Ok K-State fans, time for another article on things you never knew about K-State sports. Well, maybe you did know some of this stuff, but hopefully it'll be enjoyable anyway.
I want to start with a brief history of K-State sportscasters. Not the most interesting topic, I know, but stay with me.
It essentially started with Mitch Holthus (above) in 1983, a Kansas State University graduate who was absolutely fantastic and just another memorable piece of Bill Snyder's greatest turnaround in college football history. He worked as the main play-by-play man for K-State men's basketball and football all the way up until 1996. That meant he was there for the key building years of Snyder's reign, including the first-ever K-State bowl victory in the 1993 Copper Bowl and another in the 1995 Holiday Bowl. He used a signature phrase, repeating "big, big, big, big" anytime something important happened for K-State. Holthus was amazing and may have even stayed at K-State forever if the Kansas City Chiefs hadn't come calling. Holthus has worked for them ever since, using a new catch phrase that I'm sure everyone knows. "Good for and a Kansas City Chiefs TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOWN!!!"
Replacing Holthus was another Kansas State graduate in Greg Sharpe (above). Sharpe was intelligent, easily likable, and great to listen to. Plus, he was a K-State guy, and that made it all the more fun. Sharpe was there through the real glory years: the win against Nebraska in 1998, the #1 ranking that same year, two 11-1 seasons in '97 and '99 and three other eleven-win seasons in '98, 2000, and 2002. Unfortunately Sharpe had a falling out with K-State when a new contract was formed because of a new radio service provider for K-State sports and Sharpe was left out. He continued working for WIBW in Topeka until just recently accepting a job with the Nebraska Cornhuskers as play-by-play man. The very fact that Nebraska was willing to hire someone from K-State should speak volumes for how good he really is.
Finally, in 2003, Wyatt Thompson (above right) took over as play-by-play man for Kansas State and is still in that role today. A native Kansan and former play-by-play man for Colorado State, Thompson is one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet, does a tremendous job with interviews and public relations events, and has a voice that is really very soothing. Unfortunately Thompson can be hard to follow at times. He doesn't very often say the score, what yard line the play is on, or how much time is left - all things essential for someone wanting to know the situation of the game. He knows the players and plays well and is certainly buoyed by his color man Stan Weber (above left), former quarterback at Kansas State, all of which make him acceptable for the time being.
So why do I bring this all up, you ask? Well, it is obvious that Thompson doesn't exactly stack up to K-State's former radio announcers. He's not much fun to listen to, as Holthus was, and he doesn't have quite the insight that came with Sharpe. So is there someone that might be better? I say there is, and you don't have to go far to find him.
Meet Brian Smoller (above), play-by-play man for K-State women's basketball, volleyball and part-time baseball for at least the last five years. If you've never heard him, click on the link below and listen to the enthusiasm in his voice as he calls plays for his beloved wildcats.
Do you year the enthusiasm? The clarity? The intelligence? The love for all things K-State? I sure do. And I love every second of it.
I've never heard Smoller call football, but he definitely knows basketball as good as if not better than Thompson. As far as accolades are concerned, both Smoller and Thompson have been awarded Kansas Sportscaster of the Year awards - Thompson in 1983 and Smoller in 2003. A bit of a difference, yes? Smoller undoubtedly has more enthusiasm than Thompson and really gets me going any time I listen to a K-State game (though it doesn't really take much), much like Thompson's predecessors. Smoller has more of the qualities of Sharpe and Holthus than Thompson does, and it becomes more and more apparent every year. Smoller also has more ties to K-State. His brother manages kstatesports.com and his wife is in charge of K-State Athletic Department's Marketing. Quite the K-State family indeed. I'm not exactly saying that he should go ahead and replace Thompson, but I do know one thing for sure: at this moment, at K-State, the best sportscaster's name is Brian Smoller.