As usual, no respect for Wildcats

By Steve Sell
July 15, 2016

On Wednesday, the Kansas State Wildcats landed the second-most players on the All-Big 12 preseason football team.

Five Wildcats earned honors. Defensive ends Will Geary and Jordan Willis were joined by linebacker Elijah Lee and defensive back Dante Barrett on the first team. What this tells me is Kansas State’s defense should be among the best in the Big 12. 

Fullback Winston Demel represented the offense for the Wildcats.

Only Oklahoma locked up more total spots with nine, led by preseason Offensive Player of the Year Baker Mayfield, the quicksilver quarterback. Five of the Sooners’ picks were on offense and they matched KSU with four defensive picks.

Yet when the Big 12's media preseason poll came out on Thursday, the Wildcats were picked eighth, with only Iowa State and Kansas below it.

Why is nobody surprised?

This is an annual rite of summer, Kansas State being picked in the second division. More often than not under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats finish higher and earn a quality bowl game.

The Wildcats are still unsettled at quarterback, only because there are so many to choose from. The smart money supposedly is on Jesse Ertz, who was to have been the starter last year only to suffer a season-ending injury. Joe Huebner is still around and he was adequate last year, while former Hays flash Alex Delton fits the mold of the star quarterbacks during the glory days.

The running game should be decent, but some holes do exist in the line. However, the defense should be able to step up in the early part of the season and carry the load as the offense matures.

When looking at the Big 12, trying to figure out the second-place team is the burning question. It’s a veritable given that Oklahoma is going to race to the league title, but TCU — which was picked No. 2 — suffered huge graduation hits, especially in the skill positions. Baylor has had a tumultuous offseason with the firing of Art Briles and the defection of some of its recruiting class. Who knows what could happen with the Bears.

You still have Oklahoma State and Texas, which has underachieved under Charlie Strong.

So why is Kansas State picked eighth, even behind Texas Tech and West Virigina? Maybe the media has become accustomed to giving the Wildcats no respect and it’s an automatic. But how many times must Snyder’s team be relegated to a lowly finish only to “surprise” the media?

I, for one, believe the Wildcats can finish in the Top 3. Other than a road game at Oklahoma, their Big 12 games are winnable. They get Texas and Oklahoma State in Manhattan where the Wildcats seldom lose, as well as Texas Tech and the gimme with Kansas. They play Iowa State on the road, but the Cyclones shouldn’t be in the Wildcats’ class.

While other members of the media will be surprised come December when the Wildcats are in the upper division and going to a bowl game, I won’t be.