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Kansas State athletics, 1924-25: Beat Kansas, Everything Else is Okay

A conference title in cross country, and two big wins over the Jayhawks.

Lyle Munn, future NFL player and captain of the 1924 Wildcats.
Lyle Munn, future NFL player and captain of the 1924 Wildcats.
1925 Royal Purple

During the off-season, the east grandstand was completed at Memorial Stadium, raising the official capacity to 17,500. That, of course, is no longer large enough to even seat the entire student body at Kansas State. Back then, it was pretty impressive for a school outside the Big Ten; for comparison, in 1929 Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa opened and only seated 18,000.

(The Big Ten, on the other hand, was insane. In 1927, Michigan Stadium opened with a capacity of 72,000. To be blunt, this would be like someone opening a stadium tomorrow capable of holding 300,000 people.)

The Wildcats would not open the season in the new digs, however, playing a rare road game in Topeka. For the fourth consecutive time and third consecutive year, the Ichabods were unable to score; indeed, Washburn was held to -13 yards on the ground, as KSAC sauntered to an easy 23-0 win. Virtually every man on the roster got significant playing time, as Charlie Bachman freely substituted in the second half.

It had been half a decade since KSAC faced off against the Emporia Teachers. The state’s second public institution was chosen as the enemy for the official christening of the east stands.

Wait, second? Yep. For all the bickering over which Kansas university is big brother, one detail is often forgotten: what is now Emporia State actually opened for classes a year before the University of Kansas, and two years after Kansas State.

The Wildcats struck twice in the first half, and it could easily have been three except for a familiar KSAC bugaboo: the old “fumble on the opponent’s one-yard line” trick. Emporia would not go down without a fight, playing the Wildcats evenly in the third quarter, but the fourth went without a score and KSAC won 19-6.

The following week, Kansas came to town. KSAC had not actually beaten the Jayhawks since 1906, and the last two contests had ended in unsatisfactory draws. But on this day, despite KU outperforming Air Bachman in the passing game, the Wildcats outgained Kansas 2-1 and declared a 6-0 victory at the gun. Celebrations were rampant, and for the first time since the war KSAC was 3-0.

You’re probably familiar enough with the cadence of these pieces by now to know what’s coming next:

They wouldn’t win again.

In Columbia the following week, the Wildcats took a 7-7 tie into the closing minutes against the eventual Valley champions. Driving for the win, Russell Hoffman launched a ball to Arthur Doolen, but Missouri’s Clyde Smith stepped in and picked off the pass. Smith raced down the sideline and was tackled at the Wildcat one. Two plays later, the Tigers had the win despite only managing three first downs on the day to KSAC’s 12.

Iowa State next came to Manhattan, and drubbed the Wildcats 21-0. Two weeks later, the Cats hosted Drake for the first and only time in a Valley conference game, and fell 7-6 in a game mired by controversy. Drake’s lone touchdown had come off what on the field had been ruled a muffed punt, but which KSAC insisted had not touched the receiver. (Under today’s rules, the touchdown wouldn’t have happened at all, since the kicking team can’t advance the ball in this situation.)

Nebraska came to town for homecoming, and it was an unhappy affair as the home boys fell 24-0. The season ended on Thanksgiving in Norman, where a pick-six early in the game gave Oklahoma its only score in a 7-7 tie during which the Wildcats were largely seen to have outplayed the Sooners across the board.

Bachman’s 1925 squad had been relatively inexperienced, and struggles were not unexpected. Still, the first losing season under Bachman’s hand — 3-4-1, 1-4-1 — stung mightily. Wildcat senior end Lyle Munn, a dependable receiver, received first-team All-Valley recognition and then went on to be KSAC’s fourth alumnus in the National Football League.

Munn played five seasons. As a rookie, he joined former Wildcat Dutch Webber on the 1925 Kansas City Cowboys roster, starting seven games. He remained at Muehlebach Field (later known as Municipal Stadium) in 1926, starting eleven games. Ten games with the Cleveland Bulldogs, with six starts, followed in 1927; in 1928, he started nine games for the Detroit Wolverines (now the Lions). After the 1929 season, in which he played 15 games for the New York Giants and started 11, Munn retired.

As with so many others, we know little about Munn outside of his athletic career. He may have gone on to a career on road engineering, as there is a Lyle Munn from Topeka referenced as an associate project engineer in a story about the building of the Emporia bypass in 1965, but this may not be the same Lyle Munn. In any event, Munn died in 1984 in Topeka at the age of 81.

Running total: 105-78-18, 97-81-13 against colleges, 11-23-7 Missouri Valley

Charles Corsaut’s second foray into Missouri Valley play was a slight improvement over his first. Two games are listed in the official records against AAU club teams, and are not even referenced in the Royal Purple: a January 6 loss at Hillyard Chemical and another undated loss at home to the Kansas City Scooleys. Aside from those two games, the season was again an all-Valley affair; it had now been nearly half a decade since the Wildcats played a Kansas school other than the Jayhawks.

Of those sixteen games, again home-and-home throughout, the Wildcats claimed ten. Iowa State, Drake, and Washington were all vanquished twice. The Cats were swept by Nebraska, and earned splits with Grinnell, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The Kansas win was in Lawrence; it was widely seen as a stunning upset throughout the Valley, and marked the first Wildcat victory there since 1921. The loss to Grinnell was in Iowa, by a single point, and at that early stage of the season was felt to have damaged the Wildcat title hopes.

Ultimately it was of little consequence, as the Wildcat win in Lawrence ended up being the only loss the Jayhawks would suffer in 1925, racing to the Valley championship on the back of a 15-1 season. KSAC settled for third place, three games back of Nebraska and tied with Washington, who they had swept.

Running total: 173-138, 160-129 against colleges, 92-80 Missouri Valley

Amidst a furious campus campaign to raise funds to continue work on Memorial Stadium, the baseball team christened their own new diamond with a 5-1 loss to Saint Mary’s on April 13. Later that week, Missouri was swept in Manhattan. They then split a pair in Norman with the Sooners before returning home and getting swept by Nebraska.

A split at Lawrence was followed by a revenge win over Saint Mary’s, but then Oklahoma came to town and took a pair. A trip to Lincoln saw a split, and when Kansas came to Manhattan for the season finale the Wildcats finished with a flourish, sweeping the Jayhawks; the second win was the 200th win over another four-year institution in KSAC baseball history, as far as we can tell.

In contrast to the media guide’s claim of a 6-6 record, the actual total was 8-8, 7-7 in the Valley. Oklahoma took the conference crown.

Running total: 222-159-5, 200-149-5 against colleges, 44-54-3 Missouri Valley

Two Wildcats broke Valley records at the indoor championships, with Ralph Kimport setting a new mark in the mile and A.I. Balzer in the two-mile. The rest of the team contributed little, however, and KSAC took fourth place.

Outdoors, the Wildcats lost dual meets to Kansas and Missouri, finished third in a triangular in Lincoln to Kansas and Nebraska, and then lost at home to the Huskers. Seventh place awaited KSAC at the Missouri Valley outdoor championships at season’s end.

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.

The swimmers lost a tight meet to Nebraska at home, which technically ended in a tie but the victory went to the Huskers because they won the relay.