We're not quite to the point of writing the obituary on what was by any rational estimation a disappointing year for K-State Athletics, as we still have track athletes aiming for individual honors at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships. But except for that, it's all over for the year, a year in which the Wildcats most certainly did not live up to the Titletown moniker we so arrogantly adopted last May. Not one Kansas State team claimed a conference title, and with the exception of women's rowing -- which six months ago was viewed as an annoying waste of money -- and perhaps the equestrian team, which finished right about where they were supposed to, everything else turned out to be at best a mild disappointment and at worst an unmitigated disaster.
Ups and downs. Last year at this time, we were effusive and ecstatic; this year, not so much.
But it's okay, because at ten o'clock Central Time, Derek has a very special present for you. As in "probably the second greatest thing that's ever happened at BotC" special. So get your coffee lined up and knock out all that first-thing-in-the-morning work you'd otherwise be putting off.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell is really high on Cornelius Lucas, says Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. And Justin Rogers at MLive notes that it was the Lions' discussions with Lucas early on the final day of the draft that convinced the man-mountain to sign with Detroit -- which he did fifteen minutes after the draft ended. And finally, Tim Twentyman, the senior writer for the Lions' own website, is dead certain Lucas has a good shot to be on the 53-man roster heading into September.
In other K-State alumni news, Tavon Rooks has officially signed his deal with the Saints, a four-year pact with the dollar amount undisclosed.
We already knew this, but Montreal has made their official announcement; Collin Klein is now an Argonaut.
Andrew Lopez of the Times-Picayune on the Saints' unsigned tryout invitees, including John Hubert. Also at the NOTP, Terrance Harris discusses former Wildcat Tim Flanders and his arrival in New Orleans. Flanders was really awesome at Sam Houston State and it just occurred to me that he basically left K-State because of Bryce Brown. Imagine if we'd had Flanders and Hubert in the backfield with Klein in 2011-12. Go on, dream about it.
Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has discovered the exact moment Craig Bohl decided it was time for him to move up to FBS: as he was walking off the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. That may not sit well with all those Bison fans who were at Gameday in Fargo later in the year...
The Star's Blair Kerkhoff on migrating season for quarterbacks.
We have been a little, shall we say, morbid about the collapse of the BatCats. For my part, it's mostly just been black humor to help assuage the desperate sadness. But at last, the suffering is done; the patient has been disconnected from life support. But not before a final weekend which painted the entire season in a single canvas. The Wildcats started the weekend getting no-hit by Texas on Friday (which officially ended any hope of making it to the Big 12 Championship), then rallied back for a win on Senior Day before a ninth-inning rally ended with the winning run on third base, AND a tenth-inning rally also ended with the tying run on third base Sunday afternoon. In the ninth inning, Ross Kivett ended his K-State career by drawing an intentional walk, and there's probably something deep and profound in that which I just can't put my finger on.
As disappointing as the campaign was for us, though, it can't possibly compare to whatever Ross Kivett and Shane Conlon are feeling. Let's not forget that they both passed on money to come back and try to get one step further than they did last year, and let's also not forget that as nightmarish as this season was there were still bright spots. This team is poised to rebound in a big way next spring. Ultimately, 2014 is the story of a lineup which hit way over its head in 2013 combined with a raw and untested pitching staff decimated by injury.
K-State's men finished sixth at the Big 12 Outdoor Track Championships, and the women finished fifth, a weekend which the Sports Information Department seems to qualify as "exceptional". I hope they'll forgive us if we're a little underwhelmed.
Friday, Sara Savatovic captured her third conference title in the hammer throw, and Devin Dick finished the day in first place in the decathlon, getting things off to a decent start. Dick finished the drill on Saturday, and Erica Twiss won the long jump to add another pair of Big 12 championships to the trophy case. Devin Field added a fourth on Sunday, capturing the men's triple jump title.
Twiss also had a good Sunday, finishing third in the 400m hurdles and fourth in the 100m hurdles (marking the best wind-aided time in K-State history), and was part of the sixth-place 4x100m relay squad. That gave Twiss 21.75 points in the scoring over the weekend, the best performance by a K-State women's track athlete since Olympian Austra Skujyte in 2002, fifth-best in school history, and second overall this weekend behind Morolake Akinosun of Texas.
Overall, the Wildcats had 14 top-three placements on the weekend, and if you're looking for sunshine, well, the women only came in 7.5 points behind the defending national champions from that town down the river, and the men were closer to third place than they were to seventh-place KU. Two weekends hence, many members of the team will be taking part in the NCAA West Regional Preliminaries, trying to secure spots in the national championships next month.
As noted in a fanshot by Derek, K-State has a new men's golf coach. Grant Robbins, formerly the coach at Memphis, is on his way to Manhattan. Robbins, whose wife Brooke is a K-State alum, has led Memphis to five NCAA Regionals in his 11 seasons on the Mississippi. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal also has a story on his departure.
Robbins replaces the retiring Tim Norris, who coached his final round on Saturday as Daniel Wood (not Cook, Wood) shot a 3-under 69 to close out his trip to the NCAA Regionals. Wood finished tied for 38th, 10 strokes behind Virginia's Denny McCarthy, who finished tied for sixth and grabbed the lone at-large berth in the NCAA Championship in Hutchinson.
K-State came literally four seconds from winning the Conference USA Rowing Championship in what turned out to be a three-way scrum for the title. Heading into the final race, K-State (aided by a win in the 1V4 event, their first C-USA gold medal ever) and Oklahoma were tied for first with 29 points, with Tennessee hovering a point behind. But -- just as they'd done in the Big 12 Championship -- Oklahoma's 1V8 crew was too much for the Wildcats, and Tennessee also beat the Cats to the line by less than a second.
To the extent that rowing can be thrilling, the Wildcats' two conference championship appearances this year certainly qualified. It was the best finish ever for K-State at the CUSA meet, and the three contenders finished well clear of the rest of the pack in the final standings -- a good sign of things to come down the road.
Tomorrow, the field for the NCAA Championships will be announced; K-State will not likely be included.
Don Meyer, who you may remember from the 2009 ESPYs where he won the Jimmy V Perseverance award (one of only two reasons to even watch the ESPYs), passed away yesterday at the age of 69, succumbing to the cancer he'd been fighting for over half a decade -- cancer which was only discovered when he was hospitalized after a horrific car accident which necessitated the amputation of his lower left leg. Meyer, who spent the bulk of his career at Lipscomb where he won the 1986 NAIA title, returned to the sideline after that accident and passed Bob Knight to become the winningest coach in college basketball history, a place he held for three years until Mike Krzyzewski passed him in 2012.