The first two weeks of college football have kept pace with many of the early predictions. The normal powers of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma remain the teams to beat.

Local teams Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State are creating a little stir. Drew Lock, the Missouri quarterback, is bringing Heisman Trophy contention to himself and the university. The overall team has improved and has an opportunity to regain respectability in the SEC.

Gary Pinkel’s reign at MU consistently put the program among the top 25 in the country. People had various opinions about those years, but the school was at least thought of as a consistent winner. It was a giant step forward for a program that has yet to win a conference championship over a period of 49 years.

This year could be another step in the right direction, but an SEC Championship would still be only a wish and a prayer. The SEC is so strong that two teams could very easily end up among the top four in contention for a national title.

This year Missouri football should be judged on improvement and consistency during their tough SEC schedule. Missouri has the facilities and recruiting area contacts to elevate their respectability. Coach Barry Odom and his staff appear to have a plan and they are showing positive signs each year. They should be considered a top 25 program every year.

Under coach Bill Snyder, Kansas State has proven to be a bowl eligible program every year. They are a consistent 7- to 9-win team. They do not have it easy when it comes to recruiting. Although they have greatly improved their facilities, Manhattan is not exactly the first place top football talent chooses to visit.

That is why the Snyder story is such a major accomplishment. He takes junior college transfers and one- and two-star high school players and molds them to fit into the Wildcat program. He does more with less than any coach in the country.

Snyder has achieved this by clearly defining expectations for their time at K-State. K-State may never win a national championship but under Snyder, every facet of the program will give their best for success.

They will be tested this year to get enough wins to make a bowl. But no one should ever count out the Wildcats with Snyder at the helm. It would be interesting to see if K-State will remain so competitive once Snyder is not on the sideline. It may be awhile before that occurs, but it will leave big shoes to fill.

Kansas is the school that has everyone shaking their heads. It has been reduced to an unbelievable low. Nearly everyone has an opinion about the cause for the struggles of the Jayhawks. I am not sure a valid reason exists.

It is a basketball school but that is no reason for football to fall so low. The Kentucky football program is not great, but they do usually squeeze out some SEC wins each year. North Carolina has a very competitive football program at a school that excels in basketball. The ACC also has Duke University, which has a storied basketball program and a football program that has come light years in that last 10 years. It is possible to have a top five basketball program and still compete at a reasonable level in football.

KU is trying to make a move by improving their football facilities in hopes of putting them on the map in recruiting. Football just does not seem on the radar for most KU supporters. Winning takes a total commitment to the program by everyone involved. KU needs to make that commitment.

The past five years have not been the best for our three large Division I schools. The financial commitment by all three to improve their facilities gives us hope for the future. There is no reason this part of the country can’t be strong in football.

One of the greatest athletic events at Arrowhead Stadium was between MU and KU when the teams were ranked No. 2 and 3 in the country. The atmosphere was electric and Mizzou ascended to the No. 1 spot after winning.

The fans will come if the schools commit to a solid football program. I am a neutral fan but would love to see a strong Division I football presence in our neck of the woods.

• High school football gets a lot of coverage in the fall. I want to remind fans that high school volleyball, softball, girls tennis, cross country, boys swimming and boys soccer are all going full steam ahead and deserve as much attention.

• My quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda: “The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in the man’s determination.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at