STILLWATER — Back in 1890, an agricultural land-grant college was built in a rather remote location, surrounded by fields of wheat and not much else.
Along the way the school changed its name, but all the while it has tried to climb the ladder of success in its state's most popular collegiate sport.
But football success hasn't always come easy for the Washington State Cougars.
Oh, you thought this story was about Oklahoma State?
Well, it could've been. All of the above facts are as accurate for the Stillwater university as they are for WSU.
And on Saturday afternoon in Seattle, the Oklahoma State football team will face its long-lost twin from the Pacific Northwest.
"You don't have to manufacture the similarities between Oklahoma State and Washington State,” said Norman native Tim Hartley. "They're very real, and there are lots of them.”
Hartley was a student at Washington State in 1981, when his father was hired by the journalism school at OSU. His family moved to Stillwater, but Hartley stayed in Pullman, Wash., until he graduated in 1983.
Then he rejoined his family and gradually began to split his allegiance between the Cougars and Cowboys.
"Each university is the dominant institution, employer and point of civic pride in its town,” Hartley said.
Both Stillwater and Pullman can be described as remotely located. But Pullman is on another level, says Galen Culver, a reporter for Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV and a WSU grad.
"Pullman is far more remote than Stillwater,” Culver said. "For Oklahomans, Washington State is more like Panhandle State, only bigger.”
The similarities found their way to the football field as well.
"Both have had long periods in the wilderness with brief flashes of promise at the top,” Hartley said.
Historically, Washington State has been a middle-of-the-pack team, with a few conference championships in the trophy case. Oklahoma State has been through much of the same.
While OSU is routinely referred to as Tailback U for producing the likes of Bob Fennimore, Terry Miller, Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders, up through the more recent crop including Tatum Bell and Vernand Morency, WSU likes to call itself Quarterback U.