A few minutes with … ESPN’s Chris Fowler

A few days ago, I got an e-mail out of the blue from an ESPN publicist. She said she saw my blog post last week about how the city of Manhattan was catching “College Gameday” fever, and that Chris Fowler was interested in speaking with me.

As the longtime host of one of ESPN’s most popular shows, Fowler can offer insight into “Gameday’s” decision to head to Southern California this week for its game against Stanford when it appeared destined for Manhattan. So, I told her to have him give me a call.

The first thing he said to me today was, “I’ve heard from a lot of angry K-State people. Maybe I can explain our decision a little bit.”

We’ll go into Q&A form the rest of the way, though Fowler did most of the talking.

Why don’t we just start there with that request. What explanation would you like to offer those K-State fans?

We were disappointed. Obviously Oklahoma and Kansas State had been No. 1 on our grid for a few weeks, and the hype was building. We fully expected the Wildcats to take care of the Jayhawks and the Sooners to win. It was almost a foregone conclusion. And we’re sitting in the bus last Saturday night in disbelief, watching Oklahoma fall. When that happens, it forces you to hastily reconsider.

We don’t ever pick the “Gameday” sites until the results of the previous Saturday are in. There is no upside to doing that. Through the years we have had plenty of last-minute changes in location due to upsets. It seems to happen a lot in the Big 12. I can remember times when we were supposed to be at Texas A&M but they lost to Baylor. It happens from time to time.

This one, though, was among the most surprising. I mean, we were there. We had the location. The director of the show had been there. We had looked at locations for the set. We were set to go. But when you lose the angle of having a top 5 team, unbeaten, on the road. The game nationally takes a hit.

Now, nobody on the set makes the decision. That is handled at a management level. We are no longer given much input. But based on what happened, the idea of Stanford against a USC team that not many expected to beat Notre Dame looked pretty good.
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Wednesday K-State links

– For the second straight year, Kansas State will be featured on ESPN’s “College Gameday” basketball program.

Rece Davis, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas previewed the Sunflower Showdown in front of a huge crowd at Bramlage Coliseum last season. The Wildcats and Jayhawks played an overtime thriller, and the game got big ratings. This year, ESPN will head to Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 29 to preview the rematch.

Gameday will also appear at Baylor (did I really just write that?) later in the season when the Bears host Texas.

– It’s been hard to keep up with all the injuries coming out of UCLA football practices, but the Bruins finally appear to be getting some good news. The Los Angeles Times reports sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince, barring a setback, should be good to go against Kansas State.

– Speaking of UCLA, this guy predicts K-State to beat the Bruins 17-7.
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A few minutes with … Jay Bilas

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Jay Bilas, one of the best college basketball analysts in the business, will soon be in Manhattan to preview Saturday’s must-see game between No. 11 Kansas State and No. 2 Kansas for ESPN’s “College Gameday.”

It is an event both he and K-State fans are looking forward to.

In anticipation of his arrival, he took some time Thursday evening to talk about what he sees in the Wildcats and Jayhawks, why he likes the Big 12 and college basketball in general.

Have you ever been to Manhattan before?

No I haven’t. I’ve been out to Kansas a bunch of times, but never Manhattan. I’m really excited about it.

Have you caught K-State on TV much this season?

Oh yea, I’ve seen ‘em play 1,000 times.

Well what has impressed you about the Wildcats?

I really like the way they play so hard. Early in the season I think I wrote that Kansas State plays harder than any team in the nation. They are a very together team. I was really impressed at how hard they went after it.
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Gameday Preview: UMass at K-State

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Excitement is high and tickets are scarce.

That’s why Snyder Family Stadium will look something like this picture (except only more packed) when the Kansas State football team takes on Massachusetts at 6:10 p.m. Saturday.

Not only will a near-capacity crowd of close to 50,000 fans be on hand to welcome the Wildcats to the field, but more than 300 former players will be there as part of a family reunion celebration cheering them on as well.

K-State athletic officials are saying it will be the largest crowd to ever witness a Wildcats home opener, and by far the largest former player reunion in the program’s history. Throw in the return of beloved coach Bill Snyder and a postgame fireworks celebration, and it adds up to one gigantic purple party.
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