Attention K-State fans: Hold off on pushing the panic button
SEP 03, 2013 6:24p ET
But it's going to be all right, you K-Stater, you. Really, it is. Count to 10. Back off the ledge. Slowly.
"If I were a K-State fan, I wouldn't freak out for a couple of reasons," Terry Allen says. "First and foremost, North Dakota State is a heck of a football team. They really are."
You remember Allen, right? Coaches Missouri State football. Used to coach Kansas, back in the day.
Well, in 1989, he was also the coach who handed Kansas State and then-brand-spanking-new maestro Bill Snyder a defeat in Snyder's first game at Manhattan. Allen's Northern Iowa Panthers were the Wildcats' 15th straight setback, this one by a score of 10-8.
Allen was the first Football Championship Series-level coach to beat Snyder. Last Friday -- after two-plus glorious decades that saw a stadium, a highway and a statue named in Snyder's honor -- the Bisons' Craig Bohl became just the second.
So, yeah, the anger, Allen gets.
But the wackadoodle rage? Not so much.
"North Dakota State, they are in the top 40 of all teams in the country," says Allen, whose Bears draw the two-time reigning FCS national champs annually as part of their Missouri Valley football conference dance card. "They've got four legitimate, big-time draft choices. So don't get freaked out by losing to North Dakota State."
When Allen saw the line was in the two-touchdown range in favor of the Wildcats at this time last week, he thought that curious; personnel-wise, he said, the contest appeared to be a toss-up.
Which, as it turns out, is exactly what happened: The Bison surged early, K-State countered to take a 21-7 third-quarter lead, and North Dakota State chipped away, chipped away, then snatched the last word. The visitors reeled off an 18-play, 80-yard, game-winning drive that ate more than eight-and-a-half minutes off the clock, culminating in the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds left in the contest.
"They would beat several Big 12 schools," Allen says of the Bison, who edged his men 21-17 in Springfield last fall.
That group would probably include Iowa State -- which fell to another Valley school, UNI, in Ames this past weekend. The MVFC nearly added a third big-time pelt to the wall before Illinois escaped Southern Illinois by a whisker in Champaign.
"It's good for the Valley," Allen chuckles. "I don't know how good it is for Missouri State."
How good the Wildcats actually are remains a mystery, too, with Friday's defeat adding another coat of puzzlement onto one of the Big 12's most enigmatic programs. K-State went full-circle against the Bison, in exactly the wrong sort of way.
"You can always remember those guys dancing on the field after they beat us," says Danny Needham, one of Snyder's defensive backs on that 1989 bunch that lost to Allen's Panthers. "That's for sure."
The rest, Needham notes from Greenwood Village, Colo., where he runs his own roofing company, is a bit hazy. Between November 1987 and September 1989, the 'Cats had lost 16 in a row. After a while, all those setbacks start to morph into one giant pile of bad.
"I don't know if you're aware," Needham says, "but we had a lot of losses. Let's just say that some of the athletes on the team weren't into it as I've seen in other programs. Just another day in the life for some of them."
And as to what he thinks his old coach is saying to the 2013 Wildcats, well ...
"He probably didn't say much," Needham says. Then he laughs.
"They probably ran all morning. I can't imagine they've stopped yet."
The Gospel According To Bill, Goal No. 4: Improve.
"I think he probably said the same thing he always does," adds former K-State linebacker Brooks Barta, one of Needham's running mates on that '89 Wildcat defense. "'Every day we're going to get better, learn from our mistakes, and go from there.' Win or lose by 50 or 2, it's always the same."
The Gospel According To Bill, Goal No. 10: Never give up.
"And if you look at Snyder's history, I mean, they should've gotten beat (two) years ago by Eastern Kentucky, and went on to play in the Cotton Bowl," Allen says. "And remember what a great job Snyder does (adjusting) from Game 1 to Game 2, and what a great football coach he is. I wouldn't freak out if I was a K-State fan at all."
Sometimes the stars wind up aligning in somebody else's back pocket. One of Allen's defensive backs for that historic victory over K-State at Manhattan back in 1989 was a guy named Chris Klieman -- the same Chris Klieman who's now the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State.
Small world. Big, big, big win.
"No season is made," Barta says, "in one game."
Unless, of course, you let it.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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