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Playing to Win, Sarkisian's Problems, and the Weekend Wrap

Glum and resigned Monday, citizens. Welcome to mid-October.

Some things are more important than football.
Some things are more important than football.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There's a certain sense among portions of the Kansas State fanbase that it's just not right to criticize the coaching staff, and more specifically Bill Snyder. The general tone goes something like this:

  • Someone criticizes coaching decisions.
  • Someone else jumps in and questions the football knowledge of the person offering the critique -- someone with no experience themselves, almost universally.
  • Someone else chimes in to remind us all that if it weren't for Bill Snyder, K-State might not even be playing FBS football, so we should be grateful for everything he's done.

It's really important to remember some things here. First, Bill Snyder is not perfect. That sentence right there will get me blasted by some folks, even though part of their response will invariably include the words, "No, he's not perfect, but". Bill Snyder makes mistakes -- which he admits to every single week, even when K-State wins, because even Bill Snyder understands that even Bill Snyder has to grow and improve each and every week. Part of that process is analyzing one's mistakes.

Second, there was probably once a time when the idea of people who are not themselves high-level coaches or former players had no business criticizing coaching decisions. If you're old enough to remember those times, we're surprised you understand how to even operate the internet, but they did once exist. We now live in an era where most of the people reading this have actually seen as much football as coaches used to be able to. You, right now, can sit and watch college football games from this weekend pretty much non-stop from now until Friday.

This is sort of an important detail. Football is a game. It is not rocket science, it is not brain surgery, it is not theoretical mathematics. It is a strategy game. And anyone with the wherewithal and desire to learn how that game is played is capable of it.

When the team comes out throwing with a quarterback who's just not that great a passer, even though the run's been working, we can question that. Yes, throwing to start the second half was probably the right thing to do given TCU's adjustments. Continuing to do it while Hubener's stats swirled down the toilet? That's a problem. When something keeps failing and yet the staff keeps trying to do it, they're open to critique.

And questioning the decision to kick a field goal was obviously a correct criticism, because Bill Snyder himself acknowledged it was a mistake.

It's a shame that there are folks who actually get bent out of shape when Snyder is criticized, because they show the exact same lack of faith the coaching staff showed in the offense Saturday night. And let's make no mistake: that's exactly what happened. With under two minutes to go, a running attack that had been successful at gaining positive yards the entire game, and most importantly with no timeouts left, kicking a field goal to merely tie the game was playing not to lose. There's a time and a place for conservatism, and there's also a time and a place to take risks. Against the #2 team in the nation, with a chance to pull a grand upset, you don't play to not lose. You say to hell with it and try to win that football game.

Likewise, Bill Snyder is 76 years old. He's not going to be around that much longer no matter what. And to those of you who were outraged that we'd actually question his decisions, a splash of reality: not only does our questioning him have zero effect on how long he'll be here, he will either not notice, notice and disregard, or notice and nod his head. What he won't do is get mad and retire because someone dared question his decisions on the internet. When you get your feathers in a ruffle and argue that we shouldn't question him because he's a great man and K-State would be nothing without him, you're not playing to win either.

In fact, you're running scared, showing no faith in the institution itself.

On another note:

Yesterday, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was placed on an indefinite leave of absence stemming from what are reportedly substance abuse issues (specifically alcohol). Most folks have dealt with this situation appropriately, noting that USC is showing compassion to someone with a problem. Others... not so much.

We'd simply like to note that Sarkisian's behavior comes in the midst of a divorce, and that he has obviously had a problem for awhile. As an employer, USC has certain responsibilities to everyone Sarkisian is himself responsible for, and as such needed to take action. That the action in question is to place him on leave rather than firing him is to their credit.

Addiction is a real problem. There are those who blame the addict for the entire problem, which isn't entirely incorrect but at the same time is wildly off-base. An addict has to come to the realization that they are before they can get help, but once they do even that help won't change the fact that they're an addict. Addiction is not the result of deciding to become a drunk. Addiction is the result of deciding to drink -- which millions of people are able to do without issue -- and then finding oneself unable to stop.

Part of that is personal will. We won't deny that. But part if it is also support, treatment, and a full and comprehensive inventory of the issues which lead one to be unable to fight off their urges.

In this light, although we all hate him because of That Damn Cotton Bowl, we'd like to make it clear that jokes about Sarkisian's struggles will not be tolerated in our comment section. Period. No further warnings.

Bracketcat unveiled our (super belated) Week 4 BOTC top 25 poll, and then immediately posted our (still belated but closer to on-time) Week 5 BOTC poll. We'll try to actually get this thing on schedule this week.

In other poll and ranking-type stuff, K-State completely fell off every AP ballot but is still clinging to life in the Coaches Poll and is hanging around at #35 in the computers. And now that there are enough games to make some sense of things, Jeff returns with his fabulous transitivity rankings -- now with interactive funsies! Don't miss it.

Since there was no Slate yesterday, we'll start the football section with a link to our own post-game, where we discussed the five things we already knew, since we didn't really learn much. We'll also provide you with K-State's own post-game recap (and the post-game quotes), as well as those from the Star's Kellis Robinett, the Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt, TCU beat writer Carlos Mendez at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and our friend Jamie Plunkett over at Frogs O' War.

Also from Robinett, his quickie game report and grades for the team.

Your weekly relevant ESPN dump reveals that the last two weeks have, ironically, been kinder to K-State than if they'd just taken those two weeks off. Jake Trotter's bowl projections have K-State moving up a slot to the Liberty Bowl, jumping over West Virginia. Max Olsen's Power Rankings have the Wildcats moving up a spot, again at the Mountaineers' expense and holding off Texas even despite the Longhorns' great win Saturday; Olsen also hands out his Big 12 Helmet Stickers, incorrectly giving his K-State sticker to Joe Hubener. (Elijah Lee was the proper choice this week, Max.)

K-State (10-7, 2-3) got back on the right side of the ledger with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-23 sweep of West Virginia at Bramlage on Saturday. Alyssa Schultejans had 12 kills and Katie Brand provided 36 assists to lead the Wildcats. The Wildcats are undefeated at home this year, and have never lost a match at Bramlage in 11 tries. Next up is Oklahoma, in Norman on Friday.

K-State suffered through a poor Friday and Saturday at the SMU Fall Tournament, posting a 5-9 mark. On Sunday, however, the ladies exploded, winning all seven matches to improve to 12-9 for the event. Next up: Iva Bago, Carolina Costamagna, Sara Castellano, and Ana Garcia Navas will compete in the ITA Central Regionals, held Thursday-Sunday this week in Stillwater.

Although it was a distant second, 16 strokes back of champions and hosts LSU, K-State's men did indeed take second at the David Toms Intercollegiate this weekend at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La. The Wildcats outpaced a field including Liberty, Iowa, Iowa State, Penn, DePaul, Navy, Central Arkansas, Southern Illinois, and several Louisiana schools. Individually, Jeremy Gandon tied LSU's Nathan Jeansonne for second, three-under and 7 shots back of individual champion Eric Ricard of LSU; KSU's Matt Green tied for fifth with Haraldur Magnus of D-III Louisiana College at one-over, 11 shots off the lead.

Today and tomorrow at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park (right next door to your benevolent despot's old junior high school), the Bill Ross Intercollegiate will take place. Hank Simpson, Roland Massimino, and Andrew Beckler will participate as individuals; this is not a team event. The team itself will next be in action on October 25-26 at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.

Kirk Schulz wants your money, to the tune of one BILLLLLLLION dollars. K-State is launching another fundraising campaign, geared largely toward building the endowment, which has been one of the largest sticking points for the school's efforts to improve its academic profile.