November 11, 2008

Cats still sorting out situation

The Waffle House is closed.

Ron Prince won't be the head coach at Kansas State next year. That much is certain. But as is the case with any coaching change, questions about current players linger, and while there's no way of being certain where each individual stands in relation to K-State athletics director Bob Krause's decision to let his head football coach go mid-season, opinions have certainly started to form.

The early approval ratings are in, and they're slightly higher than those of George Bush, or of a root canal for that matter.

"He just needed more time. We had the guys. Everybody is developing well," said sophomore running back Lamark Brown. "Everyone out of my class and (K-State quarterback Josh Freeman's) class is developing well. Everyone was just getting better and better. I think it would have been a matter of time before everything clicked . . . some people might have been too impatient."

Things are different now. The Wildcat players' long faces, which have grown to be a postgame fixture, aren't the product of a string of lopsided losses anymore. There are no bright spots, and the locker room outlook isn't positive by anyone's standards. After the events of last week, there's an almost tangible aura of disbelief topped with a hint of disapproval and sprinkle of resentment floating around the Vanier Football Complex. The situation is as obvious as it is unfortunate.

The players see it. The media sees it. Prince sees it.

"There are a lot of young people on this team who were very devastated by the news." Prince said. "This is a business and they all understand that."

But do they?

While uncertainty and unhappiness aren't exactly conducive to a positive environment or many wins, K-State, as a program, will be forced to cross a longer, much more treacherous bridge soon. With any coaching change comes the possibility of the dreaded T-word, and it would be naive to believe this team is above having at least some of its players bolt for greener pastures, or in this case, greener college campuses.

The next few months will be, in a word, intriguing.

"It a legitimate question," said defensive end Ian Campbell about the possibility of some of his younger teammates transferring after the season. "To be honest with you, I don't know. I know guys are going to have questions. A lot of guys have questions and doubts."

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