We’ve had some fun with the whole Nebraska leaving thing around here lately, and believe me, I’m a fan of seeing the lighter side of the whole conference realignment thing. However, there are a few realities of not having the Huskers around that Iowa State and its Big XII brethren will have to deal with. From an ISU fan’s perspective, I think chief among these concerns should be which team becomes our new most hated conference opponent?
Perhaps my perception of the Cyclone fan base’s dislike for all things Nebraska is biased based on the fact that I grew up in the western part of Iowa. There are a good number of Husker fans in that part of the state given the proximity to the border, which set up some jeering and whatnot that I’ve been a part of throughout my life. Given this though, I think for the most part it holds true for the ISU fan base in general that the Huskers were the team that fans all looked forward to on the schedule with an added level of anticipation.
In truth, Iowa State has not fared well against the Huskers in football over the years. That fact, however, has not seemed to dampen the disdain of Cyclone fans. It just has been part of the whole Iowa State fan experience to dislike Nebraska much more so than other teams in the conference. Maybe many folks who cheer for the Huskers don’t reciprocate those same feelings, but Iowa State fans sure seem to single out that Nebraska game as the one that means the most. Well, in conference anyway. I don’t want to take anything away from the Iowa game.
Now of course, we aren’t talking Alabama-Auburn level of insanity here. Nobody is poisoning any trees to the extent of my knowledge. Many members of both fan bases of both teams have a good time visiting either Ames or Lincoln for a game and have been mostly well treated by the opposing fans.
I just can’t help but wonder though, who will Iowa State fans love to hate in the new look Big XII without the Huskers around? I’ll give some thoughts after the jump.
I’ll follow with a list of teams I think have potential to replace that special hole ISU fans had in our collective heart for Nebraska. I don’t think the passion is there yet for other teams in the conference, but I do think it can brew if the situation is right. Keep in mind, I’m not necessarily saying one of these teams will or should become a full out rival, I’m just wondering out loud if a particular team can invoke a visceral response to Iowa State fans.
Missouri. Hating Missouri would just plain make sense. They are a border state (and, in fact, the only conference team to share a border) which typically helps to strong feelings between programs, and the game is already a trophy game. However, the battle for the Telephone trophy seems to come and go every year without much more intensity from the fans than any other Big XII game (or much care about the trophy). Perhaps this is more intense for fans around the southern part of Iowa, but collectively, I just don’t see much fervor there right now.
Kansas. Well, they are mostly a basketball school, and I do think that ISU fans give the games on the hardwood against the Jayhawks a bit more of a concern than games against other schools. ISU does have a strong following for basketball, as well as a buzz around the program that bodes well for the future. However, I don’t see the collective fans of Iowa State coming to dislike a team based on sports outside of football right now. Check back on this one in a few years. Big XII teams will get to know each other pretty well on the court in the next few years with the new schedule, so something could be brewing if there are some good games on the hardwood.
Kansas State. FARMAGEDDON. Of all the possibilities, I think the Wildcats are the most intriguing. I think that both athletic offices would like to see this series develop into a full out rivalry, so they could take the game back to Arrowhead Stadium and reap some money off of ticket sales. Anyway, as it sits now, it’s the last game of the season, which should be fun for both teams. I think there is tons of potential here for a true rivalry to develop, but I don’t think currently ISU fans have much of a dislike for a school that feels so similar in scope and mission.
Texas. Perhaps the brotherly bonding that occurred between the remaining North schools during the realignment craziness precludes feelings of resentment, and thus the fan base must turn our disdain southward. Personally, I would say I dislike Texas to a high extent, but this is mostly because my college roommate was a huge Longhorns fan. When I asked him why a kid from Iowa would cheer for Texas, I got a simple answer. "They win." I'm not a big fan of that type of fandom, and thus by association, I dislike Texas. But that’s just a personal example. Collectively, I’m not sure how ISU fans feel about Texas, but I’m positive it’s not all lovey-dovey. Sure felt good when the Clones won in Austin last year, but I think a win there should feel good no matter how negatively you feel about the Longhorns.
Anyone else from the former Big XII South. I doubt it. Iowa State doesn’t have much of a history against any of these programs the way they do with teams from the North, or any real reason I can see to feel strongly about them. Sure, it was fun beating Texas Tech last year, but I don’t see fan’s getting as up for any of these teams as they always did for Nebraska.
So those are my thoughts, but I am interested to see what you all think. Is there a team that you love to hate? Do you think that Iowa State fans will continue feelings of constrained apathy towards the teams of the Big XII? Does it really even matter? Let me know.