Kansas State Football '08: Return of the "Lynch Mob" or Descent Into Mediocrity?
I never was a Ron Prince fan.
I wasn't a hater either, but to say I was cautiously optimistic about his hiring at Kansas State would be an overstatement.
Ron Prince inherited a no-win situation from the legendary Bill Snyder and did exactly that—he didn't win. Sure, he scraped by with seven wins his first season on the coattails of Snyder's recruiting classes, but 2007 was a dismal failure.
With a record of 5-7, which included a humiliating home loss to rival Kansas, the worst loss in over a decade-and-a-half (a 73-31 beating at Nebraska), and a back-breaking loss to end the year at Fresno State, Ron Prince effectively made himself the most hated man in Manhattan.
In his defense, he hasn't had all that much time to build a program of his own—but on that same note, he hasn't done anything to prove he's even starting. The upcoming class is loaded with JuCo transfer talent, which many see as a last-ditch attempt to save the season.
He has failed all three recruiting seasons to pull together a respectable class, much less put one on the field. There have been some bright spots—Josh Freeman, for example—but for the most part, Ron Prince has been a dud.
Facing a 2008 schedule that would've kept Bill Snyder up at night, I can't imagine how Ron is coping with the impending disaster that is Kansas State's season. Perhaps he's taken a page out of Bob Huggins' book and is drowning the fear of his fast-approaching unemployment with voluminous amounts of alcohol.
Nevertheless, with road games at Louisville, Texas A&M, Kansas, and defending Big 12 North Champions Missouri, Prince's Wildcats will have to rely on their home games to pull them through. However, home contests with Nebraska and Oklahoma don't look promising.
A huge question mark sits squarely over the 2008 recruiting class and offseason shuffling of coaching responsibilities. It'll be up to these incoming players and new coaches to save Prince's behind—and Kansas State's season.
This brings us to the major question for 2008: Can Prince's last-ditch recruiting effort save his season and his job? Let's look at some of the incoming talent and see.
Grant Valentine: four-star defensive end JuCo transfer from Glendale, CA.
THANK GOD! Prince is finally taking a stab at the root of the problem: the defense. Kansas State has been famous for defense ever since Snyder made it his forte.
Switching back to the 4-3 from the 3-4/5 is a smart move. Putting Ian Campbell back on the line where he belongs, and where he is perhaps better than anyone in the country, seems like a no-brainer.
With the addition of Valentine and Daniel Calvin, K-State's defense should see some immediate improvement. How much this adjustment will help is up for debate, but it certainly can't hurt.
Attrail Snipes and Aubrey Quarles: four-star wide receiver JuCo transfers.
Good move, Ron. The loss of Jordy Nelson left K-State's receiver corps a little barren. Hopefully these two transfers will give Josh Freeman a target that he can't miss.
Josh has proven to be a great pocket passer, but he simply hasn't had time to make the good downfield throw, so he has been rushing the shorter, more dangerous balls.
Also, would it kill anyone to let Josh RUN THE BALL?!?
That brings us to the last and perhaps biggest problem, the offensive line—which, surprisingly enough, is the least attended-to deficiency.
Wade Weibert: four-star offensive tackle JuCo transfer from Butler County, KS.
The key to Kansas State's season is in the offensive line. 2007's line looked like scared little boys lining up across from proven defenses like Nebraska and Kansas. Hopefully Wade can calm down the likes of Alesana Alesana and combine him with the other transfer Edward Prince to give Freeman the time he needs.
Regardless of how the new talent fits into the system, or how well the new coaching arrangement works out, I look for the 2008 season to be the last Ron Prince spends in Manhattan. He has made no noteworthy additions in the backfield, and his starting running back is now suspended due to a second DUI.
2009 Result: 5-7 (and that's being nice)
My only hope is that the new AD, Bob Krause, brings in someone who can actually recruit and will lead Kansas State back to the dominance we have become accustomed to. Bob was instrumental in the turnaround of the basketball program, so look for him to do the same for football.
Hold your breath Wildcat fans, 2008 is going to be a stinker! But you can bet I'll be there ravenously cheering them on, because as you know, Every Man A Wildcat!
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