Editor’s Note: Another week, another conference. This time, Matt and Vincent talk about favorites and least favorites in the Big 12.
By Matt Waller
Having grown up in West Virginia and been a lifelong WVU fan, most of my WVU-related hatred (which is different from my ND-related hatred; more on that in the Big 10 week) is reserved for old Big East rivals, namely Pitt and Virginia Tech. But now that WVU is in the Big 12, new rivalries will emerge. Since WVU is so geographically removed from the rest of the conference, its new rivalries will develop based on something other than geographic proximity, unlike what happened in the Big East with the Pitt and VT rivalries. What will spur the new rivalries? And who is emerging as a potential new rival? My vote for the new rival is Kansas State, because I think KSU sees a little too much of itself in the tired stereotypes about WVU and is responding by directing a bunch of hate WVU’s way. Looking at some comments from the KSU fanbase on the fan forum www.goemaw.com (it seems like a real font of wisdom) leading up to last year’s game against WVU (see below: click the image and then enlarge it to make it readable), I’ve gotta say: KSU, thou doth protest too much.
I know it’s rash to generalize about an entire school based on the comments of some select idiot fans in an online forum, but in this case, I couldn’t help it. The comments in the screenshot below have officially made Kansas State my least favorite team in the Big 12. To quickly summarize the comment thread: the original poster wonders if Kansas State traveling to Morgantown to play WVU will irreparably tarnish KSU’s image, now that KSU has “spent far too many years building it up to be in line with the notre dame and alabamas of the world” (I can’t tell if this is a serious comment or not, considering it took Big 12 games being shown on FX to get KSU anything resembling consistent airtime…). What results a pretty massive troll-job involving a series of comments in which KSU fans decry WVU in an attempt to defend their own notions of KSU as an elite program (“I say let’s give them a break. They’ve never played anyone as elite as us before.” Note: In the prior seven seasons, WVU had won three BCS bowls, against Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson.) and elite academic institution. The comments are, of course, full of the usual stereotypes: toothless hillbillies, poor, drug addicted, etc. It’s hard to tell who is being serious and who isn’t being serious in their comments, but it’s pretty absurd nonetheless.
Could it be, though, that Kansas State fans realize that their own town/program/fanbase/school have reputations very similar to WVU’s and, correspondingly, they need to deflect those ideas onto someone else? That’d be my guess (this post gives a quick summary of the irony involved in this whole thing). Both KSU and WVU are located in small, out-of-the way towns; neither school is academically remarkable; both programs are fairly new to the “elite” ranks of college football (though WVU, unfortunately, appears to be falling out of that category pretty quickly) and are concerned with how to project themselves; both too often end up being the butt of jokes. So, perhaps a new rivalry will be defined by a shared loathing arising from each school seeing the worst of itself in the other. I’m sure that, like WVU fans, most KSU fans are decent, respectful people whose reputation gets sullied by the actions of just a few. I’ll also add that I very much respect what Bill Stewart has done to establish KSU as a legit college football program. Either way, unless something changes dramatically, KSU has earned its place as my least favorite team in the Big 12. And I must say, it feels good to have someone to replace Pitt in my ranks of the disliked.