Category Archives: Pittsburg State

Top 10 stories of 2012

BRANDON BROWN

1. Brandon Brown

Tabor College defensive lineman Brandon Brown was found beaten, unconscious and unresponsive outside of a house party in McPherson in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16. He died six days later in a Wichita hospital and two former McPherson College football players have been charged with murder in the case. An eyewitness account of that night paints a gruesome picture.

(PHOTO BY BO RADER/THE WICHITA EAGLE)

2. Butler football loses in NJCAA title game

Butler Community College’s football team lost in the NJCAA championship game for the second time in three years, falling 27-7 to Iowa Western in the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Grizzlies didn’t have arguably their top offensive player in West Virginia-bound running back Dreamius Smith (broken collarbone), and starting quarterback Billy Cosh was knocked out on the final play of the first half while trying to make a touchdown-saving tackle … but I’m not sure having both of them for the entire game would’ve mattered. This was the Reivers’ year.

3. McPherson’s historic run to the NAIA D2 Final Four

Sometimes, a good coach does make all the difference. In four years, McPherson College men’s coach Tim Swartzendruber has engineered one of the most amazing runs in KCAC history and made it all the way to the NAIA Division II Final Four this year, where the Bulldogs fell to Northwood (Fla.) and former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino. Swartzendruber’s teams have been to the NAIA Tournament three years in a row, a first in KCAC history.

4. Cowley volleyball comes up short in bid for back-to-back national titles

The Cowley volleyball team entered the NJCAA Division II championship game 38-0 and the defending national champion but lost to Grand Rapids 25-20, 25-23, 26-24. Cowley has two national runner-ups and one title in four years under coach Jennifer Bahner.

5. Blue Dragon women fall in NJCAA championship game

For some reason, this was the year that teams from Kansas kept coming up short – specifically three from the Jayhawk Conference that made it to national championship games before losing. In another incredible twist,  Butler football, Cowley volleyball and Hutchinson women’s basketball were all undefeated before their losses in the title game.  The Blue Dragons, coached by John Ontjes, were 36-0 before losing to top-seeded Trinity Valley in Salina.

6. Jaime Green quits

Newman women’s basketball coach Jaime Green’s incredibly successful – and controversial – two-year stint as the women’s basketball coach of the Jets came to an end when she surprised Newman athletic director Vic Trilli with her resignation in March in order to take a job as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Missouri Southern. The Jets eventually hired former New Mexico State coach Darrin Spence to take over for Green.

7. Butler opens new stadium

In a big, big way – $12 million well spent.  The opening of BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado ended a decade-long saga of a town and a school fighting over how to showcase their most bankable product — the Butler Community College football team. With Coffeyville’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and Hutchinson’s Gowans Stadium also housing teams in the Jayhawk, you have a league with facilities that rival most NCAA Division II conferences.

8. Cordarrelle Patterson signs with Tennessee

Former Coffeyville football coach Dick Foster coached the only Heisman Trophy winner ever to come out of the Jayhawk Conference — Nebraska running back Mike Rozier — and even he thought Patterson might be the best player to ever come out of the celebrated junior-college league. The Hutchinson Community College wide receiver/returner is likely headed to the NFL after one season at Tennessee. 

Even in the Jayhawk, where schools pump out D1 and NFL players ever year, Patterson’s recruitment was a wild ride.

9. What’s a taxi squad?

One of the more controversial rule changes to hit Jayhawk football in recent memory came when the league decided to include taxi squads to their rosters this year,  meaning each of the eight schools could keep four extra out-of-state players on the roster to play in non-conference and bowl games … and making the 12 out-of-staters that school’s have had to traditionally pick before the season and stick with even through injuries a flexible thing – coaches could change out those spots week-to-week.

10. Pittsburg State’s collapse

What in the world happened to the Gorillas? The defending NCAA Division II football champions were ranked No. 1 into the middle of October and then…

What will become of the senior year for John Brown and Nate Dreiling, two almost sure-fire PSU Hall of Famers? I can’t wait to find out.

Thanks for reading.

TA  

Pitt State football moves past national championship

Here’s my story on the Pitt State football team that ran in today’s Eagle and at Kansas.com – the Gorillas are playing their spring game today and will return to camp Aug. 9 with a likely preseason No. 1 national ranking.

How hard is it to win back-t0-back NCAA Division II titles? Not very hard, as you might guess.

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Breaking down Fort Hays State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Washburn

My MIAA preview hit newsstands today and the focus was on Washburn CB Pierre Desir and his unique story. Desir, in case you didn’t know, might be the very best Division II cornerback in the country. Here’s a look at the 4 MIAA teams in Kansas and some thoughts on them:

WASHBURN

Junior quarterback Dane Simoneau had a breakout season in 2009, his first year as a full-time starter. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Salina native threw for a school-record 2,955 yards and 26 touchdowns on his way to second-team All-MIAA honors and is a leading candidate for MIAA Offensive Player of the Year this season. Simoneau, who is also an all-MIAA shortstop for the Ichabods, was a serious candidate for MIAA MVP last year until a few tough losses late in the season. With Simoneau, NW Missouri’s Blake Bolles, Fort Hays State’s Mike Garrison and Central Missouri’s Eric Czerniewski, this could be the year of the QB. Ickies will be hard-pressed to replace MIAA Defensive player of the year Zach Watkins at LB, but safety Casey Curran is no slouch.

PITTSBURG STATE

Longtime Pittsburg State assistant coach Tim Beck takes over for Chuck Broyles, and will try to steer PSU back to the top of the MIAA after going 5-6 last season — the first losing season for PSU in 30 years. Senior free safety and Ness City product Alex Kuhlman is a two-time All-MIAA performer and the team’s top returning defender, recording 71 tackles and two interceptions last season. Starting quarterback is going to be either Mark Smith or Zac Dickey, although I’m not sure if either can make that much of a difference. Running back Terrance Isaac ran for almost 1,000 yards last season and was a second-team all-MIAA pick. He’ll shoulder most of the load on offense.

EMPORIA STATE

Last season’s 2-9 record capped another disastrous year for the Hornets under Garin Higgins, whose teams are 9-24 since he arrived in 2007 and haven’t had had a winning season since 2003. Honorable mention All-MIAA linebacker Nathan Linsey is the bright spot on the defense, recording 82 tackles last season and leading the league in fumble recoveries. It’s amazing to me that ESU can be so good in so many sports but fall short in football over and over again. They should be better, point blank. You’ve got to think time is running out for Higgins.

FORT HAYS STATE

The Tigers went 6-5 last season for their first winning record since 2004 and first since joining the MIAA. Fort Hays returns 9 of 11 starters on offense, including second-team all-MIAA quarterback Mike Garrison, who led Butler Community College to a national title in 2007. Garrison is a dual-threat QB who passed for 2,606 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 375 yards and five touchdowns in 2009. Tigers should also get a boost on defense from Michigan State transfer Roderick Jenrette, a linebacker/safety type.

I’m out. TA.

Ps. Headed to Butler-Navarro tomorrow. Check back here for live, in-game blogging and tweets.

MIAA commissioner James Johnson finalist for Pitt State AD position

JIM JOHNSON

JIM JOHNSON

Pittsburg State has narrowed its field of candidates to replace outgoing athletic director Chuck Broyles down to three, and one of them is MIAA commissioner James Johnson. Puts Pitt State in kind of a weird position if he doesn’t get the job, don’t you think? How does he delegate over a conference where one of the schools rejected him to lead its athletic department? It feels like a lot of wires are getting crossed here and I’m interested to see how this thing shakes out — I’ve definitely got some thoughts on JJ and what kind of a fit this would be, but I’ll wait to see who gets the nod. Johnson will be on-campus on Wednesday, followed by Southwest Minnesota State AD Christopher Hmielewski on Thursday and Texas A&M-Kingsville AD Kenneth Oliver AD Kenneth Oliver on Friday.

What’s that lineup tell you? This is a big-time gig, and whoever scores it has orchestrated a serious come-up.

A little spice to the summer! Love it!

Out. TA.

Muff signs seven at Pitt State … including five from Jayhawk

CHRIS WARE

CHRIS WARE

New Pittsburg State men’s basketball coach Kevin Muff wasn’t kidding when he said he wouldn’t shy away from recruiting the Jayhawk Conference — Monday, PSU announced Muff had signed 7 players — including 4 he coach at Cloud County CC last year, 1 from Dodge City CC and another JuCo player, All-American forward Chris Ware out of Lincoln (Ill.) College. Here’s the release from Pitt State.

TA

PS — I’m of the opinion that VC is the best dunker of all-time…yes, better than MJ. Here’s some hard evidence:
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Talking with Pittsburg State’s Kevin Muff

KEVIN MUFF

KEVIN MUFF

I got a chance to talk with new Pittsburg State men’s basketball coach Kevin Muff recently, and I’m not exaggerating when I say dude has a momentous task in front of him as far as rebuilding the Gorillas’ floundering program. Not to say that it can’t be done, it’s just going to take a lot of work.

But Muff has the right idea.

“I’m looking for five starters right now,” Muff said. “They might be here right now, they might not be. Either way, I’m looking for five guys.”

And that’s the right approach, IMHO. You come in and you give the new guys the fairest shot you can — you clean the slate.

We also talked about recruiting the Jayhawk Conference — which can be a dicey proposition for coaches not familiar with the JuCo ranks, aka you bring in the wrong guys and they screw up your team’s chemistry. This is where Muff has a leg up, having coached the last 12 seasons at Cloud County Community College. That’s in Concordia, FYI.

“I’ll recruit the Jayhawk, sure,” Muff said. “But I want to make sure I bring in the right type of guys — guys that fit our program and understand what type of student-athletes we want here at Pittsburg State.”

Translation: No Knuckleheads.

Trust that this is a great fit for both parties –Muff, who played at K-State in the mid-80s, is primed for a gig like this. He’s ready. He understands the way the MIAA works. And, let’s face it, Pittsburg State has been terrible the last couple of years. I saw them play twice this last year and in no way did I think they were one of those teams that were bad because they dogged it — they played hard, actually — they just had zero talent. And therein lies Muff’s task.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” Muff said. “And the thing about me is that I’m not the kind of guy who will tell people that we’ll need to wait a couple of years to win. That might be our reality but I can tell you right now I’ll have a hard time accepting that. I want to win right away, not later.”

Oh, and please watch the video below. At least the first five minutes. Tell me if anything sticks out to you. I’m just sayin’.

Out. TA.

What happened at Pitt State, and what’s next

"SECRETS OF THE JUNGLE"

"SECRETS OF THE JUNGLE" - TED WATTS (1991)

By now, hopefully, most of you know what the endgame ended up being at Pittsburg State — Chuck Broyles retires as football coach after 20 seasons and is put on leave as athletic director. People saw this one coming, no doubt. Was I surprised? Yes and no. Yes because I thought Broyles had enough juice to overcome 1 losing season in 20 years and I honestly thought there was no way he could get forced out with him being the AD and all. And then on the other side no, I wasn’t surprised because I talked to enough disgruntled fans in the last month or so that you could really feel the tide turn against him. But no matter what anybody tells you — the capper was the DUI.

Look at it this way — as long as Broyles was still the AD in good standing it was going to be almost impossible to force him out. But an arrest throws everything out of whack — any power he had in the situation over the new Prez was gone at the point. It made his position completely untenable — as both the coach and the AD. It would have been harder to imagine a worse-case scenario for Broyles if he was trying to keep his spot.

What’s Broyles’ legacy now? Well, he won a national title, so you start with that, and he also came close a couple of more times, including his last title game loss in 2004. His teams made the MIAA the DII powerhouse it is today — I don’t think there’s any arguing that. There’s also no arguing that the last couple of years have been tough — Broyles has gone through some personal tragedies that I won’t get into here, but they’re things I think any of us would have had an extremely hard time dealing with.

TIM BECK

TIM BECK

As far as a new coach, I know a lot of people are anointing offensive coordinator Tim Beck. He’s the interim coach right now … and I think if he’s hired, cool. They get a great offensive mind. But why not take a month to see who you could get. I think it’d be a little irresponsible to mention some of the names rumored to be hooked up to this gig (Randy Dreiling, Ed Warriner) but don’t you at least want to throw out your bait and see what kind of a whale you can reel in?

Out. TA.

Is this the end of the Broyles era at Pittsburg State?

Pittsburg State University will host a news conference regarding PSU athletics at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, in the lower level of the Wilkinson Alumni Center, Ford and Joplin Streets.

-Kenneth R. “Ron” Womble/Pittsburg State University Director of Public Relations

So that’s what I got earlier today — and I believe, from talking to multiple sources, that the purpose of this news conference is for Pittsburg State football coach Chuck Broyles to announce his retirement as head football coach, and possibly as athletic director, although that’s not as certain. All of this comes on the heels of PSU’s first losing season under Broyles, an internal investigation led by new PSU prez Dr. Steve Scott and Broyles’ arrest for DUI last week in Galena. My belief is that if this decision hadn’t already been made by the time Broyles got hit with the DUI, then that was the final straw. I also believe they’ll name an interim coach tomorrow and likely take their time in hiring their next head coach, which doesn’t necessarily mean recruiting will suffer this year if they bring in the right guy.

Didn’t mean to turn this into Page Six on you, but this is kind of a crazy deal. More on this tomorrow afternoon after the presser.

TA

Pitt State’s Broyles arrested for DUI

CHUCK BROYLES

CHUCK BROYLES

Pittsburg State football coach Chuck Broyles was arrested for DUI on Tuesday night in Galena — here’s the story from the Associated Press that just moved on the wire. More as this develops. First thoughts … couldn’t have come at a worse time for either Broyles or PSU, who are no doubt awaiting commitments from high school and junior college recruits in the next couple of weeks and coming off the school’s first losing season since 1977 and first in 20 years with HCCB.

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Chuck Broyles

CHUCK BROYLES

CHUCK BROYLES

If you haven’t read my article yet that ran in Sunday’s paper about the current state of the Pittsburg State football program, please check it out here.

I went on the road early last week to head to southeast Kansas, first to Pittsburg to talk to several people for the article, including head coach Chuck Broyles, and then to Parsons to meet with Wayne Gilmore, who runs www.teamkong.net, a PSU fan site. You could say the whole trip was born out of PSU’s three-game losing streak to start MIAA play, but it’s bigger than that.

So … what was the impression I came away with?

Mainly, Coach Broyles is still the man. Three-game losing streak be damned, he still runs that town, although it’s not necessarily Shangri-La anymore.

Here’s how it went down:

I met with Assistant AD Dan Wilkes first, who was my de facto tour guide for the day. First was an interview with Dennis Gatewood, who is the Gorilla Club President. He’s been going to games for over 30 years, and his message was pretty clear: if you’re not with us, you’re against us. Dude doesn’t have a whole lot of patience for bandwagon-type fans. Ended with him, headed down to the weight room to talk to Kendall Fisher, a Garden Plain product and stud wideout for PSU. On the way, I passed former QB Mark Smith in the hall, who is now the QB coach for the Gorillas. That was cool. Talked to Kendall for a few minutes (pulled him out of the weight room) and I could tell the losses had worn on him. If you’re around athletes long enough you kind of get a feel for when something’s weighing on them, and I definitely felt that way after talking to him, especially when he said he’d been hearing stuff in his classes. Ouch.

Then I went to meet with PSU president Steve Scott. He straight up told me he didn’t make it a practice to talk about sports, so I guess that was his way of telling me I’m lucky to get an interview. His office … wow. It’s nice to be King, right? OH, and there was also a Lane Lord sighting in the parking lot on the way to see the prez. Think they’re happy to have him there? Lane Lord, that is.

Then it was time to meet with CCB.

Now here’s the thing about interviewing Coach Broyles … he’s Chuck Broyles. And he knows it. Here’s a snippet from the first couple of minutes we talked:

ME: So there’s things that people are saying about the program, about how it’s fallen off a bit and maybe they’ve got some questions about the direction it’s headed in.

CHUCK: Well if they’re saying it, they’re not saying it to me.

ME: Probably not.

And we went from there. He talked to me for a good 10-15, answered every question, and didn’t avoid any topic I brought up. And I respect that. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who once told me he was going to watch Smokey and the Bandit on the PSU jumbotron in the offseason. In the words of my generation … how player is that?

After my interview with CCB, I hit a sports bar (not for drinks, people) to meet with a couple of fans for lunch, then it was off to Parsons, where I met with Gilmore at his optometry office because, well, he’s an optometrist. Wayne was really insightful — no rah, rah, nothing like that, just straight talk. And he gave the story an angle it had been missing to that point.

Then it was back to the ICT and my beautiful apartment in Old Town. Just kidding, it’s not that nice.

Like I said, give my story a read if you have a chance.

Yours truly,

TA