If you haven’t read my article yet that ran in Sunday’s paper about the current state of the Pittsburg State football program, please check it out here.
I went on the road early last week to head to southeast Kansas, first to Pittsburg to talk to several people for the article, including head coach Chuck Broyles, and then to Parsons to meet with Wayne Gilmore, who runs www.teamkong.net, a PSU fan site. You could say the whole trip was born out of PSU’s three-game losing streak to start MIAA play, but it’s bigger than that.
So … what was the impression I came away with?
Mainly, Coach Broyles is still the man. Three-game losing streak be damned, he still runs that town, although it’s not necessarily Shangri-La anymore.
Here’s how it went down:
I met with Assistant AD Dan Wilkes first, who was my de facto tour guide for the day. First was an interview with Dennis Gatewood, who is the Gorilla Club President. He’s been going to games for over 30 years, and his message was pretty clear: if you’re not with us, you’re against us. Dude doesn’t have a whole lot of patience for bandwagon-type fans. Ended with him, headed down to the weight room to talk to Kendall Fisher, a Garden Plain product and stud wideout for PSU. On the way, I passed former QB Mark Smith in the hall, who is now the QB coach for the Gorillas. That was cool. Talked to Kendall for a few minutes (pulled him out of the weight room) and I could tell the losses had worn on him. If you’re around athletes long enough you kind of get a feel for when something’s weighing on them, and I definitely felt that way after talking to him, especially when he said he’d been hearing stuff in his classes. Ouch.
Then I went to meet with PSU president Steve Scott. He straight up told me he didn’t make it a practice to talk about sports, so I guess that was his way of telling me I’m lucky to get an interview. His office … wow. It’s nice to be King, right? OH, and there was also a Lane Lord sighting in the parking lot on the way to see the prez. Think they’re happy to have him there? Lane Lord, that is.
Then it was time to meet with CCB.
Now here’s the thing about interviewing Coach Broyles … he’s Chuck Broyles. And he knows it. Here’s a snippet from the first couple of minutes we talked:
ME: So there’s things that people are saying about the program, about how it’s fallen off a bit and maybe they’ve got some questions about the direction it’s headed in.
CHUCK: Well if they’re saying it, they’re not saying it to me.
ME: Probably not.
And we went from there. He talked to me for a good 10-15, answered every question, and didn’t avoid any topic I brought up. And I respect that. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who once told me he was going to watch Smokey and the Bandit on the PSU jumbotron in the offseason. In the words of my generation … how player is that?
After my interview with CCB, I hit a sports bar (not for drinks, people) to meet with a couple of fans for lunch, then it was off to Parsons, where I met with Gilmore at his optometry office because, well, he’s an optometrist. Wayne was really insightful — no rah, rah, nothing like that, just straight talk. And he gave the story an angle it had been missing to that point.
Then it was back to the ICT and my beautiful apartment in Old Town. Just kidding, it’s not that nice.
Like I said, give my story a read if you have a chance.