Friday, May 11, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: Kansas State's famous alumni

There are more than 150,000 living alumni of Kansas State University. What familiar faces might you see cheering for the Wildcats against the Frogs?

 -Kirstie Alley.  Before she became famous for being famously fat, before she was in the Look Who's Talking movies and before Cheers, the Wichita native Alley was a student at Kansas State.  Lately, she's just been looking for her fat pants

-Deloss Dodds.  You probably thought he went to UT, didn't you?  He's been the AD down in Austin since 1981 and may be the most influential on-campus executive in college sports, having driven off A&M (and created a space for TCU) in the Big 12 with the bark is way bigger than its bite Longhorn Network.  Before that, though, Dodds was the AD at Kansas State from 1977 to 1981.  Prior to that, he was the head cross country coach at KSU for 13 years, leading the Wildcats to six Big 8 titles.  As a student-athlete at KSU, Dodds was the Big 8 champion in the quarter mile in 1959. 

-Eddie Griffin.  That's right, Undercover Brother went to Kansas State...although he dropped out after just three months to pursue a career in comedy and acting.  Lately, he's been sharing his thoughts on interracial marriage

-Paul C. Fisher.  He invented the space pen, which was useful for astronauts, spoiled children who wanted to enrage their parents by writing on the ceiling while laying on the top bunk of their bunk beds, and the writers of Seinfeld who so masterfully worked it into an episode of the show's third season.

-Erin Brockovich.  To be completely honest, I don't really know exactly why Erin Brockovich is famous.  They did make a very overrated movie about her, though, in which Julia Roberts took attention away from her freakishly large mouth by showing off cartoonish cleavage the entire time.  Distraction: success.  The real Erin Brockovich grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and briefly attended KSU.     

-Eric Stonestreet.  He is known best for his Emmy-winning role as Cameron Tucker on ABC's Modern Family, but his early acting career saw Stonestreet playing guest roles on numerous hit shows like CSI, The West Wing and well as a role playing "Beer Gut" in a 2008 movie called Ninja Cheerleaders.  He grew up in Kansas City and graduated from KSU in 1996.  You may actually see him at a game, as he was reportedly at the Cotton Bowl last year. 

-Earl Woods.  Prior to his death in 2006, Earl was best known for being the father of Tiger Woods.  Before he groomed his son to become a championship golfer, though, Earl was quite the athlete himself.  He became the first African-American baseball player in 1951 when he made his debut with Kansas State, and would go on to earn two varsity letters with the Wildcats before graduating from KSU in 1953.

Frogs need a sweep

Any 29-16 team locked in a tight conference title race with an RPI  in the mid-30s needs every win they can get this time of year, but the Frogs absolutely have got to sweep Air Force this weekend in their three-game set in Colorado Springs.  Not only do they need to keep pace with New Mexico and firm up their NCAA Tournament resume, but even a single setback against a team with an RPI in the 255-260 range would be devastating to this TCU squad.

The Frogs didn't have much trouble with Air Force when the zoomies visited Lupton in mid April, as they earned a three-game sweep and outscored the Falcons 17-3.  But it's expected to be windy up in the thin air of Colorado Springs all weekend, and that has been a recipe for some weird things to happen before

Something to keep an eye on this weekend is the "TBA" that Schlossnagle has as a place-holder in lieu of naming a starting pitcher for Sunday's game.  Andrew Mitchell is slated to start tonight and Preston Morrison on Saturday, but it could be that Schloss wants to save Stefan Crichton for the game against the Sooners up in Norman on Tuesday. 

Big 12 Orientation: K-State's other sports

Talent level: meh
While looking for something worthwhile to write about Kansas State's non-marquee sports, I noticed a bit of an oddity about the Wildcat athletic department.  They field just 14 varsity teams, the least in the Big 12.  I'm not sure their fans are missing out on much by not having a men's tennis team to cheer for, but why not field one if you've already got a women's team and a facility?

Seriously, though- TCU, a school of less than 10,000 total students and to this point just the meager TV money that a membership in the MWC afforded us, fields 18 varsity sports on an athletic budget of $52 million.  Kansas State, a university of over 23,000 that averages almost 50,000 paid attendance at football games, fields 14 varsity squads on an athletic budget of $51.5 million.  Add in the fact that the Big 12 isn't nearly as far-flung as the MWC, and those assumed smaller travel costs make it seem as if our friends in Manhattan may be mismanaging their money.

The other stat that makes Kansas State an outlier in their own conference is the fact that the Wildcats have never won a national anything...ever.  Hell, even Tech and Baylor have gotten on the national title scoreboard in recent(ish) years due to some sport they call "women's basketball".  So while we laughingly have "rifle" as our answer to "everyone's got to be #1 in something", the other purple-wearing team in the conference would probably kill for that honor.