Sunday, February 25, 2007

Foundation Snyder Built Beginning to Crumble

Mark Janssen Senior Sports Writer - The Manhattan Mercury
2/16/2007 12:16:27 PM


Bill Snyder spent 17 years constructing a football mansion based on loyalty and commitment to a singular purpose.

In less than 15 months, that granite foundation is crumbling into fine sand. By ones and twos, members of Ron Prince's first football staff, and support program, are making a mass exodus.

* Raheem Morris, defensive coordinator, is returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

* Running backs coach Tim Horton left to be offensive coordinator at the Air Force Academy.

* Pat Washington, wide receivers coach, is making a move to Mississippi State.

* Tight ends coach James Jones' contract was "not renewed."

* Strength and conditioning coach Rod Cole left K-State after 14 years of service to take a similar position at Texas A&M.

* Equipment manager Jim "Shorty" Kleinau, while not officially announced, has not been invited back after 28 years of service to the program dating back through coaches Jim Dickey, Stan Parrish and Snyder.

* Abby Boustead, director of football administration, left after one year to work on a graduate-degree at Florida.

* Graduate assistant Scott Frost has accepted a coaching position at Northern Iowa.

* And Wesley McGriff said "so long" to the Wildcat program for Miami of Florida — just a month after being hired.
There may be others.

Athletics is known for being a profession of change, but this degree after one year is reason to wonder what the heck is going on. To a large degree, Kansas State is starting over ... again.

Some movement could be spun as career advancement; others lateral, at best.
The coaches were just individuals coming through Kansas State University. Their position on the Wildcat staff was just a job — for the time being.

But with Kleinau, Kansas State loses an absolute rock in its foundation. No individual cared more, and put more into the Wildcats winning football games, than "Shorty."

Kleinau did jobs no one else wanted with pride and excellence. Washing socks to jocks, to maintaining a store of football gear wasn't a job. It was "Shorty's" profession at "his" school.

Kleinau has elected not to talk of his dismissal, but others within the program said there wasn't a "mesh" with the new leadership. One said "Shorty" wasn't "hi-tech enough."

Kleinau was the perfect "mesh" for K-State for 28 years. Significant wins meant enough to him that he would scoop up a handful of dirt, blades of grass from the sideline, and place them in a baggy as a personal souvenir.

Kleinau didn't watch hours of tape like position coaches, but in his way he made sure the Wildcats were equipped for victory.

Prince should be commended for putting seven victories on the scoreboard in 2006 and returning the Wildcats to the bowl scene.

But one wonders how the upset win over Texas distorted the true performance of the year, just as how the last two blow out losses to Kansas and Rutgers mangled what truly was accomplished.

In this space two days before the official announcement of Prince's hiring, the question was raised whether he would have enough connections to form a quality staff at the Big 12 level.

Most were young, most were without big-time collegiate experience, at least one was without a job ... and now they're gone. We don't know, but perhaps gone without a hint of a thank you to Kansas State, which gave each of them a mega opportunity.

In a teleconference after the first set of leavings and hirings, Prince said he was excited to bring "... star power to our roster of coaches."

This is nothing against the latest cast of replacements, but the second try of "star power" coaches has backgrounds from such locales as Richmond, Connecticut, Western Connecticut, Cornell, Central Connecticut State, Holy Cross, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Temple, Salisbury State, Kentucky State, Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian State, and Maynard Evans High School (Orlando, Fla.).

It's the hope here that their collective talents will be of Big 12 standards, and their loyalty will be to their school and not just a job — for now.

Loyalty?

Look under Kleinau — "Shorty" Kleinau — in the Wildcat dictionary.

1 comment:

pvcatbacker said...

Sure it hurts to see a guy leave after nearly 3 decades of service. Change happens. It's inevitable.

I think you could also characterize other departures as "time to go". Any of those loyal to Snyder and his program probably didn't have the same fire under Prince.

Losing Morris is no show-stopper, and the others, while talented, can be replaced.

That said, Prince needs to establish stability in his program now. As for recruiting assistants from big time programs; everyone has to start somewhere, and K-State can be a big break for the right person. Plus, in his final years, HCBS wasn't having that much luck with assistants either.

The program is still in transition, but one thing's for sure. Snyder is no longer the coach, and that says it all.