Andy Staples recently published a story about an alternative timeline. In it, Staples explores the alternative reality could have been had Florida not lost to LSU in 2004, and shows the impacts that result had Ron Zook not been fired (at least not right away). In it Gene Chizik didn’t leave Texas after the 2006 season for, which (and it gets a little tricky from here) then could mean that Ron Prince and Josh Freeman would never have pulled off the stunning upset of #7 Texas leading to a disappointing 4-8 season, could that then mean Prince would be fired one season early, but with Josh Freeman still having 2 seasons left and not being able to declare for the NFL draft. This could have led to several different outcomes, Josh Freeman transferring and Bill Snyder coming back one year earlier, Freeman staying and another coach being hired, or possibly Freeman staying AND Bill Snyder being hired back. I'll explore these possibilities and a few more . Note: in all of these we assume that Ron Prince did not beat Texas in 2007 and that then led to his firing after a 4-8 season. Also most of the timelines revolve around the coach who is hired and if Josh Freeman stays.
To find out what could have been keep reading after the jump.
Alternate Timeline 1: Josh Freeman leaves surprise candidate is hired
This is pretty much the nightmare scenario as Josh Freeman, basically the only thing that would make K-State an attractive job for coordinators of big time schools, transfers to another school possibly Texas A&M or Nebraska (now coached by Rich Rodriguez). With Les Miles leaving for Michigan (the tigers never won the NC) and being replaced by Bobby Petrino who then precedes to purge the entire LSU staff and bring in his own NFL coordinators. With the Nebraska job already filled and one certain DC out of the job. Bo Pelini is hired to become the next coach of the Kansas State Wildcats. Needless to say this completely divides the K-State family in a way that has not been seen to this point (and wouldn't be seen for another 4 years), some see Pelini as a savior to the hapless K-State defense, while others, including one very influential former coach, remember Pelini for his expletive laden rant after a 31 point "beat down". With fan support being low, Pelini is immediately on the hot seat. But Pelini is able to string together 2 strait bowl games with an improved defense and a variety of Ron Prince's offensive recruits. In year three with Pelini unable to use the name factor to land big time offensive recruits the offense begins to swirl the drain. Pelini and his defensive recruits manage to make it back into a bowl game 2010 with 6 wins. But in 2011 with the offense now at a sun belt level the defense is no longer able to make up for the completely anemic offense as K-State wins a total of 3 games and Pelini is fired. But hiring Pelini has turned out to be a very far reaching mistake as Snyder has turned off all of his disciples from even interviewing for the opening and a now talentless K-state is forced to hire a nobody coordinator, and ultimately falls into obscurity.
Alternative Timeline 2: Josh Freeman stays, Big time coach is hired
In this scenario Josh Freeman doesn't transfer and decides play for the next coach. With Freeman the K-State job becomes very attractive. Many offensive coordinators interview to coach what some think could be one of the best QBs in the Big 12 but, seeing that the defense is the primary area of concern the administration decides to go big and try and land a big name to improve the defense. With Ron Zook not stinking it up at Illinois and Les Miles coming into Michigan, Bret Bielema without a huge contract to tie him down is offered and the K-State job and immediately accepts, with the blessing of Bill Snyder. With a big name taking snaps and a big name calling plays K-State embarks upon a string of ultra successful years, with Bielema using his name to recruit decent offensive players and his great defensive mind to put together some very, very good teams. So as far as timelines go this was one of the better ones. On another note with a position at Wisconsin open the great Barry Alvarez hired Bo Pelini with similar results as the timeline above.
Alternative Timeline 3: Josh Freeman stays, Bill Snyder comes back
This timeline could have theoretically happened but Josh Freeman chose to turn pro instead of playing for Bill Snyder. Anyways Josh Freeman decides not to transfer and Bill Snyder comes back to "calm the waters" . Snyder proceeds to cleanse the staff that Ron Prince has hired but has to settle with an average supporting staff (but Chris Cosh has still not been forced out at Maryland) but has to turn to a new offensive coordinator, Kevin Sumlin, to coach Josh Freeman. In the end coming back to K-State proves to be a great move for both parties as Josh Freeman works the air assault with Jordy Nelson and Brandon Banks being his primary receivers. Under Sumlin's direction as OC the 'Cats win 10 games in '08 and in '09 reach the Big 12 Championship to play the Texas Longhorns, in an exciting classic Josh Freeman finally got a win over the Longhorns as the Wildcats would win Snyder his second conference championship. This is by far the best scenario and yes I do realize that a lot of the things that happen in this scenario were unlikely to ever occur in real life.
Alternative Timeline 4: Josh Freeman leaves, Bill Snyder comes back
This is probably the closes timeline to real life. For the most part Snyder coming early without Freeman is almost the same as Snyder coming back a year later. The only difference being that Carson Coffman would start for two year, two moderately successful years, before losing his job to Collin Klein his Senior year at which point the wildcats embark upon 3 ultra successful years.