|ESPN.com: Big 12||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The ouster of Ron Prince wasn't really unexpected, especially after the Wildcats' struggles in a North Division that wasn't exactly imposing this season.
But the timing was. Prince was let go on Nov. 5 with three games left in the season when the Wildcats still harbored bowl aspirations. After those hopes were extinguished later in the season, the school administration reached out to legendary former coach Bill Snyder, who led them to 11 bowl appearances during his 17-season coaching tenure at the school.
It will be a tough rebuilding chore as Snyder inherits a defense that ranked 117th nationally and allowed at least 509 yards of total offense in eight of its final 10 games.
Quarterback Josh Freeman had his moments, accounting for 3,349 yards of total offense and 34 touchdowns. His efforts helped the Wildcats rank 18th nationally in passing offense, 21st in scoring offense and jump to a 4-2 record that stoked bowl hopes.
Defensive collapses eventually killed those aspirations during a five-game losing streak that ultimately led to Prince's firing. His hopes of a talent upgrade through a massive junior-college infusion did not materialize and eventually led to his firing.
Offensive Player of the Year: WR Brandon Banks. The mighty-mite receiver emerged as the success of Prince's junior-college class as a receiver and return threat. Banks led the team with 67 receptions for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns. He was also a threat with a conference-best 98-yard kickoff return and on a 93-yard run that was the second-longest in school history.
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Brandon Harold. One of the few bright spots on a struggling defense, Harold provided the most consistent pass-rushing threat for the Wildcats with 45 tackles and three sacks. His 10.5 tackles for losses led all freshmen defensive linemen in the nation and his tackles led all freshmen Big 12 linemen.
Turning point: The Wildcats started the season 2-0 before dropping a 38-29 decision at Louisville. Those defensive struggles incensed Prince so much that he had his team run 38 50-yard wind sprints -- one for each point allowed -- when it returned home at 3 a.m. The teaching point apparently didn't stick as the Wildcats lost six of their last nine games after their nocturnal workouts.
What's next: Snyder, 69, will have to do a quick rebuild, especially with the defense. The hiring of former Clemson coordinator and former standout Kansas State linebacker Vic Koenning is a big start. It also will be critical for Snyder to do what he can to convince Freeman to return to school and not declare for the NFL draft.