The college football season is coming to an end. The local Division I teams of Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State definitely had mixed results.
With some early wins, KU looked like it might surprise everyone. The Jayhawks had a great game against Texas and showed some offensive firepower that had been long missing from the program. However, as the season wore on, it became obvious that the team was lacking the quality depth it takes to compete in a Power 5 conference.
A strength of Kansas coach Les Miles is supposed to be recruiting. That is exactly what the program needs at this stage. Miles is receiving interest from 3- and 4-star recruits. He has a lot of connections in the talent-rich southern part of the country. It will be interesting to see if the Jayhawk program can really turn the corner, but fans did see positive signs in the 2019 season.
Mizzou finished a very disappointing season with a 6-6 record. A lot of Tiger fans were grumbling about firing coach Barry Odom after a 25-25 record in his first four seasons as the head coach of the Tiger program, and they got their wish.
MU alumni have gifted the school a lot of money to improve the Tiger football facilities and bring it in line with their counterparts in the SEC Conference. The recent NCAA penalties enforced on the football, baseball and softball programs added insult to injury in the 2019 season.
MU has to be one of the great mysteries in Division I football and men’s basketball. They have not won a conference football championship since 1969 when they were in the Big Eight. That is a long 50-year drought. The men’s basketball teams have never been to the NCAA Final Four.
It is difficult for its fans to swallow. MU seems to feel the cure for all their problems is to fire coaches. Will it become obvious that this philosophy has not been the best approach?
Great athletic programs have an athletic administration that is respected and proven, from the president all the way down to the athletic director. Those administrators have often hired big-name coaches and coaches who bleed black and gold. The school has not had great athletic program leadership since the days of Dan Devine. It is an art to find coaches who fit a program philosophy bought by everyone involved with program. It will be interesting to see how all this will roll with the Mizzou program.
The most successful Division I program in the area is without question the Kansas State Wildcats under new head coach Chris Klieman. Klieman has been a proven winner throughout his career. He helped develop a perennial FCS national championship team at North Dakota State University.
The Kansas State athletic administrators made a solid choice in offering a great coach and opportunity to move up to Division I. My son-in-law is a K-State alumnus and he was upset that the Wildcats hired a coach that was not a big Division I name. The day he got the job I told him it was the best possible hire for the K-State program that needed a change. Klieman has all the Wildcat fans believing the future is bright. The team defeated the highly ranked Oklahoma program and is going to a bowl in his first year.
Hiring a good coach is a situation that entails the right timing and the right type of personality to fit a program. Sometimes a school just gets lucky, but a good athletic administrator knows the characteristic needs of the program.
The best hire of the past decade has been Dabo Swinney at Clemson. I remember the first Orange Bowl game his team played in Miami. My wife and I attended that game and we had no clue about Swinney. The Tiger fans let us know very quickly that we needed to get on the Dabo bandwagon because he was the real deal. They were totally correct.
Hopefully the local Division I schools will be able to find and hire the right coaches for their programs. Yes, the athletic directors have to be a little lucky, but they also have to know the needs of their programs. That is how success is developed. It all starts with the administration.
• The quote of the week comes from Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh: “Adversity can be a great motivator. Football, as anything else, is always a series of problems. Your success will depend on how well you are prepared and how well you handle those problems as they come along.”
– 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.