Saturday should be the day sports fans in Kansas think about all year.That happens in other states, where a rivalry college football game ranks among the most eagerly anticipated sporting events. In Alabama, South Carolina and throughout the Pac-12.In Kansas, more often than not, K-State vs. KU is merely the next game on each others schedule, one that that seems unwinnable to the Jayhawks and non-threatening to the championship-minded Wildcats.So it is for Sunflower Showdown 2012 on Saturday in Manhattan, where Kansas State will try to make it four straight in a series, and 17 of 21 with Bill Snyder on the sideline.Snyder is as good a place as any to start with whats wrong with the rivalry. Hes too good, and he takes the game seriously enough to make the Governors Cup trophy the centerpiece of the Wildcats Vanier Football Complex entrance.A great coach who wants to kick the stuffing out of the Jayhawks has been a rivalry killer because KU has rarely been able to respond on both fronts.There have been successful coaches, like Glen Mason and Mark Mangino. But once Kansas State started winning two years after Snyder arrived in 1991 each could muster only one victory against the Wildcats. Masons team won in 1992 and lost four other head-to-head matchups. Manginos team won in 2004 and lost to Snyder three other times.KUs best run over the past quarter-century came against the Ron Prince-coached K-State teams, and it was after the Jayhawks 52-21 victory in 2008 that Prince was told he was through in Manhattan. On the list of offenses that got Prince fired, going 0-3 to KU was premium content.Snyder returned the next season and Kansas State has outscored KU 135-38 in the three victories.Now, its Charlie Weis turn to tackle the biggest challenge on the schedule. Kansas may play teams as good as or better than Kansas State, but the Wildcats bring an additional set of difficulties.From a competitive standpoint, the gap between KU and Texas may be as wide as it is with K-State. But KU isnt 90 miles from Austin or doesnt often find itself recruiting Kansas and Kansas City kids against the Longhorns.At least Weis says the right things. When he was introduced, Weis brought a needed outsiders eye and openly wondered why Kansas State and Missouri were succeeding and Kansas was not. Contrast that to when Turner Gill was hired two years earlier. He identified beating the Tigers as a priority and didnt mention Kansas State. Such slights get noticed.Weis even found one himself on Thursday when KUs student newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, ran a cover illustration of large Wildcat and small Jayhawk with the headline Road Kill Ahead. Weis took to his Twitter account to call out the paper.Team slammed by our own school newspaper. Amazing! No problem with opponents paper or local media. You deserve what you get. But, not home!A tactic Even fellow students dont believe in you! right out of the K-State motivational playbook, fueling an underdog mentality.Also this week, Weis pointed toward Kansas State as a model for Kansas, and he was dead on about that. In recruiting, scheduling, even game philosophies, many programs have studied and attempted to copy Snyder.Kansas is ideally positioned for that task. In athletic director Sheahon Zenger, the Jayhawks have a boss who served on Snyders earliest staffs. Zenger has the notebook from those days and, like everybody else who has worked with Snyder, marveled at the coachs laser-like attention to detail.Its why Zenger smiled to himself after visiting Weis last month and was asked about some scheduling details in the spring. Snyder-esque, Zenger thought.Plus, it worked once before. Mangino was also an assistant in Snyders salad years. When Manginos KU program grew stronger as Kansas States wobbled, the Jayhawks took advantage.None of that helps Kansas or the rivalry Saturday. From a state perspective, Kansas is fortunate in one sense. No state with a smaller population has two football programs that are part of the six major BCS conferences.The basic ingredients for a football rivalry are supplied. But the Jayhawks, as has been the case throughout most of Snyders tenure, now find themselves in a catch-up position to do their part in creating a rivalry that gets discussed year round.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 04, 2012 05:05 PMShare Email Print Order Reprints
Snyder's success at K-State has been a rivalry wrecker
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