Today Wichita Eagle Sports Editor Kirk Seminoff tweeted an image of a 1969 K-State football media guide he had found at the office, and I think the photo speaks for itself:
It is frightful, featuring a stuffed cat with really creepy eyes. It looks like the sort of thing that would be used for a cheap jump scare in a comedy/horror movie.
There are a couple of other items of interest with the cover, though. In the top left corner, it has “KSU,” with the “U” being a representation of what was then KSU Stadium, which was in its second year during the 1969 season.
The tagline was “... out of the woods,” which isn’t exactly an inspiring tagline, but it is a good summation of where K-State football was in 1969. It was the team’s third year under Head Coach Vince Gibson, one of the only bright spots for K-State football between the sports invention and Bill Snyder’s arrival in Manhattan. Gibson’s teams had improved on the prior year’s record twice in a row already, going from 0-9-1 the year before Gibson’s arrival to 1-9 in 1967 and 4-6 in 1968.
The Wildcats improved again in 1969, finishing with a 5-5 record behind junior quarterback Lynn Dickey and spending several weeks ranked. At the end of October, they were 5-1, with their only loss being by a field goal to second-ranked Penn State, who finished the year undefeated. K-State also blew out a highly-ranked Oklahoma Sooners team, 59-21, before the wheels came off in November and the Wildcats dropped four games in a row (including two more by a field goal). If K-State could have kicked three more field goals at the right time, that team could have been 5-2-3.
K-State had one more year of climbing to do in 1970, when Dickey as a senior led the Wildcats to a 6-5 record and a tie for second place in the Big Eight. After Dickey ran out of eligibility, Gibson couldn’t hold on to the magic, and K-State didn’t finish with a .500 record again during his tenure. But even years of 3-8 and 4-7 records would have been better than K-State experienced for most of the next 15 years after Gibson’s departure for Louisville.