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Sports Editorial

KSAL Staff - September 29, 2014 8:00 am

MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS

MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger made a mistake when he hired Charlie Weis as head coach at KU.  But Zenger didn’t make a mistake when he fired Weis shortly after the 23-0 loss to Texas.  When a change has to be made, it’s best to do it immediately rather than suffering through another terrible season.

Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has been named as the replacement head coach for the remainder of the season.  This will give Zenger a chance to see how Bowen does as a head coach and also give him plenty of time to decide on a replacement if that’s what is needed.

Bowen might be the answer.  It will be interesting indeed to see how the Jayhawk players react to the change.

After the firing, Zenger said, “I normally do not favor changing coaches mid-season.  But I believe we have talented coaches and players in this program, and I think this decision gives our players the best chance to begin making progress right away.

I appreciate what Coach Weis did with several facets of our football program.  But we have not made the on-the-field progress we believe we should. I believe new leadership gives our coaches and players the best chance to make a fresh start.”

Zenger showed two important characteristics by making this change:  He is, in effect, admitting that he made a mistake in hiring Weis in the first place.  But secondly, he didn’t compound the bad hiring by letting an untenable situation continue.

Sheahon Zenger is to be complimented for his bold and decisive action.  And the guess here is that he won’t make a second mistake when he hires a new head coach.

Kansas State resumes Big 12 play this Saturday, October 4, with a home game against Texas Tech.  Coach Bill Snyder has the Wildcats off to a solid start (3-1), including a conference win (32-28) at Iowa State.  K-State has another superb football team; the next few weeks will determine just how potent the Wildcats are.

Texas Tech has an explosive offense but the defense is mediocre at best.  The Red Raiders utilize a spread offense that features a passing game.  Texas Tech is not well-coached; the Red Raiders are disorganized on their sideline and have trouble getting in the correct formations on both offense and defense.  Barring an excess of silly mistakes, K-State will defeat Texas Tech and improve their Big 12 record to 2-0.

From here it appears that Coach Snyder has his program as well-established as it has ever been.  The recruiting is balanced between high school players and just enough JUCO transfers to fill immediate needs.

Bill Snyder Family Stadium with sold-out crowds is an impressive scene on national TV.  This K-State team has no glaring weaknesses; the Wildcats can compete on even terms with all comers

It’s been challenging to follow, but the Kansas City Royals are in the 2014 baseball playoffs for the first time since 1985.  That’s a grand accomplishment.

There’s still plenty to worry about and the most vital is the condition of Danny Duffy’s shoulder.  Duffy was smacked around and lasted just two innings in the Royals’ September 20 loss at Chicago.  If Duffy can’t go in the playoffs, it will leave a gaping hole in the starting rotation.

While savoring the success of this year’s team, it’s not too early to start thinking about next season.  KC’s outfield is set with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Nori Aoki.  Jarrod Dyson adds quality depth.

The infield has two critical weaknesses at third base and second base.  Mike Moustakas has had a miserable season at the plate and his defense has been substandard during the last month of the season.  Second baseman Omar Infante hasn’t hit well and his defense is nothing special.  Those two players need to be replaced.

Kansas City needs a different designated hitter:  Billy Butler isn’t the answer; he hits into too many double plays and his power has declined.  Butler is one of the slowest runners in MLB.

KC’s starting pitching could collapse next season.  James Shields is the ace of the staff and he’s a free agent—Shields is as good as gone.  Jason Vargas has faltered badly during the homestretch.  Vargas was a stopgap solution this season, but he’s not a solid starter.

The back end of the bullpen—Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland—is the best in MLB, but the middle relievers have been inconsistent.  KC may have the needed replacements in their minor league system.

The nucleus for another exciting season is in place, but owner David Glass is going to have to spend some money in the offseason or the Royals could sink back into mediocrity next year.

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