Kansas State lost yesterday. The outcome was not particularly surprising and the game crystallized many things that went wrong in 2015. But mostly, the game--like the whole season--confirmed what many have long suspected: there's a sizable talent gap between Kansas State and other programs at or near the top of the Big 12. This is no earth-shaking revelation, of course. This is a problem we've always had in Manhattan. In years past, a combination of coaching and senior leadership has helped bridge the gap to an extent. Having a Collin Klein or Tyler Lockett on the field will hide all manner of sin, but players of that caliber don't come along every year. To replace lost talent, Kansas State has to recruit better.
We tend not to put much stock in recruiting around here, and rightly so. It's not where our natural advantage lies, and we've done surprisingly well with two- and three-star players. But we've also come to believe that fit and buy-in matter more than raw talent, and 2015 proved that wrong. Being thoroughly EMAW and adhering to Bill Snyder's 16 Goals for Success will only get the program so far. No amount of mentoring and role-modeling is going to turn a team of walk-ons into a conference champion.
That's not to say there's no talent on this team. At pretty much every position, there's at least one player on the depth chart who looks promising and could deliver in 2016. Unfortunately, at most positions, there's usually only one player who fits that description. Losing a player--even just one player--to injury can change the tenor of the whole season, and because the coaching staff remains reluctant to try inexperienced players, the team is faced with a no-win situation.
Several times during the Liberty Bowl, the broadcast crew mentioned this might be the last time Bill Snyder walks the sidelines. I won't believe it until I see/hear an official announcement, but the whole scenario should give us pause. What is at stake here for Bill Snyder? His legacy as the greatest coach in school history is safe. The stadium is named for him, he stands in bronzed effigy outside, and he's in the Hall of Fame now. But if it's time for him to hang up his clipboard, can he walk off into that good night, or will he want to keep his mark on the program? What does that look like? Should we be concerned? These are the things that keep me--and thousands of other fans--up at night.
Kansas State lost 45-23 to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl to end the 2016 season before a crowd of mostly Razorbacks fans. Jon Morse's recap tells the whole sad story: Liberty Bowl--Arkansas 45, Kansas State 23.
Here are a few other game recaps:
Kansas State starts strong, but is worn down by Arkansas (Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle)
Unusual circumstances are fitting end to bizarre season (Ken Corbitt, Topeka Capital-Journal)
Alex Collins has a game to remember (Greg Ostendorf, ESPN)
In news that comes as little surprise, Glenn Gronkowski will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft in 2016. Baby Gronk already has his degree, and with Winston Dimel emerging as a true threat at fullback, Gronkowski's senior season might not have been much to write home about anyway. We wish Glenn well in all his future endeavors.
Kansas State lost to West Virginia 87-83 in double overtime yesterday, in a game that can only be described as a heartbreaker. This was the first double overtime game in Bramlage history and Kansas State's first loss in a Big 12 opener since 2009.
In a closely contested game featuring several lead changes, West Virginia's Tank Phillip was the difference maker, scoring on a jumper to give the 'Eers the lead for good. A blocked Wesley Iwundu layup and a missed three-pointer from Dean Wade in the waning seconds sealed the Wildcats' fate.
Next up, the Wildcats hit the road for a game against Texas in Austin. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM and the game will air on your favorite network and mine, LHN.
Kansas State fell short against TCU, losing 87-73 and falling to 0-2 in the Big 12. The Wildcats were in a double digit hole in the in the third quarter but clawed their way back to narrow the gap to just five points in the final quarter. Unfortunately, on a day when TCU out-rebounded Kansas State and held the Wildcats without a field goal for the final three minutes, the late game rally was not enough. Kansas State is now 3-5 against TCU all-time.
Up next, the Wildcats will face West Virginia at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday at 7 PM.