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SLATE: Scuttling the rumors about Kansas State’s coaching search

Also, K-State might have its tenth assistant but we’re not sure yet.

For an alleged fallback guy, Chris Klieman’s staff decisions sure look independent.
For an alleged fallback guy, Chris Klieman’s staff decisions sure look independent.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become a plague, it seems.

Weeks have now passed since K-State extended coaching drama has completed, yet still some quarters are clinging to a story reported by one guy with no connection to the K-State sphere. That story, dished on Twitter by KCTV’s Tom Martin, is that North Texas head coach Seth Littrell backed away from the job because his decisions regarding assistants would have been interfered with. And a couple of afternoons ago, noted K-State condescender Ian Boyd dropped this little nugget:

Let us say with absolute certitude that this is complete bollocks, and we’re going to prove it using this little thing called logic.

The argument is that K-State had to settle for Klieman because none of the other candidates would accept the interference in staffing, or alternately that Taylor knew Klieman wouldn’t object so he stonewalled all the other candidates in order to make Klieman the only viable option.

There’s a huge problem with this theory, and it should be readily apparent to anyone who bothers to undertake the simple task of comparing the 2018 coaching staff with the 2019 staff.

For this theory to be true, it would follow that Klieman would have to have kept coaches he didn’t want to, and one very specific one. All that would be necessary to prove the theory is to demonstrate that this happened. But you absolutely have to prove it, because the absence of that proof equals a complete destruction of the narrative. After all, if getting a compliant lackey into the position was the goal, one would expect that lackey to be, well, compliant.

Klieman was not.

With one possible exception, which we’ll sort out in a moment, every single member of the 2018 K-State coaching staff was either dismissed, demoted, or re-assigned to a non-coaching position. As such, any alleged effort to protect members of Snyder’s staff quite clearly failed.

The most obvious beneficiary of any meddling would have been Sean Snyder, who is no longer even a coach. Clearly, the influence of his father did not extend to forcing Klieman to keep him on staff.

We can dismiss two coaches from the formula. Mo Latimore wasn’t going to stick around for anyone but Snyder, so his retirement was a completely expected outcome. Jon Fabris probably wasn’t sticking around either. But looking at the rest of the staff, let’s ask ourselves who Snyder would have felt a need to protect.

In order, just eyeballing it, we’d have to assume the two coaches Snyder would have been most interested in shielding would be Charlie Dickey and Andre Coleman. They’re both gone. Eric Hickson and Zach Hanson are both Wildcat alumni, so maybe Snyder was worried about them. But they’re gone, too.

That leaves the two coaches who still have jobs. Collin Klein and Blake Seiler were both retained, and one might suspect that Snyder had a hand in that. But the reasons why they were retained make perfect sense without having to suggest they were grandfathered in to Klieman’s staff. Both are strong recruiters, both are extremely popular with the current players, both helped Klieman land key recruits prior to the finalization of the coaching staff (well, not complete finalization, which will get to in a bit, but let’s not be pedantic).

And while they’re still present, they both got demoted.

In Klein’s case, it’s important to remember that Klieman already had a season with Klein coaching at a rival school (Northern Iowa), so there was some familiarity there beyond K-State.

The one coach we haven’t mentioned yet is Brian Norwood. It’s unclear whether Norwood was dismissed or simply chose not to stay; there is some buzz that Klieman attempted to retain him but Norwood chose to look elsewhere. But even so, it’s not likely that Snyder would have been inclined to try and force Norwood on the new coach, as he was a late, last-minute hire for 2018. They have no history.

The point here, then, is this: If your guy was Seth Littrell, and you lost him because you wouldn’t let him have his staff, and the reason you wouldn’t let him have his staff is because Bill Snyder was trying to protect people, and Klieman was hired because he didn’t have the leverage to go against The Legend in this matter...

...then how do you end up with a head coach who completely overhauled the staff top-to-bottom?

It’s time to put this ridiculously asinine garbage to rest. The story only exists because someone fed it to a reporter with no history of covering the program who was willing to throw it out in public. No national writer has backed the story. No Manhattan writer has backed the story. Everyone involved at Vanier has unequivocally discredited the story.

Plus logic dictates that the story is false. You can’t claim K-State hired the guy who’d go along with keeping the old guard intact when the entire applecart was overturned. And you really can’t say you think the theory is valid because of who got retained when the only guys who did get retained wouldn’t even qualify for Social Security even if you added their ages together. Unless you’re crazy or something.

We said we’d address that tenth assistant, and now we shall. There is zero confirmation of this from any other on-the-record source, but Tim Fitzgerald at GPC is reporting that Klieman will be adding veteran defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo as his final assistant. Tuiasosopo has a long career in the Pac 12, but he’d be coming to K-State from... UTEP, which is sort of weird for all the obvious reasons.

You’ll recognize that surname without needing much assistance if you recall the 1999 Holiday Bowl, in which Jonathan Beasley outdueled Marques Tuiasosopo a year before Tuiasosopo led Washington to a Rose Bowl win over Drew Brees and the Purdue Boilermakers, with the Huskies finishing third in the final 2000 poll. Marques is Mike’s nephew, so we’ll have plenty to tease the new coach about... if, in fact, he is the new coach.

(Of course, you may also remember the younger Tuiasosopo’s name coming up more recently. His cousin (and therefore Mike’s nephew), Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, was responsible for the media firestorm which completely obliterated most of the attention Collin Klein should have gotten during Heisman season in 2012... because he was Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend.)

Okay, that’s enough lurid gossip for one morning.

In news involving someone who was sort of a former K-State assistant, Kurt Kragthorpe reports on Andy Ludwig returning to Utah as offensive coordinator. Ludwig, of course, was the first offensive coordinator of Snyder II, leaving Utah for K-State in 2009 right after the Utes finished 13-0 and beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. But only two months after being hired by Snyder, Ludwig left for California Golden Bears. At least he lasted longer in Manhattan than Kliff Kingsbury did in Los Angeles. Ludwig’s most recent gig was four years at Vanderbilt, which by definition means “he was Vanderbilt’s OC in 2017”, which should just make you even more irritated.

We live to serve.

Finally, because we are of course a Track School™, it would be remiss of us to fail to mention that the track and field season gets back underway tomorrow as K-State hosts the Wildcat Invitational at Ahearn. The meet is a four-way dual-scored meet between the Cats, North Texas, UMKC, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.