The three area Division I football programs ended the season with a mixed review and many questions.
Missouri, Kansas State and Kansas have been spent the last three years attempting to trying to get their programs to consistent winning. There are various problems facing each school. The University of Kansas has the most problems.
Although they have tried to retain a solid and consistent coach for the last fifteen years, every approach has not seemed to fit the program. They hired a young, up and coming coach with Turner Gill which turned out to be a mistake. They hired a big name with Charlie Weis who turned out to be all show and no go. They then went cheap and hired David Beaty because of the residual contract pay out to Gill and Weis following their releases. Eleven years KU was ranked No. 2 in the country with Mark Mangino at the helm. The KU fans and administration did not like how Coach Mangino ran his program and his physical presence did not fit the KU mentality.
The KU football program has however, upgraded their football facilities to improve the recruiting process. Facilities are only on part of the equation. They need to find a leader who can rally everyone to move in the right direction. Les Miles is a big name with a national championship to his name, but to build a program for the next ten years could be a tough task for a 65-year-old coach. He is a short gap solution for a long-term problem. KU is currently one of the least attractive schools in Division I football. KU athletic director Jeff Long is under a lot of pressure to put people in the stands and to bring the program back to life. The attendance for KU football has the look of a Class 4 high school football game. A program cannot survive without fan support. The problems are many. Hopefully KU can get it headed in the right direction again.
Kansas State has whole set of different issues from their archrival KU. They have a legendary coach who has brought the program from the worst program in college football to a consistent winner. Bill Snyder has every right to feel that he should be the one to decide when his career should end.
However, Coach Snyder is 79 years old. It becomes difficult to recruit with the fact that the coach could leave at any time. It is rumored that Coach Snyder wants his boy to take over for him upon his retirement. The AD and administrators at Kansas State should not be forced to hire anyone they feel is not the right man for the job. It has the air of a family feud which has hurt the recruiting process of Kansas State.
KU and Kansas State must be at the top of their game to be able to recruit quality athletes. Both schools are great institutions and have improved their facilities but nearly every school in the country has state of the art stadium and practice facilities. It is a must for KU and Kansas State of have a head coach who can inspire and motivate young athletes.
Lastly, University of Missouri coach Barry Odom did a good job this year after the very difficult loss to Kentucky. They are bowl eligible which is always a positive for a program during the recruiting process. MU has raised money to improve their facilities to the level of other SEC schools. T Are MU leaders willing to settle for a 7-4 or 8-3 team every year, though? MU has not won an outright conference championship in 50 years. This is a school in a state with two major cities and is the main university in the state. It is in the center of the country with fertile nearby recruiting areas of Chicago, Dallas and Memphis. If you are a football player with intentions to play at the next level, you want to play in the SEC for visibility.
MU has all these things going for them, but seems to be content with 7-4 and 8-3 seasons and going to a lower level bowl game. MU is a sleeping giant in the world of college football. They need to beat Georgia, LSU and even Alabama in order to reach the next step on the ladder. They also cannot lose games each season to teams that are inferior to their talent in most years. Fans in this area of the country generally have pride in all three schools. The schools just need to step up the level of competition. It would be wonderful to see college football exciting again for area fans.
• Congratulations to Fort Osage High School for their big victory over Staley High School in the Class 5 playoffs. Staley has presented a big road block for the Indians for the past few years. They won Saturday’s game in a very convincing fashion.
• My quote of the week comes from comes from legendary basketball coach John Wooden, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
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 email@example.com.