Deciding to attempt to write for SB Nation changed my life in countless ways, some direct, some indirect. Among other things, it taught me that, for all intents and purposes, every fanbase is about 70-80 percent alike.
Every fanbase has Internet jerks. Every fanbase has the bandwagoners. Every fanbase has those who seem to root for a team just so they have something to talk smack about to their neighbor. And every fanbase has really good people who want to root for their team, enjoy themselves, and make sports a happy, entertaining distraction in their lives.
The other 20-30 percent is shaped by geography (how close you are to professional sports options, how close you are to certain rivals) and history (how much you've won, in which sports you have won). That's basically the formula, right?
Two events, both of which happened almost five years ago, crystallized this for me.
First, Bring On The Cats came to life right around the same time that Rock M Nation did. I started Mizzou Sanity in February, TB started K-State Sports and Beyond in March, and RPT started Every True Son in July. TB moved over to SBN in August, and RPT and I established our partnership in October. A lasting friendship started pretty quickly after that. We all look at sports a little differently, and we wear different colors of glasses (Tye prefers a purple tone, RPT and I prefer a little bit of black and gold), but we quickly came to realize that we were kindred blogger spirits, and the odd, funny-to-us-at-least Unholy Alliance began.
Within about a year and a half, we had this picture as proof.
And, of course, later this one too.
And this one.
(Side note: good lord, the weather was exactly the same for the 2009 MU-KSU game in Manhattan and the 2010 game in Columbia.)
The second event that really wrecked my "Our fans are awesome, and theirs suck" view of fanbases came in November of 2007, when Missouri ended a long losing streak in Manhattan. My Tigers won, 49-32, and were a week away from what would become the biggest Mizzou-Kansas football game in history. We didn't know it at the time, but the winner would become No. 1 in the BCS (for a single week, ahem). And as Mizzou players and coaches trotted off the field, KSU serenaded them with "Beat KU."
Geography shapes a fanbase, and both Missouri's and Kansas State's have been shaped by a dislike of the school that takes up residence in between them. "An enemy of my enemy," et cetera. (The same goes for a dislike of Nebraska, really.) The idea of the Unholy Alliance does go beyond that -- if RPT and I didn't actually like TB, PJ, etc., we wouldn't have taken things to such silly Photoshop levels -- but that is the foundation.
The last eight to 10 months have been, to put it lightly, hell on the Unholy Alliance. Mizzou went from flirting and "opening its blouse" for other conferences, to actually signing divorce papers with the Big 12. KSU fans were quite justifiably annoyed with that, both because of the temporary threat it placed on the Big 12 (since alleviated, obviously), the potential damage it might do to Kansas City sports (since alleviated, in my opinion, at least), and all of the bad feelings that go with what was, in simple terms, a break-up. I get that, and there's nothing I can do to change that. But with the "break-up" now officially complete, I wanted to write something to the good folks at BOTC and say that in my head, at least, the Unholy Alliance still lives, if not between Missouri and K-State, then at least between Rock M Nation and Bring On The Cats. To me, it was never solely about being conference rivals in the first place. It was about friendship, "kindred spirits," et cetera.
I got to eat lunch with TB a few weeks ago, I hope the opportunity will present itself again one day, and aside from the fact that I have established a career, in part, out of a system of numbers that really, really didn't like Kansas State's football team last year (sorry about that), I hold no grudge against KSU in any way. I would hope that, as time passes, KSU fans will think of Mizzou the same way I think of KSU.
Missouri has left the Big 12, and obviously that's Missouri's own doing, but there's another small matter here. Our programs' futures and histories have now split a bit, but the geography hasn't changed. As KSU fans chanted to Mizzou almost five years ago, I just wanted to come here and say … Beat KU.