First of all, do you mind if I call you Ron? I don't want to presume on our non-existent relationship, but calling you "Coach Prince" seems too formal for what I'm about to tell you, so I'll stick with Ron if you don't mind.
Ron, I've been a firm supporter of yours since the day you were hired at Kansas State. When folks said, "Who is this guy?" I said, "He's a promising coordinator with a reputation for developing offensive line talent at Virginia." When folks said, "He's lost games that he should have won!" I said, "He won games he should have lost!" After last season's collapse, many fans called for your head. I, on the other hand, pleaded for patience and applauded your extension.
Well, after last Wednesday, you made me look like an ass.
Granted, I'm a younger fan (a few years removed from college, but not quite thirty), and I wasn't around during the dark days. I didn't sit in the stands during one of the countless beatings from Nebraska or Oklahoma. I wasn't there when Stan Parrish lead the team to one of the worst seasons in college football history in 1988. Nor was I there when Bill Snyder started rebuilding the program. I was at Kansas State during some of the best times. I was there in 2000 when K-State clinched the North division in a thrilling home gave versus Nebraska. I witnessed, in person, Kansas State defeating the soon-to-be Orange Bowl champion USC Trojans at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 2002. Finally, in my senior year, I saw the 2003 Wildcats, led by Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles, win the Big 12 Championship and go to the Fiesta Bowl.
In essence, I'm used to watching excellent football at Kansas State. I'm used to watching bone crushing defense, touchdowns coming in waves, and seeing my Wildcats compete for the North division year in and year out. I'm used to seeing the offensive line control the line of scrimmage, and I'm accustomed to seeing the defense dictate what the opposing offense can and can't do.
If you're interested in seeing exactly what I'm talking about, I will give you exhibits A (offense) and B (defense):
When you were hired, you told me that you'd make that happen, Ron. You said that you'd put a tough, fast, and disciplined team that will always compete for championships on the field.
On Wednesday night, I didn't see that. I saw a tougher, faster, and more disciplined Louisville team dominate Kansas State to the tune of 38-29.
Ron, I need to make myself clear. I don't care that Kansas State lost on the road to a Big East team. Louisville isn't bad, and winning a game at their house, in front of a national television audience, is a big, big challenge. However, giving up 577 yards, 303 of which were on the ground, is unacceptable. Watching the defense miss five or six tackles in one play is not acceptable. Constantly seeing players out of position, making them susceptible to misdirection runs and play action passing, is reproachable. The fact that this team didn't seem to improve and recover from the disaster that was the end of the 2007 season is damn near appalling.
In other words, you need to fix this shit, and you needed to do it, like, yesterday.
Now, I don't want you to think that I'm overreacting over one game. Like I said, it's not about losing. I understand that taking over a program that finished last in their division two straight years is tough. Trying to follow a living legend is practically impossible. But I don't think that I'm out of line when I say that I expect you to at least be competitive. It's not too much to ask that the team, players and coaches, appear to be giving their best effort every single game...right?
Look, I still like you as a coach. Even if things don't work out ant Kansas State, I honestly believe that you'll have success somewhere down the road. But, I'm beginning to question if you can get it done here and now. I hate to make that admission in a very public forum, Ron, but I'm being blunt, and I'm not going to pull any punches from here on out. You've been here for two years. The honeymoon is over, and it's time to lay out some expectations.
I'm not going to ask for much; I'm a pretty rational and realistic guy. But here's what I, Joe Average KSU Fan, expect from here on out:
- A defense that's assignment sound
- A defense that isn't afraid to hit or get hit
- An offensive line that can generate a push
- A running game that's not inept
- A coaching staff that is capable of making halftime adjustments
- A coaching staff full of experienced, qualified men who can turn these proud young men into football players
Ron, I know that you expect these things too. In fact, I'm sure that you expect much, much more than I do. However, you should. You're making $1.1 million a year now, and you're the recipient of an almost freshly minted five-year contract extension. It's time for you to start showing that you've earned it, and it's time to start fulfilling your promise. I'm not expecting championships right now, but I am expecting to see a tough, fast, and disciplined team. And, as of right now, that team doesn't exist in Manhattan, KS, and it hasn't since sometime at the beginning of last season (if it was ever there to begin with).
I do have a couple of suggestions as to how you can improve your program, but I'll save those for later in the year. There's no reason for me to get into that now. This letter is long enough.
If you've read this far, you need to get back to work, because if last game was an accurate indicator, there's a lot of it to do.
Get to it. The clock is ticking.