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Kansas State athletics, 1923-24: Charles Corsaut arrives

A new coach for two sports.

Charles Corsaut would last a decade at the helm of KSAC basketball and baseball.
Charles Corsaut would last a decade at the helm of KSAC basketball and baseball.
1924 Royal Purple

We have a couple of important programming and scheduling notes for you, which will appear at the end of this article.

The Wildcats were the 1923 version of a modern Baylor team, with the small problem of, well, being the 1923 version. KSAC was very adept at passing the football compared to their peer institutions, but that’s like being the tallest kid in kindergarten.

The traditional in-state season opener was again a home contest with Washburn. The 1923 Cats didn’t obliterate the Ichabods the way they had the year before, but still managed a convincing 25-0 victory. It was the third straight time Washburn had visited the Little Apple and crawled home without having touched the scoreboard.

The following weekend, Creighton went home on the short end of a 6-0 decision. In the previous two seasons, Creighton had been formidable, going 8-1 (their only loss to KSAC) and 7-2-1; in 1924 they’d go 6-1-2. Unfortunately for the Wildcat reputation in 1923, Creighton limped to a 5-5 record this season.

In Ames a week later, the Wildcats trailed Iowa State 7-0 with 17 seconds to go. Twice before, KSAC had penetrated the Cyclone ten-yard line and come up empty. The third time was the charm, as Burdette Swartz caught a pass for a touchdown. He then converted the PAT to salvage a 7-7 draw.

The following week saw another tie, this one a scoreless affair in Lawrence. It should have been a bitter disappointment, as the Wildcats outgained the Jayhawks 320-75, but were unable to score. As with the week before, it was an inability to finish which did in the Wildcats. Twice, KSAC had the ball within five yards of the Jayhawk goal, including a snap from the Kansas one-yard line in the fourth quarter which was fumbled and recovered by the bad guys.

Homecoming was the following weekend, and it was a miserable experience for all as campus was doused with oceans of rain. In the sticky, muddy slog, the only scoring ended up being safeties. Unfortunately for the Cats, they only got one; Missouri got two, and won 4-2. A week later at Grinnell, the Wildcat attack unloaded in a 34-7 breeze.

There was a week off — during which the freshmen battled the second-string varsity to a scoreless tie while Coach Bachman and the first string traveled to Lincoln to scout Nebraska — before Oklahoma came to town for the most exciting game of the year. The Wildcats leapt out to a 21-7 lead, but Oklahoma fought back valiantly, scoring two touchdowns in the final quarter. In the end, a missed point-after which would have tied the game gave KSAC a 21-20 victory.

Heading into the finale, Nebraska and Kansas were fighting tooth and nail for the conference crown, with Nebraska at 2-0-2 in conference and Kansas at 3-0-2. The Wildcats, at 2-1-2, also had a very slight chance, but they needed Kansas to lose, and they themselves needed to win.

As John Bentley of the Lincoln Evening Journal said in the lede of his story, “There is one certain way of beating any football team and that is keeping the ball away from it.” Turnovers, combined with Nebraska’s brutal running attack, allowed the Cornhuskers to build a 21-6 halftime lead on the way to a 34-12 win, ending KSAC’s hopes.

As it happened, the Tigers and Jayhawks fought to a 3-3 tie, which was the very thing Nebraska needed to happen to win the conference title.

KSAC finished 4-2-2 on the year, 2-2-2 in the Valley. Quarterback Art Stark was named to the All-Valley first team, no surprise for a team which lived and died on the forward pass. We don’t know a lot about Stark’s later life, except that he was a football referee for Big 6/7 contests later on.

Running total: 102-74-17, 94-77-12 against colleges, 10-19-6 Missouri Valley

Charles William Corsaut, a Salinan who attended Kansas Wesleyan before heading to Michigan to coach high school basketball, had returned to Kansas to take the reins at Kansas City (Kan.) High School, which is now Wyandotte High School. In 1923, he the Bulldogs to a perfect 35-0 record, capped off with a thrilling 32-31 overtime win over Hutchinson to claim the KSHSAA boy’s basketball championship, and then went on to Chicago for a national tournament. The Bulldogs won five games in five days, and were crowned national champions.

Amazingly, and feel free to be infuriated about this, the three stars of Corsaut’s Bulldog squad all went on to play college basketball... at Kansas, for Phog Allen.

You now know basically everything we know about Charles Corsaut that isn’t directly tied to his tenure as a head coach at Kansas State. In any event, after that brilliant demonstration in 1923, he was hired to replace the dispatched E.C. Curtiss, and immediately brought the Wildcats back to respectability.

Once again, the Wildcats played only conference games in a double round-robin. They lost twice to Oklahoma, Grinnell, and Kansas; they swept Missouri, Iowa State, and Drake. An early-season split with Nebraska and a late-February split with Washington rounded out an 8-8 campaign, good for fourth place in the Valley.

The season had started with four losses in the first five games, so the improvement as February progressed was notable and noted.

Running total: 163-130, 150-123 against colleges, 82-74 Missouri Valley

Corsaut also took over the baseball program from Curtiss, and just as the basketball team had done, the nine lost four of their first five. But they then swept a double bill from the Jayhawks in Manhattan. Pairs of games against Nebraska in both Lincoln and Manhattan resulted in three losses, but from that point on the Wildcats were on fire. They routed Haskell, split with Missouri, took a pair from Oklahoma (and robbed the Sooners of the conference title), and then knocked off Kansas for a third time. The fourth game against the Jayhawks, which was to be the season finale, was rained out. Iowa State, for the first time, ended up crowned champions.

After some research, the 10-1 win over Oklahoma in Manhattan listed in the media guide simply doesn’t exist; therefore, the Wildcats baseball record ultimately matched the basketball record: 8-8, with a 7-7 mark in conference play.

(Correction: I overlooked the fact that the media guide omitted the third win over Kansas as well, so the record was 9-8, 8-7.)

Running total: 214-151-5, 192-141-5 against colleges, 37-47-3 Missouri Valley

As for track, the squad did not contest a dual indoor meet, and did not perform particularly well in the Kansas City Athletic Club, Illinois, or Missouri Valley meets. Outdoor, the team showed some life in the Kansas Relays and Drake Relays, then went on to lose dual meets with Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. At the Valley championships, the Wildcats finished a distant sixth, barely outpointing the guest team from what was then Pittsburg Normal.

Cross-country, however, told an entirely different tale. The harriers won duals against the Jayhawks, Huskers, and Tigers, and then went on to claim the Missouri Valley championship. In so doing, they broke an 11-meet winning streak by Iowa State. The team was led by Ralph Kimport, who’d later serve as an track assistant to Charlie Bachman, and Myron Sallee.

(Due to a calendar error — cross country took place in November and December — and due to confusing coverage in the Royal Purple, we screwed up. Cross country took fifth place in the fall of 1923. We’ll have this corrected going forward.)

Turns out this was the third year of wrestling at KSAC. The matmen lost their only dual meet of the year, taking only one match against Kansas; at the Valley championships, O.E. Walgren, team captain, took third place in his weight class.

Boxing debuted in 1924, with the Wildcats getting trounced 6-1 by Iowa State and splitting a pair of meets with Kansas, both by 4-3 scores.

Suffering the graduation of their three best men, the swim team tied Nebraska, got routed by Washington, and finished fourth in the Valley meet. The loss to Washington was lacking shame, as the Pikers broke the existing Valley record in every single race but one.

Tennis was bad. The Wildcats lost to Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and good lord, even Baker.

And now, the programming notes:

First, a big round of applause to daaitoulaam, who is doing a bang-up job scouring through other sources to add even more interesting details in the comments of most posts. Due to the nature of the process here, and time constraints, we’re really not able to delve as deeply as we’d like; we’re just trying to get across a good sense of the flavor on campus each year. Maybe at a later date we can revisit this entire series with even more detail — a sort of remastering, as it were. For now, if you’re reading these articles shortly after they’ve been posted, it is most definitely worth your time to come back and check the comments later in the evening.

That leads us to the second note: we’re going to start missing some days, due to the intrusions of the real world into the schedule. We’ll get as many installments prepared as possible this weekend, but your fearless chronicler is losing a day per week for the next couple of weeks, and that lost day may be a critical blow to being able to get one year per day out the door.