The holidays are a good time to reflect on our various blessings. As sports fans, and specifically as Kansas State football fans, we have been more fortunate than most. Our teams win a fair number of games every year, our players conduct themselves as professionally as possible, and there’s been hardly a whiff of scandal out of Manhattan.
But mostly, we’ve been lucky to have an FBS-level program at all. The Idaho Vandals, recent 61-50 winners of the Idaho Potato Bowl over Colorado State, have just played in their last FBS game. Idaho is now the first program to ever drop down from the FBS ranks to the FCS level. The move was prompted by the Sun Belt’s decision to kick the Vandals out, and with no conference home, the school decided to return to its Big Sky FCS roots.
The decision is deeply unpopular with fans, boosters, and the players. Vandals quarterback Matt Linehan took the university president to task:
We belong in the FBS, period. That’s what I believe. That’s what everyone believes. We know we can compete. We know we belong here, no matter what everyone thinks, even our tone-deaf president.
For those of you who recall the Futility U era, and those of you who only know it as a historical footnote, it’s worth remembering that we’re just lucky we’re not the Idaho Vandals right now.
The Texas Bowl is right around the corner, and for the Wildcats, it’s a meaningful post-season reward. The Christian McCaffreys and Leonard Fournettes of this world may have no interest in their bowl games, but Kansas State’s seniors place high value on this last chance to make a mark. For Dante Barnett, a chance to win nine games looms large, while Charles Jones wants to leave the program on a high note (Ken Corbitt, Topeka Capital-Journal).
For his part, Jordan Willis isn’t especially focused on post-season accolades or even his NFL prospects. When he gets on the practice field or in the film room, he’s focused entirely on the game at hand and on the opponent. Mostly, he wants to duplicate the euphoria that followed Kansas State’s bowl win over Michigan three seasons ago.
To win a bowl game, Kansas State often needs a superlative performance from at least one player. In 2013, Tyler Lockett provided the fireworks. This time around, Jesse Ertz is going to have to shine to guarantee a Wildcat victory (Stan Unruh, Fansided).
Finally, ESPN’s Jake Trotter takes a look back at the 1998 Big 12 Championship game. As much as most of us would like to forget this game ever happened, this article includes quotes from a number of players and coaches on the game, and it’s clear it’s as painful for them as it is for any of us. Grief shared is grief halved. Or something.
But don’t be too mad at Trotter. He’s apparently driving the Kansas State bandwagon for 2017. Get on before it gets too crowded, Jake.
In the spirit of the holidays, the Student-Athletes Advisory Committee (SAAC) at Kansas State participated in the Adopt-A-Family program and raised over $2000 for two families in need this Christmas.
Apparently, the athletes—given their age and lack of family experience—had a pretty tough time shopping for infants and toddlers. They didn’t have nearly as much trouble with the ugly sweater party afterwards, however.