Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Former coach Fambrough still spirited


Audio clip

Former KU football coach Don Fambrough preps the 2005 team for the Border War

He hasn’t coached in decades, but Don Fambrough still considers the young men who wear KU on their helmets to be his players. That’s why nearly daily he stands on the sidelines and watches Kansas University coach Mark Mangino put the players through their drills.

Fambrough painted a somber picture of last week’s practices, which took place while the team’s coach, Mangino, was being investigated by Lori Williams, assistant to athletic director Lew Perkins.

“It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop,” Fambrough said. “Those players didn’t know what coach they were playing for, and they didn’t know what team they were playing against. And they went down to Texas and played their hearts out. That score wasn’t an indication of how well they played. They just didn’t have enough players to play with a team like Texas.”

Fambrough may stand on the sidelines during practice, but he’s not about to stay out of the picture when he thinks there’s something he can do to pick up the spirits of his beloved KU football program, especially during Missouri week.

Fambrough is asking everybody who cares about KU football to show up at the south gate of the east side of Memorial Stadium at 5:20 Wednesday as a show of support to the players. Coach Fam said he cleared the idea with Mangino.

Before the question could be asked, Fambrough answered it.

“This is strictly to show support for the players,” Fambrough said, his Texas twang thickening. “All anybody needs for a ticket is to like KU football and detest Missouri football. Strictly for the players. This is not about trying to save Mangino’s job, and it’s not about trying to get the athletic director fired. This whole mess has put the players in a pretty bad frame of mind, and they need to know people still support them.”

Fambrough is well aware that Wednesday evening, as practice winds down, some might already be preparing elements of Thanksgiving dinner. Others might be picking up loved ones at the airport. For those who can clear their calendars, Fambrough implores, park your car in the east parking lot adjacent to the stadium and do your part to get the players ready to beat Missouri.

Fans coming to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. basketball game against Oakland University, Fambrough notes, can arrive early, make a detour to the football stadium to support the players and take their seats in Allen Fieldhouse in time to watch warmups for the nation’s No. 1-ranked basketball team.

Fambrough always has supported Mangino and remains in his corner.

“I go to football practice every day, and I’ve never seen him mistreating players,” Fambrough said. “He’s a tough coach, but he’s fair. He doesn’t care if you’re the governor or the water boy. Sure, he’s tough, but this is football. You have to be tough.”

It will be interesting to see what sort of turnout will gather at the southeast corner of Memorial Stadium.

Fambrough has some magic to him.


JayhawkHoosier10 11 years, 3 months ago

too young to appreciate Coach Fambrough, but gotta love someone who support the University over the years, even after being fired twice! Mangino is getting screwed because Lew doesn't like him.

Bill Kackley 11 years, 3 months ago

Boy I bet Coach Fambrough is glad he didn't have Lew Perkins as an AD. Fam certainly burned a few ears and poked a few chests in his day. The reason Lew waited this long to try to get rid of MM is he had to await a change at the top, old chancelor wouldn't put up with his happy crap.

Steve Brown 11 years, 3 months ago

as a student during Coach Fam time we were able to join Williams QB club for reduced fee for once a week coffee with coach running highlight tape of the past game. Seems like about 40-50 mostly business folks attended these sessions. Coach was awesome in his insight as to what happened on certain key plays he would run the tape and on some plays rerun and rerun until we got it. I wonder if he was practicing on us what he was showing his team. He was such an awesome role model, tough but fair.

He carried such passion and of course during MU week, he would rise up taller and with increased blood in his neck. He truly hated those guys.

Hats off to Coach Fam whose blood runs crimson & blue.

Next time MU comes to Mem Stadium we put his name on the wall. Lew how about it? Bring back past teams and give Coach keys to the stadium at halftime. Let's not wait until his 100th.

Robert Brock 11 years, 3 months ago

I still believe that it should be DON FAMBROUGH FIELD at Memorial Stadium. The Fam has given his life to KU football...not just some cash.

Steve Brown 11 years, 3 months ago

Brock: Some cash helps fuel our march to excellence, therefore quite important.

Fambrough Field has nice ring. I for one would put his name on the wall for lifetime of dedication to the program in most special way.

KUbsee69 11 years, 3 months ago

"This is not about trying to save Mangino’s job, and it’s not about trying to get the athletic director fired." - FAM

Freudian? I think I can read where Coach Fam's feelings lie. It's not about that, but it looks like that is Fambrough's tilt.


Coach M, hang in there ... I'm with you!

Oh, yeah ... and stomp MU into the turf!!!!!

jhokfan 11 years, 3 months ago

Hope fans show up. A handful of fans right before Thanksgiving. Kind of sends the wrong message. No pep rally is better than one where no one shows up.

55jayhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Kackley and lighthawk I agree with your comments regarding Coach Fam. I played under him and he could tear your ass a new one but he knew his stuff and his players were always # one. I was not much of a player but everytime I see or talk to him since my days at KU, he acts like I was an all big 8 star. He is a class act. He does bleed crimson and blue and Fambrough Field does sound good! I hope everyone living in the Lawrence area can make it to honor our players as they have never quit us and we need to insure them, we have not quit the players! Go Hawks and lets bust some ass this weekend at Arrowhead.

Cal Bender 11 years, 3 months ago

55 jayhawk, great post. I don't know who your are, but you and I must have spent many hours on the practice field together. We had the great privilege of playing under Coaches J.V. Sikes, Fambrough, Replogle, Kinsey, and others. Like you, my playing time was sparce, but now, almost 60 years later, I cherish every minute I spent on the practice field and sideline. Coach Fambrough was my freshman team head coach and we both moved to the varsity team the following year when he was promoted to be the defensive line coach. I'm sure you join me in remembering Coach Sike's tirades on the field. How many times, probably on a daily basis, he threatened one of us with "you don't run, you don't block, why, I oughts grab you by the (gonads) and twist'm off!" Remember the time Chancellor Clark Wescoe attended practice, accompanied by a couple of ladies. Coach Sikes went into one of his tirades. Rumor had it that the Chancellor later had a meeting with Coach Sikes. During the next day of practice Coach Sikes evoked a hearty round of laughter when he started out on one of his tirades, but caught himself, with " you don't run, you don't block, why, I oughta, . . . I oughta . . . well, damn't, you know what I oughta do to you!" We loved our coaches, and they loved us, as Coach Fambrough still does. They believed in tough love, but they loved us. They provided us with lessons in life that have served us well for nearly 60 years. I spoke with Coach Fambrough this week, again, and he is always happy to hear from a player, and as 55jayhawk says, he talks to me like I was one of the stars on the team, such as Charlie Hoag, Ollie Spencer, Mike McCormac, Galen Fiss, Bob Hantla, Jerry Robertson, George MrConick, and many others. I can only hope that this fiasco concerning Coach Mangino will be put to rest, all will be forgiven, and this year's seniors, and others, keep their memories of playing for him and for KU, and that 50 years from now they will be able to reflect on these days as some of the happiest, most meaningful, and educational days of their lives. Coach Mangino has done a great job of building our football program. Let's put all this turmoil behind us and move on to bring our program to an even higher level. Go Jayhawks! Beat Mizzou!

Christopher Hauser 11 years, 3 months ago

55 jayhawk, CalBender-

My father also played for Coach Fam and he is a very special person who I have gotten the privlage to speak with as well. I wrote an article on my blog about coach Fam that I think pretty much sums him up in the best words that I could use. Here is the link to it if you guys are interested:

jhokfan 11 years, 3 months ago

Beautiful letter Chris. I would encourage everyone to read it.

Thanks for sharing it.

dtownhawkfan 11 years, 3 months ago

Coach Fam says he has never seen mistreatment and he tells it like it is, maybe Lew needs to listen.....

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 11 years, 3 months ago

I was on the fence about this whole Mangino thing these last couple of weeks. I wasn't sure what was going on and was waiting for the facts to roll in.

But I'm going to side with Coach Fambrough on this one. He's got more integrity than Lew. Sounds like Mangino is getting royally screwed. Not that it's going to change anything, Mangino's toast. But it's nice to hear another perspective.

Hope Lew doesn't scare off any good potential coaching replacements. This has just played out so ugly in the press....

okiedave 11 years, 3 months ago

I didn't know coach Fambrough, but I know his reputation in Lawrence and graduated with his son Bob from Lawrence High in '66. Bob was a class act and he had to have had a class mentor to raise him. If Fambrough says Mangino is tough but fair and he never observed his players being mistreated, then that is good enough for me too.

DSommersby 11 years, 3 months ago

Let's all make it over to see Coach Fam and wish these Jayhawks well as they get ready for the Border War.

I am about to start the car and drive up from Kansas City here in a few minutes! If you are in or around Lawrence be there at 5:20!

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