As we posted a couple of weeks ago, Ron Prince needed to be concerned about his job security. Another blowout loss against KU proved to be the last straw. On Wednesday, a bizarre press teleconference was held in which Prince's "resignfiring" was confirmed. K-State athletic director Bob Krause announced he would be looking for a coach with successful head coaching experience and hoped to have a hire by the end of the season.
ESPN and some other national outlets are criticizing the Prince firing, saying that he was given too little time after showing signs of promise (namely, his two wins against Texas). This is a result of these commentator's ignorance as to the reality of the situation in Manhattan. Those media covering K-State agree that Prince has not shown promising signs for the future, and perhaps the most telltale sign is that fans of other local schools were fully in favor of Prince getting another 2 or 3 or 8 years.
Prince's two biggest problems were his inability to attract and retain qualified assistant coaches to Manhattan, and a huge dropoff in recruiting quality after getting Josh Freeman as one of his first actions as K-State coach. No program can be positioned for long-term success without solid assistant coaching and solid recruiting, and K-State had neither under Prince. The fact that he was oh-fer against Nebraska, KU, and Mizzou was just icing on the Ron Prince fail-cake.
So it was announced that Prince would be gone after the season but would coach the remaining games. Most folks following the K-State program expected an announcement on a new coach in a couple of weeks, after other teams concluded their seasons. Names such as Phil Fulmer and Dennis Franchione were thrown about, but most opinion seemed to favor Gary Patterson from TCU as the #1 choice to replace Prince. A rumor was also going around that Bill Snyder would want to come back if K-State couldn't successfully bring in one of the first few choices, with the idea that Snyder would then groom his successor over the next few years...somone such as Brent Venables or Dana Dimel.
Then, on Friday afternoon, GoPowercat.com surprised everyone by announcing that their sources indicated that Gary Patterson had agreed to be K-State's next coach. Wildcat fans begain celebrating wildly. However, only an hour later, GoPowercat.com retracted the story in the face of adamant denials by Patterson and the K-State administration. Indications were that an agreement was probably in place, but was not supposed to be announced for a couple of weeks, until Patterson finished the season at TCU and had the opportunity to inform those around him of the decision himself.
The situation now is unclear. Those around K-State are clearly attempting to do damage control by playing off the GoPowercat.com story as a complete fabrication. Patterson blamed the story on some rival school attempting to steal recruits away from TCU. It appears K-State will attempt to conduct a search process and then hire Patterson once his season is over. The question now is whether Patterson is so pissed at K-State that he is no longer interested...or even whether Patterson and his agent orchestrated this whole drama just to drive up his asking price on the open market.
It seems likely that if Patterson now falls through, K-State will turn to Snyder to coach for at least the next few years. While the K-State faithful would love to hire Patterson, having a fallback option of the coach who already brought your program back from the college football abyss is not the worst scenario in the world. While Snyder suffered a dropoff in his last couple of years, much of this seemed due to his assistant coaches at that point. With new assistants and recharged from his three-year "retirement," Snyder could very well return K-State to college football respectability and prepare the ground for a promising young head-coach-in-waiting.