1. Nebraska (9-5, 6-2): The Cornhuskers must overhaul their defensive front four, but they got a big break with quarterback Sam Keller transferring in from Arizona State. That should make the loss of All-Big 12 quarterback Zac Taylor relatively painless.
2. Missouri (8-5, 4-4): Chase Daniel emerged as one of the conference's best quarterbacks last season, and he has a cadre of capable receivers at his disposal - led by tight end Martin Rucker. The defense needs some repair, though.
3. Kansas State (7-6, 4-4): The Wildcats showed promise with a freshman-infested starting lineup last year. Those guys figure to be better in their second seasons. Also, Ian Campbell gives the Wildcats the conference's best pass rusher.
4. Kansas (6-6, 3-5): Losing Big 12 leading rusher Jon Cornish will hurt, but the Jayhawks have a couple of good, young quarterbacks. If they can avoid fourth quarter collapses they could be a factor in the North race.
5. Iowa State (4-8, 1-7): Talented players like quarterback Bret Meyer, receiver Todd Blythe, linebacker Alvin Bowen and incoming four-star junior college transfer Jamicah Bass give the Cyclones reason for optimism. Last year's disaster is hard to forget, though.
6. Colorado (2-10, 2-6): Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Florida's Urban Meyer won national championships in their second seasons on the job. Colorado's Dan Hawkins would settle for a bowl game.
1. Texas (10-3, 6-2): When healthy, Colt McCoy was the Big 12's best quarterback a year ago. He has a good running back and upper-level receivers for support, but the middle of the offensive line is gone. The pass defense needs a serious upgrade, too.
2. Oklahoma (11-3, 7-1): The Sooners defense will be superb as usual. The loss of tailback Adrian Peterson is obviously significant, but the big question mark is at quarterback where a freshman - Sam Bradford or Keith Nichol - may emerge as the starter. Although that could be cause for concern, uncertainty at that position never seems to be a liability for Bob Stoops' team. 3. Texas A&M (9-4, 5-3): With several returning starters and a strong finish to the regular season last year, some might have thought A&M would be one of the favorites in the conference. However, that was before the Holiday Bowl disaster - which makes us unsure of what to expect from the Aggies in 2007.
4. Oklahoma State (7-6, 3-5): The Cowboys made tremendous progress in their second season under coach Mike Gundy, and they should continue to improve if quarterback Bobby Reid can avoid injuries.
5. Texas Tech (8-5, 4-4): Productive quarterback Graham Harrell and running back Shannon Woods are returning. However, the Raiders must replace three receivers and four offensive linemen. Expect the defense to have issues - as usual.
6. Baylor (4-8, 3-5): The postseason drought has stretched to 12 seasons and looks like it's getting longer. The Bears must rebuild their secondary, find a new quarterback and establish some kind of running game.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
David Hoskins scored 21 and Bob Huggins became the second coach at Kansas State to win 20 games in his first season in the Wildcats' 87-71 win over the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday.
Cartier Martin came off the bench to score 19, Clent Stewart added 16 and Blake Young had 13.
Huggins joins Lon Kruger as the only coaches for the Wildcats to record 20 wins in their inaugural seasons. Kruger went 20-11 in 1986-87.
It's also the first time the Wildcats (20-9, 9-5 Big 12) have won 20 games in the regular season since 1987-88. They won 20 in 1998-99 but didn't record No. 20 until the Big 12 Tournament.
The Wildcats have two games left in the regular season, at Oklahoma State and home for Oklahoma. The Cats should finish forth in the Big 12 and should recieve a 1st round bye for the Big 12 Tournament.
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.
Look under Kleinau — "Shorty" Kleinau — in the Wildcat dictionary.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
San Francisco City College
East St. Louis, Ill.
Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel
Sacramento City CC
Blue Springs South
Joliet, Ill., CC
Santa Barbara City College
Great Bend, Kan.
Pompano Beach, Fla.