October 29, 2008

Campbell stoked for shot at Jayhawks

He tries to say all the right things. He really, he does, but as much as Kansas State senior Ian Campbell would like people to think he's treating this weekend's clash with in-state rival Kansas as just another game on the schedule, he's not fooling anyone. Campbell doesn't enjoy losing to anyone, but being beaten by the Jayhawks is another thing entirely. He knows this much from experience, of which he's had plenty.

The K-State defensive end has been in a Kansas State uniform when the Wildcats have found a way to best their biggest rival, exactly once, and as a freshman who saw very limited action, the 2005 victory over the Jayhawks is, at least to Campbell, a fading and distant memory.

Since the Cimarron, Kan., product has been a regularly contributing member of the K-State football program, he has come up empty in each installment of the state's most famous rivalry. Think that sits well with Campbell, a life-long Wildcat fan and Kansas resident?

Sure he tries to downplay the emotions that this weekend's contest ushers in once a season, and of course he hints at the fact that its just another game in the hunt for a Big 12 North title, but even Campbell is prone to slips of the tongue that imply this is Saturday will be anything but a ordinary game day.

Try as he might, it's as if the 225-pound lineman can't control himself. After all, suppressing disdain isn't everyone's strong suit.

"Nope. There's not an (adjective to describe how we feel about KU)," he said. "There's just not one. That's all I'm going to say about that today."

Campbell quickly flashes back to last year's meeting with the Jayhawks, or the end of it anyway. After dropping a game, most member's of the team, especially the defensive end himself, felt they should have won, a visually upset and beaten up Campbell stood in front of the K-State marching band, as they played his university's alma mater. He might not say it in as many words, but it's that one moment that has haunted him for nearly a year.

"I was very frustrated (after last year's loss to Kansas)," Campbell said. "It's upsetting when you put everything you have into something and it doesn't turn out the way you want. It wasn't just the physical battle because you battle every day when you play football. It was a ball game that I really wanted to win."

It was in front of the somber, purple-clad band that day that it dawned on Campbell: Things surrounding this rivalry had changed dramatically since he arrived four years prior to last year's Sunflower Showdown loss, and, at least in his mind, it was his responsibility to set things right.

"(When I was a freshman) beating them was expected more because of the history that happened then," Campbell said. "I remember all the seniors. I just remember how intense and focused they were on winning that game. That hasn't changed. There's a lot of guys in this team that don't fully understand it, but they will before the week is over."

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