I GOT FIVE ON IT – Ben Martin

His wisdom has grown accordingly with my age, and isn’t that how it usually is between sons and fathers?

Retired and still living in the Vermont house I grew up in, Ben Martin — Benny to some, Dad to me — has been become a Kansas State nut.

God bless him.

These days, my cell phone will ring. The face will read “unknown,” even though I know who it is every time, and as soon as I answer, I hear, “Sonny…”

And for the next five-to-ten minutes, it’s all Wildcats. You realize he’s coming out for the KSU/KU game in Lawrence, right?

You asked for him, so here he is — Pop, this week’s “Five,” and with all due respect, my favorite yet.

1. What is K-State’s image back East and do people know the difference between KU and KSU?
You can answer that. (J-MART NOTE: That’s not how this works, Dad) You have a second cousin who went to K-State, Ray Butler, and played football there. I forgot what years. (J-MART NOTE: This is true — Ray Butler played at K-State from 1977-78 — in 1977, he was the backup tailback, running for 175 yards and three touchdowns, and in 1978, he was a defensive back, making 29 tackles and intercepting two passes) … So he didn’t play for Bill Snyder? (J-MART NOTE: No, Ellis Rainsberger and Jim Dickey) … I think people know the difference between the schools. Yeah, they do.

2. What’s better — Michael Beasley or Vermont maple syrup?
(Laughing) That’s hard. (J-MART NOTE: My mother can be heard in the background, giving instruction in between giggles) I don’t know what the diplomatic answer is here. (J-MART NOTE: A second passes) Michael Beasley.

3. What are your expectations of “your” Wildcats the rest of the way?
I think they can run the table, I really do. If they can get on the same page. What has to happen is… They came out against Texas Tech and I think the stripes (J-MART NOTE: He means officials) knocked them back on their heels. They played hard, but got some bad calls. Especially the one on Pullen, when he tried to get around one of those big Euros and then (Martin) Zeno inched over and then there was a wall for a screen for (Alan) Voskuil. Pullen was trying to fight through. They were cheating and the refs should have seen it… Everybody wants a piece of Beasley, including the refs… If K-State played that team on a neutral court 100 times, K-State wins 99 times. K-State is just a better team… Those kids are much better than that… (J-MART NOTE: Paranoia sets in) Are we being recorded?

4. When did you know I wanted to be a sportswriter?
Oh, we knew it a long time ago. But I thought you put yourself in a corner by simply wanting to be a sportswriter. (J-MART NOTE: This is all new to me) I wanted you to focus on news and then pursue sports later, but you got it just right. After spending nine months in Boston (J-MART NOTE: After I “graduated” from Boston University — I walked with my class, but I didn’t get my degree until 2000 — I was bartending in Beantown and I thought at the time that might turn into my career), there was an opening at the local paper.

5. Which do you love more — me or K-State basketball?
That’s a no-brainer. (J-MART NOTE: My mom is howling in the background again) I love sports, too, but it’s you.

(BONUS) 6. Have you or would you ever Wabash?
What is that? I was going to look it up… Is that like “the wave” out here? (J-MART NOTE: No, it’s a K-State tradition that isn’t all that complicated)… Oh, yeah, I would. Anything for these guys to win, anything to help.