MANHATTAN — Winning brings the fans. Fans bring the noise. Noise brings the nickname.
For the first time since its construction in 1988, Kansas State's Bramlage Coliseum has found a national identity.
"It has become a special place," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said.
Turgeon's Aggies are one of 10 teams to lose in Manhattan this season, and that list will surely grow as the year continues. Under third-year coach Frank Martin, the Wildcats are 39-6 at Bramlage and are defending their home court like never before.
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K-State students are camping out for seats nearly 24 hours before some games and making so much noise once they get inside that even the home team can have trouble communicating.
The arena's unofficial nickname, the "Octagon of Doom" — created years ago with little fanfare — has become popular on a national scale.
"I was incredibly impressed," said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, the only visiting coach to win at Bramlage this season. "Right before tipoff I just kind of looked around and said, 'Boy, there is a lot of purple in here.' They get behind their team. They were into it the whole game."
Kansas coach Bill Self has been equally impressed over the years.
"It's probably the best road atmosphere... I can only remember two other atmospheres that rivaled it, since I've been coaching, at Indiana and at Okie State my first year back. To me, this was the atmosphere that was the equivalent of those. That's one of best road atmospheres I've ever been a part of."
As the decibel level has increased, so has fan creativity. The fake Jacob Pullen beards have become required attire, as have "Angriest Fans in the Nation" T-shirts.
ESPN basketball analysts have seen the atmosphere up close this season, and have gone out of their way to praise it. Doug Gottlieb worked K-State's win over Texas A&M and spent the next few days turning the arena's once-obscure nickname into a popular phrase by raving about the "Octagon of Doom" on national television and radio.
ESPN has continued to advertise the nickname leading up to Saturday's Sunflower Showdown by featuring the words "No. 2 Kansas enters the Octagon of Doom" on its commercials leading up to "College Gameday," which will be broadcast live from Bramlage.
"It's been kind of given that name," Martin said. "It's a great thing. Just like the Jacob beard deal, that's what's special about college athletics. It makes it fun and gives your team a shtick that players take and kind of bond with along with the fans."
Brent Musburger was present for the Wildcats' win over then-No. 1 Texas and was so struck by the student section, seated in prized seats along the side of the court, that he claimed it was the best he'd seen all season.
Wildcats athletic director John Currie was happy to hear that, but says he didn't need a national TV personality to tell him Bramlage was special.
"The atmosphere in Bramlage Coliseum (for the Texas game) was the best atmosphere I've ever experienced in college basketball," said Currie, who formerly worked at SEC and ACC universities. "It's unbelievable. It's a credit to our students and a credit to our fans.
"We've got a bunch of our students sitting on the side of the court, cheering their butts off. They've got great seats there and they deserve them because they work their butts off to support our team."
Pullen hopes the K-State student section is never moved.
"I don't know if a lot of arenas sell out like Bramlage does," Pullen said. "I don't know if a lot of arenas pack it in like Bramlage does. Plus, to have that sixth man is a real advantage. They get mad not on one side of the court, they get loud not on one side of the court, but right in the middle. You can't get away from them."