Kansas State facing challenging hire

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The dismissal of Kansas State coach Ron Prince wasn't a surprise. But how quickly athletic director Bob Krause wants to hire his replacement certainly is.

Krause said Wednesday that he'd like to have a replacement in place for Prince by the time the regular season ends. And he added that he expects his coach to have head coaching experience, too.

By making that pronouncement, Krause appears to be locking himself into hiring somebody currently out of football or an NFL assistant coach.

Prince was given only about 2 3/4 seasons to turn the program around. And in the end, an explosive offense and productive special teams was undone by some struggling defensive performances.

Look at how the Wildcats have ended the last two seasons under Prince for an idea how bad that defense got to be.

Kansas State was in prime bowl discussion with a 5-3 record before losing their last four games. They allowed an average of 49.5 points in those four games, including a mind-boggling 702 yards of offense in a humbling 73-31 loss to Nebraska.

That led Prince to consider a quick fix with 19 junior-college transfers heading into this season. That group looked good during a 3-1 start against a weak schedule of nonconference teams.

But their lack of production caught up to them once Big 12 play began. The Wildcats have allowed at least 50 points in three of their five conference games. They have been gashed for 5.1 yards per carry on defense, allowing 22 rushing touchdowns and 10 in the past two games.

I caught all kinds of flack earlier this season when I ranked Kansas State as one of the most difficult coaching jobs in the conference. It's a BCS coaching job that has won a conference title as recently as 2003. The North Division appears to be in a state of flux with no real dominant power. But there's a reason why sportswriters have dubbed the remarkable turnaround orchestrated by Bill Snyder as "The Manhattan Miracle."

And remember, that was done largely during the days of the old Big Eight, which was a much easier conference to navigate than the Big 12.

Prince ultimately couldn't duplicate Snyder's accomplishments, leading the way to his dismissal.

Krause plans to begin moving quickly, hoping to have Prince's replacement in place by Kansas State's regular season finale on Nov. 22.

"It's coming down where you start with a list of people that have accomplished things and you move forward," Krause said.

That decision would seem to be curious as it would limit the school only to coaches who are currently out of football. Among coaches who would fit that bill include Snyder, former Colorado coach Gary Barnett and former Texas A&M head coach and former Kansas State assistant Dennis Franchione.

The hottest rumor bouncing around the Kansas City radio stations is a return to coaching by Snyder, who was Prince's predecessor before announcing his retirement in 2005.

Snyder still has a sizable cache with Kansas State fans. Krause said he plans to consult with the former coach about the vacancy, but did not confirm or deny if he would ask him to return to coaching.

It's unclear if Snyder, 69, is even interested in the rigors of recruiting and the day-to-day grind of coaching again. His career was marked by four Big 12 North titles, including leading the team to the 2003 Big 12 championship. That's a pretty strong legacy he might hate to sully with another difficult rebuilding job.

"I have not talked with Bill," Krause said. "He's one person, along with others, I'll consult. You start from a consulting basis and move forward from there."