Kennesaw State Football: Five Models The New Program Should Follow
Kennesaw State University has announced that they will field a football program for the first time beginning in the 2014 season.
The Owls are located approximately 20 miles north of the Atlanta area and have a current enrollment of over 22,000 students, making them the third-largest school in the state behind Georgia and Georgia State.
The Owls currently participate in the Atlantic Sun Conference, but there has been no announcement of what conference the team will play in, in football since the conference does not sponsor the sport.
Kennesaw State will have a lot of work to do if they are to have success in their first few seasons.
Ultimately the Owls would like to be on par with the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets, and this is a list of five models that Kennesaw State should follow if they want to be successful.
South Florida Bulls
South Florida began their football program in 1997, while reportedly holding their first meeting under a shade tree due to a lack of football facilities.
Times have certainly changed for the Bulls as they have been a team to reckon with since becoming FBS members in 2001.
USF started out as an independent before joining Conference USA in 2003. They followed that with a move to their current conference, the Big East in 2005.
The Bulls have had a nice run during their time in the Big East, with nine win seasons in 2006 and 2007, as well as Bowl appearances in all five seasons.
USF has a record of 3-2 in those games and was ranked in the preseason Top 25 for the first time in school history at the beginning of the 2007 season.
South Florida has also been productive in sending players to the NFL, with current players such as Dallas Cowboys corner Mike Jenkins and Philadelphia Eagles safety Nate Allen making impacts on the professional stage.
Former USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul became the highest drafted player in school history after the New York Giants made him the 15th overall selection in April's NFL Draft.
The Bulls have shown that one state is big enough for at least college football powers, now the Owls will hope to do the same in the state of Georgia.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State began playing football all the way back in 1933, but they did not join the FBS ranks until 1996.
Many teams could follow the model Boise has constructed, but the Owls could especially benefit.
Boise State is currently ranked third in the country following an undefeated 14-0 record last season.
The Broncos have won 36 games in the past three seasons, and depending on how this season shakes out could have a real chance to play for the BCS Championship.
Boise has been the team of the decade in the WAC as they won seven conference titles in eight seasons starting in 2002.
Boise has produced some very good NFL players, none better than left tackle Ryan Clady, who is arguably the best player at his position in the league today.
Former Broncos corner back Kyle Wilson was taken by the New York Jets with the 29th pick overall in last April's NFL Draft and current quarterback Kellen Moore is Heisman Trophy contender.
Boise State has done a great job developing the talent they have recruited, and the Owls will need to do the same if they wish to contend.
Washington began their college football program in 1889, well their not new at all.
That is correct, but they are a program that is trying to reemerge as a college football power following some real struggles over the past decade.
The Huskies last played in a bowl game in 2002, and they last won a bowl game in 2001 when they defeated Purdue in the Rose Bowl.
Since 2002 the Huskies have struggled mightily. Under former coaches Keith Gilbertson and Tyrone Willingham the Huskies went 18-53, hardly the results Husky fans expect from their team.
There is finally a feeling of excitement surrounding the team again this season after the hiring of coach Steve Sarkisian prior to last season. Sark has brought the bark back to the Dawgs after a five win improvement last season.
The keys to the Huskies resurgence have been the hiring of Sarkisian, one of the top offensive play-callers in the entire country, and Senior quarterback Jake Locker.
Locker will be a Heisman contender this season if he can lead the Huskies to a Pac-10 title, and at the very least UW should return to a bowl game for the first time in eight years.
Kennesaw State will have a tough time finding an offensive mind like Sarkisian and a potential first overall pick in the NFL Draft like Locker, but getting an enthusiastic coach and a quarterback that fits his system will be keys to the Owls success.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
The Blue Raiders began their college football program in 1911, but they are just now becoming a legitimate contender in the FBS landscape.
Middle Tennessee won nine games last season and went to their second bowl game since 2006 last season.
The Blue Raiders defeated Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl last season, sparking optimism throughout the campus that the team can compete for years to come.
Middle Tennessee plays in the Sun Belt conference with recent FBS additions Western Kentucky and Florida International, two programs still looking for success.
The Blue Raiders have played second fiddle to the Tennessee Volunteers for many years now, but they are hopeful they can eventually be on the same level as their powerful in-state counterparts.
They still have a long way to go but they have an idea of what it takes to get there.
Head coach Rick Stockstill turned down offers from East Carolina and Memphis following the 2009 season because he wants to build a strong program at Middle Tennessee.
The Owls will need a coach who is willing to do the same if they want to become a power in the state of Georgia.
Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats began their football program in 1896, and the team experienced some success early on, very early on. Like the 1920's early on, but then the team went through a rough patch of play.
Bill Snyder took over a Kansas State program in 1991 that had gone winless in their previous 27 games, but Snyder was able to guide the Wildcats to a 7-4 record in his first season on campus.
It was only the third time since 1934 that the team had a winning record in conference play.
Snyder went on to lead the team to 11 consecutive bowls and he had more wins in his 17 seasons as coach than the Wildcats had from 1935 to 1988.
Kansas State was win away from a shot at the National title before slipping up in 1998 during the Big XII Championship game.
Wildcats quarterback Michael Bishop finished second in the Heisman Trophy race that season and Snyder was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.
Snyder retired in 2005 but he has since returned as the team's current coach.
Kansas State fans endured years of losing before becoming one of the great powers in college football for over a decade.
Kennesaw State needs to find a coach such as Snyder that can build the program quickly but fans will also need to maintain patience while their program grows.