There will be some new faces on the sidelines for the Kansas State Wildcats as they head into spring practice in 2022. Head Coach Chris Klieman announced today that Offensive Coordinator/WR coach Courtney Messingham and TE coach Jason Ray have been released from their contracts immediately. Current QB coach, and K-State legend, Colin Klein will be the interim offensive coordinator for the Wildcats bowl game.
This was a very difficult decision for Klieman, as he and Messingham go all the way back to childhood, growing up together in Waterloo, IA before both heading to Northern Iowa for college football, and later coaching together at several spots. After several years apart, they reunited at North Dakota State when Klieman brought Messingham in to be his offensive coordinator and running backs coach in 2017, before bringing his to Manhattan to be OC and then-TE coach.
Messingham was well known for having a solid initial game plan, and an offensive system that could be very effective when executed properly. But his struggles showed when the initial plan broke down, playing from behind, and after halftime. The Wildcats struggled considerably in the 3rd quarter for most of his tenure, especially in losses, and it appeared as though he was slow to make adjustments when opponents adjusted to his game plan. While often drawing ire from Wildcat fans, it was the collapse against Texas, including head-scratching short-yardage decisions late in the game, that finally united the fanbase in calling for his removal.
Ray was probably the biggest question mark when he was brought along from North Dakota State, after a bit of a journeyman career after his playing career ended at Missouri in 2007. The Oklahoma native spent four years at Wyoming on Dave Chrisensen’s staff (following his college OC to Laramie) before heading to Oklahoma State for a couple years. After leaving Stillwater, Ray coached at Northern Iowa and Missouri State before joining Klieman in Fargo. Ray, a college wide receiver himself, coached receivers for all but the first three years of his career before coming to K-State. Ray’s first two years in Manhattan were spent coaching receivers, but there appeared to be lack of progression from the wide receiver corps, and so he was moved to coaching tight ends for the 2021 season, essentially swapping places with Messingham in position role.
Both are owed the remainder of their contract that runs through the end of February 2022. Early names that have been brought up are Matt Wells, who had been head coach at Texas Tech until earlier this season and has been in Manhattan several times since, as well as Tim Polasek, who has spent the 2021 season at Wyoming as the OC under Craig Bohl after spending the previous three years coaching offensive line at Iowa. Polasek was the offensive coordinator at North Dakota State before Messingham, leaving for the job at Iowa before the 2017 season.