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Saturday, November 8, 2008
Reaction on Prince's dismissal from around the conference

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The prime topic of conversation this morning across the Big 12 was the abrupt dismissal of Kansas State coach Ron Prince after a coaching tenure of less than three seasons.  

Jeffrey Martin of the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle broke the story Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats' 52-21 loss to Kansas last week, he writes, played a significant role in his ouster.

Another factor was Prince's inability to be a factor in a North Division that is perceived to be at its weakest level ever. Two different North teams -- Nebraska and Missouri -- represented the division in the championship game in Prince's tenure. Cross-state rival Kansas is tied for the lead with Missouri heading into the this week's games.

"The reality is, if you coach in this business long enough, you understand this is a business where you're hired to win championships and to graduate your players," Prince said. "We had moments where we were very good and showed promise.

"We just were unable to win the North. That's ultimately what the expectations are for us and our ambition was coming here, and we were unable to achieve that."

And juicy rumors about the potential return of Bill Snyder after three seasons away from football held for the most speculation.

Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star writes that the return of Snyder to the sidelines of Bill Snyder Family Stadium makes sense. He says that Snyder, 69, is rejuvenated after his three-season sabbatical. He's 13 years younger that Joe Paterno and 10 years younger than Bobby Bowden and could be itching for a return to the spotlight, Whitlock wrote.

Veteran Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz wrote that the strange timing of the dismissal by Kansas State athletic director Bob Krause made him dubious about the move, even if it was the right one. 

"Bob Krause has a plan. My immediate reaction, upon hearing that news, was to hide and cover myself with pillows and blankets," Lutz wrote.

Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman told Martin earlier this week that he would like to play all four seasons for the Wildcats and not turn pro early. That dismissal, Martin wrote, could change Freeman's mind about returning.  

The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff breaks down the likely list of replacements for Prince, whose two-plus year tenure is second-shortest in Big 12 history behind only Dave Roberts of Baylor.

Kerkhoff mentions potential replacements like Tommy Bowden, Phil Fulmer, Dennis Franchione, Tom Amstutz and Tyrone Willingham as potential hires, considering Krause's stated intention of hiring a head coach with experience to the job before the end of the season.

Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital Journal writes that Prince's legacy will include higher graduation rates, a bowl trip in his first season and two victories over top-10 Texas teams in his first two seasons.

"We're proud of going to a bowl game in our first season, which only four coaches have done in Big 12 history, inheriting a team with a losing record," said Prince, who is 16-18 at K-State. "That 7-5 record occurred despite being predicted preseason last place in the North.

"And finally, we understand how our 34-game record fits into the greater K-State history and how it matches up among our closest Big 12 peers in their early years."

But Meek also wrote about how pressure from fans and Kansas State boosters have complicated fund-raising efforts for the school's $70 million facilities expansion.

Omaha World-Herald Big 12 beat writer Lee Barfknecht wrote of how Prince's arrogance turned off many high-school and junior-college coaches in the area. He also said that Prince struggled with in-game transitions as evidenced by his 0-17 record in games when his team was trailing at the half.

Prince brought lofty expectations to the program and keeps them in place even as he's leaving the Kansas State program.

"Our objective is to go out, with the few days remaining, continue our preparation toward Missouri, go 6-6 and become bowl eligible," Prince said.

Whether the Wildcats would take that bowl trip and whether Prince would be coaching the team remains to be seen. But he's still focused on that goal as he finishes his tenure with the school.