EPISODE THREE: Now With 35% Less Ewoks

<b>KANSAS CITY, MO --</b> OK, let's settle the typo from Episode 2 up front. I DID misspell the name of Iowa State's Southern Outpost, but in my defense (A) I was somewhat inebriated when I wrote the article (B) nobody seems to have noticed yet, and (C) at least I consistently added the extra ‘e' to Kelly's everywhere I used the name in the article. As far as my misspellings in shoddily fact-checked articles go, I prefer to "blame society" instead of taking responsibility for my own work.

(Friday, 7am) I need to recognize a big fish that has noticed my work. "Yips" to Kathy the Cake Eater, who is handily filling in for Steve and Robbo over at the LlamaButchers weblog. (http/www.llamabutchers.mu.nu) Kathy is a fellow ISU grad who is more pessimistic than I am about the chances of the ISU men to go dancing next weekend. That's cool with me, if I learned ANYTHING at all during my tenure at ISU, it's that pessimism should be your natural response to life – well, that and I also learned that if you're going to feed the ducks on Lake Luverne after bar closing time, they prefer white bread (with the crusts torn off, of course). She wrote a nice piece about ISU fans descending on Kelly's this week, and you all should go over there and check it out.

We woke up at 9am, consumed a hearty breakfast at the Embassy Suites and then caught a cab to Kemper to start looking for tickets. I found a lower level ticket (Section 111, right above the Mizzou/Baylor coach's seat) for face value and settled in to enjoy the second half of the Mizzou/Nebraska game. Mizzou was all over the Cornhuskers right after halftime, but Nebraska rallied and made a game of it. They took Mizzou down to the last 3 seconds, losing by 3 in regulation.

When the ISU game started a half-hour later, it was quickly apparent that Wayne Morgan came to Kansas City to kick butt & chew bubblegum…….AND HE'S ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM!! ISU led Baylor by a score of 21-1 approximately 6 minutes into the game, and as far as I can remember, the closest Baylor ever got to us during the game was maybe 12 points, which was quickly squashed by another ISU run. Stinson and Carr both had phenomenal games, and Homan, Stinson and Blalock were all gamers. The guy who really impressed me today was Clark. He was scoring, rebounding and defending like a man possessed. John Neal played some good minutes, and Dave Braet HIT A THREE, which drove the ISU partisans in attendance wild. Braet even served up a tricky assist in the lane to either Clark or Staple (don't remember which – the announcer sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher from where I was sitting, and it happened so fast I didn't catch the number of the guy streaking down the lane), which impressed me even more than the three. Agnew played for a minute or so, and even Ceaser, Streff and Bergstrom got some P.T. today.

Some fans might be mad at Morgan & the staff for not resting Homan & Stinson earlier in the game when the outcome wasn't in doubt, but I'm not so sure. The atmosphere of the game was as relaxed as a practice after the initial flurry, so there was little risk of one of the starters trying to do too much & getting himself hurt in the process. Pulling the starters earlier would have given them a few minutes of rest, but considering that the outcome wasn't in doubt, I think the decision was very defensible. Coach Morgan doesn't just have to worry about keeping his guys from getting hurt, he also has to worry about keeping all the players honed to a fine edge, and I believe that keeping them in the game for a few extra minutes served that purpose. Of course, I've become a Morgan Apologist, so take it for what it's worth.

Our group has now grown to its full size. Two guys drove down from Iowa early this morning, and picked up the last of our airline travelers from KCI, and our wayward truck driver has finally gotten a load going close to Kansas City, allowing him to join us late last night. We watched the A&M/Kansas State game from a booth a Chili's last night, (sorry, but the second session had no real appeal to me) and my prediction of A&M winning so that they could then upset Kansas today proved to be somewhat "Deace-like". I was impressed by Colorado's thumping of Texas. Did everyone else hear all the ESPN bubbleologists talking about how Texas was in already? Apparently, the Texas players heard that one too many times. I guess that being a "media shoo-in" means that you can take a game off & trust the selection committee to trust the analysts. You know, the analysts who work for the same network that cuts paychecks to Trev Alberts. Yeah, that's the one. Smooth move, Longhorns.

The Kansas City Star usually covers the Cyclones better than the paper in Central Iowa does, but the only mentions of ISU in today's paper is an article about the game with Baylor, and their breakdown of the Texas Tech game (they predict us to lose the game, 76-69). None of the usual blurbs about our fans and players, and we got bupkis in Jeffrey Flanagan's "Overheard at Kemper" column. That's OK. My perception of the media has been so warped by exposure to the Hawkeye Times that I'm actually glad that the Star didn't run a 72-point headline screaming "IOWA BEATS PURDUE" with a special 8 page supplement telling us how important that win is to Eddie Munster & the Hawks. Bitter? Me? Naaaahhhhh.

I called it an early night last night, mostly due to my overdoing it Wednesday night and wanting to save myself for today. I think the fact that I'm writing these articles disturbs my friends a little. Our motto of "What Happens in Kansas City Stays in Kansas City" is in trouble, and I keep getting the question. "Oh, uh, yeah……you're not going to, uhm, PRINT that, are you?" I'm having fun with the tension. I've been dropping disturbing comments into the room while I'm working on the articles. Things like "Hey Chief, which year was it when you got sick & we had to carry you back to the hotel?" Or "Hey Jethro, which girl in the group we were talking to last night is the one you were mashing with at that floor party in Maple our sophomore year?" Or "Does anyone know if transsexual is spelled with one ‘s' or two?" Paranoia is great, especially when you can be the cause of the feeling. I woke up last night after the group came home from the bars, and was impressed that none of them tried to cover me with shaving cream or mark LOSER on my forehead with a magic marker. I suppose we've matured enough to get beyond stuff like that…….or maybe they're waiting to REALLY get me Saturday night. Duct taped into a mummy & shoved onto the elevator – this is not beyond the scope of probability. I will have to stay on the bounce to avoid these guys.

The Embassy Suites used to be a hotbed of ISU fans, but in the last 10 years or so, it's become the official hangout of Oklahoma. Right now, as I type this article, I'm sitting within 50 feet of a giant red & white balloon arch with mylar "O" and "U" balloons at the peak of the arch. These guys are good. They must have exhaustively researched my situation, and finding that I have a wife, a good job, a mortgage, and multiple pets to keep me grounded – they decided to taunt me with a symbol of athletics that is just sitting there itching like a bad rash. Boy, if they had hung a target like that in front of Russ in the late ‘80s, the results would have been "somewhat different". The '87 OU football game (you remember, the one where most of the OU starters ended up going into the stands & getting hot dogs & sodas to eat on the sidelines after their lead became insurmountable) burned, I SAY BURNED, the "Boomer Sooner" song into my memory. I think their pep band played that song every time the center-quarterback exchange went off without a hitch. The only thing keeping me from going on a BB gun shooting spree during the pep rallies that will follow is the fact that most OU fans are pretty cool, and their basketball coach is a freakin' genius. Over the years, one of the perks of staying in the Embassy has been that we've gotten to run into Kelvin Sampson on the elevators. He's a pretty cool guy, and it's nice having a rival where you respect your opponent's coach. Too bad that all our rivals (cough, hack, INSTATE GAME, cough) don't have coaches like him.

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