Twitter can be a mean, nasty and disgusting place that quite often reflects the worst of humanity. On rare occasions it can also represent the best of humanity, as life-long University of South Carolina fan Monty Putnam recently found out. I’ve been intrigued and delighted by what has transpired on Twitter between Monty and Kansas State fans. Monty and I started following each other early on in this saga because one of my “real-life” friends, “Ben/Ozzy,” another K-State superfan, is the Wildcat fan that first befriended Monty. The rest of the story is the stuff of Twitter legend.
Monty is going to be in Manhattan this weekend for the Iowa State game, so I reached out to him to get all of the nitty-gritty details about how he became a K-State fan. He agreed to a virtual “sit-down” with me. This story is a must-read and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I came up with 10 questions to ask him and Monty did not disappoint…..
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you become a huge South Carolina fan?
MP: I was born in Columbia SC and have pretty much lived in that area my whole life, with the exception of my time in the Army. My entire family is nearly all graduates of South Carolina. My grandfather was a professor and later dean at the USC Business School, so we were always around faculty, and always had tickets to every Gamecock sporting event. My father was a huge Gamecock fan and every game day was either spent at Williams Brice Stadium, or Frank McGuire arena (our old basketball court) or Sarge Fry field (our old baseball stadium), or in front of the TV, usually with the radio going in the background, listening to and/or watching SC sports. To say that we were a solid garnet & black family would be a gross understatement. We lived in north Georgia for a short while, just south of Chattanooga TN, and would drive “home” to Columbia on Friday for Gamecock football on Saturday.
Are you married? Kids?
MP: I am married. Kind of funny, I like weddings so much I decided to do it 3 times. 😂 Really cool story about me and my wife, we’ve known each other since we were 17 and in high school, but, we didn’t get together until we were 35. We have 3 daughters, she has 1, and I have 2.
Tell me how you started interacting with Ben/Ozzy on Twitter. How did you first correspond and why? And how did it evolve from there?
MP: That’s a true “lol” moment. It was shortly after Texas & OU announced they were going to the SEC. Anyone who knows me knows that I can get, mmmmm, brash? Loud? Obnoxious? -on social media. So I was actually just randomly posting Twitter trash talk about the Big 12, and how the SEC is so great. It was largely harmless blather, just to get a rise out of someone. Well, Ozzy engaged me and started talking to me about K State and the Big 12. Instead of coming back at me with more “blab” and senseless debating, Ozzy actually engaged me and presented some very thought-provoking points to me. Things I had never considered. Then he started educating more and more about K States history, and the struggle their fans had been through, and the rest is history.
What made you decide to start rooting for K-State?
MP: That’s basically what made me start rooting for K State, which was the passion and pride that Ozzy had when talking about them. When I learned more about the road K State fans had traveled, I developed a deep respect for them. How can you not pull for a team that has had that kind of past, and is where they are now? I wound up becoming friends with more and more K State folks on Twitter, and they were all such amazing and kind people. SEC fans aren’t really that way. Some of them are, but, on the whole, SEC fans are a bit arrogant and love bashing and trashing the other team or even their own team. SEC Twitter can be extremely competitive, even touching on being caustic, and K State Twitter is not like that at all. So really, just the friendship and overall demeanor of the K State fans kinda just pulled me in.
How are K-State fans like South Carolina fans? What do the fan bases have in common? What are the differences?
MP: SC & K State are extremely similar in several ways. Both (football) programs have been largely unsuccessful, with flashes of greatness, but unable to reach that top tier of football for a sustained period. But the fans still believe and still love their programs. Both have tasted success, and both have been utterly embarrassing at times. Both programs have extremely loyal fans that desperately want to win. It seems both programs are also very tailgating-centric. As if the party outside of the stadium is almost more important than the game inside the stadium. I would say that the differences between the fans are that K State fans seem to expect to win, and SC fans are oftentimes “waiting for the shoe to drop.” Even when SC is playing good, and has a lead, a lot of fans are expecting some catastrophic meltdown and waiting for the wheels to come off. So I would sum that up by saying K State fans seem to be more optimistic, as where a lot of SC fans are pessimistic, there’s just been so much letdown that Gamecock fans have had that they almost expect it now. Overall wins & losses and bowl games, they’re both pretty evenly matched. SC has only 1 conference championship, and that was a shared championship back when they were in the ACC. K State has won a few Big 12 titles so they certainly have the edge there. The most glaring difference would just be the sheer size. Williams Brice holds 80K people, I believe BSFS holds 55K? But at times those 55K at BSFS are just as loud as 80K at WB.
How have your interactions been with K-State fans on Twitter (or any other social media)?
MP: I have not had any negative interactions with any K State fans on Twitter. They’ve all been completely friendly and extremely welcoming. It is a refreshing change. I don’t believe that SC, or any other SEC/ACC social media fan base would be near as welcoming to an outsider as K State social media has been. I’ve had so many K State fans send me gifts, gear, provide me with tickets, invite me to tailgates, etc. K State fans give off a very “down home” vibe, you can feel that they genuinely appreciate you being there and being a part of them, and they go out of their way to make you feel welcome. I can’t imagine any SEC/ACC fan base responding that same way. If someone from say, North Dakota, just popped up on Gamecock Twitter and wanted to be a fan, etc., well, there’s a good chance they’d get chided and ran off. Or maybe at best be received with a lukewarm welcoming. And I think that same thing is true for most, if not all, of the SEC/ACC fan bases. K State fans are different, you can tell that just from interacting with them briefly.
How did you decide to get tickets to the Iowa State game this weekend? Tell me a bit more about what you have planned for the weekend.
MP: Well, after Ozzy and I started talking and became friends, I made a random Twitter post that (essentially) said “if I could get tickets I’d drive to Manhattan and come to a game.” It was literally a matter of minutes before Pat Hiebert, “Big Fish Bail Bonds, Wichita KS” offered me complimentary tickets to any game I wanted to go to. I knew nothing of “Farmageddon” or “Harley Day”, I just randomly picked the Iowa State game. And Pat said “ok. I got you 2 tickets. Come on.” And that’s how that happened. Again, the hospitality of K State fans is unmatched. Our plans for the weekend are obviously the game on Saturday night, visiting with my cousin and his wife who teach at K State (which, btw, had nothing to do with my becoming a fan or making the trip. Even if they weren’t at K State I would still be doing this) I really want to see and experience the pub crawl in Aggieville and I’m actually kinda excited about the insect zoo! I want to eat at a few restaurants that have been recommended several times, and I’d like to get to see the big “MANHATTAN” on the side of the hill. (I don’t know what it’s called, I’ve only seen pics on the internet.) I want to try and meet Robert-I think that’s his name? The legendary superfan? I would love to be able to meet Coach Snyder but I’m sure that’s a long shot….I want to try to get to as many tailgates as possible and meet as many of the fans I’ve interacted with as I can if we can logistically work it out. Other than that I just want to take it all in and enjoy the scene.
What are your thoughts on the K-State football team this season? Predictions for the rest of the way?
MP: This year’s team has the potential to be great. The early-season injury to Skylar was unfortunate. If he stays healthy all season this team could’ve potentially been undefeated. I’m concerned about Iowa State’s defense. They have one of the best defenses in the country, and that will be a test for K-State’s offense. There’s absolutely nothing stopping this team from being 10-2, or 9-3. This is a good team, as long as Skylar and Deuce stay healthy there’s no reason they can’t “win out.”
Give me your prediction for the game this weekend.
MP: I think this game against ISU will be special. I see this being a “final possession” type game, where whoever has the ball last will win. It’s going to be tight I believe. I think Iowa States Defense may catch K State off guard in the first half, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see K State go into the half trailing. I think that the K State Offense will adjust and come back out in the second half and get the ship righted. K State wins it in the 4th Quarter or OT. Go Cats!
Give me your thoughts on ex-K-State basketball and current South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin. Curious to hear how the South Carolina fan base views him and if it’s the same as how K-State fans view him.
MP: I personally love Coach Martin. A lot of Gamecock fans love him as a person, but, several fans are unhappy with the on-court product. We’re not all that far removed from the final 4 appearance, but, sports fans have short memories. In my mind Coach Martins biggest contributions aren’t just on the court, but, the way he cares for his players. He absolutely loves his players. I’m pulling for Frank. I really hope he can get the basketball team headed back in the right direction, I’d like to see him here for another 10 years. Gamecock fans are very fickle as far as loyalty goes. Our own football coach, Shane Beamer, is only halfway through his first year EVER as a head coach, and we’ve already got fans calling for his job and wanting to fire assistants. So there’s certainly the group here that wants Frank gone. I’m not in that group, but, they’re definitely here and growing louder.
Anything else you’d like to add?
MP: I’d just like to say thank you to all of K State. You’ve all been so welcoming and friendly. Win or lose you guys have one of the best, most loyal fan bases in all of sports. I’m proud and grateful for the chance to be among you all and experience your culture and your school. The kindness you’ve all shown me has restored some of the faith I’d lost in there being “good people” still around. The K State people are definitely good people, if all of college sports behaved and carried themselves as the K State fans do, college sports would be a lot friendlier and fun environment than it has been recently. I’m genuinely excited to be coming to Manhattan, and I’m honest when I say I plan on making this trip every year I’m able to make it, to get to at least 1 game a year. I look forward to seeing you all soon, and we’re gonna have one hell of a Saturday!!
“Live life like you’re putting for eagle.”-Lew, via Brad Drewek, Krapi Golf
“Son, there’s 2 types of people. There’s Wildcat fans and those that want to be Wildcat fans”-A saying from “Ozzy’s” father.
If you see Monty this weekend, make sure to say hello and shake his hand and welcome him to the family!