I read it all over the internet.
Maybe it's an instate rival, refusing to come to grips with what is now a true rivalry.
Maybe it's another conference, thinking that expansion shouldn't include some farm school.
Or, just maybe, you have no other connection to Iowa State, other than hey, look what they almost did.
As an Iowa State fan, I'm constantly bombarded with being forced to think that we're the "little brother", either, in our own conference, or in our own state. And, you know what? I could really care less.
You see, I kind of think being an Iowa State fan is something unique unto itself. Don't compare us to Cubs fans. First, as a White Sox fan, that makes me throw up in my mouth just a bit - but we don't have any false delusions that some sort of big glory awaits us, except maybe in wrestling.
Nearing 21 years of age, I may be a relative neophyte when it comes to the world of college athletics. But, as an Iowa State fan, I often feel that I have felt some of the worst of the worst, whether it be an 0-10-1 football season, losing a 2 vs. 15 game in the NCAA tournament, or the overall feeling of impending doom that even a lead during a football game brings (During last year's 31-20 victory over Kansas State, I couldn't help but wonder how we might blow it, up two scores with 4 minutes left.)
And, even though I often hate watching Iowa State at times, I keep getting drawn back. Maybe it's that I think that the reward will be that much greater when and if we finally make noise on the football field, or return to national relevance on the basketball court.
I don't dispute our lack of results in athletics. We're better known for a boozin' basketball coach, or for one crazy half football season in 2002. I know that I'm still going to be going to games, hell or high water. If you're a fan of an opposing team, would you be all that willing to spend money on tickets for a football team that's finished above .500 just six times since 1980? Or pony up to watch a bottom-tier Big 12 men's team struggle against Directional State in some nonconference tournament? Or for that matter, watch a women's basketball game - at all?
My grandmother actually bought one of those large-screen projection TVs some years ago - so that she wouldn't struggle with having to seen the players on the screen when watching Iowa State games. That's the only reason. For Iowa State.
We're always going to be here. While Iowa State doesn't have the biggest fanbase around, I will contend that we have some of the most passionate fans. We're consistently in the Top 25 in men's basketball attendance, consistently Top 10 in women's basketball attendance, or solidly in the middle of the Big 12 conference in football attendance, drawing more than teams that are usually better. Despite the fact that we seemingly know that we'll undoubtedly get our heart broken somehow - and it ALWAYS happens - we keep turning out for the Clones.
And yes, it does bug me a bit when fans of bigger schools dump on Iowa State, saying we're a midmajor in a major conference, or something of the like. But, really, there's no point in giving two shits what fans of other teams think. There's something kind of special about being a Cyclone fan. We love our team with an undying passion, whether listening to the games from a tractor (yes, it does happen) or watching the occasional game on the ESPNs of the world.
If you're an opposing fan, I'm not asking you to root for Iowa State. But, understand that we're nobody's inferior. Our fans and athletes are here to win. And for those of us that have been around forever, it's going to be that much sweeter for the years of disappointment. And, hopefully, those wins are going to arrive sooner rather than later.