10 things you didn't know about Kansas

Friday, November 27, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 1:33 p.m. CST, Friday, November 27, 2009
Not seeming like a blatant homer is not the easiest of tasks. Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks have not had the best season in 2009.

COLUMBIA — We want everyone to know how tough this week was.

It's KU. We live in Columbia. Not seeming like a blatant homer is not the easiest of tasks. Especially when you consider the material those people have left us with.

There's Mark Mangino, in all his incredible glory.

There's Todd Reesing and those damning photographs. (Jorts. We'll leave it at that.)

There are the cross-sport brawls that have headlined KU sports for the last several months.

Could we have swung at the softballs? Could we have kicked them while they were down? Could we use even more cliches? Absolutely.

But we didn't.

We're not sayin' we're above much. But we are above that. OK, maybe not. But we found enough cool stuff to avoid the easy jokes anyway.

And with that, here are 10 things you didn't know about Kansas.

10. Since 1912 the KU campus power plant steam whistle has announced the end of each hour's classes. The whistle has become a part of the eternal end of class struggle between long-winded professors and eager-to-leave students. Our favorite part? They call it the "Big Tooter." Hey, we said we were above jokes about boxed wine and street fights over girls. We said nothing about kindergarten toilet humor.

9. In 1946, a group of KU students managed to transform an old barn into a functioning dormitory, thus negating all 18 years their parents spent NOT raising them in barns.

8. In 1910, several members of the KU Board of Regents voted to abolish football at the university because of a lack of safety precautions. Lucky for KU fans, their proposal fell through. Otherwise, they never would've been able to experience the magical ride that has been the 2009 Kansas football season. Wouldn't that have been a shame?

7. A future Kansas graduate, Clyde Tombaugh, was the man who identified Pluto as the ninth planet in 1930. Unfortunately for Tombaugh, it was decided, in 2006, that Pluto was actually a "dwarf planet" and not a real planet. Poor guy. He's like the Hank Aaron of astronomers - losing a prestigious title based on a stupid technicality. We don't believe in technicalities. Not in sports rules, and certainly not in naming celestial bodies.

6. The initial version of the "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk" chant was conceived by KU chemistry professor E.H.S. Bailey in 1886 and originally consisted of "'Rah, Rah, Jay Hawk, KSU” repeated three times quickly with a staccato emphasis'." It's safe to say that the version performed in the Missouri locker room after last week's win over Iowa State was a little different than the current one too. It's also safe to say that it was a little less family friendly.

5. KU used to celebrate a school-wide holiday called Hobo Day until the event was canceled in 1939. Upon announcement of the cancelation the Daily Kansan newspaper expressed its displeasure by saying, "No longer will we experience an expression of the idealism that is inherent in all youth.” Umm ... either we are missing something or our definition of "idealism" is WAY off.

4. KU dedicated its Memorial Stadium on Armistice Day 1922, and the team has been playing in it ever since. Before the stadium's construction several high-ranking Kansas officials lobbied for the new building. Athletic director Phog Allen was even inspired to announce that, "Rome had her Coliseum! Kansas must have a stadium." We're pretty sure that Mr. Allen didn't know, but the city of Rome is bigger than it looks in the pictures.

3. The KU football team first wore its current colors of crimson and blue in 1896. The color choice came after a long debate between those supporting sky blue and corn yellow, representing both the open prairie skies and grain production unique to Kansas and those who wanted crimson, representing their hopes for KU to become the "Harvard of the West." In retrospect, the blue-and-yellow people may have a point. Kansas still has sky and grain.

2. Beginning in 1891 and ending in 1904 male underclassmen at KU could engage in a May Day ritual known as the "Maypole Scrap," during which freshman constructed a maypole from which they flew their class flag and tried to protect it from a sophomore attack. The contest usually turned into a particularly violent encounter ending in black eyes, broken bones and chipped teeth. Those were the days, you know? There just isn't enough pointless, gratuitous violence anymore. What kind of age are we living in?

1. Commander Ronald Evans was the first KU alumnus in space when he flew a mission to the moon in 1972. Well, a more accurate description would be that Evans flew a mission near the moon in 1972. Evans was aboard Apollo 17 for the last U.S. mission to the moon, but didn't actually walk on the moon's surface. Doesn't that seem like sort of a wasted trip? That would be like driving to Hershey, Pa., and saying, "You know what? I'm just not in the mood for chocolate today."


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Andy Carpenter November 27, 2009 | 12:37 p.m.

There are lots of things to do in Hershey, including minor league hockey and rollercoasters!

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken November 27, 2009 | 2:57 p.m.

This was great. I had a good laugh, especially at No. 6.

(Report Comment)
Laurel Kornfeld November 27, 2009 | 4:46 p.m.

It is incorrect to say that "it was decided, in 2006, that Pluto was actually a "dwarf planet" and not a real planet." The vote to which you are referring was an expression of only one view in an ongoing controversy. Only four percent of the IAU voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. One reason the IAU definition makes no sense is it says dwarf planets are not planets at all! That is like saying a grizzly bear is not a bear, and it is inconsistent with the use of the term “dwarf” in astronomy, where dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies. Also, the IAU definition classifies objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were in Pluto’s orbit, according to the IAU definition, it would not be a planet either. A definition that takes the same object and makes it a planet in one location and not a planet in another is essentially useless. Pluto is a planet because it is spherical, meaning it is large enough to be pulled into a round shape by its own gravity--a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium and characteristic of planets, not of shapeless asteroids held together by chemical bonds. These reasons are why many astronomers, lay people, and educators are either ignoring the demotion entirely or working to get it overturned.

(Report Comment)
Meredith Lewis November 28, 2009 | 12:46 a.m.

CHAMPIONSHIPS ... wish i could be as eloquent as the planetary astrologist, but i think that says it all

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken November 28, 2009 | 11:21 a.m.

Laurel is very serious about Pluto. Very serious top 10 list.

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