It all started with a phone call from a first-grade teacher to an old football coach. The teacher thought it would be good for her students, surrounded mostly by female authority figures at school, to hear a male voice reading stories.
The end result was a children's book that came out this week, the only week that makes sense, Missouri week.
The teacher was Janet Stallard of Schwegler Elementary, old KU football coach Don Fambrough. The teacher asked the coach to pick out a story he would like to read. He chose "The Three Little Pigs," except that when Fambrough started reading, he began revising, as he tends to do, to paint Missouri in an unflattering light.
The Three Little Pigs became The Three Little Jayhawks, and the Big, Bad Wolf became the Big, Bad Missouri Tiger.
When the children protested and told him that's not the way the story goes, Fambrough illuminated their minds (read: brainwashed) with his version of a rivalry he thinks about 365 days a year.
"I couldn't believe the vocabulary these kids had," Fambrough said. "They were using words so big I had to ask Janet what a few of them meant."
In many cases, their spelling wasn't quite up to speed with their vocabularies. Fambrough took great delight in the thank-you notes he received from the children. Copies of some are included in "The Three Little Jayhawks," including one that in part reads: "I upresheate the things you showed me."
When approached about making his impromptu revisions into a book, Fambrough said he would do so only if all profits went directly to the KU Alumni Association, which published the book that was illustrated by Larry Leroy Pearson. It's available at www.kualumni.org, or by calling 864-4760.
Fambrough said he planned to attend the game Saturday, risks notwithstanding.
"I have to be careful when I cross the border," Fambrough said. "I understand my picture is on the wall of every post office in that state. I don't mind that so much. The only part that bothers me is where it says 'wanted, dead or alive,' they list the reward money as 25 cents. I would have thought it would be a little higher than that."
Back when KU dropped to 0-4 in the Big 12, Fambrough was lonelier than the Maytag repairman because of where he sat, which was right there in the front of the bandwagon.
"You watch," Fambrough promised. "We're going to win the rest of them."
So far, he's been right, but Las Vegas disagrees on Saturday's rivalry. The line opened with Missouri as a seven-point favorite, even though the Tigers have lost three in a row and four out of five after a 6-0 start.
Advantage Missouri: The Tigers are 5-1 at Farout Field, named after the late football coach, Don Faurot, Fambrough's arch-nemesis. The lone home loss was to Oklahoma. KU is 1-3 on the road with the lone victory at Iowa State.
Advantage Kansas: The teams have five common opponents. KU is 3-2, Missouri 2-3. Both schools lost to Nebraska and Texas A&M; and both schools defeated Colorado and Kansas State. The difference: Missouri lost at Iowa State.
Regardless of Saturday's outcome, if Coach Fam should happen to write a children's book about it, the Jayhawks will come out on top during his reading of it.