If you’ve read my stuff for any amount of time, you probably know that my two favorite sports are college football and college basketball. The NFL is a very distant third place on my “favorite sports” list. I follow other sports, but wouldn’t call myself a “fan” of them. I’m a college sports guy first and foremost. It’s extra fun when my team wins in football or basketball and a lot less fun when my team loses in either.
I’ll typically watch any college football and basketball game whenever it’s on. I watch every NCAA tournament basketball game every year. If games overlap, I pull one up on my laptop while the other is on the television. If there are more than two games on at once, I find a local sports bar with a lot of televisions so I can watch all the games at once. I’m kind of nuts about it, but I find it enjoyable. Some people watch The Bachelor and television shows like that. I watch college sports.
While watching this year’s NCAA tournament, I realized just how far away Kansas State basketball is from fielding an NCAA tournament team and realized they are light years away from a Final Four. They will likely never sniff a Final Four for the foreseeable future. Bruce Weber is 64 years old and is in the middle of another giant self-imposed rebuilding job. Even if he could somehow land a couple of blue-chip recruits it would be difficult for him to build a Final Four contender. It’s probably up to the next head coach to get Kansas State in a position to compete at the top level of college basketball.
Before Baylor made the Final Four this season, it hadn’t been there since 1950, 71 years ago. It’s been since 1964, 57 years, since Kansas State has been in the Final Four. That begs the question; what does K-State need to do to get back there?
Bruce Weber has lost 20 or more games two years in a row and instead of being on the hot seat, he received a vote of confidence from athletic director Gene Taylor. All I can think of is the internet meme from the movie “Dodgeball” with the famous quote “that’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for him!” Just last week he said he was “pleased” with the way the team finished the season. Weber’s not on the hot seat. In fact, his seat isn’t even lukewarm. I’ve been waiting all season for Gene Taylor to say “this losing is not acceptable for Kansas State basketball.” He hasn’t and he won’t. Why?
I believe that K-State fans aren’t pressuring Taylor to make a change. The Kansas State fan base is notorious for being a “nice” and “patient” fan base. Heck, they gave Tom Asbury and Jim Wooldridge six years each and they are widely considered the two worst Kansas State basketball coaches in history. There is a decent percentage of fans that want Bruce Weber to remain as the basketball coach indefinitely. It appears that they are very happy with horrible seasons as long as you get the occasional tournament appearance and finish in a tie for the league lead a couple of times. Even when Weber makes the tournament it usually ends in disappointment. Since arriving in Manhattan, he has never advanced past the round of 64 other than one year, the year of the improbable Elite 8 run in 2018.
I’m beginning to think I’ll never see K-State play in a Final Four. A sizable chunk of the fan base doesn’t demand winning at the level required and the administration reflects that attitude. K-State fans were blessed to have Bill Snyder as head football coach for so many years winning at such a high level. Snyder won because HE had the drive to, not because the fans demanded a winning football program. The fans were spoiled through his tenure as head football coach. Chris Klieman had a nice first season but went 4-6 last season and the fan base as a whole seems pretty pleased with that record and what is going on. There is no frustration, no anger, and no concern. I see more of a “ho-hum” attitude from a lot of fans. Kansas State is not going to win at the highest level of college athletics until the fan base demands it. That’s simply not happening right now and I don’t have a lot of confidence that it will happen in the future.
K-State fans, do you want to see your basketball team in the Final Four? Do you want to see your football team in the college football playoff? It’s time to demand more of the administration and athletic director Gene Taylor. The “aw shucks, this is fine” attitude towards the current athletic programs isn’t the answer. Demand better and “better” is more likely to happen.