COLUMBIA — Shortly after our little drive to Colorado a couple weeks ago, we'd have been lying if we said we were excited about another chance to experience the scenic stretch of Interstate 70 between Columbia and Manhattan, Kan., for this week's game against Kansas State.
Not that we didn't love the 50-mile stretches void of any life form, gas station or civilization, but calling Manhattan, Kan., "The Little Apple" (and people do) is a bigger stretch than the torture applied to Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis' pants every week.
Missouri (5-4, 1-4)
at Kansas State (6-4, 4-2)
WHEN: 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM, KBXR/102.3 FM
But that was then. This is now. A trip to Manhattan, Kan., is a chance to see the best team in the Big 12 North. A team on the real up and up. A collection of youngsters with an undeniable spirit. A team that ... lost to Louisiana-Lafayette? ... Yeah, sorry, we can't hype this thing up.
Are there any rules against just giving Texas the Big 12 championship? Someone needs to look this up.
In the meantime, here are 10 things you didn't know about Kansas State:
10. The recognizable K-State "Powercat" logo was introduced in 1989 as a collaborative effort between new coach Bill Snyder and Manhattan, Kan. native Tom Bookwalter. Snyder thought the logo would help bring a change of attitude of the program. We do know one thing. It sure needed one. When Snyder took over in 1989, the Wildcats had gone winless in their past 27 games. Reading about this stuff makes it easy to see why one Big 12 championship makes this guy seem like Bear Bryant.
9. Current Kansas City Chiefs radio play-by-play man Mitch Holthus is a K-State alum. And supposedly when there are Wildcats present during a Chiefs game he gets a little over-excited. We've also heard that he's the Rain Man of obscure information about already obscure Kansas towns. This seems sort of bittersweet. If you're going to be a Rain Man of something, that's the worst possible thing, right?
8. Kite's, a sports bar in the famed Aggieville downtown bar area of Manhattan, Kan., was named the best college sports bar in America by redshirtfiles.com. That seems like an impressive feat until we consider some of the other superlatives given along the highway towards Manhattan, Kan. When you see a sign for "The World's Largest Prairie Dog" there's obviously some intrigue, but deep down you know you're going to be a little disappointed.
7. In 1922, a live wildcat mascot named "Touchdown" was donated to the school by alumni and Idaho veterinarians Herbert R. Groome and John E. McCoy. The two had nursed the animal back to health after it was attacked by a porcupine before sending it to Manhattan, Kan., but unfortunately the original injuries ultimately led to the animal's demise. With all respect to a dead animal we always knew Kansas State had a problem with "Touchdowns," but this is ridiculous.
6. A 30-foot tall statue of legendary Kansas settler Johnny Kaw stands in the Manhattan City Park. Supposedly Kaw is the Kansas version of Paul Bunyon. A few problems with that: First, instead of an ax, he has a scythe, you know, for harvesting wheat. Next, some of his tall tales include inventing sunflowers and growing giant potatoes. Paul Bunyon's ax made the Grand Canyon, people! Congratulations, Kansas. You succeeded in making even your legends boring. We're not even upset. That's just impressive.
5. Legend has it that a ghost named Nick haunts K-State's Memorial Stadium. It's said that Nick was a football player at the school in the 1950s who was injured one day at practice and subsequently died. If this is true, we just have one question: What sorts of unspeakable things must be done in a lifetime for purgatory to consist of watching Kansas State football? We have a feeling this guy makes the Hannibal Lector look like Elmo.
4. The world's oldest continuously open Pizza Hut is located in Manhattan, Kan. Wait, one of the notable things about Manhattan, Kan., is a step below mediocre pizza? Yeah, that makes sense.
3. Kansas State is one of 18 schools with a Division I Equestrian team, but the Wildcats do not have a women's soccer team. We like women's soccer just fine, and while this has always been pretty lame, last week it vaulted to unconscionable injustice. For anyone paying attention, SportsCenter doesn't normally show highlights of Mountain West conference women's soccer. But thanks to New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert's combination of Mixed Martial Arts and a mutated version of soccer in the team's game against BYU, women's soccer has come into the spotlight. We don't necessarily agree with her antics. We just know that we can't look away.
2. The "Wabash Cannonball" is the school's unofficial second fight song because after arsonists set fire to the music department in December of 1968, it was the only remaining piece of music. The piece was the one that then band director Phil Hewitt just happened to take home that night. The "Wabash Cannonball" was originally composed in 1933 as a salute to rail-riding hobos. Talk about a pump-up tune.
1. During Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's brief retirement, he was asked to run as Lt. Governor of Kansas. This guy is worshiped, both in that state and at that school, and in fear of death by a mob of people in purple (there are few worse ways to go) we're going to avoid any judgment. But c'mon. Seriously? The guy coached football for 40 years. Now he's fit to run a state? That's like saying an actor or pro wrestler could be governor. Lunacy.