George “Dumpy” Bowles, we need you, man.
Bowles, from the Kansas University class of 1912, is credited with writing “I’m a Jayhawk,” that oldie but goodie fight song that has rung in the ears of Jayhawk fans everywhere.
Dumpy, get out your pen.
The version of the song that is sung today has references to both the Buffs and the Cornhuskers (twice). That soon may become a bit like bringing up your ex-wife at Thanksgiving.
With the rearranging of the Big 12, a rewrite for the KU fight song may be on the way.
“It sure sounds like something we ought to do,” said Thomas Stidham, KU’s associate director of bands. “I’m sure we can get some suggestions — and some of them we probably couldn’t use.”
But why should that stop anybody?
For those of you who don’t already have the tune stuck in your head, here’s a reminder of what we need to erase. The first verse — which often is not sung these days — includes a line that goes “Talk about the Sooners, the Cowboys and the Buffs.”
Yeah, talk about them.
Then later in the first verse: “Talk about the Wildcats and those Cornhuskin’ boys.” In the more popular chorus, your fine Saturday afternoon tenors sing: “Got a bill that’s big enough to twist the Tiger’s tail. Husk some corn and listen to the Cornhusker’s wail.”
One Journal-World reader suggested the Cornhusker reference may not be too difficult to change.
“Husked some corn and made those sorry Cornhuskers bail,” Steve Allison of Temple Terrace, Fla., wrote to the Journal-World.
KU leaders might get some of those types of suggestions and more. Jennifer Sanner, a senior vice president at the KU Alumni Association, said the group is planning to have a student contest to come up with new lyrics as part of the Homecoming celebration in October.
It won’t be the first time the song has been changed. In 1958 the song was tweaked to match members of the Big 8. And a 1920 version of the song lists the Aggies (presumably Oklahoma A&M before the school became Oklahoma State) and the braves, which some have speculated could be a reference to Haskell Indian Nations University.
“We think it is important for the students to be involved,” Sanner said. “This is something we pass down as Jayhawks. This will add a nuance to the history going forward.”
But there will be decisions to make. For example, is now the time to add the Texas schools? KU had the opportunity in 1996 when the Big 12 began, but did not. Now, knowing what we know, maybe we should.
Perhaps — and let’s be clear here, the following did not come from the Alumni Association or Stidham — this might be an appropriate verse: “All hail the ’Horns. All hail the ’Horns. Without big Tex, we surely wouldn’t get this huge check. All hail the ’Horns.”
What? Doesn’t quite strike the right chord. Maybe it could be the official Big 12 song.
Then there’s the decision of whether to leave in some schools even if they aren’t part of the conference anymore. Colorado might win some votes with this one: “To lose the Buffs is so tuff. In some ways, they were the best, for they gave us Allen Fieldhouse West.”
And, although you could never lose the part about twisting the Tiger’s tail, maybe Missouri should get a little more mention in the song. After all, to hear Nebraska’s president speak, we have the Tigers to thank for all this. So, consider: “Pity old Mizzou. They thought they didn’t get their due. Were gonna leave us for the Big Ten. Then were told ‘little ones, back to your den.’”
Oh, never mind. I forgot, the healing already has begun.
Actually, none of this may be too hard. Here’s a serious version, or at least as serious as a fight song gets:
Talk about the Sooners, the Cowboys and the Horns.
Talk about the Tiger and his tail.
Talk about the Wildcats, and those Cyclone boys.
But I’m the Bird to make ’em weep and wail.
’Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk up at Lawrence on the Kaw.
’Cause I’m a Jay, Jay Jay, Jay, Jayhawk with a sis-boom, hip hoorah.
Got a bill that’s big enough to twist a Tiger’s tail.
Hook some Horns and listen to those Texans wail.
’Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay Jayhawk, riding on a Kansas gale.
There you go. Move over, Dumpy.