Dec 122010
 
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

LAWRENCE, Kan. – It’s snowing outside.

Well, likely not now, but as I sit here in my hotel room just south of the University of Kansas campus at 12:30 a.m. Sunday it is.

I am writing you my final edition of The Weekly Blitz, a Monday morning tradition I never even dreamt would gain as much popularity as it has over the past year and a half.

But it has, and I thank you for the loyal following and weekly e-mails that either tell me I make a great point and do a great job covering Colorado State, or I should quit journalism all together because I’m obviously an inbred Oklahoma redneck who should bury his face in cow manure.

Hey, to each their own, right?

On Saturday evening I covered what was my last event as a college student, CSU’s 76-55 loss to No. 4 Kansas at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

It was the first sporting event I can remember, in all 23-plus years of my life, that I seriously did not care who won.
I didn’t care at all.

If CSU pulled the upset, great.

Should Kansas triumph as predicted, then rock chalk on.

You see, though I will be receiving my degree from CSU this upcoming weekend, I am a diehard Kansas Jayhawks fan. Whether it’s football at Memorial Stadium, basketball at Allen Field House or baseball at Hoglund Park, I love it.

I’m sorry but I can’t help it. I had no interest in going to Kansas until Friday, Jan. 20, 2006, when my mother checked me out of school for the day to drive to Lawrence and check out the journalism department at KU.

It too was snowing on that trip to Lawrence.

I fell in love with the campus and fell in love with Kansas.

The summer following my senior year of high school I enrolled at Kansas, but at the last second decided to go to college at the University of Arkansas as I had fallen in love in a different manner that spring.

And though that love didn’t work out and I constantly beat myself up all of my freshman year for not going to Kansas, I no longer regret it.
Saturday I walked around the snowy campus in Lawrence, visiting the dorm I would have lived in, the bars I would have gone to, the venues I would have covered games at and the paper I would have worked for. At first I thought about how cool that would have been, but then was so thankful it wasn’t.

Because there is nothing I would have traded for the last three and a half years in Fort Collins with you.

Yes, I missed an Orange Bowl victory, yes, I missed a national championship in basketball, but had I gone to Kansas, I would have missed CSU volleyball’s upset over No. 6 Washington in the NCAA Tournament.

I would have missed seeing Gartrell Johnson III chest-bump Joey Porter, missed having a head football coach remember I’m having back surgery and while I lay bed-ridden doing a phone interview, he asks how I’m doing and if there’s anything he can do to help.

I would have missed a head basketball coach texting me late at night saying he liked my column and inviting me into his office the next day to watch a video with him. I’d have missed that same coach always calling me by name, whether we’re in a small press conference with three people at Moby Arena, or a packed one with 30 in Kansas City. A coach who always tells me if there’s anything he can do to help me find a job, let him know.
I’d have missed making legitimate friendships with athletes like Katelin Batten and John Clark, both of whom are incredible people, who have been there for me through thick and thin.

Had I gone to Kansas, I would have never experienced the greatest three and a half years of my life with the most underappreciated college sports community in America.

Fort Collins, you have a rare group of athletes and coaches at CSU who are great people and really care. I know we all, including me, get down on them when they lose, but there’s not a more class act athletics department in the country.

Before I say goodbye, I want just want to thank Sean Star for hiring me at the Collegian in 2007, Tom Lacock for doing so at Rivals in 2008, Mike Donovan for secretly motivating me and Kyle Grabowski for being the hardest worker I know.

Greg Luft, Jack Lovelace, Jeff Browne and the J-Dept. for shaping me.

I want to thank Lauren for always believing in me. Though we had our differences, you made me a better writer and person.

Thanks to Bryan for being an idiot, to Jessica for always loving me and never letting me go. Dad for paying this ridiculously high out-of-state tuition bill and mom for the overwhelming support.

Ah, oh yea, and you guys. To you I genuinely just want to say thanks.

Thanks for the memories.

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 12:59 pm

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