Well, I didn't want to do this, but I have no choice at this point...
I have to talk about Frank's contract.
If you're a casual fan that drops by to see what's going on with Kansas State athletics, you may not have heard about the ruckus that began Tuesday when a message board post on ksufans.com (a website that I enjoy very much) proclaimed that current contract negotiations between Frank Martin and AD John Currie weren't going well. Keep in mind that it wasn't a published article (or even a blog post) by anyone that's currently covering Kansas State athletics; it was a post on a message board. Granted, the supposed poster used to have an intimate knowledge of the Kansas State Men's Basketball program, and he was an excellent repoter, so it's up to whoever reads the post to determine the validity or motivation behind it. Regardless, it's out there. And, whew, boy, it's got the fans in a tizzy.
Sports Radio 810 WHB's Kevin Keitzman has made this a serious topic of discussion the last couple of days on his afternoon radio show. Fans have started e-mail campaigns with the intent of letting Currie know how much Martin means to Kansas State and how much they want him to be the Wildcats' Head Coach for the foreseeable future. Apparently, it got his attention as he spent the better part of his afternoon and early evening making appearances on most of the local sports talk radio shows across the state.
This afternoon, John Currie made an appearance on Keitzman's radio show, Between the Lines. In the fifteen minute discussion (podcast available on www.810whb.com), Currie talked about how great the win against Texas was, how great Kansas State is, fiscal responsibility, etc. When pressed about whether or not an extension would get done, Currie responded by saying...
"I fully expect it will get done."
Again, like the initial post on ksufans.com, take that for what it's worth. No one on either side of this negotiation is going to tip their hand publicly, so if Currie says it's going to get done on the record, he better do it, or the fans will be pretty disappointed. Martin has cultivated a large following, and I know there's a legendary coach roaming the sidelines of a stadium that bears his name right next door, but right now, the big man on campus is a bi-lingual basketball coach with a hot temper and a penchant for nice pinstripe suits.
Long before Bill Snyder ever stepped foot in Manhattan, Kansas State fans had something to cheer for, and it was Wildcats basketball. Sure, what Bill Snyder did was beyond amazing and the fervor and passion for football that he created in a place with no tradition or history of success has reserved him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. But at Kansas State, when push comes to shove, we love basketball. Always have and always will. Legends like Tex Winter and Cotton Fitzsimmons made their names here. Players like Rolondo Blackman and Mitch Richmond were national names at Kansas State before they became NBA All-Stars. And the year before KU won that National Title they are so proud of in 1952...KSU lost in the NCAA title game to Adolph Rupp's Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament. Before Allen had his field house, Kansas State had the one he wanted so badly.
Twenty-three NCAA tournament appearances. Sixteen "Sweet 16" appearances. Eleven "Elite Eights". Four "Final Fours". Nineteen conference titles. Thirty-six All-Americans. Fifty NBA players.
So, when we talk about how much we like Frank, it's important to know how much we like our basketball team to win in general. It's not just the fact that Frank embodies what Kansas State is all about: toughness, intensity, substance over style, and a never-ending belief that you can always be better tomorrow than you are today. We love Frank because he wins while being all of those things. Our 'Everyman' is a winner too. You can't believe how potent of a combination that is.
I'm not going to rehash the current financial situation at Kansas State. Nearly everyone that reads this is already aware of what happened under the previous administration, so it is what it is. However, even though the fans want fiscal responsibility, transparency, and all of those important things, we do realize that if you want to be a winner, you have to pay the ones doing the winning. Of course, there are some Kansas State fans out there that could take offense to a hefty extension for a coach (and a state employee) in a period of economic uncertainty. That's always a risk, and you can never make everyone happy in a situation like this. But, if that's a concern during these negotiations, I implore those making the offers on behalf of the Kansas State fans to realize that we're okay with paying winners. It's giving six million dollars to a football coach that doesn't know what in the Hell he's doing that we have a problem with.
I'm not going to say that I believe one side or the other is handling this poorly. On the contrary; I have no idea how either side is handling it at all. What I will say is that regardless of the current negotiation and what is or is not being done, we do know two things:
1) Frank Martin is winning at a level that is very exciting to Kansas State fans
2) There are a lot of schools willing to pay a lot of money for guys that they think will win games at a level that is exciting to their fans
I don't know what Kansas State may or may not have offered Frank Martin. I don't have the slightest idea what their potential limit is either. What I do know from watching college basketball for a couple of decades is that there's probably another school out there that's willing to pay more than you are for a guy that wins, and if they target your coach, you better hope that he has a great deal off affection for your university and fan base because that's what's going to keep him there.
So what can we do as fans to keep Frank Martin? Show up to games. Support the team and coaches. Be loud and continue being the kind of fans that Martin praises on a nearly game-by-game basis. And, most of all, offer up some cash if you can spare it.
I know that times are hard, and I know that a lot of people don't have much to give. There's a life and death crisis going on over in Haiti right now, and a lot of people are donating money to a very, very worthy cause. However, if you have entertainment dollars that you were planning on using to see a movie, buy a video game, or spend on some sort of non-essential item, go ahead and donate them to the Ahearn Fund. It doesn't matter if it's ten bucks, twenty bucks, or a thousand bucks; just throw some money down. It's not about making Frank Martin a millionaire; it's about supporting the program he created. It's about continuing momentum. Most of all, it's about respecting an honoring the tradition of Kansas State basketball by doing what we can to ensure it's future.
To show that we're not just telling you to do something that we won't do ourselves, I spoke with TB, and a portion of our advertising revenue on this site (however meager it is), will be going towards the cause. So, as of today (or whenever that pesky accountant gets around to it), we're going to put forward $100 dollars toward the Ahearn Fund for the sole purpose of keeping Frank Martin and his staff. We encourage you to do whatever you can to do the same. Maybe KSU has the money to do it without us. Maybe not. It doesn't matter. Frank and his staff have given us their blood, sweat, and tears the last few years to give us nights like last Monday, and it's time to give back. Give 'til it hurts people. Don't make us bust out a tote board and a bear on a unicycle.