Another week, another stout away game opponent for the young Hurricanes. Outfitted in their fatigues, The 7th Floor parachuted into the flyover states, questions in hand for the resident Kansas State blog, Bring On The Cats.
7th Floor: The late '90s to early aughts were your best era, but what individual season do Wildcat fans hold in the highest esteem? The 1998 near BCS title game appearance, or say the 2003 Big 12 title game demolition of Oklahoma? Another season altogether?
Bring On The Cats: That's a tough call between 1998 and 2003. Both seasons were spectacular in their own way, but both had bitter disappointment. In 1998, K-State beat Nebraska for the first time in more than 30 years and climbed to No. 1 in the polls for the first time ever. But a fourth-quarter meltdown against Texas A&M in the Big 12 Championship Game dropped K-State out of the national title game and all the way to the Alamo Bowl. An injury to starting quarterback Ell Roberson in 2003 led to a three-game losing streak that knocked K-State out of national title contention early. But a late-season run culminated in the 35-7 destruction of Oklahoma and K-State's first conference championship since 1934.
For me personally, 2003 was the greatest. That may be because I was a student then and was able to experience the season personally, but also because the season resulted in a tangible accomplishment in the Big 12 championship.
7F: For Hurricanes fans making the trek, tell us the best tailgating spots.
BOTC: Just about anywhere around the stadium. There are two large paved parking lots on the east and west side of the stadium, and there are large grass parking lots across Kimball Avenue to the north of the stadium. Unless you are belligerent, you should be treated well. Two things should be noted. Alcohol is not permitted in any of the parking lots, so keep your coolers covered in your car and keep your drinks out of sight and in a plastic cup while you're tailgating. Also, there is a lot of construction on the west side of the stadium, so check this link for helpful information on which entrance should be used. http://www.kstatesports.
7F: Bill Snyder is having sort of a renaissance very late in his career. Personally, I think he still doesn't get enough credit for what he did in Manhattan. This potentially predates your fandom, but can you tell us just how bad it used to be?
BOTC: K-State would have dropped football in the 1980s, but dropping football would have ended K-State's Big 8 membership. Even at that, the Big 8 came within one vote of expelling K-State from the conference. In 93 years, K-State had lost 509 games. In the 44 years between the end of World War II and when Snyder took over, K-State had four winning seasons. There were the decades-long losing streaks to Oklahoma and Nebraska and others. K-State wasn't just bad. It was the worst. And maybe Snyder didn't make K-State the best, at least in terms of winning a national title, but the fact that he came as close as he did in 1998 with what he started with is astounding.
7F: The Bill Snyder coaching tree is absurd, but the first go round of post-Snyder Wildcat football was arguably a disaster. Any potential assistants right now who are next in line? What is the new plan? Snyder isn't secretly Ra's Al Ghul and going to live forever, right?
BOTC: With all the great coaches Snyder's coaching tree has spawned, there are relatively few possible replacements. Jim Leavitt is probably the most likely option, as he's an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers right now. But everyone else is either damaged goods or already has a better job. Bob Stoops and Bret Bielema won't leave their current jobs for Manhattan. Mark Mangino is damaged goods and universally hated in Manhattan for his time at OU and, especially, KU. Phil Bennett, Mark Stoops and Dana Dimel were failures as head coaches. Brent Venables allegedly did something so heinous he'll never be welcome again in Manhattan, even though nobody is willing to go on record and say what he did.
And no, Snyder's not going to live forever. But I think he's going to coach longer than anyone thought he would when he came back.