Fire Who? Mike Tufano February 12, 2015 Features, Open Mike Thursdays at The Salute Thus far, the subject of Bruce Weber’s future at K-State has been danced around on The Salute, both the podcast and the blog, but not directly addressed. That changes now. But as we begin to take a rational look1, let’s make one thing clear right off the bat: Bruce Weber will be the coach at K-State for the 2015-16 season. No amount of tweets, emails, or other tactics are going to change that. Continuing to sow discord among the fan base does nothing more than present a sad and pathetic image of what EMAW means to the rest of the collegiate sports world, and making it more and more embarrassing to be a part of the K-State family for the rest of us. Furthermore, continuing to present this image could be hurtful to recruiting, financial donations, and, if and when it comes to it, a new coaching search. Got it? Good, let’s continue… But he should be fired, right? No. But did you see the game last night? Yes. I saw all of them. I saw an extreme lack of effort and caring in the darkest part of the season, the New Year’s stretch, so low that the lowest of the low fans proclaimed they were jumping off the ship. Sadly, they’re still around. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Because I also saw the signs of just how good this team could, and should be. We watched the OT win at Oklahoma. We watched an all around strong 40 minutes against Oklahoma State. We saw the Cats dominate Purdue and then give Arizona a scare in Maui. Yes, we also saw them fall flat on their faces against Pitt the next night, but don’t forget the gutsy win over a very good Baylor team in Manhattan. This season has been a roller-coaster, to say the least. And while we’ve hopefully seen the lowest of the lows, it’s possible the highest of the highs may still be ahead of us2 So you’re saying that sub .500 basketball is ok? No. Nope. No way. Nein. Nyet. Absolutely not. After fighting all the way back to take the lead last night at West Virginia, even without the suspended Marcus Foster and Malek Harris, K-State sits at 5-7 in the conference and 12-13 overall. No, this is absolutely not acceptable. The record looks even worse than the Wooly and Asbury years because at least they weren’t falling completely apart in the non-con, so they could build enough capital to stay above .500 once the conference losses were pouring in. K-State wasn’t able to do that this year, and this is the result. The problem is, you can’t narrow the entire focus of a program to one year. If coaches were always treated this way there never would have been a Dean Smith or a Coach K. Both were hung in effigy early in their hall of fame, record setting tenures by fan bases who were unable to take the long view. Now, before you flood the comments section, in no way am I saying that Weber is on the same level of Smith or K, but he certainly isn’t on the level of Ron Prince, either. Prince was fired in 3 years, It’s Weber’s 3rd… I’m not someone who typically calls for a firing. But I did call for Prince’s. It’s important to give people time to establish how a program is trending. It’s rare that you can know that in 3 years, but with Prince it was clear. You didn’t even need to understand football to see how bad the product on the field had gotten. It was time to go. That was a program that for 3 years trended straight down3. In Weber’s 3rd year, you could take a microscopic view and say the trend is down as well. It went from a Big 12 title4 to a 5th place finish to now looking at 8th place. If that’s not trending down, I don’t know what is. But if you look at the big picture, you see a great year, a less than average year, and bad year. Other than the program down the road5, every program has all of those. Well, average and bad, at least. Not every program has those great years. The important aspect is understanding whether or not those terrible years are a trend or an anomaly. And as crazy as this season has been with injuries, suspensions, and weird demoralizing losses, you simply can’t form a rational argument that this is clearly a trend. It’s clear to see that there’s an amount of talent on the floor that so far exceeds the dark ages of K-State basketball, and rivals the previous era, that anyone who isn’t already starting their position from wanting to prove that their hatred of Bruce Weber is warranted can’t come to a conclusion that they know there is no heading back up for this program under his leadership6. So what now, then? We take our lumps. We see this season for what it is, and we say, “never again.” We try like hell to win whatever sub-par 3rd rate post season tournament we end up in. And we build. The foundation is laid for success. And it is squarely on the shoulders of Bruce Weber and his coaching staff to coax that skill and passion out of these players on a consistent basis. And it must happen next year. If on February 12, 2016 we find ourselves in this same position, then this is an entirely different conversation, and the title of that post may not end in a question mark. But until then, real K-State fans will continue to be disappointed in the losses, and rejoice in the wins. Real K-State fans will want to see success, even if it means their opinion about the coaching staff or players may turn out to be wrong. Real K-State fans will be in Bramlage Saturday night hoping for a sweep over a very good Oklahoma team. And Real K-State fans will be wearing purple. It’s just what we do. [Tweet “Real #KState fans will want to see success, even if it means their opinions turn out to be wrong.”]Notes: RATIONAL. 1 a : having reason or understanding. b : relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason : reasonable. 2 Opposite of K-State fan reactions on social media. [↩] Don’t tell me that February 23rd game is out of reach, because it’s not. Not for when this team is playing to their capabilities. [↩] There’s also a difference between football and basketball. It’s possible to turn a hoops program back around in just a year given the right set of recruits. Football, as know, takes time, even for a legend. [↩] Let’s not forget that first Big 12 title since ’77. That matters. [↩] I don’t understand what deal with the devil has made them immune to the occasional terrible year that every other powerhouse experiences, but man, it pisses me off. [↩] We have a strange situation at K-State. Every MBB coach is compared to the success of arguably the greatest college football coach of all time, in addition to an elite program 75 miles away. It might never be possible for any other coach to get a fair shake in MHK. [↩] K-State fans, we salute you!