K-State Q&A: Thomas Gipson, Marcus Foster, Sunflower Showdown, football recruiting and a prediction for next season

It’s time for another K-State Q&A, so let’s jump right into your questions.

Thanks, as always, for asking them.

Of course. Kansas State has won three of the last 50 against Kansas, so logically the Wildcats have a better than three in 60 shot at pulling an upset Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. I actually think K-State has a better-than-normal shot of beating Kansas. Yes, the matchup is bad (the Jayhawks have Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor inside while the Wildcats have Thomas Gipson) and K-State hasn’t seen a loud road environment all season (Bruce Weber blared crowd noise during practice Thursday to try and simulate what the team will see in Lawrence), but Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Jevon Thomas don’t know anything about this rivalry. They haven’t been a part of the last seven losses at Allen Fieldhouse, where K-State repeatedly fell impossibly behind in the first half and lost big. That will help. If Foster can make outside shots and Thomas can make life difficult for KU’s point guards, K-State will have a chance. But Gipson, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling need to deliver, too. Can the Wildcats put together that type of all-around performance in their toughest road game of the season? It’s unlikely, but they have won 10 straight. It’s possible.
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Blake Slaughter helped bring the Governor’s Cup back to Kansas State as a freshman. He is focused on keeping it there as a senior

Kansas State has won four straight Sunflower Showdowns, so very few active players know what it feels like to walk by an empty trophy case on their way through the lobby of the Vanier Football Complex.

But senior linebacker Blake Slaughter, who made the unusual decision to redshirt last season so he could be a major contributor in his fifth year, does.

As a freshman in 2009, he was part of the team that ended a three-game losing streak to Kansas with a 17-10 victory.

He helped bring the Governor’s Cup back to Manhattan, and it hasn’t left since. He hasn’t forgotten the significance of that victory.

“I remember it being special for that team, because of the struggles it had gone through and how hard that season had been,” Slaughter said. “I remember that being a turning point for our team and our defense. It was special.

“We hadn’t had it the three years before that. That was huge, being on your own turf with so many guys from Kansas, you definitely wanted that win for the guys who live here.”
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Kansas State hardly alone in waiting to announce a starting quarterback

Whenever Kansas State has a preseason quarterback competition, Bill Snyder prefers to wait until the opening game is a few days away to announce a starter.

That is once again the plan leading up to this season. Snyder will likely announce a winner between Jake Waters and Daniel Sams at the beginning of next week. Traditionally, he waits until Tuesday.

The routine isn’t new. How it compares to other quarterback announcements across the Big 12 is. This year, Snyder may reveal his starting quarterback before a handful of his fellow Big 12 coaches.

As of Wednesday morning, only four Big 12 teams (Texas, Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State) know who their starting quarterback will be for Week 1. Six quarterback battles remain ongoing. Most of them will likely end in the next few days, but at least two will continue up until opening kickoff. Both TCU’s Gary Patterson and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy have said they won’t announce a starter before gameday.

The way Patterson talks, he might not release an official depth chart until his team takes the field for warm-ups against LSU.
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Kansas State football will benefit from a home-heavy, travel-friendly schedule

If you have access to a car, you can easily attend all 12 of Kansas State’s football games this season.

Perhaps that’s the best way to describe just how travel-friendly the Wildcats’ schedule will be this year.

It features eight home games and only three trips across state lines. And it is one of the main reasons many believe K-State will exceed preseason expectations, which have the Wildcats qualifying for a middle-tier bowl and finishing sixth in the Big 12 standings.

Let’s take a closer look at the schedule perks: K-State will benefit from five conference home games, as opposed to four last year, and play all three of its nonconference games at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

K-State hasn’t played eight home games since 2006, when Ron Prince had his lone winning season and the Wildcats reached the Texas Bowl. The last time it happened during the Snyder era was 2002, when the Wildcats won 11 games and beat Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.

This is the type of schedule Snyder prefers. He has been building toward it since he returned to the sidelines in 2009 and only played six home games in his first two seasons back.
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A few conference realignment thoughts

Made a few calls Friday about the topic of conference realignment, and wanted to pass along two tidbits.

1. A Kansas State source told me he was in favor of BYU joining the Big 12. The source’s reasoning was that the Cougars, currently a football independent and member of the West Coast Conference in all other sports, would be a solid addition for a conference in need of a new member with a strong football tradition. Beyond that, the source said BYU joining the Big 12 would bring the conference some much needed positive publicity at the national level. That would increase the Big 12′s chances of attracting two more new members and returning to a 12-team league.

There are other obvious reasons for the Big 12 to covet BYU, which the Salt Lake Tribune reports is in talks with the Big 12. The Cougars have a strong national following, and could enhance the league’s TV appeal.

Other possible Big 12 expansion candidates are Air Force, Louisville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Houston and SMU.

2. The possibility of Kansas and K-State splitting up and joining different conferences in the event that the Big 12 crumbles is a very complicated matter. Though KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told the University Daily Kansan the two could separate, the Kansas Board of Regents would need to approve such a move for it to actually happen.

Though Topeka regent Dan Lykins told me yesterday he’s not sure how the board would vote in such a situation, it’s hard to imagine the regents supporting a move that isn’t beneficial for both schools.

Regent feels ‘real good’ about Big 12 future

When the Kansas Board of Regents meet in Arcadia on Monday for their annual three-day retreat, Dan Lykins is certain conference realignment will be discussed.

Lykins, a Topeka attorney and Kansas State alum who serves on the board, said he is looking forward to hearing about the topic from both K-State president Kirk Schulz and Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

As long as Texas A&M is considering a move to the SEC, he says the status of the Big 12 “is a critical issue that the regents are very concerned about.”

However, he is feeling much better about the league’s future than he was during last summer’s conference realignment scare, when he openly wondered at times if the Big 12 was going to survive.

Though he and the other regents have not been actively involved in any realignment discussions, such as the conference calls that Big 12 athletic directors and presidents participated in Saturday afternoon, he says administrators from both K-State and KU have kept them informed.

So far, he likes what he hears.

“No one can force Texas A&M to do anything,” Lykins said. “Right now, it’s in their corner. So it’s a waiting game. But I feel comfortable that whatever happens, KU and K-State will still be in the Big 12 and will continue working together to make this a better conference … I feel real good about what’s going on.”

Postgame: K-State 59, KU 7


Winning the Sunflower Showdown hasn’t looked that easy in years. The Kansas State Wildcats did everything right on Thursday against the Kansas Jayhawks. Bill Snyder had his team ready to play, Carson Coffman was on fire and Daniel Thomas regained his mojo. Here’s a deeper look:

1. When Carson Coffman finished his media obligations for the night, Kansas State administrators and fans lined up to shake his hand. One after another they waited to tell him how proud they were of his gutsy performance.

The last time I saw that much appreciation for a K-State sports figure was when the K-State basketball team defeated then No. 1 Texas at home last season, and everyone wanted to congratulate Frank Martin.

Considering Coffman shook off a rough start to the season, criticism from his own fans and speculation from his coach that he would be benched this week to put up the game of his life, the kudos were definitely deserved.

Just look at this stat line: 15 of 16 for 184 yards and two touchdowns, 10 carries for 42 yards and three touchdowns. Amazing.
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Gameday Preview: K-State at Kansas


Of the 107 Sunflower Showdowns that have been played over the years, this one is not expected to rank the near top.

K-State is trying to move to 5-1 and put itself one win away from bowl eligibility. Kansas is trying to even its record at 3-3 and pick up its first conference win of the year.

Both teams are coming off tough losses, and both teams have struggled to stop explosive offenses. But everything has a way of evening out in rivalry games.
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Player to watch: Justin Springer

Football vs. North Dakota State When Kansas surprisingly defeated Georgia Tech this season, Justin Springer was a big reason why.

The senior middle linebacker flew around the field, made 15 tackles and provided some much needed leadership on defense.

It will be difficult for him to reproduce that stellar performance against K-State (15 tackles is his career high) but with the game being played in Lawrence you can pretty much count on him being a factor. During three home games this season, he has averaged 10 tackles. On the road, he has averaged just four.
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K-State football to play at KU again in 2011

In order to convert an eight-game conference schedule that spanned two divisions into a nine-game, round-robin format that includes all 10 remaining Big 12 teams, the conference had to get creative.

So in 2011, several league teams will make repeat trips to stadiums they visit this season.

For Kansas State, that means the Sunflower Showdown against rival Kansas will be played in Lawrence for two straight years. K-State travels to Kansas for a Thursday night game on Oct. 14, and will return on Oct. 22, 2011 to face the Jayhawks again next season.

The arrangement will no doubt irritate some K-State fans, but Wildcats athletic director John Currie said repeat trips were inevitable under the new scheduling arrangement.

“The conference office did a good job of limiting those instances, but overall we were more concerned about getting the proper balance right since we anticipate that this schedule pattern will be in place for many, many years,” Currie said. Read More »