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An Open Invitation to the Students of the University of Kansas

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Cyclone Nation would like to invite you join in on one of our time honored traditions tonight after the Iowa State/Kansas game.

KU fans celebrate a Final Four berth in 2012
KU fans celebrate a Final Four berth in 2012

Dear KU Students,

I know you don't like it when you see opposing fans storming the court after beating your highly ranked Jayhawks, and I get it. You're a competitive bunch who believe in your team's invincibility, and it hurts to have that dominance questioned with each loss, which thankfully doesn't happen often. Seeing the enemy flood their home court with such adulated jubilation has to be like salting a very fresh wound.

Thankfully, as Iowa State fans, we don't experience this from your side of the TV often. Our opponents, generally, are convinced we are the inferior team and expectations of a win are common, so when the upset does occur, fans are less surprised and overjoyed no matter our ranking. So, my assumptions of the matter are purely speculative, but there has to be a part of you, as a college-aged student, that is envious of the fun other fans get to enjoy.

It isn't that you lack opportunities to experience huge wins in Allen Fieldhouse, thus limiting the availability of court storming options. You're only three weeks removed from the thrilling three overtime win over No. 2 Oklahoma as you, yourselves, held the top ranking in all of college basketball. Yes, you were favored in that game, and winning in the Phog is almost a given, but that game was one of the best games played in the month of January I have ever witnessed. And if you were actually there, you had to be going out of your young mind!

I imagine the only thing keeping you from rushing to embrace your exhausted players were the disapproving glares of your pretentious elder peers who demand you act as if you've been there before.

They refer to it as "class" and it is the same adjective they use to frown upon sounding your displeasure at an unwelcome whistle from the referees at an inopportune moment - although you're still able to sneak in those boos from time to time, and I applaud your bravery there. You're supposed to be better than that. Better, in fact, than all other fans of college basketball. You are a Kansas Jayhawk, after all.

But where does that leave you, a fanatical youth yearning to express your excitement rooting for one of the nation's best teams? Maybe you haven't yet experienced, first hand, the crazed energy of beating a highly-ranked and largely hated rival school. Maybe you yearn to gain a more intimate knowledge of that feeling by standing on the very court where this victory took place just moments before, surrounded by thousands of people who look, think and dress just like you, and take a mental snapshot of the moment for your virtual memory scrapbook.

How much better would your scrapbook would be with memories like that?

You've seen others do it; surrounding their school's players while singing along to whatever celebratory song the PR and marketing department adopted as the de-facto theme of conquest. And beating Oklahoma was your opportunity. But those around you, in that old and dusty building filled with history, had the same longing look in their eye - yet were too afraid of upsetting the status-quo to actually live. Somewhere, deep down, your spirit faded a little.

Maybe, as a freshman trying to buy student tickets for the first time, you are required to attend some sort of basketball fan orientation class that instructs you in proper Jayhawk etiquette before being allowed inside your storied arena.

Maybe there's a qualifying questionnaire included in your college application packet that quantifies your propensity to become a prudish fan instead of remaining a vibrant and exuberant cheerleader, and thus, your worthiness for admission. I never applied to be a student in Lawrence, so I honestly don't know.

But it has to hurt keeping those feelings repressed. Luckily for you, this prepares you for a lot of other challenges the corporate world will hurl upon you come graduation. I imagine in time, like those before you, you will adapt more easily to this sterilized atmosphere and your urges will be suppressed almost to the point of extinction. Look outside the student section during the next game to confirm this. You're on your way to becoming a joyless zombie wearing a jersey thrown over your favorite button down shirt. And you'll believe you're happy, because you're a Jayhawk.

But, fear not. You don't have to go through life without experiencing this feeling at least once. Tonight, Kansas travels to Ames, Iowa, to take on our favorites, the Cyclones. And, if you're lucky enough to be able to make the trip to experience Hilton Magic live and in person, you'll likely be witness to yet another great college basketball matchup, as this newly established rivalry has recently delivered some thrilling finishes (unlike the one in Stillwater last week).

And, here's our extension of good will between conference rivals. When Iowa State wins tonight, we might storm the court in your honor. If so, please join us.

You don't have to give up your Jayhawk fan card, but it may be best to cover your colors before surfing the sea of Cyclones down to the Coliseum floor.

For those Iowa State students who will be in attendance tonight, please bring an extra shirt with you when you come to the game. Try, in your assured excitement, to locate those long faces in blue shirts towards the end of the game and extend your cardinal and gold olive branch towards them. Be friendly to them, they are far from home and likely confused as to what is going on. And remember, it isn't their fault their emotions have been forced into the deepest recesses of their souls. Souls they surrendered to the basketball gods long ago.

Some may be at least vaguely aware of the process, having rushed their football field in 2014 after a lone and meaningless victory over a hapless team, but others may need more assistance. Remind them to be wary of journalists and TV personalities who may just want to escape before the throng of individuals explodes through security's porous barrier. Teach them the words of "Sweet Caroline" (just the "bah, bah, bah" part is necessary) as you navigate around the hardwood and embrace them as tears of freedom stream from their yearning faces.

Don't be nervous, KU student. We're Iowans and are a friendly bunch when things have gone our way, and you have nothing to fear from our celebrations. Tomorrow you can make the transition back to the rigid standards and practices of being a Jayhawk as you drive south across state lines. But, for tonight, enjoy being a college student and have some fun.

Sincerely,

Cyclone Nation.