Monday, May 7, 2012

Big 12 Orientation, Week 3: Kansas State Football.


Biggest Game in School History FAIL.

KSU At-A-Glance:

  • Founded 1893.
  • 476-613-41.
  • 0 National Titles
  • 5 Conference Titles (1 Big 12, 2003).
  • 15 Bowl Appearances, 6-9 record (most recent:  2012 Cotton Bowl, L)
  • One failed attempt at luring Gary Patterson back to his alma mater, and counting!  You'll probably hear more about this as the week wears on if you're familiar with our new feature.
History with TCU:  The Wildcats and Frogs have actually met 5 times on the football field, with TCU claiming three pelts from that time.  The first meeting was way back in 1922, a 45-0 domination by the Wildcats, but then the teams met four consecutive seasons from 1983-1986, with the Cats winning the first matchup and TCU taking the last three.  So, I guess you could say the Frogs enter the 2012 matchup on a 3 game win streak against KSU, not that anyone is really counting.  Here is a vidja from the 1986 game, for your viewing pleasure:

Of course, the biggest bit of history between TCU and KSU is the fact that Gary Patterson played linebacker for the Wildcats in the early 80s, a stint that led many KSU backers to believe that GP was their man back in 2008.  As I said, a lot more rehashing of that at a later date, but here's an interesting tidbit.  ALTERNATE TIMELINE BEGIN:  GP began coaching as a grad assistant at KSU in 1982, received his bachelor's degree in the spring of 1983 and subsequently left to take an assistant job at Tennessee Tech for the 1983 season... the exact same season TCU and KSU began their four year series.  Had GP stuck around one more year he would've been on the opposing sideline for that game, cheering his ass off against TCU.  Perhaps one of his linebackers would have viciously injured TCU QB Anthony Gulley, making Patterson an enemy of the athletic department, and souring his resume when the time came to promote him to HC?  We would be SMU.  Scary thought.  ALTERNATE TIMELINE END.

Famous Ex-Wildcats:
  • Gary Patterson.  Well, duh.
  • Michael Bishop. 1998 Heisman Trophy Runner-up, little noted NFL flameout, current Winnepieg Blue Bomber.  
  • Tiny Darren Sproles.  2003 Big 12 Rushing Champion.  Overhead compartment friendly New Orleans Saint.
  • Josh Freeman.  Guy making a lot more money than you for doing his job poorly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Jordy Nelson.  Green Bay Packer, grown-ass white man named Jordy.
  • Terrence Newman.  Booooooooo.
Recent History:  In hastily researching the history of KSU's football program, it was kind of eye opening to see just how destitute the program was before current HC Bill Snyder arrived for his first stint.    Check this:  In 1988, KSU became the first team in NCAA history to lose 500 games overall.  In 1989, KSU was statistically the worst team in NCAA history with a record of 299-509-41. It was at this point that KSU - a loser of 27 consecutive games - decided to take a chance with the then Iowa OC, and their fortunes turned, at least relatively speaking.  Snyder would lead the Wildcats to their first EVER bowl win in 1993, 100 years after the program was founded.  The Cats would reach a height once thought insurmountable for the program when they won the Big 12 in 2003, making it 69 years between Conference titles, the longest such streak in NCAA history.  Overall, nn his first go around Snyder won 136 games in 17 seasons... which matched KSU's TOTAL wins from 1936-1988.  So when you put it that way, yeah, dude is pretty incredible, which is why he was invited back to the sidelines following the failed Ron Prince era, although it is worth noting that, for all his shortcomings, the man never lost a game to Texas back when they were still D-1 caliber.  

Since plugging in his headset again for the 2009 season, the Cats have begun a steady climb back up the Big 12 pecking order, culminating in last year's 10-3 record, good for second place in the Big 12, and culminating in a tough 29-16 Cotton Bowl loss to Arkansas.  The loss stung, but at least they probably don't have to worry about which recently graduated fundraiser's bed their coaches' boots are under.  Since returning, Snyder has a 23-16 record, compared to Prince's 17-20.  So, yeah, even at 72, clearly Snyder's stuff works.  His name is on the stadjium, after all.

2012 Outlook:  Led by bruising QB Collin Klein, Kansas State bullrushed their way into the win column last year, ranking 29th in overall rushing yardage with Klein accounting for 40 TDs on his own (27 rushing, 13 passing).  To put it in perspective, those 27 ground scores tied him with the prolific Ricky Williams for the all time Big 12 single season mark and the overall NCAA mark for rushing yards by a QB next to Navy's Ricky Dobbs.  As a whole, Klein would rush for 1141 yards, the best ever for a KSU QB.  Recall, Tiny Darren came out of that backfield and never hit those numbers.  And it wasn't like Klein was entirely a one man show;  returning RB John Huber had 970 yards of his own, although his 3 ground scores pale in comparison to Klein, but that's just the offense they ran.  Get Klein close enough to the goal line and he's going to find a way to get his 6'5", 225 pound frame into the end zone.  Of course, the rub on Klein is going to be that he doesn't do much through the air, but he isn't really given a chance to; Last year the Wildcats ran a passing play 36% of the time, which puts them almost dead last in the NCAA at 108.  But, if something isn't broken, why fix it?  You know what the Wildcats are going to run, why can't you stop it?  Hopefully GP and his minions can outsmart his former employer.  

As for next season, KSU is going to be ranked in every preseason Top 25 you'll find - Andy Staples has them at 15th in his post-spring practice edition - and could challenge for the Big 12 crown overall, along with WVU, TCU and OU.  Klein is back, as is Huber and despite losing 5 starters, the KSU defense returns stud LB Arthur Brown, a Miami transfer, and standout CB Nigel Malone.  They have to replace a few starters along the offensive line, which could prove problematic in a offense as geared towards the run as this one, but apparently the experts don't worry too much about it.  Kansas State's statistics this past season weren't necessarily eye-popping, but they did do one thing particularly well, and that is take care of the football.  They ranked third overall with less than 1 giveaway per game.  Matched with their 2.1 takeaways per game, it's easy to see how they were able to pull out close games.  If things go as planned, Klein won't beat teams with his arm, but team will be so busy chasing him around the pile they'll have a tough time noticing exactly what's going on.  I still think the OU/WVU/TCU circuit is going to decide the regular season champ, but look for KSU to throw a wrench into at least one of those matchups.

Miscellania:  Seriously, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF EXISTENCE BEFORE WINNING A BOWL?  That deserves it's own footnote.  


Awesome

This could've been included in the dump this morning, but I figured it was worth it's own post.  Dan Jenkins, Fort Worth native and TCU alum, has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.  He is the first living sportswriter ever to be given that honor.  More than just a sportswriter, Jenkins is one of the last truly great voices in the crumbling world of journalism, and is the inspiration for the modern American male sense of humor.  Very proud to call him a Horned Frog!

Big 12 Orientation, Week 3: Kansas State


The third installment of our Big 12 orientation course will focus on the school that probably resents TCU's entry to the conference based solely on school colors: Kansas State.  The Wildcats' monopoly on the color purple (the color, not the book) will come to a close when the Horned Frogs officially join the conference on July 1.

Kansas State University was founded in 1863 as the Kansas State Agricultural College and admitted an equal number of men and women from the very beginning- an extreme rarity at the time.  The school's name changed in 1931 to Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science.  It didn't become Kansas State University until 1959.  Today KSU has an enrollment of 23,863, an endowment of $374 million and ranks 143rd (tied with UAB and Ole Miss, amongst others) on US News and World Report's list of best colleges in America. 

As an athletic department, the Wildcats finished 58th in the 2011 NACDA Director's Cup standings- by far their best ranking of the past five years and an marked improvement from their finish of 123rd in 2010.  Before joining the Big 12 in 1996, KSU was a member of the Big 8 from 1928-1995 and the Kansas and Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Associations before that.

Just about all of the things I said about Iowa State fans last week could be inserted here to describe my thoughts on KSU fans.  Is it crazy for me to lump all of these midwesterners together, or is it crazy for all of these sparsely populated states to have the same amount of senators as Texas?  Below is a video that ought to tell you all you need to know about Kansas State, but be sure to share your first impressions of the Wildcats in the comments section:



Big series win puts TCU in 1st place tie

After a split in the Saturday double-header, the Frogs gutted out a 2-1 pitcher's duel win in yesterday's Game 3 to preserve a series win over New Mexico and move themselves into a first-place tie with the Lobos at 13-5 in conference play.

New Mexico senior Gera Sanchez, who carried a 1.63 ERA into the weekend, was simply brilliant for the Lobos.  Sanchez had a no-hitter going through six innings, and the Frogs had gone down in order in five of those innings- the lone exception being a hit-by-pitch with one out in the second.  The frustration amongst the 3,700+ fans at Lupton continued to grow inning after inning after the TCU offense failed to deliver.

The good news, though, is that Andrew Mitchell was just about as dominating as Sanchez.  The sophomore from Houston allowed just 3 hits and struck out 9 in his 6⅔ innings of scoreless work.  He got himself into a few jams in the first few innings, but every time was able to strand Lobo runners in scoring position and maintain the "0" in the scoring column.  Twice, Mitchell struck out UNM slugger DJ Peterson on three straight pitches.

The pivotal inning of the game was the bottom of the 7th, when Josh Elander led off being hit by a pitch and Jason Coats followed with a walk after having been down 0-2 in the count.  With one out, freshman Kevin Cron ripped an 0-1 fastball into the gap in right-center- finally breaking the no-hitter and scoring the first two runs of the game for either team. 

Kevin Allen and Justin Scharf came on in relief to earn the win and the save, respectively.  The Lobos did get on the board in the top of the 8th after first baseman Brett Johnson mysteriously decided not to throw home on what could've been an inning-ending double play.  In the 9th, Peterson came to the plate with the tying and go-ahead runs on base with one out.  But Scharf was able to induce the double-play that had eluded the Frogs an inning prior and the game came to an end.

With just a few weeks left in the regular-season, the two teams are now tied atop the MWC standings at 13-5.  TCU's remaining conference series are at Air Force next weekend and against San Diego State in Fort Worth the following weekend.  New Mexico travels to Las Vegas to take on UNLV next weekend and ends the season against Air Force at home the next week.  Both teams have a 5-1 record against the teams remaining on their schedule.

I've scoured the MWC website, without success, trying to find the tie-breaking procedures.  Perhaps the conference will put out a press release explaining the situation, as they did near the end of basketball season.  The Frogs, though, just need to focus on winning every game they can- both to ensure a 7th straight conference title and to strengthen their NCAA resume.

Morning Dump

Baseball:

Cron's double lifts TCU to series win over New Mexico Star-Telegram

Frogs win series with thrilling 2-1 win over Lobos gofrogs.com


Men's Golf:

TCU's Johan De Beer wins individual title, Frogs take 2nd as a team at MWC Championships gofrogs.com