For Kansas State tight end Travis Tannahill, Saturday represents a blank slate. His first crack at the Kansas Jayhawks means an opportunity to improve his personal record against his team's in-state rival to 1-0, but despite not yet being immersed in the feud from an on-field standpoint, the Kansas-born freshman is familiar with what's at stake when the Sunflower State's only Division-I football teams square off. Tannahill discusses the rivalry and a few other topics with GoPowercat.com in this week's Q&A.
Being a Kansas-raised young man, do you feel like games against KU matter more to you and the others like you on the roster than they do to some of the guys from other parts of the country?
Obviously, we all like to win. I mean, everybody wants to win every game we play, but I understand the pride because I grew up in it. I mean, I didn't grow up being a K-State or a KU fan, but I still grew up hearing about it. I was always on the outside watching the fans bicker. Now, I definitely want to win this for the fans because we haven't come out on the right end of it for a while and I know what it means to them.
If you grew up in Kansas and didn't pull for KU or K-State, what team did you support?
A Nebraska fan, actually. I lived in Nebraska for four years when I was younger. I grew up being a Husker fan. My sister played softball there while I was in junior high, so that helped.
So what's the bigger game for you, against Kansas or at Nebraska?
I don't know, I guess it's pretty close. My room was decked out in red. The bed sheets and everything were Huskers. That's a really tough question.
Does it bug you that they never offered you a scholarship?
No, but with the prior coach there, I wasn't really interested anyway.
You grayshirted a year ago. Take me through that year. How did you occupy your time?
I couldn't do much because I was just rehabbing my elbow and trying to stay healthy. It's obviously fine now, but that was most of it. I couldn't really lift. I could do squats and that stuff, but I couldn't bench or do dumbbells or any of that. I just took some part-time classes and kind of relaxed here in Manhattan.
So you were in Manhattan?
Yeah, I was here. I was taking six hours of class.
What was your contact with the team back then? I know there are bylaws limiting it and whatnot.
I wasn't up here at all. I would just come check in once a week with the prior tight ends coach. I wasn't even allowed to use the facilities. I had to go over to the rec or something.
Did you ever doubt your status with the team when the previous coaching regime was asked to leave?
A few days after that happened, Sean Snyder gave me a call and told me they were going to uphold my scholarship and uphold everything no matter who the new coaching staff was.
That would lead me to think he might have had an idea who the new coach was going to be.
I don't think so. I mean, I did not think he was going to come back. I was betting on TCU's coach. I thought Coach (Gary) Patterson was going to come on over. Once I found out it was Coach Snyder though, I was on board. I was excited to get a chance to play for a legend like him.
Has Coach Snyder placed an increased emphasis on this game against Kansas or is it business as usual?
This week is the first time we've mentioned the KU game. Next week will be the first time we mention Mizzou, and the next week will be the first time we talk about Nebraska. I think everyone understands the importance of it though. The preparation has been the same though.
Do you think the fact that this team hasn't experienced much success against Kansas weighs on some of your more tenured teammates?
Yeah, definitely, but it's like that a lot. Going into the OU game, some of the seniors talked about how they'd never beaten OU and that was their last chance. It was a goal and we came up short. There are few guys that have never beaten KU, and we're giving them a chance now.
What was the collective attitude about the loss to Oklahoma? Was it equal parts moral victory and disappointment?
Losing is never a real option or something we are really happy with. Coach Snyder's big thing is that we need to improve every single day. In some ways, we did that, but winning is what matters. There were no moral victories there. We definitely wanted to win that game. We feel like we had a chance to win that game and we expected to win.
You're a guy who hasn't been in the media a lot this season. Tell me something interesting about you.
Well, I have a pretty sweet dog at home.
Yeah, that's not very interesting, what else? I know you can do better.
My dad owns a restaurant in Overland Park. Does that work?
Yeah, we'll go with it. What's the name of the restaurant?
Tannahs. It's family owned. My dad runs the place too, so it's a family kind of place. That keeps him busy. He's still made every game so far but he works quite a few hours out there. It's great, great food. If you're ever in the Leawood area, stop in over there.
What a nice little plug.
Hey, just trying to help out. That might make him proud.