I'll level with you guys on this one: I'm writing this preview as a challenge.
It's easy to write engagingly about Texas A&M and Nebraska. Aggies are intrinsically hilarious. Make one wildcat for you. If you don't know what that is, you're in for a treat. I used to yell at my Aggie neighbor to get off of his own grass and you could see him visibly panic for a fleeting moment before grinning and offering me an extended middle finger. Nebraskans are jolly fun, son. Baylor and Mizzou have some interesting characteristics to bring to the fore. Texas Tech has Mike Leach, need I say more?
Sorry for rhyming. I'm trying to buy time. I'm trying to complete this preview in the same epoch that it takes Josh Freeman to complete a basic conditioning test. I'll also be sweating profusely, reeking of sweated out lunchables, and trying to stave off a cardiac episode just like snack-daddy JF. This shee-it is hard work.
I thought my friend Henry James stuck the landing on his previews for Oklahoma State and Oklahoma like he was Kerri Strug - eyes moist as morning dew, shielding his injured limb, shaking like a leaf - or Katherine Hepburn. Or Katherine Hepburn holding a shaking leaf. Gold medal writing.
It is my understanding that, like Kerri, he also leapt into the strong arms of a gruff, walrus-moustached Romanian man upon successful completion of his task. I don't judge. I leave that to men wiser: namely, President Martin Sheen.
So, how to write interestingly about a team located in the Big 12's least desirable locale, that plays second fiddle to KU, is largely bereft of public interest, and with dubious accreditation as a four year college (paging Kansas State Football fan touting specious Rhodes & Marshall scholarship data). Kansas State is a cast of characters with no protagonists. It's like watching the movie Closer, but no one is good-looking.
Kansas State Football is the McMansion of the Big 12, built by garish credit card millionaires and personal injury settlement recipients who moved into an established beautiful neighborhood, tore down a quaint tasteful Tudor cottage, chainsawed the oak trees, and put up a combination stucco antebellum Jacobethan art deco monstrosity with a tasteless water amusement - a leaping angel made from faux marble pissing into a brackish moss-covered bog with a dead floating swan carcass - and covered the bright green grass with gravel xeriscaping. The roof is mauve, the walls are lime, and they keep playing Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend at top decibel level. Inside it's completely unfurnished, save for a bean bag and a Playstation. Bill Snyder took out a zero down, all interest, ten year ARM on Kansas State football and guess what? - the creditors are here and no one wants to buy. The Wildcats will need to feed off of their over-leveraged brief period of win inflation the way Josh Freeman feasts on Hunger Busters (and the Texas secondary. Gene Chizik, you overrated ass).
Much like a tasteless hodge podge of architectural influences, Kansas State Football has always featured a motley assortment of program retreads, JUCOS, fuck-ups, sea manatee rapists, convicted sadists, Wicca, Prop 48s, and wankers; yet the soulless Snyder was always able to bind them into a coherent unit (much like The Rock in Gridiron Gang!) with masking tape, saliva, and an easy disregard for academics and Hammurabian law.
Make no mistake, Bill Snyder did wreck some shit in the Big 12. Major Applewhite still has nightmares that Mark Simoneau is in his closet. Travis Ochs is Eric Crouch's hamper monster. Snyder also did a lot of damage to the MAC, MEAC, SWAC and the field hockey team from Swarthmore. When he scheduled Yeshiva, I honestly thought that was a bit much. Seeing an Orthodox Jew trying to tackle Michael Bishop was just...so unacceptable. I wanted to see them prosecuted for hate crimes. Bill Snyder is as bizarre as a platypus, but you had to respect what he did in building the world's worst program into a national player.
Or not. Their time in the sun is over and the creditors arrived three years ago. Frankly, the neighborhood is better for the loss. RPI be damned.
In Ron Prince, Kansas State may have actually managed to secure a head coach that is actually more reptillian and repellent than Bill Snyder - a man who was famously quoted as saying "losing this game is like losing a child" - when asked about Kansas State's choke job to A&M in the '98 Big 12 title game. When Sirr Parker did his Compton drive-by on the Kansas State endzone to ice that game, I found myself screaming like a Guatemalan domestic during a Santeria rite. I was possessed by the righteous spirit of Snyder Hate. If I'm going to have to choose Aggies, I'll take the Texas version that can break triple digits on their SATs. When I'm pulling for A&M, you know the world has turned upside down. After realizing what I'd done, I took a shower in my clothes, weeping.
Ron Prince, largely inspired by his mentor the Son of Sam, is not above using the press to motivate and influence others. Prince has been publically critical of a number of his players, stating most recently that "we have no left guard." If you're a 19 year old kid playing left guard for him, that's kind of uncool (I'm pretty clever though, I'd just tell people that I play right guard). Nine years ago, Prince said of Lance Armstrong,"You have no left nut" and Lance proceeded to use that motivation to win 7 consecutive Tours De France. So Ron Prince knows exactly what he's doing. The six assistant coaches who left Kansas State after Prince's first year on the job were weaklings. They're lucky he didn't have them murdered. Their replacements, predictably, are inexperienced, spineless yes men just waiting to get dominance humped.
Yes, it all happened. Everything you heard. Pretty much all of it. Well, a lot of it. Not the part about Prince driving a stilleto into Marcus Watts' kidney for sassing him. I made that up. But he did tell his players to play hurt or I'll take your 'ship. Shouting matches at practice. Assistant coaches berated to tears. Student managers threatened. A player's revolt straight out of Spartacus: "I am Yamon Figurs! No, I am Yamon Figurs! No, I am Yamon Figurs!" You know what? We are all Yamon Figurs! The dysfunction was so deep that the Lohan family issued a statement to the Kansas media that read:"You need counseling, sir. Mail your coke to us and we'll hold it for you during your rehab."
The reason Ron Prince got his job is because he interviewed well. Really well. I'm not making this up. The Kansas State Athletic Director was skipping after the interview, crushing on Ron like a school girl. Ron's my match sign! A Scorpio! Tsk tsk. Much like the great Billy Dee Williams' innumerable conquests, Tim Weiser will soon join the list of bimbos who got smooth-talked and screwed by an eloquent brother. The only difference is that Billy Dee's ladies have no complaints. My sincere props to you, Lando Calrissian.
The Kansas State roster is more tragic than Han Solo going into deep carbon freeze, but I suppose we'll peel back the layers of their crying onion, shall we?
Josh Freeman is averse to almost of the principles espoused by Mr Joseph Pilates. He played as a solid 235 pound freshman, channeled his inner Kristie Alley to balloon to 265 in the offseason, and then Ron Prince stuck his fingers in Freeman's throat to get him down to 253. Ron Prince compares Freeman's physique to JaMarcus Russell. I compare Ron Prince's intellect to that of a chronically masturbating howler monkey. Freeman had a nightmarish freshman campaign, passing for 6 TDs and 15 INTs. He rocked Texas, but at that point of the year, it was pretty clear Chizik was calling our defenses from Ames and we might have been running some of the most indefensible schemes since the Maginot Line. Sacre bleu, did we suck. Yeshiva would have kicked our ass (and then won the lawsuit). Freeman will be good for 40 pass attempts a game, two to three picks per, and a number of nagging injuries.
Leon Patton is my favorite guy on the team. Like most decent players in the Big 12 North, he hails from Texas. He's a poor man's Darren Sproles, who is, in turn, a poor man's Brian Westbrook. He runs with heart, he's quick, and he produces when played: a 5.6 yards per carry average. Naturally, Prince won't give him the solo starting gig, sometimes preferring James Johnson, who is as common a RB as his name suggests.
The OL is a practical joke. Ron Prince already established they have no left guard. The tackles are interesting - in the sense that the S&P dropping 10% in one week is interesting. OT Nick Stringer weighs around 270 pounds - like his QB. The other tackle is a JUCO who hails from Samoa via San Francisco CC. He has only played organized football for three years and he's named Alesana Alesana (Rosanna Rosanna Danna). He has great physical talent, is impervious to physical pain, and once consumed the femurs and still pulsing bloody aortas of three missionaries from Des Moines. He calls human flesh "long pig" and has tried at least twice to club and devour walk-ons using a totemic coconut. Ron Prince controls him a with a shock collar and a quiver full of atracurium darts. He has convinced the young Samoan that he possesses his soul in a Wildcat snow globe.
One day, Alesana Alesana (Rosanna Rosanna Danna) will learn the truth of the cargo cult and that Prince does not possess his soul in a knick knack. He will turn on Prince like Frankenstein's monster and haka dance on his grave. Then he will turn on society. If Alesana Alesana (Rosanna Rosanna Danna) runs amok in your neighborhood you should bolt your doors and put your least favorite child in the front lawn. Or call your Aggie neighbor and tell him someone is walking on his grass. Chase Daniel astride Bucephalus couldn't stop Alessana Alessana (Rosanna Rosanna Danna).
The WRs are led by Jordy Nelson, who, we are told, is a great physical talent. Every year, we are told this. He scored exactly one TD last year. Kansas State fans consider him to be "dangerous." They also consider Pat Boone "edgy." I once showed a Kansas State fan my switchblade comb and he pronounced me to be "a thug." For their sake, I hope their other WRs are black dudes.
The defense is average and so is considered to be a strength. The new defensive coordinator wants to go to a 3-4 look so that there is a 33% greater likelihood of a RB tripping on a linebacker as they burst through the Kansas St defensive line unimpeded.
The K-State DL bellcow is Ian Campbell, who is, by all rights, an excellent pass rusher. And he can't wait to rush from Manhattan to a city with a Banana Republic store and a three star restaurant. The other DL are alright and, generally speaking, Kansas St does do a pretty good job of flying to the football. It makes sense given that Prince and his staff will execute lollygaggers at halftime while making the KSU crowd pelt them with rubbish ala William Wallace in Braveheart. This can all end now if you'll only confess.
Their LBs bore me. Don't they you? Then I'll move on.
The Kansas St. secondary is competent-ish. I stress the -ish part of that word. CB Joshua Moore, CB Justin McKinney, FS Marcus Watts, SS Gary Chandler - with Marcus Welby MD arguably (meaning I don't care to argue with you) the most solid of the bunch. They're going to bring a lot of different looks and blitzes, but if you have your wits about you, the defense is eminently beatable. Most 3-4 schemes collapse like Jenga if they don't have DL sufficient to demand double teams, and Kansas State doesn't.
KSU will win 3 or 4 Big 12 games, go 6-6 overall, and then they will talk excitedly of how they are just about to turn the corner. Yes, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining when the little kid lures him into the maze. Lots of corner turning! I'm making progress! Here we go! This kid is going to get it! More corners. Following footprints! Corner. Corner. Turning some corners. Dead end. What the...? Brrr. Cold. Very cold.
I think I'll lay down a while.
This axe is heavy.
Maybe get a little rest.