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BOTC Roundtable: 20th Anniversary Edition

To celebrate the conferences 20th Anniversary, the Bring on the Cats writers held a round-table to discuss their favorite memories.

Texas Tech v Kansas State
K-State vs Texas Tech was the inaugural Big 12 game.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Often times our readers don’t get to know the contributors here at BOTC, which can be frustrating to y’all. What better way to get to know us than talk about our memories Big 12 forming over twenty years ago?! For some of the staff members, remembering the game is difficult because we were so young. For others? They can tell you every single step leading up to the conference forming. Check out our answers and feel free to post your responses in the comments below!

1) What was your initial feeling about the Big 12 when it was first formed? Happiness? Sadness? Excitement? Why?

TB (@Tye_KC): I was in fifth grade and was only vaguely aware that the conference was expanding, much less understanding what it meant. I grew up in Nebraska, we assumed continued dominance.

wildcat00 (@roh_tweets): I remember we were a bit confused about the end of the Big 8. We weren't following all the political machinations too closely, partly because we thought things would just go on like normal. In 1995, four Big 8 teams were in the Top 10, but the four SWC teams in the Big 12 seemed like has-beens we could easily ignore. We also thought it was funny that Nebraska was so out of joint about the whole thing. We were SO naive, lol.

Derek Smith (@dereksmith): I was 11, so I really don't think I understood the full volume of what was going on, but I was excited, because I was excited about everything that had to do with K-State back then. Oh, to be young in the mid-nineties again.

Jon Morse (@jonfmorse): This has been covered before, but I had been living in the DFW area for about six years when the Big 12 was announced. As a result, I was actually drowning in realignment coverage for about a year before it happened, and to be honest I was nonplussed. The overwhelming expectation was that some of the SWC was going to go join Arkansas in the SEC, and then when the brouhaha over Baylor and Tech started... well, let's just say the whole thing was just uncomfortable if you were a subscriber to two Dallas papers and the Fort Worth paper.

JT VanGilder (@jtarkman): 1996? I was 9, and I didn't follow college athletics at all. My dad sort of did, but I don't remember him talking about it at all.

PurpleBrunette (@Jaxthekat): As I was 10 when the Big 12 was formed and didn't follow sports, I've actually been operating mostly under the assumption that the Big 12 has always existed. And even though I grew up smack dab in the center of Big 12 country, my father is an Iowa fan so if I ever heard anything about conferences, it was all Big 10 talk.

KSUEMAW! (@KStated2010): I was 8 at the time so I wasn’t aware of the machinations of college realignment. It was a blissfully innocent time.

Luke Thompson (@AhearnAlley): I was kind of excited and probably more than a little confused that conferences could change their members like that because I was nine years old.

Gracey Terrill (@sprotsGAT): I became a K-State fan back in the mid 2000’s and was #spoiled to only know the Big 12 after it settled in some after the beginning. I hear stories from fans all the time about how much better the Big 8 was, so I feel like it is a lot like the glory days that old guys in dive bars like to relive.

2) Where were you for the first ever Big 12 game (K-State vs. Texas Tech, Aug. 31, 1996)?

TB: I don’t have a clue what I was doing when KSU played Tech, because I was only vaguely aware that there were teams other than Nebraska and Oklahoma in the conference.

00: I was in the stands for the game, along with six other fellow K-State grad students! There were special Big XII t-shirts on sale before the game. I remember buying one, but I don't know where it is now, lol. It was fun playing a conference game that early in the season, but I didn't appreciate the moment until years later. I honestly don't remember much about the actual game though.

Derek: I was at the game with my family. We had season tickets back in those days. I don't remember a thing about the actual game except that I thought it was cool that Tech's head coach's name was Spike. Remember, I was 11. And I remember getting really mad walking past some Tech fans' tailgate before the game and hearing them spout off about how no team from Texas was going to lose to some team that wears purple in Kansas. And the joy of seeing that same tailgate after the game as they sadly packed up their stuff and left.

Jon: By the time the league actually started play, I was in Virginia already. But the K-State/Tech game was on TV there, so it was all good.

JT: I would have been in Cherryvale, KS. Maybe playing outside or something, dunno, don't remember anything notable happening.

PB: I'm going to guess somewhere in the back yard getting my little brother in trouble.

EMAW!: I had just moved to Texas in 1995, and at the tender age of 8, I wasn’t very aware of what was happening in college sports. I was much more excited about the Texas Rangers first division championship, and was about to be introduced to my lifetime hatred of the Yankees.

Luke: We had season tickets and went to most games growing up, so I was probably there, but I honestly have no recollection of it.

Gracey: I was in elementary school somewhere...I think this is when I lived in Nashville and Peyton Manning was a god there (still is) and I was force fed SEC football. I know, it was a painful time for me as well.

3) What is one of your favorite memories over the last 20 years of Big 12 play?

TB: 2003 Big 12 title, 2012 Big 12 title, winning in Lincoln in 2003, the entire 2011 season, pretty much every Darren Sproles carry, Tyler Lockett's double-move routes.

00: I think it's ironic that all my best K-State football memories are of games against Big 8 schools: the 1998 win over Nebraska, the 2003 Big XII win over OU, the 2012 win over OU, etc. These games would have happened even without the Big 12, lol.

Derek: The 2003 Big 12 Championship game has to be No. 1. That was the most beautiful game in the history of sports (and, oh, by the way, you may remember I wrote something about it). The 1998 Nebraska game is up there too, since that's the first time I ever set foot on Wagner Field. My mom wasn't happy, but my dad and my sister and I were thrilled. The 2006 Texas game was the only other time I rushed the field as a fan. At the time, I thought it was the greatest game ever. It's lost some luster since then.

Jon: October 28, 2001, when the Big 12 started a stretch of four straight weeks with three teams in the top five. That was pretty awesome.

JT: My only memories of Big 12 play extend back to the early 2000's, and my early history was clouded by being a Mizzou fan (I was born in Missouri, and my only other experience with a college was KU...). My best memories started the moment I got to K-State. Beating KU my freshman year after losing in 04, Snyder's first last game, beating Texas SO MANY TIMES, and the Big 12 Championship in 2012.

PB: Definitely the 2003 Conference Championship game. I had made the decision just the previous weekend to attend Kansas State so I was particularly interested in watching my new school take on the school in my backyard. I had to work that night and while it was a swanky steakhouse without any TVs, the adjacent cigar lounge had plenty of screens to watch the game. The managers kept getting mad because all the staff kept sneaking over there and it didn't help that the Sooners were losing. I was the only person happy that night and all my coworker's knew it. It was great. I think I'm partial to that memory not only because it seemed like a good omen for my college career choice, but getting to witness first hand the Sooner reaction aka meltdown was just magic.

EMAW!: Most of my favorite memories have already been touched on: ‘03 Championship game, the 06 Texas game (Hi Derek, I was on the field as well), the ‘11 and ‘12 seasons were all amazing. My best non-Wildcat memory? Easily the 2005 National Championship game. Growing up in Texas I always had a soft spot for the Longhorns, and watching Vince Young battle USC was awesome. It’s still the best National Title game I’ve ever seen.

Luke: Both of mine include beating Nebraska, which could perhaps be a consequence of an early childhood during which Nebraska seemed to be unbeatable. The first one was in 2000, when the 'Cats beat the Huskers in the snow and it was just such an incredible scene at the stadium, then instead of rushing the field we rushed back to my grandparents' home to get warm.

Then in 2005, I was in the student section at Faurot Field to watch Mizzou beat Nebraska 41-24, just the Tigers' second win in the last 27 meetings in the rivalry. This time, I did rush the field, which has actually not happened since in Columbia because they decided to crack down on it and got collapsible goalposts in 2006. Apparently 20 people were arrested in 2005, but all I got was a little beer spilled on me in the rain while waiting at Harpo's to get my piece of the goalpost, which still sits proudly on my bookshelf at home.

Gracey: I’d have to say my favorite game to attend was Farmageddon at Arrowhead or anytime the Big 12 played at Arrowhead. Pretty cool to see my favorite NFL team stadium host my favorite college team. Since I wasn’t a fan since the day I was walking like most of the K-State fans, I really like going back and watching highlight reels from big games on YouTube. Gives me a sense of how great it was to beat Nebraska in their biggest years or upset Oklahoma in 2003 at the Big 12 Championship. I do actually remember watching that one and was thoroughly impressed by K-State’s team and fan base.

4) Since it is the 20th anniversary for the Big 12, should they celebrate by expanding? If so, who do we add?

TB: Agnostic. Expand or do not, because the conference probably doesn't survive past the grant of rights. And don't prop up any potential monsters in the interim (read, Houston).

00: In the words of someone much wiser than me, "do or do not; there is no try." Expand, don't expand, I don't really care. I'm just tired of all the (seemingly manufactured) drama from the Big 12.

Happy 20th anniversary, all!

Derek: I have no idea if the conference should expand, and clearly those in power don't either. I love college football, and I've learned over the years that whatever happens, the game stays weird, and that's what I like. So, I'm down for whatever.

Jon: Oh, what's the point? League's gonna be dead in a decade either way.

JT: Yes, just freakin do it already. Add Cincinnati and Houston, or Cincy and Temple, and be done with it. Let’s move on with our lives.

PB: I don't know if we should expand or not. I don't know if it really makes a difference one way or another. I listen to the chatter that we are getting left out and then I do the math (5 power conferences, 4 spots) and as long as it's not always us, it seems about right that we are on occasion. I think we've squandered a few opportunities already on teams we should've accepted before they found a different home. Right now, NDSU is the only team I truly think belongs in the Big 12, but that's a whole FCS/FBS thing. I personally would be devastated if the Big 12 was dismantled and pieced out as that's all I have ever known, but I don't think the current options out there really bring any advantage.

EMAW!: Like most of the writer’s I’ve never known any conference other than the Big 12 for Kansas State. And while I’m not “Conference Superiority” like SEC fans, I want most Big 12 teams to succeed (except Kansas, screw those guys). That said, it sucks that we are facing what will likely be the Big 12 as we know it. I think the best thing to do is to expand now to try and shore against a Big 12 fire sale in 2020. Add Cincinnati, Houston, South Florida, and Colorado State so when the big dogs leave in 2020, we still have some semblance of a conference left.

Luke: I like the true round robin format where everyone plays everyone and we get a home and away in basketball, so no to expansion.