23,000 strong, K-State fans flood Phoenix for pep rally

By Kelly McHugh

PHOENIX — Perhaps Wyatt Thompson said it best. “Well, Bill Snyder did it again, didn’t he?” Thompson said to more than 23,000 purple-clad fans that pilled into Chase Field on Wednesday afternoon.

The home of the Arizona Diamondbacks turned into the home of the Wildcats on the eve of Kansas State’s game against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium tonight.

Some of the special guests Wednesday included Ernie Barrett, retired Gen. Richard Myers, former Wildcat safety Tysyn Hartman and Emmy Award winner Eric Stonestreet, among others.

K-State Athletic Director John Currie, K-State President Kirk Schulz and other K-State notables kicked off the event with opening comments, as Wildcat fans filled the entire lower ring of the baseball stadium.

“How ‘bout those K-State Wildcats?” Currie asked. “K-State is great because everyone in the K-State nation does their part, plays their role, just like the 130 football players on our team.”

Currie welcomed Stonestreet, who got the K-State fans on their feet and made them laugh. Stonestreet shared stories about the passion he has for his alma mater and described why he said it’s great to be a K-State fan.

“It’s awesome to be around so many people in the same color that I like to wear,” Stonestreet said in an interview prior to the event. “Every chance I get I tell America, the world, whatever platform I have, that I went to Kansas State University. I want them to do the same, I want them to tell people what a great town we have and what a great institution we have.”

But Stonestreet wasn’t the only speaker to make the fans chuckle.

“You know,” Schulz said, “the last time I saw this many purple-clad people outside of Manhattan was in Lawrence, Kansas… It is a great time to be a Wildcat.”

After the opening remarks, when it seemed almost impossible for the Wildcat fans to get any louder, the K-State football team walked onto the field, followed by the man of the hour, Bill Snyder. The audience erupted.

“As always, it’s a wonderful crowd and as I said last year, in Dallas, Texas, it’s not a surprise to me,” Snyder said. “A lot of people might look at the massive amount of people we have here that are K-State people and think, ‘Wow, this is unbelievable.’

But it’s very believable to me because you have always been this way and I have a great appreciation for you.”

Snyder continued to speak about his appreciation for the loyal fanbase, his coaching staff and his players before introducing K-State football captains Arthur Brown, B.J. Finney, Collin Klein, Ty Zimmerman and special teams captain Jared Loomis.

“We are very, very excited to unveil our new uniforms tomorrow,” Zimmerman began, as he cracked a smile. “They’ve got a Tostitos patch on the shoulder.”

Zimmerman, of course, was poking fun at the fact that K-State and Oregon couldn’t be further apart when it comes to fashion. The Wildcats have road uniforms and home uniforms — purple and white jerseys — that look about the same as they did 20 years ago. The Ducks, however, don more than 20 different uniform combinations.

The event finished with comments from the rest of the captains before the team left the field, not to be seen again until they face off against the Ducks tonight at 7:30 CST on ESPN.

“Thank you guys so much,” Klein said. “And wow, I mean, it’s just looking up here and seeing everybody here like I’ve seen you all season. It’s special. It makes K-State unique and I just want to thank God, thank my family and thank you guys.”

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | The Manhattan Mercury, 318 North 5th Street, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502 | Copyright 2017