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Where Hopes, Meet Expectations, Meet Reality

I do not claim to know all of the intricacies to running a successful college football program.  I do not know the advanced theories or philosophies of coaching a major FBS team. I do, however, understand where we sit at this crucial juncture of the Post-Snyder Era (or PSE, if you like) at Kansas State.

To learn more of the philosophies and musings of Professor EMAW, hit the jump.

As K-State fans, we all must understand the difference between three very essential elements of the sports fan's elemental table. These elements are hopes, expectations, and reality. The difference between these three can be both extremely vast, or paradoxically non-existent. So, here we sit in year three of the PSE, with our team floundering through what looks like a second straight bowl-less season and our coach with a 16-16 overall record during his tenure. To understand where we are going, where we've been, and where we are, we must better understand the hopes, expectations and reality of our program as a whole.

First, I realize that each person's hopes, expectations, and reality can be completely different. That's what makes this world so great. The fact that we all have varying ideas means places like BOTC will be around for a while.

Hopes can be a great motivator for everyone. We all hope K-State wins national championships in every sport, or that someday I will wake up and realize that I am the next American Idol. However, hopes can also build us up to a place where we will never be content. Thus, we need expectations to level out our hopes. I do not expect K-State to compete for a national championship every year, but I can hope that a few breaks go our way and we are sitting at the top when the season ends. Alas, the cruel piece of this giant puzzle is reality. Reality has a way of opening our eyes to see that things don't always go as we hope or expect. The reality is, this team just hasn't produced at a high level this season, and a lot of the finger pointing is aimed directly at the guy in the stylish, black sweater vest.

I'm sure we all hoped for the best when Bill Snyder retired. At the threat of sounding like someone who indulges in the purple kool-aid, I presume all of us have high hopes for our team every year. It's truly why we stay loyal and follow our favorite teams. We hold on for that sliver of a chance the stars will align and our Cats (or Royals, or Chiefs, or Rays) will do something special. Just because you say you hope KSU competes for a Big 12  title, or goes undeafeated, or plays in the BCS Championship game does not mean you are expecting them to accomplish those feats. But the hope keeps you watching.

So, where does this all fit in for us faithful followers of the Purple and White? I think most of us could agree with the following.

We hoped Bill Snyder's retirement would not mean the end of successful football in Manhattan. We expected the administration to hire a proven, capable, young coach to take the reigns of our still young program. The reality is that our program has regressed into a middle of the Big 12 - type of team.

Coming into this season, we hoped the signing of 19 JUCO players would not create a schism between K-State and a national championship so wide that our program may never get back across. Expectations may have differed between sets of fans, but for the most part I can think we could mostly agree that we expected our team to show up and compete each game. The realization of two absolute clubbings at the hands of Louisville and Tech has appeared.

This weekend our team sets out against a very strong Oklahoma Sooners team that was numero uno in the nation just a few weeks ago. My hope is that K-State at least comes out with a little bit of fire and that Prince gives us a little bit of bold and daring. It may take a few trick plays or a big play from special teams to beat the Big Red Sports/Imports.....I mean the OU football team. I expect us to come out on our home field and give Oklahoma a tough first half before their talent takes over and puts the game out of reach in the 3rd quarter. However, if the game against Tech has taught us anything, the reality of just how poor this KSU team is may strike very quickly. We can only hope there will be more than a dozen people around after halftime to make sure there are enough witnesses to confirm the game actually concludes.