Collin Klein is many things, but a magician is probably not one of thoe things. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
It's Kansas State week here on Frogs O' War which means we've had our customary preview and historical overview of the K-State program, but how much we know about Kansas State as TCU fans is limited. We know they have a living legend as a coach, and we know our own living legend coach Gary Patterson played there in his youth as well. We also know that he may have been interested in taking over at K-State when their living legend retired- though just how interested he was we may never know- I'll admit that Kansas State was the only job opening he was a definite candidate for where I was concerned he might depart, but I'm much more secure about Patterson staying for good now that we're in the Big 12. So knowing our knowledge is limited we turned to my friend GTcat, super fanposter of the Kansas State SBNation blog Bring on the Cats to answer our questions after the jump.
HawkeyedFrog: The overall feeling from the national media about Kansas State last year seemed to be that Bill Snyder is an evil sorcerer, Collin Klein is the mystical luck magician and Kansas State managed to win 10 games last season despite not actually being very good. What is the non-magical explanation for how Kansas State won ten games last season- was the team lucky or just better than anyone is giving them credit for?
GTcat: The answer has to be somewhat of an intangible one. There's some sort of effort or determination common denominator that the core of the starters have that had them all on one page. And it seemed that each unit whether it be special teams, offense or defense understood when the other was struggling that it had to perform to keep the team in the game. The best case I could point to would be the Texas Tech game where Nigel Malone takes back an INT for a TD in the early moments of the game, and we get two blocked FG attempts from the same guy. That being said, that is why I struggle with every pundit asserting what you start out the question with. Yes if you said KSU would be in 9 games again decided by a TD or less, I don't think they win 8. But that assumption relies on KSU plateauing and every one of the 9 other teams getting better. KSU returns 17 starters, so the core of that intangible is still there, and totally bought into Snyder's message. I think the team improves enough that there won't be 9 close games, but maybe 4. And where a single digit win over Baylor turns into a 10, 14 or 17pt victory.
HawkeyedFrog: Seven years ago it seemed that the game may have passed Bill Snyder by- back to back losing seasons and a blowout loss to Iowa State helped coach Snyder ease into retirement, and he seemed at ease with Kansas State's future situation. I remember Snyder saying that he had hoped that he had taken some of the pressure off of the next coach by having those substandard (for him) seasons- it's easier to replace a legend if he wasn't at the top of his game anymore. Three years later, Bill Snyder was back to coaching K-State and he made the team a winner again. What was the feeling from the K-State fans when Snyder was announced as the coach to follow Ron Prince and how long do you think he'll continue to coach this time?
GTcat: While I obviously can't speak for every K-stater out there, I can at least give you my impression. Well first off when we were teased by the biggest robbery that Ft. Worth had ever seen in Gary Patterson, it seemed like a total no effort hire. With that being said, that was my initial 24-hr reaction: this was unoriginal. After a day passed, the rational person came back out and said, "well if he's up for it, why stop him? He obviously knows success". As more time went on, like recruiting season, I equated Snyder's time off to the scene from Mel Gibson's 1994 film Maverick, in which there's the initial Poker scene. In this scene Maverick agrees to lose for an hour. At the end of the hour, you Maverick starts kicking arse, and you learn he took the time to study the other players at the table to watch their tendencies. As I thought about it, I figured after 3 years out of the game Coach Snyder obviously watched his fair share of Big 12 football, and I had to believe he knew more about how to game plan against the others. Finally, when Coach Snyder was having his first round of interviews after the re-hire, the question of longevity kept coming up, and all of the talking heads were thinking 2-3 years before he gets his predecessor in place. Never bought it for a minute. I have always maintained that his second stint would go at least 7 years, minimum (good health permitting). He's starting year 4 this year.
HawkeyedFrog: As a continuation of the "Bill Snyder is old" theme, Coach Snyder has grown a pretty awesome coaching tree- with Stoops brothers, Wisconsin coach Brett Bielma, former USF coach Jim Leavitt, Mark Mangino and Carl Pelini just a few of the well known names that have served under him. Will one of these prodigal sons of Snyder be the next coach of the program, is the next head coach currently on staff or will the next head coach be someone without a Snyder connection? (You can't have Patterson).
GTcat: No Patterson?!?!?!?! Yea, we've been living with that for a while now. Well some others on our board who I have to believe are more dialed into the larger donor conversations than myself...There are a number of different hypothesis out there that I can't really put my thumb on one or the other. One camp says Bill Snyder wants his son Sean Snyder to take over the program. Problem is, Sean's only coaching experience was last year as a Special teams coordinator. I don't think K-Staters would have a problem with it, if Sean's resume say said he went 7-5, 8-5 and 10-3 at North Texas with one Sun Belt championship as a head coach. But it doesn't. If Sean goes out and proves himself on his own then fine. I just can't imagine Bill handing the program over to someone like that son or no son. In fact I don't suspect nepotism, because if you read Bill's biography you learn the relationship between Sean and Bill was distant because of divorce and such. It really wasn't until Sean was a Punter at K-state that the 2 probably spent much time together. Ok so the other camp says that our AD is evil because he runs a polar opposite ship of how Penn State has been found to handle their business and reports on everything. Like all ADs fans think they want to get THEIR guy in. So if given the chance there's some prevailing thought (again have no idea where it comes from) that he will hire the next football coach without Snyder input just to pamper his own resume. I again don't believe that Currie would 100% neglect Bill, but ok. Lastly, if the next coach ends up coming from the coaching tree, the leading candidate is likely Leavitt as he wades in the water out in San Fran bay. However, if I remember right Leavitt's in his upper 50s, so the turnover will have to happen soon as I don't see a 60yr old coming to the college ranks for more than 5-6 years no matter what is pedigree is. Just look at the other names and you'll find that the check books are larger at all the other places with the exception of Mark Mangino. What works against Mangino is his 50-48 overall record, which I'm sorry, but K-State can and should want to do better than that after the Legend moves on.
HawkeyedFrog: Kansas State was potentially screwed in conference realignment several times- both times the Big 12 almost shut down it seemed that K-State would be headed to the Mountain West (an odd fate for a school in a flat state) or the Big East- where it would have been out of place if not for the Big East choosing not to be limited by the whole "East" part of the conference name. Somehow the Big 12 managed to survive realignment poaching twice and is now in possession of a rich TV deal that locks the members in for at least a decade- how did K-State fans cope with realignment, and what do you think of the new Big 12? Is there a need to go back to 12 teams?
GTcat: I think after year one, and when Ken Starr was doing what he was doing the second go around, things were a little easier to deal with. I think it was obvious our Athletic department was working hard to do anything they could to keep our conference together in some form, as logistics and geography don't make any more sense than what we had. So after the worst was over and we knew OU was staying put there was some confidence that it was going to hold together. Now any time before that, there was the thought personally that the only thing keeping me from re-upping my football season tickets was if they fell past the Mountain West. I was too big of a fan not to have a ticket to an Air Force - KSU matchup in Manhattan. However with that being said, I can't be more thrilled with the way things worked out. Having the one lone anomoly in West Virginia is just fine, as it only means one difficult travel situation 1 every 2 years in football. As long as there are only 4 Texas teams in the league, I couldn't be happier that TCU is one of them. I'm a little saddened that now only half of the conference is comprised of the original Big 8 members, but I still like it overall. As far as needing to be back at 12, I don't think there is a need. Bill Snyder is about the only one I know who disagrees, so he can pack the trophy case full of half trophies (aka Big 12 North division champions hardware). But I've always said that 10+2 was a good model. 10 now, 2 later when it makes sense. Personally, even though I don't think it makes sense financially, I thought a Cincinnatti-Louisville add would be nice for selfish reasons: It would put the Big 12 footprint solidly in Texas and the NE PA/Ohio River valley recruiting areas. You don't think Bill would mind picking up the unwanted 3-stars of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State? (Ed. Something tells me Penn State won't be in a position to turn away 3-stars for some time.)
HawkeyedFrog: TCU hasn't played Kansas State since Bill Snyder was named coach (last game in '86) so we haven't seen any of K-State in the lifespan of many of our readers. What interesting facts or trivia should the informed Frog fan know when K-State comes to town in November?
GTcat: Basketball is the lifeblood of the history of the University, though those most outsiders relate to the 90s and 2000s football. We like to think we're a school now that has finally figured out how to do both well concurrently. The University produces some of the most Rhodes scholars among public Institutions. Of the public institutions in the Big 12, K-state is the smallest, around 23,000 students. As far as game day traditions go, we feel as though over the years we've developed our share, like crowd surfing the ladies in the student body from Row 1 up the stands after a Wildcat Touchdown, but the most identifiable is the student section's actions/involvement when the Wabash Cannonball is played by the marching band. I don't know how to put it into words so try this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUjQ39eTQbk&feature=player_detailpage
It was the Tuba players that started the motion years back and fans started to imitate it. If I had to put a start on that tradition, the first time I remember seeing it at the Jan 1, 1997 Cotton bowl against BYU, but I really don't know the origin. The cool part about it too, is that the song is almost a secondary fight song, which has its history too. You see, back when the campus building that the band operated out of on campus burned down and the only sheet music the band director had in his brief case out of the building was the Wabash Cannonball. So the next home game after the fire, it was played a ton. I could look up specific dates for you, but am too lazy, I want to say it was like the 30s when it burned down. (Ed.: I looked it up, 1968. It was composed in 1933, which may explain the confusion.)
HawkeyedFrog: Finally it's the prediction portion. How do you see the season playing out for Kansas State, what's your best guess at win loss record and what do you think happens in the TCU game?
GTcat: Well I need to warn you first, I'm the eternal optimist type. So I always try and spin the most positives. Should we be lucky with the injuries this year, I have pretty much given a 10-win guarantee on the year. Now that could be a 9-3 campaign with an overdue bowl win, I don't know. What I do know is two years ago I guaranteed 7 wins when people thought I was crazy, and last year I guaranteed 8 when people thought I was crazy. So I like to think that I'm not bad at this. As far as the game goes between our two schools goes, I think this is one of the toss-ups KSU can win. Had TCU ended up with much less off-season issues, I would have likely said hands down TCU wins as they ended 2011 strong. I just think at this point there have been enough distractions on your end, and I know Bill will have his crew disciplined. I can't think of a good score though, have no feel for that but arbitrarily out of the air I'll say 17-14 KSU in a smash mouth contest. Ironically as I type this I just finished filling out my order form for me and 7 others to get tickets to this game. I have a college roomie who now lives in Sanger, so I always have a place to stay for games within a decent drive from North Texas.
HawkeyedFrog: According to rival blogger predictions TCU is now on a three game losing streak. I can't wait until football season so we can find out for sure! Our thanks go out to GTcat for answering our questions and be sure to check out Bring on the Cats for all things K-State. We'll end with something we can both agree on though: Let's go purple!