Biggest In-State Non-Rivalry? Evin Demirel Cracks The Code

ESPN Outlet Apparently Uses “Kansas” and “Wichita State” as Ciphers for “Arkansas” and “Arkansas State”

Evin Demirel Cracks The Code wichita state

Visit Evin's Author PageGod bless Grantland.

Often the ESPN longform outlet casts its Sauron-like gaze across our fair nation in search only of its most publicized issues and biggest personalities. Usually, a relatively obscure outpost like Arkansas is left in the dark. Occasionally, though, a Grantland emissary pens a story cracking open the ribs of an issue quite near our Arkansan hearts. Granted, that story may not actually contain a single mention of our state. And it’s possible its author Jordan Conn might not have thought about Arkansas while reporting on a flagship university – rooted in a state’s economically vibrant northern corner – which has not only for decades refused to play the more working class university to its south, but has essentially forgotten that the smaller school even exists.

Don’t blame Conn. For, likely unintentionally, he wrote a brave and riveting account of our state’s most divisive sports issue. This is boiling water type stuff no out-of-stater would want to directly wade in, so we totally understand why Conn would have cleverly used a more renowned basketball state as a smokescreen. And why – on the off chance he knew what he was doing – he filled his article with code words.

No worries. Our encryption software was more than up to the task. The following are translated excerpts from a Grantland story that was, whether it meant to be or not, about the nation’s real most dysfunctional intrastate “non-rivalry.”

“To be an Wichita Arkansas State fan typically means to be ignored, not only nationally but also in your own state. “There’s always been a certain amount of angst among Wichita Arkansas State fans when it comes to ArKansas,” says Bob Lutz, a columnist for the Wichita Eagle who has worked at the paper for 40 years someone. “On the other hand, ArKansas fans respond by doing their best to not even acknowledge Wichita Arkansas State.”

The most significant way ArKansas ignores the Shockers Red Wolves: by refusing to play them. ArKansas began playing basketball when James Naismith showed up on campus in 1898 1923. Eight Three years later, Wichita Arkansas State — then called Fairmount First District Agricultural and Mechanical College — started its own team. In the 1088 years since, the teams have played only 14 5 times. “It’s 100 percent on ArKansas,” says Lutz someone. “They feel like they have nothing to gain and everything to lose.”

Bill Self Mike Anderson hasn’t been asked multiple times over the years about scheduling Wichita Arkansas State. Last January, he still very well could have told ESPN’s Andy Katz, “You schedule to benefit your own school, not to benefit others. You have to benefit your own school. I want to play games that benefit us, and from a financial standpoint, it’s hard to play games away from Allen Fieldhouse Bud Walton Arena since that’s our main source of budget every year.”

“You know, we’re all ArKansas,” he a random Red Wolves fan said. “Why fight each other? Why not just celebrate what everybody is doing, whether it’s us or KU UA or K-State UALR or whoever?” Yes, he admitted, plenty of ArKansas fans exist in their own bubble, oblivious to the success of any other program, “but you know?” he said, “They deserve it. Anybody else would be the same way.”

Besides, he said, there is still one way the Shockers Red Wolves can prove themselves against KU UA. “Let’s get them in the tournament. Let’s earn it. Elite Eight First Four. One last-seed against 2 a second-to-last seed.”

Make sure to read this Grantland story in its entirety.

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Decryptor Evin Demirel finds it striking that the Arkansas Times named Wichita State’s biggest boosters as their 2012 Arkansans of the Year.

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