The birth of Captain Jayhawk & the Superfans

Posted on Apr 3, 2013 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Jayhawks everywhere remember 1988 as the year of Danny and the Miracles, the year the KU men’s basketball team won an improbable NCAA National Championship by beating the Oklahoma Sooners in Kansas City. What you may not remember is that 1988 was also the birth of Captain Jayhawk and the Superfans. Curtis Marsh, j’92, director of KU Info and a founding member of the Superfans, explains.

A tough season

It had been a tough season for the Jayhawks. Our post-season prospects were not rosy. Several players had left the program abruptly, one of our starters had a season ending knee injury and we were forced to recruit KU football players to join the basketball team just to fill the roster. Nonetheless, the student body was excited about each and every game.

KU vs. Duke, 1988 |

Especially this day: Feb. 20, 1988. Right in the middle of conference play, Duke was coming to the Fieldhouse. Duke. The team that had robbed us of a chance to play for the national championship just two seasons earlier. The team whose student section held themselves in higher esteem than they held the Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

The Flying Banduzzici Brothers

There was a piece of paper taped to the north Fieldhouse entrance. It held the names of a dozen or so student groups who braved the elements and camped overnight for the privilege of the first spots in line for the student seats.   (A note for current KU students: back in those days, “camping” meant actually camping outside in tents overnight, with no suspensions.)

One of the names was “The Flying Banduzzici Brothers,” a group of six men from Templin Hall whose acrobatics consisted of throwing the smallest member of the group into the air during the pep band’s rendition of “Rock and Roll Part 2,” otherwise known as “The Dr Who Theme Song,” or more simply the “Hey” cheer.

It was determined that the Flying Banduzzici Brothers needed to step up their game for the visiting Blue Devils. Alex Logan, c’92, and I arrived at the Fieldhouse with a basketball and a KU flag. The ball was ceremoniously sacrificed so that it fit over Alex’s head, with small holes on either side for sunglasses to be inserted.   The flag was fashioned into a cape, and Captain Jayhawk was born. Alex played the role for two years, then Joe Zielinski, j’92, took over in 1990.

Captain Jayhawk at Allen Fieldhouse | www.kualumni.orgWhile KU lost that game in overtime to Duke, 70-74, redemption would come later in the season when the two teams met again in the Final Four. This time, KU won 66-59 and advanced to the championship game.

Captain Jayhawk and the Superfans

For the next five years, Captain Jayhawk and the Superfans populated the lower right corner of the student section behind the north basket. Having formed relationships with administration, players, spirit squad and even camera crews, the group was sometimes considered the student mascots. We continued to throw Captain Jayhawk towards the rafters during the “Hey” cheer, changed lyrics to popular songs to show support of the team, whistled loudly to the trumpet solos of the pep band songs and helped develop a tradition of creative but classy student section antics.

And all of this began during one of the most magical of KU men’s basketball seasons, the 1988 championship season.

Thanks to Curtis for sharing his story. Do you remember Captain Jayhawk and the Superfans? Or do you have another memorable moment from that season? Let us know! Email us at, tweet us at @kualumni or post on our Facebook page.

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