In this week's edition of Midweek Quarterback, we have decided to forgo the traditional format -- traditional since last week, when we started it -- and instead of discussing what we want to see on the field, we discussed the status of the current coaching staff. It seemed kind of pointless to talk about what an extraordinary awful offense is going to do against a defense that probably couldn't stop Butler County right now. Feel free to throw your $.02 in down in the comments.
TB: If you'll pardon the expression, we're at a real turning point in Manhattan. This is a very important time, and I can only hope the men in charge, Jon Wefald and Bob Krause, realize that. There are thousands of Wildcat fans who are apparently informing them of that very fact.
Simply put, Ron Prince is not succeeding in Manhattan. Yes, he went to a bowl game his first year. Yes, he beat Texas twice. But we should expect more than a few islands of success in three years surrounded by an ocean of frustration and disappointment.
At this point, I believe Krause and Wefald need to start getting things in order for possible "regime" change, even if that just means in their own head or their own private notebook at home. We can't afford to bungle another coaching hire.
Of course, my last sentence begs the question...did we bungle this hire? I know this is only Ron Prince's third year. But if you ask me, all available evidence points to significant and serious regression. I'll get into this more deeply in a later series of posts, but our program, despite two frustrating seasons, was light years ahead of Missouri's and KU's programs when their current coaches took over. Both Gary Pinkel and Mark Mangino at least showed progression in their first few years; I think we've seen the opposite from Prince.
As for how the transition should be handled, if it comes to that, I think Bill Snyder would need to play a significant role in the hiring of a new coach. While I would be open to bringing in someone outside the Snyder coaching tree, I believe the master himself needs to be involved. He knows what it takes to win in Manhattan, and he can identify those traits in potential coaches.
EMAW: I actually thought of putting the following thoughts into a full post, but I think they fit right into what TB has started.
Ron Prince has brought us a good thing to K-State. Actually, he's given us a couple of good things. Bear with me. Once Bill Snyder ventured into the sunset, he left a wake of expectations in his office at Vanier. After 11 straight bowl appearances and continually producing teams that were a threat to win the Big 12 North, we had reached the spoiling point. Enter Ron Prince, the buffer.
Prince has created such a malestrom of discontent that we, as fans, will be happy settling for a coach that can just bring us back to bowl eligibility on a yearly basis. Or will we? Unfortunately, I would be happy if we could just get back to a bowl this year (and next year), but I would not be satisfied. The buffer Prince has created will provide the next coach a nice cushion to begin his time at K-State. Barring a complete debacle, we will probably say, "At least we still don't have Prince."
Aside from the buffer he has created, Prince has shown this administration the wrong way to hire a new football coach. I think TB touched on an interesting point. Did we bungle this hire? In a sense, yes. Absolutely.
Bill Snyder started this mess by not surrounding himself with assistant coaches who he felt could carry on the winning tradition. Now, I don't blame Bill Snyder for the downfall of K-State, but in this competitive age of college football, where more schools are dishing out big money in an effort to compete at a higher level, it's imperitive to have someone in place to take over when a legend says he's done. In a perfect world, Snyder would have followed the path of Barry Alvarez or Joe Tiller and announced his choice for the new coach a season or two in advance of his impending retirement.
Now, Krause and Wefald (if he's involved, which I think he will be) must find a legitimate candidate to be our head coach. No more hiring good OC's or DC's, we have to find a coach that at least has some head coaching experience at the FBS level. It's such a huge step that a university such as KSU can not just throw an offer to any person who interviews well and looks good in a suit. Leave the untested to the ranks of Akron, Toledo, Idaho or Utah State.
Oh, and a critical interview question that should be asked of our next head coaching candidates is, "If you were named coach of the Kansas State Wildcats, who will you hire as your offensive and defensive coordinators?" If the answer is anyone that has no experience or success in any facet of the FBS level, back off immediately. We are K-State. We deserve better than that.
Panjandrum: I think you two both touched on the main points:
1) Was Ron Prince a bad hire? Probably. All signs point to "Yes".
2) Ron Prince has successfully stepped in and performed the 'sacrificial lamb' role admirably. No one was going to survive the wake Hurricane Bill left in Manhattan, so it's good that someone young, inexperienced, and completely out of touch with the fan base took his place. It makes us feel less guilty by taking all of our frustrations out on him.
As for what to do going forward, I think we have to go back to TB's main point and try not to screw this one up like the last time. You know that if this team doesn't make it to a bowl game, the fans are going to get angry. Torch and pitchfork angry. So, you have to make a decision what your retention criteria is right now. Is 5-7 okay? Would it make it better if one of those two conference victories was against Kansas? If it is, is that enough to justify keeping Prince if the defense stays in the 100+ area of the rankings?
Another thing to take into consideration is the big JUCO class that's going through. If year four is the 'decision year', do we want to take the chance that he won't be retained AND we lose a ton of upperclassman contributors? Depth is lacking in the freshman and sophomore classes due to his strategy, so if he can't pull it off, do we want to give the next guy a fighting chance his first year with a senior laden team? That way, he has a year with some talent on the roster, and he'll have the two months or so this year to get 'his' players and all next year to start recruting more depth while the seniors keep us looking respectable? There is talent there, so the ability to win moderately right away is possible if the team is coached well.
So, if you take these things into consideration, I'd have to lean towards removal this year. I honestly don't think this team wins three more conference games, and given that we want to give the next coach a fighting chance without having to do an "Iowa State" sort of rebuild, you can move quickly...if you can find the $1.2 million for the bailout.
That said, if I were Krause, I'd start having weekly coffee every Monday at Bill Snyder's house with some close, personal friends. And, by close personal friends, I mean the secret search committee that you've covertly assembled. For the first few weeks, I'd keep it pretty light; we won't know much about the true outcome of the season until after the next two games. They're both 'winnable', and if Ron splits, there's still a chance for a bowl. If he loses both, it's time to really start revving up the process.
So, I'd assemble my super secret search committee (SSSC), and we'd meet every Monday to discuss what happened in college football this past weekend. Most of them are probably pretty knowledgable about football (therefore, Jon Wefald wouldn't be invited), so the discussion would most likely center around what coaches out there are a good fit for KSU. I'm sure some hearty debate would ensue over cofffee and orange slices over at Bill's, and some sort of consensus should be reached. This is especially true if the Godfather himself had a strong opinion.
Also, while I'm conducting meetins with the SSSC, I'd start making a few phone calls to big donors that don't care for Prince. I'd ask for two things: one, I'd ask for money for the bailout. Two, I'd ask for money for the new coaching fund pool that we're assembling.
Said coaching fund would need to be around $3.0-3.5 million dollars. We need to be prepared to spend at least $1.5-$1.8 million annually on a new coach, so that will take up a healthy sum. The coordinators need to make at least $300-350K a year as well, so now, minimum, you're looking at $2.1 million down the drain for your HC and coordinators. The rest of the money would be spent getting good position coaches with BCS expereince (hopefully). That is unless we're going to go the route of trying to transplant a successful mid-major program (a la Missouri) and keeping continuity with the existing staff. There are few programs that I'd do this with though.
Once you've got the SSSC and funds taken care of, it will most likely be the end of October or mid-November. By then, it will be plainly obvious which direction we're going to go, and at that point, you start calling agents. Nothing major. Nothing overt. Just a couple of harmless phone calls to the agents of prospective coaching candidates. You set up your 'draft board' so to speak and get a group of about five interested guys lined up and ready to go after the last game of the year.
Of course, this makes the assumption that things will continue to deteriorate (which I think is a foregone conclusion at this point). If Ron manages to squeak out six wins and send the team to a lower-teir bowl game, he obviously stays. However, the caveat is that he needs to go out there and get a new DC pronto, and he needs to STAY AWAY FROM THAT SIDE OF THE BALL ALTOGETHER. It will need to be a mandate.
Okay, that's my rant. However, it's what I'd do if I were in that situation.
EMAW: I like the idea of the SSSC, no matter if you meant it in jest, or as a plausible idea. At the very least, Krause should be bending Snyder's ear, whether Snyder wants it bent or not.
Your statements about what the criteria should be for whether or not Prince is retained brought back flashbacks to Jim Woolridge. Everyone knew heading into the season that Weiser had established one clear goal for Woolrdige to keep his job after 2006 - get to the NCAA Tournament. Maybe that's what happened after last year's football season, hence the influx of JUCO recruits. Maybe Prince knows he is only a one-win conference season away from looking for a new job.
Panjandrum: I would like to think that we'd give a coach more time. However, with a high risk, low reward guy like Ron Prince, your margin for error is smaller, and the JUCO class he recruited was very, very risky. We may have to act appropriately if things don't work out this year due to the JUCO experiment gone wrong.
Also, I think we need to become a part of the SSSC (which will from here on out be refered to as S3C). I think we need to make t-shirts.
TB: One thing I'd like to address in this forum, now that I've made my general feelings known about what should be done, is the perception that discussing things like this means you are cheering against K-State. I don't think anything could be more utterly or ridiculously false. I was in Manhattan last weekend. I'm going to College Station this weekend. I'm going to Boulder the weekend after that. At both places, I will be dressed in my purple and will be cheering my team on from opening kick until final gun.
Because of, not in spite of, my love for K-State, I am discussing what should be done. Ron Prince is not K-State football. This is one of those situations where the program is bigger than any one person. It is painfully obvious that Prince and his staff are not succeeding in Manhattan. That doesn't mean I hope the Cats lose every game the rest of the season, just so we get a new coach. But at this point, I can't see how we can possibly win any of our remaining games other than perhaps this weekend's against Texas A&M and maybe the season's closing games against Nebraska and Iowa State. Further, I stated before the season that this season wasn't entirely about the final record. I always have, and always will be able to live with a few losses in rebuilding years as long as we see improvement, disciplined, tough football and a team that can hang in there until the very end. I don't have the patience to sit around and watch a team that looks like it's beaten in the first quarter.
Panjandrum: I agree, TB.
Anyone that thinks you're rooting against K-State is essentially saying the only course of action for a true fan is to take pom-poms and cheer on the guy that's kicking your ass, and you have to be smile while he does it.
I'm a Kansas State fan. I'm hardcore to the point of being damn near militant. I put no one above the university or its programs. If I feel that we'd be better off with a different coach, I'm going to say so, and I'm not going to be ashamed doing it.
I said this in last week's focus group, and I'll say it again. It's my prerogative, as a fan, to 'vote' on this coach any way I see fit. If I don't want to buy tickets next year, I won't. If I don't want to donate until we get a real coach, I won't. If I feel like I don't want to sit there in the stands and watch these coaches take the chickenshit way out and run the ball all second half so Texas Tech doesn't score eighty points on their incompetent rear ends, I won't.
I will sit in the stands, from kickoff to gun, as long as the players and coaches are giving their all. If they won't, I won't. We pay a LOT of good money to sit in those stands, and some of us drive more than two hours to get to the game. It is an expensive and time consuming proposition. If we're beaten before the game even begins, you're going to have a hard time convincing people that this kind of investment is worth it.
And at this point, the coaches aren't giving any fan a reason to sit in those stands after halftime because they sure aren't doing a damn thing to make it easier on these kids that are out there struggling with the ridiculous game plans.
I love the Wildcats, and I'll still support this team, but watching a game coached by this staff is like getting a root canal without a shot to numb the pain.