Notebook: K-State coach calls out negative chant after Wildcats’ nail-biting win against KU
photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World
Manhattan — While Kansas coach Bill Self and veteran forward Jalen Wilson talked Monday about bracing for the madness that is Bramlage Coliseum, K-State coach Jerome Tang was busy making a plea to his fan base to act a little differently than it has in the past.
“I don’t want our fans to show up to the game because they hate the other team,” Tang told reporters. “I want them to show up because they love Kansas State.”
At game’s end, Tang doubled down in the most unexpected of ways.
With fans covering every square inch of the Wildcats’ home court, Tang hopped onto the scorer’s table, grabbed the microphone and addressed the crowd.
His basic message: This wasn’t about anybody else. This was about us. He then led the crowd in a “K-S-U” chant that took the place of the now-infamous “F– KU” chants that he said he’d rather not hear.
“From here on out, expect to win,” he shouted as members of the winning team hopped onto the table with him.
But that was after the Wildcats’ 83-82 win. Before it, the KSU student section booed the Jayhawks the second they hit the floor for pregame shoot-around and also let the boos fly at every mention of the word “Jayhawks,” throughout the starting lineup introductions and after every call that went against them.
And then there was the famed “F– KU” chant that accompanied their Wabash Cannonball song.
Tang said Monday that every player on the KSU roster was in Manhattan because they loved K-State, be it the coaching staff, the community, the fans, the school or all of the above. And while Tang appeared to be sincere in his attempts to try to turn the KSU cheering section into more of a loud-and-proud bunch, he also seemed to understand just how big of an ask that really was.
“I would be real interested to see how we can really change this thing around if we’re motivated by love rather than by hate,” he said. “I just feel — and I know I’m going to upset some people — I feel like we, the Kansas State community and family, allow them to live rent-free in our heads way too much.”
At the first sign of anything crimson or blue on Tuesday, the K-State fans exploded into a chorus of deep and deafening boos. That turned into heckling, aimed most at Kansas native Gradey Dick and Wilson, who still catches heat for the DUI he got 15 months ago.
For years, Kansas State fans have shown up on game night inside Bramlage Coliseum ready to spit fire toward the visiting Jayhawks. While rooting hard against the opponent is nothing new in college athletics, it has always seemed to have an extra gear in Manhattan.
The “F– KU” chants, initially inspired by the techno song Sandstorm have been around for years. And the handful of court-stormings that have taken place when the Wildcats have knocked off Kansas at home — the most notable of which came in 2015, when K-State student Nathan Power bumped KU’s Jamari Traylor on his way to celebrate the victory on the court — have added to the intensity.
Then there have been those games when Kansas State isn’t even playing Kansas yet still hears its fans break out the “F– K-U” chant. One of the most recent examples of this came in last year’s Texas Bowl, when Sandstorm came on during K-State’s victory over LSU and the fans went wild with the anti-KU chant like they do at home games.
In 2017, K-State president Richard Myers released a statement asking for the chant to stop. He called it “personally embarrassing” and “not what one expects from a world-class university.”
Legendary K-State football coach Bill Snyder also tried his hand at ending the chant. And on both occasions, it either disappeared or diminished for a while. But it has never fully gone away and it has continued to take on new life and new forms at both expected and unexpected times.
An informal count of the KSU student section using the “F– KU” chant on Tuesday night reached 11 by game’s end, with five rounds coming during pregame festivities and in the first half.
The signs in the stands were pretty tame this year — perhaps because the particularly bad ones have been confiscated in the past — but there were still a few.
The most popular was a purple and white sign that shows an outline of the state of Kansas and features the words “We Own This State.”
One fan taped over the word “State” and changed it to “Conference.”
Another sign that pushed the line of appropriateness, featured a comparison between the last names of K-State forward Keyontae Johnson and KU guard Gradey Dick.
There was also the classic black octagon with the word “Doom” in the middle to pay homage to Bramlage’s nickname and a new addition this year — a giant Jerome Tang head.
KU vs. ranked foes
Kansas State became the fifth ranked team the Jayhawks have faced this season, with KU holding a 3-2 record in those games against Top 25 teams.
With 12 games remaining in the Big 12 grind, that number could easily double by season’s end.
The Jayhawks are now 121-65 against ranked teams all-time under Self.
KU women’s team returns home
The Kansas women’s basketball team will look to break its three-game losing streak on Wednesday night against visiting West Virginia at Allen Fieldhouse.
The game is slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff and will be shown on ESPN+.
After being ranked in the last four AP polls, the KU women (12-4 overall, 2-3 Big 12) dropped out of this week’s poll.
West Virginia (12-4, 3-2) features the toughest scoring defense in the Big 12, with the Mountaineers holding opponents to 56.3 points per game on 37.2 percent shooting so far this season. WVU has won three straight games, defeating Kansas State, TCU and No. 18 Baylor after starting conference play 0-2.
WVU leads the all-time series with the Jayhawks 16-6, but KU swept the series a season ago.