I Know a Spot that I Love Full Well…

I Know a Spot that I Love Full Well…

…’Tis not in forest, nor yet in dell.

There is a political climate in this nation that is currently broken and divided, and seemingly beyond repair.1  To what degree we can get away from it depends on where we can go to be unified. Throughout my life there has been one place where that seems possible…

Ever it holds me with magic spell…

There’s something about the love that comes from a place where you spend four of the best years of your life. Walking on campus always brings back memories of a time where things couldn’t have seemed more difficult, but couldn’t have been more simple.  You walk by the dorms,2 apartments, and houses you once lived in and remember the fun. The wild. The disappointment. The hope. The promise. The friends.  You remember everything that could have been, and everything that was.3

If you’re a sports fan that only becomes intensified as you remember the wins,4 the losses,5 the tailgates, and different versions of every emotion that you’ve spent in your life. Every football, basketball, baseball, and volleyball game gives you the chance to transport back to that time, even if it’s just for a few hours.

I think of thee, alma mater.

And that’s what brings us together. For 3 hours we may disagree on what play should be run,6 whether we should be in a man or a zone, or how long the pitcher should stay in.  Some want the traditional football uniforms7 and others love the grey new style of basketball uniforms.8 And you can’t do it without carrying a passion for everything that a place like Kansas State University means to you. And while we may passionately disagree, we’re all wearing purple.

K! S! U! We’ll carry the banner high.

And we wear purple through a dark time. We wear purple as a coach we loved, and who we thought loved us, leaves us. When you love someone and they hurt you, you don’t want to believe they could possibly have hurt you.  There has to be someone to blame, and it can’t be them. So we blame the athletic director. We blame the president. We blame the NCAA.  We blame everyone we can except the person who was the one who actually made the decision to pack up and walk away, and leave us staring into an unknown future.9

But we still wear purple.

K! S! U! Long, long may the colors fly.

Like our divided nation, the fan base is divided as well.  No one wanted Frank to leave, but how we react to it makes up who we are. Most fans understand the flaws and the problems. It’s not difficult to see things from all sides of what has happened at K-State as a boss and an employee couldn’t come together, and the relationship couldn’t be salvaged.  And here we are.10

There’s a small, but extremely vocal minority of fans who have chosen to take a very dark side. They want to win at all costs. They want to thumb their nose at the rules, invent crazy conspiracy theories, and harass anyone who thinks any different. They believe they’re the only true fans, and they’re determined to make sure that everyone knows.  Rationality and ethics mean nothing. Only the conclusions that they’ve arrived at long before any information could be addressed.

But they’re small. As small in size as in decency.

Loyal to thee thy children will swell the cry…

It’s a dark time, indeed. But it doesn’t have to be. The rest of K-State can move forward. The rest of us can see that K-State doesn’t revolve around one man, but instead everyone that wears purple from the freshman in the dorms to the players on the field. From the professors in the classrooms to the coaches on the sidelines.  From the administration in Anderson Hall to the alumni around the world.

We are K-State.

And we go on.

And we all wear purple.

Hail! Hail! Hail! Alma mater.

_______________

Notes:
  1. The good news is that nothing is beyond repair, it’s certainly not as broken as it was during the Civil War
  2. 4 Years in Goodnow Hall for me. Loved every second of it. I’ll never forget walking into that tiny cell of a room the first day, or sneaking on the roof to smoke cigars on my last night… and a million things in between.
  3. and maybe even a few things that weren’t
  4. Nebraska. November 14, 1998. Best day of my life.
  5. A&M. Big XII Championship. Worst day of my life.
  6. I still don’t get why Klein didn’t run it in at Oklahoma State.
  7. Thank you, Bill, never change
  8. My least favorite. Love the white ones and the purple ones. The black ones are ok… but I can do without the grey.
  9. Let’s face it… Frank is at least 50% of the blame here. You can’t rationalize with someone who can’t possibly believe they could be wrong… and you can’t placate them forever either.
  10. Better than we were post Wooldridge. K-State is a good job, and it’s now about continuing something, not building something from scratch.
Bracket Time

Bracket Time

We all know what time of year it is.  Bracket time is back.  I don’t care what all you Christmas, summer, or other time of year lovers say, starting this week we’re in the most wonderful time of the year. It’s March, baby!

So my yearly bracket contest is back. As always it’s just for fun, no money involved, but the winner will get a prize direct from the Final Four in New Orleans. It’s never a great prize, but it’s something you can’t get anywhere else. Well, except maybe on Ebay.

So here goes, all you have to do is click here to sign up.

Also, this year, for the first time, I’m doing a women’s one. I’m not going to be at the Women’s Final Four, so no prize, but if you’re feeling adventerous, give it a shot as well.  You can enter it by clicking here.

Bring.

It.

On.

 

Buck-A-Board

If you’re reading this you probably know that I’m the co-host of The Salute, a fan podcast1 about K-State sports2 on CollegeSportsVision.com.  We don’t do it for money, or really any other reason than to amuse ourselves, but Cory and I thought we could try and do it for something just a bit more, at least this once… so we’ve decided to try to organize some support for The Global Orphan Project.

What we’d like to do is ask you to come along side us in pledging $1 per rebound3 during the K-State vs. KU game on this Monday, February 13th.  As of today K-State is averaging 38.7 rebounds a game, so a buck a board would come out to about $40. If that’s too much to do, then consider pledging $1 per offensive rebound.  That’ll likely be about $15.  But if you’re a KU fan, we want you to be able to join in as well. When you pledge you’ll be able to select to go by KU’s rebounds as well. The point isn’t who you’re rooting for, but the difference it can make.   If you have some other amount that you want to pledge, there’s a spot for “other” and you can fill in whatever you want.  Everything will help.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Make your pledge now by clicking here.
  2. The day after the game you’ll get an email reminding you of your pledge amount and a link to TheGlobalOrphanProject.org .
  3. Head to The Global Orphan Project’s website to make your payment by credit or debit card, or mail the donation to their organization. Mike & Cory will never touch your money.

That’s it. Oh… and one more thing: Our sponsor, Tallgrass Brewing Company,4  has agreed to donate a prize pack for one lucky winner. We’ll randomly5 draw the name of one person who pledges and they’ll send you some awesome Tallgrass swag6. As if helping change the world wasn’t awesome enough.

So thanks for taking part, and K-State fans7… we salute you!

_______________

Notes:
  1. Which of course you can always listen to at http://kan.st/6a or subscribe to at http://kan.st/6b. You can even find it on Stitcher.
  2. Also well known as the longest running podcast in the history of K-State sports
  3. Don’t worry, we won’t touch your money, we’ll just trust you to donate it directly to them
  4. The official beer of The Salute podcast
  5. Trust me, I’m a giant nerd. I’ll use a random number generator and everything
  6. Sorry, no beer, though. That probably gets into some crazy legal issue that none of us want to deal with
  7. And I guess, KU fans, too… in this one instance, but only if you’re pledging

Cheer Loud, K-State

Back in December K-State played West Virginia and the big conversation was whether or not Bob Huggins should have been cheered or booed. There were plenty of great points on both sides. Those who cheered pointed out that Huggins gave the Cats the jump start they needed to be a top 25 type program again. Those who booed pointed out that he’s not generally thought of as someone of high character, and that after being given his second chance at K-State he left after only 1 season in the Little Apple.  All the hype was there for the match-up, and when it came time the cheers far out numbered the boos, even if I didn’t agree with it at the time1. But Huggins isn’t the only former coach we’ll be facing this season.

There’s no need to point out that I’m referring to Lon Kruger. Every K-State fan should know that not only is his number 12 hanging in the rafters as a player, but that he spent 4 years at Kansas State as the head coach who followed the legend, Jack Hartman.  I, like many who will read this, wasn’t around for Kruger’s time at K-State2, so it’s time for just a bit of a refresher.

Lon Kruger was a true home state Kansan. He grew up just down the road from Manhattan in Silver Lake, Kansas and went on to a great career at K-State including 3 letters, 2 Big 8 player of the year awards, and 1,063 points. There’s a reason that his number 12 hangs in the rafters in the Octagon. But as good as he was as a player, his numbers as a coach are even more impressive.

Kruger spent 4 seasons at Kansas State as the head coach and is still the only coach to take the Wildcats to 4 straight NCAA tournaments3, including an Elite 8 run in 19884.   He also was the first coach at K-State to lead the team to a 20 win season in his first year5.

So sure, Lon left after 4 years to head to Florida. And sure, Lon, after stops at Illinois, the Atlanta Hawks6,  and UNLV he came back his home conference7, to face off against his alma mater. But there hasn’t been any serious questioning as to whether or not we should cheer Lon on Saturday when his Oklahoma Sooners come to the Little Apple. Boo his team all you want, but when they announce, “Coaching for the Oklahoma Sooners, Lon Kruger,” even if just for this first trip back, let’s make certain we blow the roof off of the place.

Welcome back, Coach.

_______________

Notes:
  1. Ok, let’s face it… I still don’t agree with it.
  2. As many readers know, I grew up in Iowa and moved to Kansas while I was in high school. Before about 1993 I had no clue that Kansas State ever existed, so I didn’t grow up watching Kruger play or coach, but I love sports history, and I love K-State, so I appreciate him just as though I had
  3. Frank is looking at getting K-State to their 3rd straight this year, and appears to be on pace to match Lon in this feat
  4. Also a feat that Frank has matched… 20 years later
  5. You guessed it, Frank did too.
  6. The only stop in his coaching career where he was not successful.
  7. Which of course, is now the Big 12, but contains only 2 more teams than the Big 8 that he left

At What Cost?

Curtis KellyEvery serious K-State fan knows what happened this week.  At least we know a few bits and pieces.  Message boards started going crazy on Tuesday, and the K-State Twitter world soon followed, when rumors started to fly about Curtis Kelly.  He was kicked off the team for failing drug tests.  He was still on the team, and the best player ever.  He broke some rules, but we don’t know what.  He probably beat his girlfriend in the middle of the night too (oh wait, sorry, that’s KU).  Since then tons of rumors have flown around, but nothing official has been stated until today.  Curtis Kelly is still a member of the team, is practicing, and will play Saturday against Colorado.  Everything else at this point is rumor, speculation, and unnamed sources.

It just raised a question over the past few days… at what cost do we want to win? Now this isn’t necessarily a question about the Curtis Kelly situation (or non situation, whichever the case may be). It’s a question of ethics and character vs. winning.  I can only think of one program in college basketball that consistently wins and does not have consistent public character issues… and let’s face it, Kansas State is not Duke.  You only have to look 75 miles east to see a program that consistently wins, but stars girlfriend beaters, sexual assaulters, and a kid who took thousands of dollars and somehow only was suspended for 9 games… hypothetically speaking, of course.

So the question to be raised is, which do we want to be?  A team that wins, or a team that is clean?  Can that exist in the same program outside of Durham? Maybe it’s my cynicism, but I’m just not sure it can anymore.  Not in big time sports.  I want to say the right thing, but I’ve found myself over the past few days just wanting this whole situation (or non situation, whichever the case may be) with Curtis Kelly to just go away.  Play, and let the chips fall where they may once the season, and his collegiate career, are over.  And that may just be what is happening.  But that goes against everything I’ve always thought I am as a fan.

So I have to ask myself, and all the other K-State fans out there, who are we really?

Jordy for President!

Why yes, that is a man with a Superbowl ring along with me and boys.  During his rookie year with Green Bay, Jordy Nelson was back at K-State and tailgated next to us, so we took a second to snap a picture.

I wasn’t rooting for Green Bay.  As a Chicago Bears fan, I would never do such an evil thing.  But Jordy is a K-Stater and I’m proud of him for not just earning a ring, but scoring the game’s first TD as well as several other significant catches.

Jordy Nelson… we salute you!