KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Now it can officially be said.
This one ... this one on Dec. 6, 2003; this one against 12-0 and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma; this one for the Big 12 Championship ... truly is the greatest victory in Kansas State history.
Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7.
"I can't describe it," said Ell Roberson, one of the multiple-stars of the game with 227 passing yards and four touchdowns. "Nothing can touch this."
No ... there's been no other victory in Kansas State history that can come close to this one.
It's the first Wildcat football championship since Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf's gang went 5-0 to win the Big Six crown in 1934, despite losing to Marquette and tying Manhattan (N.Y.) College in the preseason.
Today, the stars of '34 — Ralph Churchill, George Maddox, Maurice Elder and Leo Ayres — are collectively raising their leather helmets in salute to this team of 69 years later.
"This is one of the happiest moments in my life. I can't find words for it," said KSU President Jon Wefald. "To come into Kansas City and beat a team that people have been saying is the best in 30 years and win a Big 12 Championship. It just doesn't get any better than this."
Echoing those words were athletics director Tim Weiser, "I told you in Lincoln a few weeks ago that nothing could beat that moment. Well, I was wrong. I can't imagine anything better than this. We played like champions, and we are."
Like "Pappy's" team, this unit of '03 was hardly perfect in the beginning losing on three successive Saturday, but once on track, these Wildcats chugged itself into contention with wins over Colorado, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State by a combined score of ka-zillion to not very many.
Traveling north of the border on Nov. 15, K-State scored what some proclaimed to be K-State's best-ever win over Nebraska, 38-9. But that greatest win lasted only three weeks.
One more time: Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7.
"We're the best team in the nation right now," proclaimed defensive back Cedrick Williams. "The best!"
On this night, no one could argue because Kansas State had just smacked presumably the best, 35-7.
"It feels great. To beat the No. 1 team in the nation and do it like we did, we shocked the world," said linebacker Josh Buhl. "Nobody expected it."
The victory positions Kansas State for even more 2003 records, which includes a never-matched 12-victory season with a win in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.
"I wish we could play tomorrow ... against anyone," said Buhl.
Always coaching under the umbrella of team-concept, this 2003 season can now be remembered for more than individual heroics.
•Darren Sproles: single-season, career rushing champion.
•Ell Roberson: No. 1 in career total offense. No. 2 in career rushing.
•James Terry: tops in single-season receiving yards.
Not by design, and certainly unselfishly, this 1-2-3 trio-threat posted the most rush-pass-catch total yards than any other trio in Kansas State history.
The three-pronged attack covered 5,373 strides with Sproles rushing for 1,948, Roberson passing for 2,351 and Terry catching for 1,174.
In 1998, the Michael Bishop (2,844 passing), Eric Hickson (902 rushing) and Darnell McDonald (1,092 catching) trio totaled 4,838 yards, or over 500 yards shy of this trio of 2003.
All numbers that are fine and dandy to Mr. Snyder, but it's team-awards that he coaches for, and it's a team-victory that he secured Saturday night. The most savored of his 127 in 15 years at Kansas State, for sure, but as he said, "What's I'm excited about is how these youngsters feel about it."
This team will truly be remembered as champions.
The Wildcats overcame arrests in the off-season; addressed, and solved, injuries in the preseason; withstood taking three TKO's from Marshall, Texas and Oklahoma State early in the year ... and now stand tallest of all — champions ... the best in the Big 12 Conference in 2003.
Want to read it one more time:
Kansas State ... Big 12 Champs!