Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Flipping Out: Trading conferences
By Ted Miller and Jeremy Crabtree
For the past six seasons, I've covered the Pac-12 for ESPN.com. The decade before that, I was in Seattle, as a college football writer and columnist. And before that, I covered the SEC.
I know football on both coasts. But I don't really know the land-locked states. The states in the middle. States that some snotty folks in the Pac-12 might refer to as "the flyover states."
Pac-12 reporter Ted Miller will be taking in the atmosphere in Manhattan, Kan., this weekend.
But it's "Flip" week at ESPN.com. The idea is our regional college football writers are going to be leaving their regions -- their comfort zones -- for another, to search out the thrills and chills of college football in a different place. What makes that place different and special?
So I felt like it was right in my big-city wheelhouse when my bosses said I was going to Manhattan. Then they explained it was Manhattan, Kan., home of Kansas State, not the one on Hudson River. The Little Apple, not the big one.
That sent me to Google. And the more I read about Manhattan, the more I was intrigued. While the Pac-12 has a few neat college towns -- Eugene, Corvallis, Pullman, Boulder -- it's mostly big city football out here: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Salt Lake and Tucson. Manhattan sounds like a quintessential college town.
After chatting with Kenny Lannou in the Kansas State sports information office, I found myself getting excited. This is going to be cool.
But I need to hear from you guys about what I should see and seek out. What is most important about Kansas State football? What is uniquely K-State?
My inquiry is about the Friday before and game day -- the tailgate and game itself. No stone should be left unturned.
I turned to our resident Kansas State alum, senior recruiting reporter Jeremy Crabtree. What should I see? And what should I expect?
Jeremy Crabtree: Ted, the sightseeing on your trip to Kansas State should start even before you even arrive in Manhattan.
As you make your way West along I-70 from Kansas City, you’ll notice a change in the scenery as you near exit 313 for Manhattan. You will be driving through a section of the Flint Hills, one of the few remaining sections of tallgrass prairie in America. You’ll have to use your imagination some because it’s winter and the grass is brown instead of green, but envision oceans of vibrant green grass untouched by man as far as the eye can see. As a native Kansan, I truly believe the Flint Hills rival some of the natural beauty you’re used to seeing in Pac-12 territory.
Quarterback Daniel Sams and Kansas State take on TCU on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Make sure you bring your clubs, because Colbert Hills Golf Course should be your first stop in Manhattan. From there you can experience some of the Flint Hills vistas yourself on a course designed by professional golfer Jim Colbert. You can see as far as 12 miles from some of the holes, and Colbert is a proud Kansas State alumnus, so the place is near and dear to Wildcat fans.
After you’re done there, I would make a beeline to Aggieville, a six-square block section in town that’s full of restaurants, bars and shops that serve as the social hub of Manhattan. You honestly couldn’t go wrong with any of the places in Aggieville for lunch, but I’m a big fan of Coco Bolos, a Mexican wood-fired grill and cantina. The evil desert chicken is to die for, and if you’re adventurous you can order it “truly evil” like I do. From there it’s just a short walk to Varney’s Book Store, Aggieville’s anchor store and the only place to get everything purple you’ll need for Saturday’s game.
Your afternoon would also not be complete without a visit to the Call Hall Dairy Bar on campus. From there you can sample some of the 30-different student-made ice cream flavors. I’ve always been a big fan of purple pride, candy crunch and apple dapple.
On game day, make sure you get there early as the real pre-game show takes place in the parking lots.
Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City has the best tailgating in the country, but you have to rank Bill Snyder Family Stadium right up there, too. With large blacktop parking lots on the east and west side of the stadium, there’s plenty of room for cars, trucks and RVs to cram in and that creates kind of a tailgating utopia. With everyone packed in so tightly, a sweet-smelling combination of smoke from ribs, brats, steaks, burgers, brisket or whatever hangs in the air.
Also don’t be shy if you see something you want to sample. Fans from opposing schools have always commented on how friendly the tailgating is in Manhattan, and K-Staters don’t like seeing people go hungry, even if you come empty-handed.
Ted Miller: Consider me intrigued. So Kansas State fans, if you have any suggestions for me to guide me on this trip, feel free to drop them in my mailbag or shoot me a note on Twitter @ESPN_Pac12blog. If you see me walking around Manhattan, don't be shy, say hello.