For the first time in a while, I had the chance to watch Kansas State and Kansas football – back -to back – from the comfort of my living room here in Houston.
After what I watched for almost seven hours, it reminded me of the Mars Rover that’s been in outer space for the last few years – Kansas State Football is Earth. Abundance of life, civilized and a great place to be. Kansas Football is Mars – desolate, no signs of life and the occasional rock shape that appears as though something significant might have taken place there.
Kansas is the Mars of College Football right now.
But that doesn’t mean all is lost and there’s no chance of surviving Kansas Football, because there most definitely is. If you’re going to survive on Mars, you need a Martian to do it, someone who isn’t the same as everyone else out there, someone who marches to a different beat, breathes a different type of air and sees something in a football place like Kansas that NO ONE else can see. Not in a Charlie Weis kind of way where he used his slick snake oil sales bit to woo even an AD into ponying up big cash. No, Kansas football needs a Martian.
See, 25 years ago, Kansas State was Mars. Heck, they might’ve been Pluto – which was so bad in planet terms that the Planet Committee YANKED Pluto’s Planet Status! Think about it, you wake up on Pluto one morning, a viable member of the solar system only to have the Planet Committee tell you you’re planet days are over.
That’s where Kansas State football was in the late 80s. The Program was so bad, so ugly, so Plutoish that the Kansas State Athletic Department was on the verge of shutting down the program. But then, the Lil Wayne of football, “We are not the same I am a Martian,” an offensive coordinator from up the road in Iowa, Bill Snyder, landed his space ship in Manhattan, and well, the rest is history.
23 years, 15 bowls, 183 wins, 8 All-Americans, Hundreds of unearthed JUCO gem recruits and one Sir Parker Slip Screen from a National Championship game later and Bill Snyder is the Greatest Coach in the history of college football.
Hyperbole? Maybe. But when you can make KANSAS STATE in MANHATTAN, KANSAS a college football power for nearly two decades – NOT ONCE – BUT TWICE – My friends, if that’s not the greatest coach in college football and you don’t at least have him in your top three, then we cannot be friends.
So that brings us back to Kansas Football and its current precarious state.
Terry Allen is probably laughing at the Kansas Football program right now, that’s how bad things are. The offense has as many playmakers as Sam Brownback has tangible ideas, the offensive line couldn’t get a push off the line if they had a head start and the pass rush is solid minus the rush part.
The program has good kids, but no difference makers save for Ben Heeney and sometimes Jacorey Shepard.
That’s not Clint Bowen’s fault.
Charlie Weis and Turner Gill, two alleged offensive guys whose only offense is that they fleeced the school of millions, left the cupboard mostly bare and that’s evident over these last three games.
That’s not Clint Bowen’s fault.
While this team is 0-3 in the games he’s coached, it’s shown more life than we’ve seen out of a KU football team since Mark Mangino was rocking velour jumpsuits on the sideline. They compete hard on every play, haven’t made many mistakes, and as a former colleague of mine used to say, are doing the best with what God gave them.
This isn’t a public declaration for Clint Bowen, or maybe it is. But the reality is this – Kansas Football is in a bad place right now, and it’s going to need someone who understands the gravity of the situation to fix it and keep the program viable.
I wasn’t huge on Clint Bowen initially, but there is definitely something to be said for ‘The Right Man for The Job.’
Kansas Football needs its own Bill Snyder. Kansas Football needs a guy who can recruit the kind of players that Kansas had during the Mason and Mangino years, the Dana Stubblefields, Gilbert Browns, Tony Sands, Aqib Talibs, Kerry Meiers, Todd Reesing, Anthony Collins, those 2 & 3 star guys with Boulders on Their Shoulders ready to prove to the rest of the world that they can play too. A guy who can mine the JUCO recruits to supplement the roster the way Snyder does it versus saving the roster the way Weis tried to do it.
Ironically, Clint Bowen played for Mason and coached under Mangino.
A major reason Snyder has enjoyed the success he’s had at Kansas State – he’s been consistent and he’s had great staffs – and most importantly for the fans of the Wildcats – his undying loyalty to the program.
““My decision, simply put, was be where you are. I chose to do that,” Sndyer said this past Summer during Big 12 Media Days. “That allowed me, I think, to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on. I valued where I was, where my family was and doing what we were doing.”
Is Clint Bowen Bill Snyder? No. Could he have the kind of success Snyder has had? Maybe. Maybe not. But this much is for sure – Bowen wants to be at Kansas, and you can rest assured that if he does have success in Lawrence, you feel pretty confident he’s not going to take off for another job if offered. You can’t say that about any other candidate.
There’s still plenty of football left, and the coaching search has to run its course. And while it’s easy to want a Bill Snyder, finding one isn’t easy to do, kind of like finding life on Mars. Clint Bowen may not be the Martian KU football ends up with, but you can’t deny he has this Kansas Football team showing signs of life.