A couple of months ago it looked like the University of Oregon might play Kansas State University in the BCS National Championship Game. That prospect made me smile. There aren’t a lot of us Oregonians
exiled to transplanted in Kansas, and I was relishing the opportunity to carry the banner of trash talk for my home state.
Those plans were dealt a blow when both teams lost, but as fate would have it the two schools will end up meeting tonight in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. And once again, it’s on like LeBronkey Kong.
But in all honesty, the situation isn’t as fun as I thought it might be. There’s been some friendly jesting, but I haven’t found myself able to really let loose the trash talking acumen that once won me a spot on a Jim Rome Smackoff. I’d like to think that most of this can be attributed to my maturity and the development of my character, but I think there are three more likely reasons:
- The Fans – K-State fans are the nicest fans you’ll meet. While passionate for their teams, for the most part they aren’t a bunch of haters. There are certain opponents that will raise their ire, but they don’t view you as an enemy just because you’re on their schedule. I even had a K-State grad give me a sweet Oregon hoodie/hat set that he had laying around and wasn’t going to wear. And the extent of the good-natured ribbing I’ve received from K-State fans has been along the lines of “Duck Hunt” and “#Duckface.” No talk of mothers, or anything below the belt. K-State fans have healthy pride in their state and their school, and even if they lose they will do so with grace and dignity. They are the best kind of sports fans, and essentially the opposite of L*kers/Y*nkees/S*unders fans.
- The Coach – Bill Snyder built K-State football from the worst program into the country into a national power. He retired and they wanted to put his name on the stadium, but he made sure they called it “Bill Snyder Family” stadium. Then the school’s bad AD hired a bad coach, and together they burned the whole thing to the ground (essentially embezzling money from the University in the process). So Snyder returns and builds the whole thing back almost immediately. It was a comeback that rivals Jordan’s second stint with the Bulls. He’s a high-character guy who has done it all the right way. He identifies players that recruiting services don’t see much in, and coaches them to BCS bowls and Heisman Trophy ceremonies. He’s class, character and determination, and a guy that you want to see succeed under most circumstances. Oregon’s been able to take the moral high ground in recent bowls (I’m looking at you, Ohio State and Auburn), but with issues on the horizon for Oregon it’s impossible to claim the moral high ground when going up against coach Snyder.
- The Finality – It’s tough to forsee a situation where Oregon and K-State play again in the near (or even distant) future. If Oregon wins, I get bragging rights essentially in perpetuity. If Oregon loses, everywhere I go people will be pointing to the scoreboard. As much as “Win The Day” is the mantra, an Oregon win tonight could either carry me or bury me for a good long while. In the
regrettableimmortal words of Brent Musburger, “This one’s for all the Tositos.” It’s wise to temper one’s brashness in such situations. You don’t want your mouth writing checks it can’t cash.
All of that to say, it’s still been fun to go back and forth with my K-State friends over the past month. It’s not like I could totally keep my mouth shut. And should Oregon win tonight, I’ll try to be gracious and not bring up how purple tears taste more delicious than grape Kool-aid on a warm summer day. If anyone would like to seek safe haven in a pro-Oregon environment tonight, you know where to find me. We’ll be green and gold and all-O everything. May the best Duck win.
**Bonus coverage from my 7-yr old daughter**
–I was helping my daughter pick out her clothes yesterday morning and let her know that we’d all be wearing our Ducks gear today because they had a really big game against K-State. She responded, “Oh. Mrs. S (her teacher) probably won’t be at school tomorrow, then. She really likes the Wildcats.”
–As we were watching The Rose Bowl, a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl commercial came on. She perked up and payed close attention. Her hard-hitting analysis following the ad? “I really like those chips. They’re good.”