I guess we'll tip off again in Manhattan in just a short time so these aren't necessarily final FINAL thoughts, but after heading back to Lawrence for this one and spending very little time on the site in recent days, I noticed quite a bit of discussion on the rivalry when I returned.
First let me just say that I'll walk the line in between on this argument here a bit but in short it has to be a rivalry. Same State, same conference, that's a built in rivalry. Look around the country and you have in state rivalries between teams that don't play in the same conference and aren't even remotely on the same level of success and those schools have rivalries. Are they great rivalries? No, but they exist.
Secondly I think every rivalry is framed based on an individual's experience. From that perspective I think it's perfectly reasonable for someone who was born in say 1984ish to never have considered Kansas State a true rival in their lifetime. I also think that perhaps where you grew up could help shape that perception greatly. Tyshawn's quote from the Tully Corcoran article sums up both of those arguments.
"I think the in-state rivalry is something big, but, I mean, I haven't lost to them yet since I've been here so I don't really know how much of a rivalry it is."
That's Tyshawns take, Tyshawn is young, he's from New Jersey and like many Jayhawk students who are from out of state and grew up watching Kansas, this game was never on the National radar until perhaps Beasley's one win. Since then it's been back to the status quo.
Now take this same game and present it to an older generation and present it to those who live in Kansas and you might get a very different answer. In those situations you do have a rivalry that probably very much puts Kansas State as a team that Jayhawks across Kansas want to beat and beat badly.
Now here's where I think we're at with this one and I'll point to Tully's article once again and how he ends that article.
"Because every rivalry needs a little hot sauce from time to time, whether you call it a rivalry or not."
Sitting in Allen Fieldhouse Saturday night it was a different feel than I would say I get for Iowa State or Nebraska or even Baylor in recent years. There was an anticipation for this one. The crowd arrived very early, College Gameday and Wayne Simien's jersey retirement provided and extra backdrop and leading up to the game you felt people wanted to deliver a message to Kansas State and the Jayhawks did that.
But there was no "hot sauce". I don't think it was the type of anticipation that the Texas game had and certainly not the type of anticipation that the Missouri game will have. Why? Well Kansas State fell off a cliff. This game was supposed to be a battle of top ten teams and instead it was big brother slapping little brother around. That makes it easy for a Kansas fan to dismiss the rivalry.
But had K-State held up their end of the bargain, combined with Kansas overachieving compared to what most media had projected, this would have been a game that meant everything that the Texas game did. PLUS it would have been a game against a team a short drive down the road and right in the same state. It's hard to deny that the potential is there and I'd say there are probably a lot of Jayhawk fans that would actually welcome that level of excitement from the Wildcat game.
Rivalry? Absolutely. To what degree? That's probably an individual perception at this point and that's because Kansas State hasn't done anything of substance with consistency in since the mid to late 80's. Even if Kansas were to go to Manhattan and lose this year it wouldn't really change that in one game. A Kansas State fan might point to a win in Manhattan as a "see, this is a rivalry" moment, but for most Jayhawk fans it would be the same annoyance as if we had lost in Nebraska or in Lubbock. Right now it's a game on the calendar that stands between us and the ultimate goal.
Consistency. Do that and personal preference get's removed from the equation and whether you remember a time when Kansas State was good or not, there would be no denying that Kansas and Kansas State could build into something significant. It's a rivalry, just not a significant one on a national level and one that a lot of Kansas fans would put second or third on the list. The ingredients are there, it could build at an exponential rate, but there's still one important piece missing.