over the new Uniroyal AWP II tires that I’ll be living with for the next 70,000 miles.

Standing out, in raised rubber on the side walls of each tire, is the name of a certain undesirable mascot, plus a logo that bites even more:

TIGER PAW (check out the pictures; the paw logo is in the middle).

For a second-generation Kansas University graduate, married to a third-generation KU graduate, with two children who are KU fans and could one day be KU graduates, all living in the hometown of KU — well, the idea that our family truckster now rides on black-rubber reminders of the Missouri Tigers is enough to make me want to hurl.

“How can they do that — here?!?!” my wife exclaimed, upon seeing the physical evidence.

The folks at D&D Tire hadn’t said anything about the tires being TIGER PAWs. All I knew is they’d come at a reasonable price, for desirable performance, from a reputable manufacturer. And I’d be buying local, from a place I could get the new automotive shoes rotated every 5,000 miles on my way in to work.

As long as I wasn’t getting whitewalls, I figured, I’d be OK.

I didn’t see the sides until after I’d paid the bill and headed out to the curb.

Then I looked on p. 233 in my Owners Manual: “WARNING Installing improper tires on your vehicle can affect handling and stability. This can cause a crash in which you can be seriously hurt or killed.”

Yikes. What could be more improper than Mizzou tires?

But I couldn’t be alone. I figured that folks over in Columbia, Mo., must be getting their paws on such Uniroyals, so I checked in with Brandon at Big O Tires, about 2.5 miles away from MU’s Faurot Field.

Turns out they don’t sell many TIGER PAWs, or at least not because of the Mizzou factor.

“We don’t push them or anything,” Brandon told me. “I’m surprised we don’t. I’ve never thought about making a sale out of it. I’m probably going to use that in my next sales pitch.”
You’re welcome.

“I’ll have to give you 10 percent of my next sale,” he said.

Some consolation.

So I called Pat, over at D&D here in Lawrence. Nice guy. He said I was the first one to make the TIGER PAW/Mizzou connection. Got a good laugh about it.

Pat says he sells plenty of Uniroyals these days. The ones I bought actually used to be known as BF Goodrich Control Plus tires, until Michelin bought out BF Goodrich and Uniroyal awhile back.

“They just changed the sidewall and kept the tread, because it was a good tire,” Pat told me.

But what am I supposed to do now that I’m stuck with TIGER PAWs?

Uniroyal doesn’t make JAYHAWK tires, he told me, and half-joked that I could brand a Jayhawk into a reinforced area on the sidewall, to show my collegiate allegiance.

Or I could bring the Uniroyals back in, and opt for another brand of tires. Uniroyals generally carry the TIGER PAW designation, he said, while Bridgestone tires use DUELLER, Cooper tires go with DISCOVER, etc.

Thanks, I said, but I think I’ll stick with the TIGER PAWS. I’ll just wear them down over long drives, just as I’m sure Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Jake Sharp will do this November at Arrowhead — and future Jayhawks will continue to do throughout the long lives of my tires.

Not that I’ll have to wait that long.

“After you rub against a few curbs,” Pat said, “that TIGER PAW will be good and gone.”
Rock Chalk.