Wildcats celebrate their Big 12 title

By Joel Jellison

After 36 years of waiting, Kansas State president Kirk Schulz pointed fans’ attention to the upper areas of Bramlage Coliseum and set the tone for the evening.

“Folks, it’s been a while,” he said. “It’s great to put 2013 up on that wall.”

K-State celebrated its first regular season men’s basketball title since 1977 on Monday, pulling out all the stops inside Bramlage. The team and coaching staff were announced with the lights off, Rodney McGruder carried in the Big 12 title, there were speeches, and the night ended by cutting down the nets.

“Mr. K-State” Ernie Barrett and his wife were in attendance, and Pat Hartman, the wife of former coach Jack Hartman also joined the festivities. Hartman was the coach of the last team to win a regular season title in 1977.

K-State coach Bruce Weber said winning the title was the realization of something he mentioned all the way back in October.

“When we opened the unbelievable practice facility next door, when we had a talk, I pointed at the end of my presentation, to the banner, and said there hasn’t been a championship since 1977, and we got to get one,” he said. “And they did.”

The chances of the Wildcats winning a title looked grim Saturday night after K-State lost on the road at Oklahoma State. But Kansas was beaten at Baylor late Saturday, leaving the teams finished in a tie.

Currie presented the championship trophy to the team Sunday night after practice.

Weber joked Monday about wishing his team could have wrapped up the title earlier, but the result of the Kansas-Iowa State game a few weeks earlier held it up.

“I was hoping it would happen on our senior night, but a couple of bad calls in one game didn’t get us the championship that night,” he said, referencing the officiating miscues in the Jayhawks’ controversial win in Ames. “I thought we could get it on Saturday night, early, but we didn’t take care of business. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been a Baylor fan, but I cheered for them that day.”

K-State became just the third school in Big 12 history to win Big 12 regular-season titles in both football and men’s basketball, and just the 11th BCS school to do so since 1996.

Weber was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year after leading the school to its first league title in 36 years and its best regular-season record. Weber joined K-State football coach Bill Snyder as Wildcat coaches win the league’s award for best coach.

Currie spoke about the trials and tribulations that K-State has experienced athletically. And used one of Snyder’s 16 goals as an example for how the school can continue its success.

“In athletics, just like in life, there are high highs and low lows, and we’ve certainly had our share,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of highs and a few lows along the way, but when we practice coach Snyder’s goal number three — unity — and we stick together and we ignore the noise on the outside, there are no limits to what we can accomplish at K-State.”

Currie said outside noise has tried to affect K-State in the past few years, namely when it comes to conference movement, but it’s been to no avail. He said the league and K-State are as strong as ever.

The Wildcats finished off the celebration by climbing a ladder one-by-one and cutting the nets down on each goal.

Weber said he hopes the team stays hungry and ready to play for even more.

“We’re cutting down the nets, because we want to practice for something even bigger down the road,” he said.

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