K-State graduate and former Voice of the Wildcats, Steve Physioc, is back in Manhattan, Kan., this week to call the Battle of the K-State's when the Wildcats take on Kent State this Saturday.
As K-State's broadcast voice from 1979 until 1982, Physioc had the privilege of seeing some of Jack Hartman's best basketball teams up close. Despite all the wonderful memories from Ahearn Fieldhouse, Physioc said his best memory of K-State basketball was the NCAA Tournament game at Pauley Pavillion when Rolando Blackman hit a jumper to beat top-ranked Oregon State.
In particular, Physioc loved the broadcasting setup at Pauley. While the broadcasters sat up high in the rafters back in Ahearn, Physioc was on the floor right next to K-State's bench for the game against the Beavers. As a result, he was able to listen to Hartman in the huddle late in the game.
"There was no panic at all. We're down by 12 points now. [He'd say] here's how we're going to get it to 10,'" Physioc said. "Then the next time out, it would be 'here's how we're going to get it to eight.'"
One of the most memorable parts of the Oregon State game was seeing what K-State had worked on in practice pay off on the big stage.
"Every single practice I ever went to that Jack Hartman ran, they ran the two-minute drill. He wanted to see how the guys would execute it," Physioc said. "As I'm watching this, I'm going 'this is what I've seen every day in practice.' Sure enough, I know in my mind it's going to come to Rolando Blackman on the right side, he'll take one or two dribbles to the baseline and lift over the opposition because he had a great jump shot driving to his right and he would nail it consistently because they would work on that in practice."
Back at home in Ahearn, Physioc recalled the old barn that officially seated only 11,000, but often would be packed to the rafters with more than 12,000 people. Back in the days of junior varsity games, Physioc would arrive early to call the JV game and lay coats and blankets on the first few rows to reserve seats for his friends, then come back down to join them for the varsity game after the JV call.
"It was an absolute joy to watch Kansas State basketball, and of course, to watch one of the greatest coaches of all time, Jack Hartman," Physioc said.
Jumping ahead to the current issues facing college sports, Physioc said the commissioners and presidents haven't called and asked for his opinion regarding conference realignment. That's a shame, too, because Physioc speaks for a lot of people who don't like what's going on in college sports today.
"I'm not for it because I like the rivalries. I like Kansas Stat against Kansas. I like Kansas State against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. I like the fact that they were able to beat Texas a couple of times," Physioc said.
Whatever happens, however, Physioc has faith in the loyalty of K-State's fans.
"If the Wildcats are in a different kind of conference, as long as they're successful, people are going to show up and enjoy the product," Physioc said. "I'd like to see the rivalries stay in place, but I'm not sure that's going to be the case."
Thanks to jobs all across the country, Physioc has seen a lot in his broadcasting career. His advice to young broadcasters boils down to three simple words, however: don't be afraid.
"Go ahead and try everything, whether it's sports anchoring, sports reporting, or radio work," Physioc said. "Don't be afraid to start small, to go to a place like Hastings, Nebraska, or a Fresno, California, or a Boise, Idaho. You never know where your career, your journey takes you. If you allow fear to hold you back, you'll never reach your dream."
We thank Steve Physioc for giving us a few minutes and dealing with our rambling questions. Though he's only in Manhattan for a few days, Dr. Steve Smethers of K-State's A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications provided him with a jam-packed agenda. Physioc speaks fondly of Dr. Smethers, who we'd also like to thank for offering us the opportunity to have this interview.
"One of the things I love about Dr. Smethers is that he's passionate about his job," Physioc said. "He's also passionate about the students he works with. He wants to see them reach their dreams."