Last spring, I interned with the Charlotte Bobcats. My job was to cover the team for www.nba.com, which included many tasks, from writing previews and recaps to covering team events and even an American Idol contestant.
While my time there was a blessing and an experience that I could never have imagined receiving, there was one major negative. Of the 28 home games that I covered in person, the team was only able to win one. The Bobcats would finish the season with a 7-59 record, the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
Covering a team that is losing consistently is definitely tougher than covering a winning team. That’s why covering the K-State football team this season was truly an honor.
Going into the season last fall, I knew that the Wildcats had the potential to be very good. Did I see a Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl berth in the future? I have to be honest, I just did not. I thought that this was a team that could contend for nine or 10 victories and possibly another Cotton Bowl berth.
Here is a look at a couple memories that I will always remember from the season.
Norman. No team had ever gone into Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium as a ranked team and defeated a Bob Stoops coached team. As they would do all season, the Wildcats ignored the skeptics, went down and defeated the Sooners 24-19 in a truly incredible game. I was the color analyst while Michael Periera was the play-by-play announcer, and I can say for the both of us that this was the greatest game we have been been able to call in our short times on the radio.
However, as great as this game was, it was the trip to Morgantown that showed me that I was covering a truly special team.
I have to admit that I had jumped on the West Virginia bandwagon, and this was before the season. I thought that with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and the rest of that explosive offense, this was a team that would come in and compete for a Big 12 title. Boy was I wrong, and K-State absolutely took it to them.
In the battle of Heisman-contending quarterbacks, Collin Klein shined above Smith by making timely passes to Tyler Lockett en route to the 55-14 victory. Doing my first play-by-play game on the radio, plus the victory, definitely made the two-day drive more than worth it and a great memory for anyone on the Collegian/KSDB 91.9 staffs that attended.
While Bill Snyder Family Stadium does not quite hold as many fans as “The Big House” or “The Swamp,” it is safe to say that the fans here at K-State are as passionate as any in the country. Never was this more obvious than in the season finale against Texas.
Despite the loss at Baylor, there was still a Big 12 championship to be won. With 27 seniors playing their final game, as well as Klein’s one final chance to win the Heisman Trophy that he deserved, the atmosphere in the stadium was incredible. With the victory assured, Willie took to the press box holding a Big 12 logo, assuring the crowd what they already knew. The Big 12 trophy had come back home where it belonged.
Hearing the crowd explode into the “We own Texas” chant, I got goosebumps. With the Big 12 championship clinched, I knew I was getting the chance to go to Glendale, Ariz., to cover a BCS Bowl.
While the game ultimately did not go as fans had liked, it was truly an incredible time. Meeting the Oregon student newspaper staff and the great things that they do for their school and paper showed me that there is always improvement for us here. Seeing the purple in Arizona once again reiterated to me that the fan-base at K-State is second to none. However, I did not truly understand what an incredible team I had covered until the post-game interviews.
Seeing the looks on the faces of seniors Chris Harper, Arthur Brown and Klein in their final postgame press conference resonated with me. The passion and heart that these and the rest of the seniors had shown during their time at K-State proved that this was one of those teams that do not come around very often. This truly was a “family” as they had said all year, and they had given everything they had to this program.
Covering a team that struggled so much (Charlotte), and comparing them to a team that was so great (K-State), made for a truly exciting year. I do not know what my future holds when it comes to covering sports teams, but one thing I am sure of is that the 2012-2013 K-State football team will be, without a doubt, the greatest team that I have had the honor to cover. To all the members, I am 100 percent sincere when I say, “Thank you.”
Mark Kern is a senior in journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to [email protected]