Snyder’s take on Jamone Boyd

6 Feb

When news about Jamone Boyd’s arrest on charges of armed robbery broke on Monday, media outlets identified Boyd as committed to Kansas State (KSHB) and expecting to receive a scholarship (Yahoo). According to Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, neither of those characterizations are accurate. Here is what Snyder said about Boyd on Wednesday at the end of his signing day press conference:

“I don’t know how all that got where it was. We had dialogue with him a long, long time ago and indicated that we could not scholarship him and that we recommended to him to go to a community college. There was no – we never had dialogue about, what I was told, a commitment. That never existed. I don’t know where it all came from. I feel badly for the youngster. I don’t know him, but I certainly feel badly for his family. That can’t be fun.”

ESPN.com had Boyd listed as having been offered a scholarship by Kansas State, and another website reported that Boyd was unofficially visiting the campus for the weekend of the Wildcats’ Senior Night game against Texas.

Many online publications – including this one – referred to Boyd as a Kansas State commit. Apparently, that was never the case, at least not on an official level.

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Recruit charged with armed robbery two days before Signing Day

5 Feb

On Dec. 14, Lee’s Summit West High School’s Jamone Boyd, a four-star recruit at defensive end, tweeted two words, a pair of hashtags:

#kstate #committed

Listed on ESPN.com as 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Boyd could have been instrumental in filling the holes left in the defensive line by the departure of last season’s seniors Meshak Williams and Adam Davis. For first-year defensive ends coach Blake Seiler, the sort of size and talent Boyd has could have been quite helpful.

Signing Day is not until Wednesday, but it looks very unlikely that Boyd will be coming to Kansas State after all.

Charged with five counts each of armed criminal action and first-degree robbery, Boyd is in jail.

According to the report by 41 Action News, Boyd was part of a group that broke into an apartment complex, struck some people on the head with a pistol, shoved them to the floor, stole their belongings, threatened to harm them if they called the police, and told the victims they would be back to rob them again soon.

As if that is not bad enough, this is not the first time Boyd has been arrested. Several months ago, a police officer at his school had to use a Taser on Boyd twice because he resisted arrest after being found with marijuana.

Not surprisingly, Kansas State officials had nothing to say, since Boyd never officially signed. It does not appear that he ever will.

While it is extremely unfortunate to see someone squander great natural ability, it also looks – from the story about multiple recent arrests and from a quick glance at his Twitter – that Kansas State may have dodged a bullet in not landing this recruit after all.

 

Offseason Update: K-State Football

2 Feb

Basketball is in full swing, but the football news keeps coming. Here is a quick recap in case you have been, well, devoting your attention to basketball.

Contract Work

Bill Snyder is not going anywhere. That was the message when the coach and school inked another five-year deal that will pay the Kansas State football program’s venerable leader $14.75 million in the coming years. For the 2013 season, Snyder will earn at least $2.75 million with the possibility to rake in much, much more.

If the coach had been under the same terms for this season, his take would have included a total of $300,000 in bonuses alone: $100,000 for winning the Big 12 Championship, $100,000 for reaching a BCS bowl and $100,000 for finishing in the BCS Top 10.

When will Snyder have time to spend this money? No one knows, but it would be hard to believe he does not have a plan, and if forced to guess, one would have to imagine that many, many descendants of Snyder will not have to worry about college tuition money.

Coaching Carousel

Kansas State lost two of its youngest coaches – and not coincidentally two of its best recruiters – with the departures of defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements and wide receivers coach Michael Smith. Both played for the Wildcats, and both had coached at Kansas State for over a decade.

Clements is now the defensive line coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Smith will be the wide receivers coach at Arkansas.

Stepping into the defensive ends coaching position for Kansas State is Blake Seiler, who played for the Wildcats from 2004-2006. As another young assistant coach – quite a bit younger, actually, than Clements or Smith – Seiler should be able to relate to recruits. Before he gets to do any coaching, he may need to win over the hearts of those incoming players whose initial contact with the program was through Clements, who is obviously no longer with Kansas State. It will not be long before everyone sees how well Seiler managed in that regard; National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 6.

 

 

Numbers to Note: KSU/OU

20 Jan

9 assists for Angel Rodriguez

Angel Rodriguez’s contribution presents a great opportunity to talk about what he and Martavious Irving bring to the Wildcats. They don’t always hang a ton of points on the board, but missing the duo for a pair of games before Big 12 play began showed what the team looks like without them. Suffice it to say that the Wildcats are much better off when both are available. Both were key on Saturday in forcing 16 Oklahoma turnovers, which Kansas State converted into 26 points.

“I thought our pressure would hurt them,” coach Bruce Weber said. “I thought Angel and Tay really set the tempo and really bothered their guards. We got on the floor.”

Rodriguez has looked out of control now and then, sometimes going to the rim too quickly instead of running the offense, sometimes shooting with a bit too much abandon. These days, he just looks a little more steady, a little more relaxed.

“We told him you don’t always have to score,” Weber said. “Make the good pass, the good play. I think he’s starting to buy into that a little bit.”

 

20 second-chance points for Oklahoma

The Wildcats cannot ever allow that again. If the Sooners had not committed nearly a dozen turnovers in the first half, their domination on the boards could have ended Kansas State. As anybody who follows basketball knows, it is hard to overstate the importance of rebounding. It is all about opportunities: each offensive rebound grabbed is another opportunity for your team to score, and each defensive rebound is another opportunity denied your opponent. Huge, huge, huge, huge. The Wildcats will have to keep opponents from getting multiple shots in possessions if they want any shot at challenging for the Big 12 title.

Weber said the way Oklahoma draws the forwards away from the basket makes rebounding against the Sooners challenging because the job then falls to the guards.

“We talked about scramble rebounds and nose for the ball before the game, and the scramble rebounds were going to come because they get you spread out,” Weber said. “You’ve got to rotate, you’ve got to get to their bigs on different things, so now you’ve got to help, now you’ve got to rotate and scramble. We did not do a very good job on that. They killed us on the boards.”

 

10 from long range by Kansas State

Listening to Oklahoma coach – and former Kansas State coach – Lon Kruger after the game, you got the impression that he did not expect the Wildcats to drain quite so many 3s. Maybe no one expected it, but it certainly makes you wonder what all this team is capable of when it really hits its stride. Rodney McGruder made four of those 3s – three coming right in a row – and Will Spradling made three, while Shane Southwell made two and Angel Rodriguez added one.

The offensive production also hints at an increasingly solid grasp by the players of first-year Kansas State coach Bruce Weber’s offense.

“In our offense, any given night anybody can have a big night because it really just kind of lets anybody get the flow of it, so anybody can get hot,” Spradling said, “and it’s nice that we didn’t need to rely on that one person that was hot at the end of the game because we had so many players that were playing well and shooting it well.”

Besides understanding the new system, players have started to believe in it.

“Mentalities have changed around the locker room,” McGruder said. “We’re really focused and things like that. When everyone buys into what coach is preaching to us, then I think we can be very good, and that’s what everyone’s doing. Just from a mental aspect, Everyone’s just buying in. That’s what’s key.”

Clements’ move about the money?

14 Jan

It’s probably an understatement to say it surprised people when Kansas native, Kansas State alumnus and longtime Wildcats assistant coach Joe Bob Clements left after an 11-2 season for a similar job at Big 12 foe Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys had dismissed defensive coordinator Bill Young and promoted co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer. Young had also coached defensive ends, and Oklahoma State filled the opening with Clements, who mentored All-Big 12 selections Meshak Williams and Adam Davis with the Wildcats this season.

Clements referred to the move as a personal one, but after four straight years under head coach Bill Snyder and 11 years total as a Kansas State coach, many wonder what the rationale is for the change, which on the surface looks like a lateral one.

With the money of T. Boone Pickens backing the Oklahoma State football program, an obvious possible motive is money.

Since assistant coaches’ responsibilities and titles vary from program to program, making apples-to-apples comparisons is unlikely, but here is what I found.

According to the article by the Tulsa World, Cowboys coaches have seen astronomical increases recently. The 2012 article showed that after Oklahoma State’s banner season in 2011, in which they went 12-1, won the Big 12 championship and finished the year ranked No. 3, none of the football staff’s 10 coaches got less than a $30,000 raise.

Head coach Mike Gundy’s salary went from $2.1 million to $3.275 million, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken earned a 50 percent increase, from $400,000 to $600,000. Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer’s salary bumped up from $315,000 to $360,000. Cornerbacks coach Jason Jones saw his pay go from $210,000 to $240,000. The list continues.

Obviously, offense has been the bread and butter of Oklahoma State. If the defense made similarly impressive strides, one would expect that Pickens would be only too happy to handsomely reward defensive coaches just the way he rewarded offensive ones after the success in 2011.

All that said, what Clements made at Kansas State was nothing to sneeze at. Several papers have reported that he made $255,000 outside of bonuses this season, which was his first as run game coordinator in addition to defensive ends coach. 

According to this assistant coach salary data from 2010, Clements made $188,000 as the defensive ends coach two years ago, before taking on additional responsibilities of run game coordinator, which he did in 2012.

In 2010, Oklahoma State’s cornerbacks coach Jason Jones made $190,000. The Cowboys’ linebackers coach Glenn Spencer – not yet a co-defensive coordinator, according to the description in his bio – made $250,000 that year.

Whatever the reason for Clements’ change in location, he will certainly be missed by Kansas State and appreciated by Oklahoma State. 

Another Big 12 win for Wildcats

12 Jan

Rodney McGruder and Shane Southwell each scored 17 points as No. 18 Kansas State earned a 65-64 road win against West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats moved ahead 65-64 when Southwell swished two free throws with 21 seconds to play.

West Virginia had one last opportunity when it inbounded the ball with 9.1 seconds remaining. Angel Rodriguez tipped the pass, forcing the Mountaineers into the backcourt to recover the loose ball. Southwell blocked a final shot attempt by West Virginia, and the Wildcats hung on for a tough road win.

Kansas State held a 36-33 lead at halftime. The team’s domination on the boards during that time helped, as the Wildcats held a 12-4 rebounding advantage through the first 20 minutes. By the end of the game, though, that edge had eroded to just 28-27 in favor of Kansas State.

The Wildcats dealt with foul trouble throughout the game. Jordan Henriquez got called for his fourth with 13:20 still to play and eventually fouled out, and Thomas Gipson finished with four.

The Mountaineers got to the foul line 22 times compared to 14 opportunities for the Wildcats, but West Virginia converted just 12 of its 22 attempts, while Kansas State made 9 of 14 – including 6 of 8 in the second half.

Granted, West Virginia entered the game unranked, and no one expects much of the Mountaineers this season, but this was another big win for a Kansas State team with first-year coach Bruce Weber.

What’s in a Win

3 Jan

They can call this one the Redemption Bowl.

10 weeks into the season, it looked as though “Kansas State vs. Oregon” would be the subtext on the advertising logo for the national championship game.

On Nov. 17, everything changed.

The Wildcats’ title hopes ended abruptly and unceremoniously as unranked Baylor walloped them 52-24 in one of the most stunning upsets of the college football season. No. 13 Stanford sealed the fate of the Ducks with a 17-14 win in overtime.

To say the Fiesta Bowl is a consolation prize is not too far from the truth. However, it also presents an opportunity for both Oregon and Kansas State.

The Wildcats can win their 12th game of the season. It would be the most ever in program history. Kansas State won 11 games in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. With 11 victories already this season, the Wildcats have a chance to make a lasting impression in their school record books even though they fell short of making the national championship game.

“Sure would like to have this last one,” co-offensive coordinator Del Miller said. “There’s nobody in Kansas State that has had the 12th.  Whichever way that goes, I mean, that legacy is tremendous.”

If these Wildcats get this win, they can safely stake a claim to being part of one of the best Kansas State teams ever. Maybe the best. 

Unranked Wildcats grill the No. 8 Gators 67-61

22 Dec

Will Spradling scored 17 points and Rodney McGruder added 13 as Kansas State got its first big win of the season by knocking off Florida 67-61.

Playing in front of a de facto home crowd at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Saturday night, Kansas State (9-2) amassed a 33-23 halftime lead by keeping Florida (8-2) off the glass and thus preventing second-chance shots.

The Wildcats lost the handle a bit after halftime, allowing a 12-3 run by the Gators, but they tightened down after Florida’s initial offensive burst. The Gators shot 48.4 percent from the floor in the second half after shooting just 30.8 percent in the first, and they outscored the Wildcats 38-34 after halftime. Nevertheless, the Wildcats weathered Florida’s halftime adjustments and held on for the first Kansas State victory against a nonconference top 10 opponent since 1981.

Overall, the teams shot equally well from the floor, but Kansas State was better from behind the arc, converting on 41.2 percent of its attempts from long range while the Gators managed to hit just 26.3 percent of theirs.

As mentioned earlier, the Wildcats’ work on the boards did wonders. They outrebounded Florida 35-25, and Kansas State’s big men avoided foul trouble – Thomas Gipson and Jordan Henriquez each had just one – while the Gators’ posts struggled. Though mammoth Florida center Patric Young scored 19 points and snagged 10 rebounds, he only played 26 minutes and fouled out near the end of the game. Forward Erik Murphy finished the game with four fouls.

Another reason the Wildcats prevailed was the play from their bench. Between Henriquez, Nino Williams and Martavious Irving, close to a third of Kansas State’s scoring (21 of 67 points) came from subs. Being able to depend on eight or nine guys instead of just five for baskets as well as defensive energy is huge. If those players keep contributing like they did Saturday, this team will continue to surprise people going forward.

The Case for Collin Klein

4 Dec
Collin Klein and jubilant teammates celebrate the program's third conference championship in 117 years of football. (Photo by Jamie Squire)

Collin Klein and jubilant teammates celebrate the program’s third conference championship in 117 years of football. (Photo by Jamie Squire)

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein knows all this is highly improbable.

“If you would have asked anybody a couple years ago if we’d be sitting here having this conversation today, they probably wouldn’t have believed you,” the Heisman Trophy candidate said, adding with a laugh, “and would have put a lot of money down on it.”

A home-schooled kid from Loveland, Colo., Klein struggled in his first couple years in then-new coach Bill Snyder’s system, even moving down the depth chart at times as he worked at wide receiver and on special teams.

Fast forward a couple years, and Klein was at the mall with his wife, Shalin, shopping for a trip that will culminate in New York, where Collin is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy thanks to his tireless work and that of his fellow Wildcats (11-1).

Sure, it might be considered surprising, but Klein quickly disputes the notion that circumstances simply fell into place.

“There’s definitely a lot to it,” he said. “I don’t know if I’d call them random. Everything happens for a reason, and some crazy things have happened to lead our team and myself to this point. There are a lot of reasons for that. There’s a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation that have been put in on so many people’s part.”

Obviously, Kansas State’s entire team played an enormous role in Klein achieving what he has this year. It is an easy argument to make, however, that he has spearheaded a leadership movement that pushed this team to reach its potential in a way that few others around the country have.

***

Perhaps one of the most obvious aspects of Klein’s leadership is that he is never satisfied with his own performance, even though he has been tremendously effective, even though he gets boatloads of attention, even though the team has won consistently.

This is his second year at quarterback, and he says he still has plenty to learn, that he would not say he has necessarily mastered the playbook. There is more that can be done, and he’s okay with that. He welcomes that. He’s more than willing to tackle that.

“I still want to know more,” he said. “There’s still new nuances, new things that we can do and stuff. I guess that constant feeling of being comfortable with being uncomfortable and constantly trying to improve is something.”

It certainly is something. It’s something that has propelled the Wildcats to more wins than anyone outside the program ever predicted.

After all, how could any other player justify giving less than everything when the guy who seemingly would have the least to prove is the hardest worker on the team?

***

The other part of Klein’s leadership, the part those outside the program rarely see, is that the quarterback is almost as tough on his teammates as he is on himself. Unlike many athletes, he avoids swearing, but he knows how to get his point across. Other players respond because Klein has laid the foundation of relationship with each of them.

“You can’t ‘win anybody over,’” Klein said. “You’ve got to care for them and put their needs and their interests above your own, and they sense that, and they know that, and they know if it’s real or not. Folks aren’t – you can’t pull the wool over their eyes. They’re going to know if you’ve got their back or not.”

While Klein might not display emotion using four-letter words, he can still be fiery and powerful when he needs to get through to someone.

“People have taught and shown me you can be passionate and firm and very strong without swearing in someone’s face,” Klein said. “There have come a few times where I’ve had to do that. As long as the caring part is there and the heart for them is there, and it’s been there since you’ve known them, then when the time comes you have some creditability, and they trust you and they know that it’s because I care about, ultimately, you and this team.”

Of course, Klein points out – again – that none of this applies to him alone.

“As a leader, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and hold people accountable,” he said. “I’ve had to do it, but a lot of our teammates have done that, especially this season, from the seniors and all leadership positions, and it’s paid off.”

***

Another essential element of Klein is his perspective. It stems from his Christian faith, and it gives him peace in what might for otherwise be a rather turbulent and nerve-wracking time: traveling to three cities in three days to accept some awards and find out about others.

For Klein, though, there is more. His goal is bigger than the Heisman, bigger than the national championship, bigger than any of that. It’s this:

“Trying to be the best I can be with what God’s given me, trying to serve this team to the fullest with everything I possibly have and invest in the lives of people, which is the most important thing, and those people are my teammates and the people around here.”

Klein is confident those pursuits are worthy of his time and energy.

“That’s more important and will leave a longer legacy than any award, even as prestigious as the Heisman,” he said, “and with that perspective, and knowing that, that kind of puts it all in order for me.”

His grasp of a bigger picture also prevents him from dwelling on regret and what might have been. The loss to Baylor ruined Kansas State’s championship hopes and possibly Klein’s Heisman chances as well. He’s far from immune to the pain of that loss, but he knows there is more out there.

“It’s going to be a hard one forever,” he said. “It’s something probably none of us will ever forget. The lesson, and the response of our team in being able to bounce back, get back on the horse, finish, finish like we did, was huge and a valuable lesson. Who knows however many times you’re going to have to use it. Life’s not going to be easy, so it’s just about how you bounce back and respond and move forward.”

***

What does moving forward mean for Klein after graduation? Will he pursue an NFL career? Will he make use of his finance degree? What’s next for a player who has been compared to Tim Tebow and has brought more attention and success to Kansas State than it has enjoyed for so long?

 The short answer: He does not know.

The longer answer: He knows the goals he wants to achieve regardless of what profession he enters.

“I want to honor and serve my Lord and Savior,” Klein said. “I want to take care of my family spiritually, financially and physically and serve the people in whatever community I happen to be in at the time. Whatever that looks like, if it’s using my finance degree, or if it’s playing ball, if it’s a mixture of both, who knows. Who knows what it could be. Whatever it looks like, as long as those three things are intact, will be just fine.”

Oh What a Night

2 Dec

Senior Night. It comes every year, but sometimes it resonates more than others. Saturday fell into that category. Part of the reason is because it was my Senior Night too.

I’ve covered the team for four seasons now, writing player features from weekly press conferences my freshman year and then moving to the press box to also cover games starting in my sophomore year.

I started out as younger than most of the guys on the team, and now I’m probably older than most of the guys on the team. Older people are not kidding when they say time flies.

My first year at Kansas State was coach Bill Snyder’s first year back. I watched the team win six games my freshman year. The next year, seven. The next year, ten.

This year, the Wildcats won eleven and the program’s third conference championship in 117 years of football. They’re likely in a BCS bowl and possibly have a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback.

I went down to the sideline for the last five minutes. I stood about three feet from the field as John Hubert burst into the end zone for his third touchdown of the game. The crowd erupted, and I have never heard cheering so loud. 

I didn’t think I would be emotional. But I was.

 

I shaded my eyes from the stadium lights to see Willie the Wildcat up on top of the press box holding up a “Big XII” sign and leading the crowd in “K-S-U!” I had been sitting in the same press box minutes earlier, and not only was it the last time for me to be there as a Kansas State student, but it was also the final game the Dev Nelson press box will ever see. It will be demolished in a couple weeks, replaced with a fancy new development that awards the seats we media people used to have to people who will pay lots of money to sit there. We’ll be moved higher into the sky, further away from the action. If I come back as a member of the media, I’ll need to invest in some binoculars.

No, it will never be just the same again, even if I find myself back covering Kansas State in the future, and that makes me a little sad.

But what an incredible four years, and what a fantastic finish.