All year, Coach Jack Hartman of Kansas State had complained that no Big Eight basketball games were being network televised. Then his team's key test against Kansas made it on NBC and a passel of nitwits in the K-State stands spoiled it all by literally going bananas.
They get a second chance Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., in a regional showing against Missouri, but people will be a long time getting over last Saturday's mess. Everybody from the Kansas State student body president to the commissioner of the Big Eight has denounced what happened minutes after Wildcat senior star Mike Evans appealed to the restless pre-game crowd: "At Kansas State we take a lot of pride in our basketball team. And pride goes hand in hand with dignity. So I'm asking you please to refrain from throwing anything onto the court."
Sure. When the visiting Jayhawk players were introduced a hail of overripe bananas cascaded onto the floor, splattering. The NBC cameras were forced to wait seven minutes past the scheduled tipoff while ushers worked to clear the sloppy, slippery playing surface.
Later, with less than a minute to play and Kansas firmly ahead, another shower of bananas, toilet paper and other debris rained down. Another long delay, and NBC stations carrying the game wound up arriving at the Bob Hope golf tournament a full 15 minutes behind schedule.
That and vulgarities/obscenities on signs and clothing worn by some K-State students so angered a network executive at the game that he initially ventured, never again.
Now why can't college basketball crowds be sensitive and genteel like Maryland's? . . .