Before I accepted the job at the Eagle, I spoke with a sports editor at a major, major metro newspaper and asked him what I should do. At the time, I was choosing between the Kansas State beat here and the West Virginia beat at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As it turns out, the P-G never made the hire and froze the position, but I didn’t know that was going to be the case.
Anyway, I asked the sports editor, and this was his advice:
“Go cover K-State because Bill Snyder is out there, and with all of the junior college kids, there’s bound to be a lot of news to break.”
The punchline is that Bill left but is now back, and in three years in between, the amount of news on the beat was far, far more than I (or the sports editor) could have ever imagined. It was just what I needed, and it was essentially what I set out to accomplish.
Having done so, my work here is complete.
Now, I’m not that cold, and it’s not that easy. People would always ask where I was from, and then the next question was always, “What brought you to Kansas?” Without hesitation, I’d answer, “The job,” but at the same time, at first, I understood because during those few moments when I wasn’t working, I’d wonder if it was worth it.
After four years, it most certainly was — and then some.
Of course, I’m going to miss it. And I’ll miss all of you, which is funny because my co-worker, Joanna Chadwick, asked me Thursday what I’d miss the most and I drew a blank.
I’ve made so many unlikely friends, readers who, for some reason, connected with something I’d written and then want to connect in real time, to meet up or have a drink. Some of my fellow beat guys were mystified why I’d do such a thing, but I didn’t see the harm.
So there I was, on Bob Huggins’ return to Cincinnati as K-State’s new basketball coach, escorted around the Queen City by a very creative young man who goes by the name of “chum1” at ksufans.com. Later, when Huggins and the Wildcats played at California, I met up with one of my favorites from the Q&A, Richard. I crashed in hotels in Aggieville with my pal Josh Shea, a.k.a. “Trim Reaper” on ksufans.com. There have been KATPAKs — if you have to ask, well, that’s a shame because you’re missing out — and lots of other random interactions with readers.
I remember those moments more than I do some of the actual action or the stories behind the scenes.
Sure, there have been some unforgettable characters.
Bob Krause? Oh, he’s slick. Yes, I think it’s entirely possible he had a “wink, wink” deal with Gary Patterson, but it’s going to take a journalist far better than me to produce any evidence. Hopefully my successor.
Frank Martin? Great guy. A little paranoid, no doubt, but he’s a keeper.
Bill Snyder? Nothing but respect for everything he has accomplished at K-State.
Jon Wefald? An influential but odd man who will never come to grips with how his last few months transpired.
Josh Freeman? A better kid than he’s been cast as, and I hope he succeeds in Tampa Bay.
Ron Prince? Well, if you don’t have anything nice to say…
Mike Beasley? Just a big kid.
I could go on, but I won’t bore you. If you’ve read this far, it’s a miracle.
So let me wrap this up:
I never thought I’d be here four years, and I don’t think I was alone in that sentiment. But I was, and it’s only made me better, even though I have no idea what’s next. I’m better for the experience, and I’ll never forget my time covering K-State athletics.
I hope you won’t either.
Oh, my dad said he still plans to follow the Cats — he keeps asking about Rodney McGruder — and maybe we’ll come back out at some point and catch a game — we’ll let you all know.
Thanks for embracing and supporting me.