Tag Archives: Kansas State Wildcats

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

What Is Kansas State Football Coach Bill Snyder About?

Kansas State football player Corey Sutton has been a member of the Kansas State program for two years. Bill Snyder has been at Kansas State for 28 years. To hear Snyder talk about Sutton’s request to transfer, those 28 years in Manhatten, Kansas are all we need to hear.

“I’ve been around here for 28 years, the young man was in our program for less than two years,” Snyder said. “I think our fans know what I’m about. They know what our program is about. I think they trust that.”

The Kansas State fans should know what Snyder is about, but the question is this – Are those fans willing to acknowledge what Snyder is about? I’ll get to that in a minute.

By now you know Sutton’s story. He graduated early from high school; Kansas State assistant coach Andre Coleman promised Sutton he’d start as a freshman; Sutton then essentially rode the bench while burning his redshirt.

That’s Sutton’s version of the story. Snyder says that version is hogwash.

Sutton now wants to transfer and presented Snyder with a list of 35 schools, including FCS schools, that he would like to consider transferring to. Snyder refuses to release Sutton which means the athlete will have to pay his own way at whichever school he transfers to. Sutton will not be eligible for a scholarship next year.

Snyder is being petty, vindictive, and hypocritical in his attitude.

Back to my question –  Are the Kansas State fans willing to acknowledge what Snyder is about?

Snyder is a man who outed Sutton’s apparent failed drug tests.

 

Outing Sutton’s failed drug tests may not have been illegal, but it was underhanded and unnecessary. This was Snyder’s attempt to present Sutton as a delinquent. But what Snyder did was present himself as not only illogical but also as a hypocrite.

Why would Snyder fight to keep a player on the team who failed multiple drug tests and was only allowed to stay on the team due to a change in Kansas State’s rules? It doesn’t make sense.

Snyder has had other players on his team that have had run-ins with the law and, after requesting their release were granted their request. Kaleb Prewett is an example of this. Prewett was arrested for consumption and purchase of liquor by a minor and was suspended for the Liberty Bowl. He eventually was granted his release and is now a member of Missouri’s football team.

And just last year, Snyder accepted California transfer Carlos Strickland. Snyder is all about the handshake and signed piece of paper. Or so he says. It evidently means something when Kansas State signs a player, but not when say California signs a player.

Again, just to reiterate – Are the Kansas State fans willing to acknowledge what Snyder is about?

Are you old enough to remember Ell Roberson and the 2004 Fiesta Bowl? I am.

Roberson found himself in a bit of trouble with the Phoenix police. Did he break the law? Did he break team rules? In Snyder’s gerrymandering mind, who really knew…or cared. Roberson would play in that game against Ohio State and then, being the principled leader he is, Snyder suspended him for the Spring semester. That’s right. Roberson was suspended after the season concluded.

The foundation of Snyder’s recruiting philosophy is his “16 Goals For Success.” As Snyder says, “If their character is in order you move on to the athletic capability.” Character. It’s about character with Snyder.

How did the recruitment of Marcus Raines reconcile with the emphasis that Snyder claims to place on character?

Snyder recruited Raines out of Pasadena City College. A scholarship was offered and accepted. The problem was that Raines was a convicted felon. Raines had been convicted of second-degree murder. Once the conviction was made public, “somebody” at Kansas State forbid him from playing for the Wildcats. The implication being that the “somebody” being referred to was not Snyder. Character? Raines was a convicted felon!

Yes, coach. You have been at Kansas State for 28 years. But your fanbase is not willing to acknowledge what you are about.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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What the Departure of John Currie Means for Kansas State

The University of Tennessee finally hired its replacement for departing athletic director Dave Hart. And no, the person selected for the role is not Phillip Fulmer. It is former Kansas State athletic director John Currie.

Currie’s perceived rocky relationship with former Wildcat basketball coach Frank Martin and current football coach Bill Snyder has been well documented.

Currie and Martin were found to be at odds with each other while negotiating the contracts for Martin’s assistant coaches. Martin’s boss also valued a clean-cut public relations brand and Martin’s abrasive and often foul-mouthed language didn’t fit into what Currie wanted the Wildcat brand to resemble. Perhaps the final straw for Martin was when Currie took a proactive approach and suspended Jamar Samuels as the NCAA was investigating the player for improper recruiting benefits. Martin would soon decide to leave Kansas State for South Carolina.

The fractured relationship between Currie and Snyder is more trivial. Snyder’s daughter was a highly regarded competitive horse rider. Naturally, Snyder wanted his daughter to attend Kansas State. There was just one problem with that wish, equestrian was on Currie’s chopping block. To the dismay of Snyder, Currie would replace equestrian with women’s soccer. If this indifference to the Snyder family weren’t enough, Currie took over non-conference scheduling. Snyder would no longer have the luxury of playing his slate of cupcakes. Instead, Currie scheduled games against the likes of Auburn and Stanford.

These examples are seen by many Wildcat fans as negatives. But Currie’s treatment of Martin and Snyder should be seen as positives.

Currie had a vision for Kansas State athletics and he remained true to that vision. In the situations that transpired between Currie and Martin, and Currie and Snyder, the athletic director acted not only as the leader of Kansas State athletics but he also acted as the boss.

Acting on what it means to be the boss isn’t always an easy job. That is particularly true when one your employees is a legendary coach such as Snyder. But to his credit, Currie didn’t back down from Snyder and ultimately made decisions which he believed to be in the best interest of the Kansas State athletic department.

Making decisions based on what was best for the athletic department was also what Currie did when dealing with the situation Martin and the basketball program found themselves in with Samuels. It would have been easy for Currie to follow Martin’s recommendation and to allow Samuels to play in that NCAA tournament game. But doing so would have opened the athletics department up to additional NCAA scrutiny.

Kansas State now finds itself at a crossroads. Bill Snyder is 77 and was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. Neither his age or his medical condition are considered harbingers of retirement. Whoever is hired to replace Currie will likely be responsible for hiring Snyder’s replacement. Whenever that day comes.

[Merenbloom: It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State]

One of the names being floated as Snyder’s replacement is his son, Sean Snyder. Some writers, like ESPN’s Max Olson, believe that the odds of the son replacing the father have increased now that Currie has accepted the Tennessee job. I would have to agree with Olson based on Currie’s track record of standing up to the head coach and making decisions based on what is best for the athletics department as opposed to what’s best for Snyder’s children.

Martin hasn’t been at Kansas State since 2012, so, at this point, he’s completely out of the equation. However, a decision will need to be made about current men’s basketball coach, Bruce Weber. Weber isn’t loved in Manhattan, Kansas but always seems to do just enough to create job security. That job security could quickly turn into a house of cards with a new athletic director.

As is the case with any person in a position of influence, Currie was both admired and shunned for the job he did while in charge of the Kansas State athletics department. Some of the names that have surfaced as potential replacements for Currie are current Kansas State deputy athletics director Laird Veatch and current Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt. Whoever is hired to replace Currie will eventually be placed in the unique position of hiring Snyder’s successor and possibly a new head basketball coach.

It’s an exciting time to be a Kansas State fan.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia

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Bill Snyder has Earned Retirement

Fourteen years ago, I was working as a waiter at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse location in Kansas City, Missouri. During my time working at the restaurant, I had the opportunity to serve many high-profile guests. Those guests included athletes, politicians, and business people. Some, but not all, of those influential guests standout in my mind to this day. The imprint that those guests left on my memory was both positive and negative. One of those guests that I waited on was Kansas State football coach, Bill Snyder.

Snyder was dining at the restaurant with his family. It was a large enough group that the logical assumption was that the group was his extended family; wife, kids, grandchildren. Our paths crossing was just a brief, snapshot in time, and I couldn’t tell you what anyone at his table ordered, but what I can tell you is this: Snyder was a soft-spoken gracious man. The type of person that I could imagine being everything one would expect a husband, father and grandfather to be.

As those fourteen years have passed, changes have occurred in both my life and Snyder’s life. I’m no longer a waiter. Ruth’s Chris no longer has a Kansas City location. Snyder has retired and returned to the Kansas State sideline. And we have now learned that the coach has been receiving treatment for throat cancer.

It’s considered sacrilegious to lobby for the retirement of a respected coach. We’re supposed to conform to the old adage of, “he’ll leave when he’s ready.”

I’m lobbying for Snyder’s retirement.

Snyder is 77 years old and has been more successful at Kansas State than any of his predecessors. It’s understandable that his competitive drive keeps him from retiring, but it’s time.

[Merenbloom: It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State]

It’s time for Snyder to hand the program that he built over to a young, energetic coach who can build upon what he created in Manhattan. The Big 12 is down on its luck. Besides Oklahoma, there isn’t a team in that conference that makes the rest of college football shake even a little bit. It’s a solid conference, but the right team with the right coach could easily challenge Oklahoma for conference supremacy.

Snyder has seemingly had the ability to impose his will upon the Wildcats. Year after year, he takes a rag-tag bunch of recruits and turns them into a respectable team. Snyder’s teams embody the idea that the sum is greater than its parts. That program respectability in conjunction with a conference that can be considered winnable should be enticing to prospective replacements.

And it’s also time for that gracious, soft spoken man to focus on spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren. The success that Snyder has had in college football has undoubtedly provided a great life for Snyder and his family. That financial stability isn’t going anywhere. But due to our own mortality, including Snyder’s, the time we have to spend enjoying the experiences that life has to offer are on borrowed time.

Snyder needs to take the time to have his morning coffee with his wife. He needs to take the time to have an impromptu lunch with his kids. And he needs to bask in the glow of watching his grandchildren grow up. Snyder can do all of that if he steps away from football. He’s 77. It’s time.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Pixabay

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Who Will be the 2017 National Signing Day Diamonds in the Rough?

It’s all about the stars, baby! It’s all about those 4 and 5-star future All-Americans who will catapult your favorite college football team to a national championship. Collecting a stable of primetime players may be easy for coaches like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban but that kind of success on the recruiting trail just isn’t the reality of the situation for the majority of coaches. If your team isn’t considered to be a football blue-blood, success is going to be a process that is built upon 2 and 3-star recruits who will need time to be developed.

But success can be achieved with these so-called “diamonds in the rough.” It’s not an easy path to success, but it can and has been done. Rivals and 247 don’t have crystal balls that will clue us into who these diamonds in the rough will be. Even the most experienced coaching staffs can’t predict which of their less heralded recruits will lead their teams to divisional and conference championships.

With today being National Signing Day, let’s take a look back and some 2 and 3-star recruits from the past who proved to have significant impacts on the field.

Marcus Mariota was barely recruited before signing with Oregon. He was a 3-star recruit with two scholarship offers. Oregon and Memphis. That was it. All Mariota did was lead Oregon to an appearance in the 2015 National Championship game and he won the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Not bad for a recruit who struggled to receive offers.

I can’t imagine Michigan State fans were waiting with eager anticipation for the day a 2-star running back recruit with offers from Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall would step on the field for them. All Le’Veon Bell did in his Spartan career was rush for 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns. In his junior season, before leaving early for the NFL, Bell rushed for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. He proved to be more talented than a 2-star recruit with mid-major offers.

Missouri’s Charles Harris makes Bell look like a highly sought after recruit. Harris excelled on the high school basketball court and had barely played any football prior to Missouri offering him a scholarship. His options were Northern Iowa, Missouri Western and Pittsburg State. In his three-year career, Harris recorded 18 sacks, 34.5 tackles-for-loss and forced 5 fumbles.

Jordy Nelson committed to Kansas State as a 2-star safety prospect. His options were Kansas State and Kansas but even those weren’t legitimate options. Neither coaching staff was willing to provide a scholarship offer to Nelson so he attended Kansas State as a walk-on. Nelson holds the Kansas State record for most receiving yards in a single season and is 2nd all-time in career receiving yardage. Not bad for a high school player that nobody wanted.

Gaines Adams was a 3-star tight end recruit who chose Clemson over Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Compared to the others on this list, Adams offer list made him look like a blue-chip recruit. Not only was he not a blue-chip recruit, tight end wasn’t even his ultimate position. Adams became a first team All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.

As fans, we like to get all worked up over National Signing Day. How many 4 and 5-star recruits has our team collected? Which kids pulled a signing day surprise and left our team at the alter? Which players did our team’s coaching staff manage to flip? It can be an entertaining soap opera to follow, but none of us have a clue as to how the story will unfold.

My advice to you is this – Have fun with recruiting, but don’t become so invested in it that a signing class ruins your day. None of us will know the verifiable quality of this recruiting class for another few years. Enjoy the ride, because who knows, maybe your team has a diamond-in-the-rough buried in this recruiting class.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Flickr.com

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The Best and Worst of 2016: Big 12

The Big 12 Conference had a pretty forgettable year on and off the field in 2016. The conference was shut out from the College Football Playoff again and hit rock bottom in terms of conference prestige.

But not everything was a complete disaster. Here are some of the best and worst games in the Big 12 last season.

Best Games of 2016

Texas vs. Notre Dame

Texas is back” is what college football fans heard on the Sunday of Labor Day. The Longhorns kicked off the season with a thrilling double overtime win over 10th-ranked Notre Dame. It appeared very briefly that Texas would make some national noise, but finished 5-7 instead. And despite the game being fool’s gold because of Notre Dame also being highly overrated, it was still arguably the best game for a Big 12 team, especially in the non-conference schedule.

TCU vs. Oklahoma

This was a game many thought TCU could win, especially with Oklahoma’s early struggles. The Sooners ran away with the game in the first three quarters before TCU mounted a strong comeback. They had an opportunity to win in the end, but it ended up being an Oklahoma victory 52-46. The win was the beginning of some serious momentum for Oklahoma that propelled them into an eventual top-10 finish in the polls.

TCU vs. Texas Tech

This game may not have looked pretty, but it was highly entertaining. In what was expected to be a shootout, no one could have predicted the score to be tied at 17 at the end of regulation. The Red Raiders won on the road in double overtime 27-24 after the TCU kicker missed a short field goal on the first possession in double OT. In true Texas Tech fashion, they played conservatively and kicked a game winning field goal. A fitting end to one of the most surprising results of the Big 12 season.

Honorable Mention: Kansas State vs. Texas A&M and Oklahoma State vs. Colorado

It’s worth mentioning these two bowl games together because it’s always good for the conference when a team beats a former conference mate. Kansas State beating Texas A&M was a true shocker, and no one expected Oklahoma State to handle Colorado the way they did. These games really helped the perception of the Big 12 during the bowl season.

Worst Games of 2016

Oklahoma vs. Ohio State

The final score showed Ohio State winning 45-24, but anyone watching the game knows it was much worse than that. This was supposed to be the game to put Oklahoma and the Big 12 on the map. Instead, the Sooners got embarrassed by the Buckeyes at home. It capped off a rough start for Oklahoma, who eventually would win the conference. Which raises the question: just how far behind is the Big 12 when it comes to being nationally relevant?

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

This game was just purely embarrassing for the Big 12. With the final score of 66-59, how can you really claim either team won? The teams should have just rested their defenses and let the offense play against air. It would have been the same result. I have no problem with a high scoring game, but this one got out of hand. A big embarrassment for the conference, to say the least.

Kansas vs. Texas

Big 12 critics seem to think the conference won’t be relevant again until Texas and Oklahoma are both top-10 teams again. Texas proved they have a long way to go after losing to lowly Kansas. It’s easy to say this was the worst game of the Big 12 season, but you can’t take away that much from Kansas. You can. This was an awful game from start to finish. Kansas snapped their 23-game losing streak to FBS opponents and Texas finally hit rock bottom. No one truly won this game, and the conference took a huge hit to its reputation as a result.

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma State vs. Central Michigan

You may not have seen a wilder finish to a game than this one. The referees admitted a mistake on their part, which gave Central Michigan one last chance with an untimed down. They threw up a Hail Mary, which got lateraled back and ran across the field for a touchdown. Cowboys fans will want to forget this one forever.

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech

Overshadowed by Texas’ loss to Kansas, Texas Tech managed to lose 66-10 to Iowa State on the same day. I’m not even sure how that’s possible on either side of the scoreboard, but somehow it happened. As if anyone wanted to really watch this game anyway.

Well, there you have it. Time to close the book now on the 2016 Big 12 football season as being one to forget. But hey, look at the bright side, the conference can’t get much worse in 2017!

Or can it?

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

Missouri Tiger Football Fans Shouldn’t Forget Corby Jones

The proverbial “roar” had not been restored to Missouri football in 1997. At 7-5, the team was still just a blip on the radar of college football. That 3rd place finish in the Big 12 North gave hope to the Missouri fan base and provided a glimpse of what the program could be. And for that, Corby Jones deserves more credit that he gets even from Missouri fans.

A 7-5 record may not look like much to many, but it meant the world to a program that hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 1983. For 13 long, cold, dark years, Missouri fans suffered through an average of three wins a season. And then Larry Smith struck recruiting gold with the local quarterback recruit from Columbia.

Jones was recruited by the best-of-the-best blue blood programs when Nebraska’s Tom Osborne tasked Turner Gill with bringing Jones to Lincoln. Smith had an ace up his sleeve, though. Jones’ father had been retained by Smith when Bob Stull and his coaching staff were fired after the 1993 season. It’s not a stretch to say that this relationship helped seal the recruiting deal that kept Jones in Columbia.

The Missouri fans who spin Tiger folklore consider Brad Smith to be the savior of Tiger football. Smith was as exciting a player as Missouri and college football had experienced in quite some time. Think of a 2001-2005 version of Lamar Jackson. Smith either held or holds countless Missouri, Big 12 and NCAA records. He was more electrifying than Jones had been but excitement only counts for so much.

 

Jones’ best win and one that is too often forgotten about was the 1997 game against Oklahoma State. Played in Stillwater, Missouri not only took the 12th ranked team in the country to overtime, but the Tigers beat that ranked Cowboys team on the road. That win meant enough to the program that I remember where I was as Jones hit Ricky Ross down the sideline to tie the game with 20 seconds left in regulation. I was at a friend’s wedding. I know. Who gets married on a football Saturday?

 

This is the game that truly put the Missouri program back on the road to recovery and it had everything to do with the quarterback who most thought was destined to go to Nebraska to be the heir apparent to Tommy Frazier. Later in the 1997 season, Nebraska would have first-hand experience of the impact that Jones’ athletic ability and desire to win could have on a football game.

It was that 1997 game against the top-ranked Huskers that made the nation really take notice of what was going on at Missouri. Moral victories aside, that 45-38 overtime loss to Nebraska was symbolic. For starters, Missouri had lost 51-7 to Nebraska in 1996. That was the kind of score that had become all too common in this series. Taking a Tom Osborne coached Nebraska team into overtime only to lose by a touchdown felt good. And the 38 points that Jones helped to orchestrate was the most points a Tiger team had scored against Nebraska since scoring 47 in 1947.

 

It’s this game against Nebraska that Missouri fans like to reminisce about when thinking about the 1997 season. The notion is that Missouri somehow won in losing. This game did mean something but not what so many Missouri fans think it meant. What playing Nebraska into overtime showed was that Missouri could be competitive against programs like Osborne’s Nebraska machine. I’ll still take that road victory over Oklahoma State as the crowning achievement of the 1997 season.

In beating Oklahoma State, Jones proved what Missouri football had become and Jones was the centerpiece of that tangible accomplishment. And in losing a heart-breaker to Nebraska, Jones offered a glimpse of what the future could hold for Missouri football.

That future became reality when, in 1998, Jones led Missouri to another winning season as the Tigers finished the year at 8-4. Unlike the 1997 season, there wasn’t that signature win over a ranked team. The four losses did include some near upsets of ranked Nebraska, Texas A&M and Kansas State teams. But 1998 was about the season in aggregate, not the individual games.

The 1997 season had been the first winning season in 13 years for the Missouri program to enjoy. Having experienced a 13-year drought of winning, expecting back-to-back winning seasons wouldn’t have seemed like a reasonable expectation. But that is precisely what the Missouri football team did on the back of Jones.

Missouri fans like to romanticize what Brad Smith meant to Missouri football. He filled up the stat sheet and in 2003 he was the first Missouri quarterback to beat Nebraska since 1978. The accomplishment of beating Nebraska was remarkable and one that I remember fondly. But again, it was just one game.

 

Brad Smith’s accomplishments were awe inspiring, but we shouldn’t allow Smith’s highlight reel to mask what Corby Jones meant to the program as a whole. Each of these quarterbacks deserves to have their Tiger legacy’s acknowledged. Including Jones.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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The best chances for Summit League teams to upset the Power 5

Other than winning a conference tournament, and then knocking off a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament, there is really nothing better for smaller schools than beating a Power 5 school on the road in the non-conference schedule.

South Dakota State, South Dakota, and Western Illinois were all able to pick up wins last season against Power 5 schools, and others game close.  Will any Summit League teams be able to pick up the upset this season in November or December?  Here is a look at some of the Summit League’s best chances of picking up an upset this season.

Fort Wayne at Arkansas – November 11th

This may seem like a bit of a trap game for the Razorbacks.  Some Arkansas fans may be thinking that the Summit League favorite, Fort Wayne, is nothing to really worry about as a low major team.  The Razorbacks will be an experienced team with three seniors and six juniors on the roster, but the Mastodons have experience as well with three scholarship seniors and four juniors.

With no true point guard on the Razorbacks’ roster, Arkansas will be trying to figure themselves out in the first game of the year.  Having a problem of trying to figure out ball movement and rotations is not exactly a problem you want to have when you’re introducing three junior college players and a transfer from Colorado.

The Mastodons may also be spending a little time trying to figure themselves out in this game, but they will have a senior point guard leading the charge, Mo Evans, who averaged 17 points and 5 assists per game.  Usually when a Power 5 team faces up against a mid-major team, they have the advantage of size of depth.  Even though the Mastodons prefer to play a smaller style of play, which could be an advantage against the Razorbacks, they do have some size to match up with the Razorbacks.

Mike Anderson’s team did lose to three mid-major teams last season, including their second home game of the year against Akron.

South Dakota at Nebraska – December 3rd

South Dakota may or may not have problems this season with ten newcomers on the roster.  Okay, they are more than likely going to have problems with that.  The Coyote roster is an upgrade in talent with what they had last year on the court.  Luckily for the Coyotes, Craig Smith will be facing up against his old boss, Tim Miles, when the Coyotes go up against the Huskers in Lincoln.

Smith knows what to expect from Tim Miles and he knows what to expect in the atmosphere in Lincoln.  Like usual, there are not many people with high expectations for the Huskers this season.  The Huskers graduated Shavon Shields, who 16.6 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, and their leading scorer, Andrew White, transferred to Syracuse.  The Huskers have a young and unproven team, and they do not have a well-known leader on the team.

South Dakota also has four Nebraska-native players on the roster that will be wanting that win in their home state.  The Huskers have also lost to four non-Power 5 schools in the last two seasons, so they are not exactly invincible in games like this.  South Dakota was able to pick up a win at Minnesota last season, who was dealing with as much turnover as Nebraska will be dealing with this season.

IUPUI at Illinois – December 6th

Is Illinois still a Power 5 school?  The Fighting Illini do have some scorers on the team, but against a scrappy IUPUI defense, the team could have problems getting those scorers the ball without a true point guard on the team.  Their one real point guard, Tracy Abrams, has sat out the last two seasons with injuries. Illinois had two other players who only played in eight games last season because of injuries.  Wait, I said that wrong.  Their 6’11” center, Michael Thorne, only played in eight games due to injuries.  The other player only played in eight games because he was too busy trying to make a deal to avoid a felony charge.

With injuries and court cases, there is no telling what the Fighting Illini could be.  IUPUI’s Jason Gardner has recruited transfers and actually mature upperclassmen that can help his team right away.  Their transfers got to use last season to gel and get seasoned together, and this season they will be a serious contender for the Summit League title.

This game may actually be a mock interview for Jason Gardner at Illinois.

Western Illinois and Omaha at Kansas State

No, no, they’re not combining Omaha and Western Illinois to take on the Wildcats in Manhattan.  Kansas State will take on two Summit League in the first few days of the basketball season, and each team could give the Wildcats issues.  One should keep in mind, that while the Wildcats look like they could be in for a long season, Kansas State has not lost a home game to a non-Power 5 school since 2014.

While Bo Ryan’s autopilot was broken and set with a final destination for the bottom of the ocean, Western Illinois was able to pull off an upset at Wisconsin on the first night of college basketball in the 2015-2016.  The Leathernecks will try their luck to knock off the Wildcats on the opening night of this season.

Bruce Weber’s defense likes to create chaos and confusion to their opponents.  The Leathernecks, who placed in last in the Summit League in 2016, may be adjusted to this as they play most of their possessions as if they are being led by chaos of The Joker.  Really, it is hard to gauge how seriously to take the Leathernecks in this game.  Many people are still trying to figure out how they were able to upset Wisconsin last year.  There are a team of analysts working in 14 hour shifts, 6 days a week still trying to figure it out.

The Wildcats’ like to play a slower paced game, which could be a problem for them if they cannot control the tempo against one of the highest paced teams in college basketball, the Omaha Mavericks.  Kansas State will be playing their young back court against two starting senior guards of Omaha. The Mavericks may be able to control the pace of the game with Tra-Deon Hollins in the back court.  Hollins lead the nation in steals in 2015-2016, and will be responsible for leading the offense this season.

Email Andrew at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AndrewInTheO.

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It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State

Now is the time for Bill Snyder to retire and for Kansas State to hire Brent Venables. When I say it is time for Snyder to retire I mean it is time for him to retire for good. In his first go around at Kansas State, Snyder put together an overall record of 136-69-1. Needless to say, as everyone knows, Snyder is Kansas State football and when he came out of retirement in 2009 he served a purpose, but the time has come for him to step away from the sidelines for good.

Brent Venables played for Snyder and began his coaching career at Kansas State in 1993. He would eventually follow fellow Snyder disciple Bob Stoops to Oklahoma. Out of what seemed to be undying loyalty to Stoops, Venables spent 12 years coaching under Stoops before being pried away by Dabo Swinney. And it is this characteristic of loyalty that is both Venables’ greatest strength and weakness. It is also exactly what Kansas State needs in a true post-Snyder era.

A coach can win in Manhattan, KS. but it is not a place that everyone would be comfortable calling home or a place that a coach would be comfortable pitching on the recruiting trail. Having been born and raised in Salina, KS., Venables not only knows the general area but  he also  knows what can be accomplished in Manhattan. Venables is the coach who can do all of this.

Venables considers coaches who move around a lot to be prostitutes to the profession. Because of this old school attitude, he takes a considerable amount of pride in having coached at just a handful of schools. And even with just three schools on his coaching resume, he considers his current job to be better than the majority of head coaching gigs out there. Notice that he said “majority.” This leaves the door open for him to consider being the head coach at just a few schools while remaining true to his loyalty pledge.

It may be naive of me, but as an outsider, I believe the two schools he would consider head coaching offers from are Oklahoma and Kansas State. Leaving Clemson for either of these schools would still be considered staying true to his loyalist mentality. Oklahoma would be the easier of the two jobs, but Kansas State is truly home to Venables. And of those two schools, Kansas State is the school that needs him the most.

When Stoops finally retires or goes someplace else, Oklahoma should be just fine. If Stoops’ replacement continues the winning tradition that Stoops has established, it won’t be a big deal. It’s Oklahoma. Virtually any coach not named John Blake can win in Norman. So Venables could go to Oklahoma, win and be just another successful Boomer Sooner.

Now if Venables truly goes home, he can not only establish his own legacy but he can also rebuild the legacy of Snyders’ original stint at Kansas State. He can sell the program to recruits based not only on having won there himself as a player and assistant coach but also as being a true Kansan. None of these are things that Snyder’s original successor, Ron Prince, could ever do.

If he did re-establish Kansas State as a conference power, every Kansas State fan from Kansas City to Salina would etch his name next to Snyder’s on whatever Wall of Fame they have. And if, just if, Venables could do what many consider to be the un-thinkable and get Kansas State to a Playoff appearance? If that ever happened, Kansas State fans would find something Venables-centric to replace EMAW with.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

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Big 12 Links: Bishop, Briles and $1 Billion

On Monday, Baylor hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe after firing Art Briles .Grobe resigned from Wake Forest two years ago after spending 13 years there. Following this announcement, Baylor’s athletic director Ian McCaw resigned after he was placed on probation. The president of Baylor Ken Starr has also resigned.

Some people need to learn to keep their mouths closed. Staley Lebby, the daughter of Art Briles and also the wife of Baylor’s running backs coach spoke in her father’s defense via Facebook Thursday. Lebby said that her father’s firing was a “media witch hunt” and said that her father is a “man of incredible character”. It surprises me that her dad let her speak up on this matter and to do it on Facebook seems a little unprofessional to me.

This week it came out why Robert James Castaneda was kicked off of the Texas Tech football team in May. Castaneda told investigators that he took a gun safe with at least seven weapons in it. He also took a television and a camera from a home in Lubbock Texas in December. Castaneda was arrested on Friday and was released on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

After 20 seasons at Texas, Augie Garrido, the winningest coach in college baseball history, is out. Texas had its first losing season since 1998 and will miss the post season for the third time in five years. Augie will still be around the university as a special assistant to the athletic director. Garrido has been honored six times as the national coach of the year and will be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in July.

Michael Bishop, former Kansas State quarterback, is up for the College Football Hall of Fame. Bishop is one of the 75 players and six coaches on the ballot. Bishop led the Wildcats to two 11-win seasons in 1997 and 1998 and led the Wildcats to their first number 1 ranking in history. Bishop has been honored in the Kansas State Ring of Honor, Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. Mark Simoneau and coach Bill Snyder are two Wildcats that have been honored already in the College Football Hall of Fame. Bishop is up against some very tough competition on the 2017 ballot. Eight players who played on Big 12 teams. I am not sure if this year is the year he will be voted in, but hopefully it will happen soon.

Baker Mayfield will not play an extra year at Oklahoma. The Big 12 voted on the walk-on transfer rule for Mayfield this week at the Big 12 meetings. The vote ended in a 5-5 tie that means it did not pass. Bob Stoops was not happy about the decision that was made. Stoops stated “ I’m incredibly disappointed the rule change proposal wasn’t passed today at the big 12 meetings. I hope the conference will reconsider its decision and put the welfare of the student athletes first. It only makes sense for the Big 12’s rules to be consistent with those of the NCAA when it comes to non-scholarship walk-on student-athletes. “ Mayfield could transfer and play at a school in another conference in 2017 as a graduate transfer if he wanted. If he ends up doing this it will not look good for the Big 12. If I were a transfer athlete looking for a school this decision would make me not choose a school in the Big 12. As of yesterday the Big 12 voted to change a transfer rule for walk-ons that would allow them to change schools within the conference and not lose a year of eligibility.

This week the Big 12 administrators are going to be presenting information that will show that the Big 12 Conference can earn at least $1 billion dollars if it decides to expand. This money would come from TV rights contracts they would gain from the expansion. This amount would be if the Big 12 decided to expand by four teams, which I don’t see happening. If it only expanded with two teams then they would gain around $500 million dollars. This won’t help the current Big 12 teams but it would make sure that the conference wouldn’t fall behind the other Power 5 conferences like the direction it is currently going in.

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