K-State’s Prince gains little time from contract extension

By John Hillman  |   Tuesday, August 12, 2008  |  Comments( 2 )

Kansas State Wildcats
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College football coaches constantly clamor for a contract extension. In truth, new agreements mean little or nothing.

Last week, Kansas State extended its commitment to Ron Prince through 2012, and the Wildcats’ head coach can’t complain about the terms. Prince collected a substantial increase in compensation, upping his guaranteed pay from $760,000, one of the lowest in the Big XII, to $1.1 million.

But the revised contract doesn’t necessarily mean long-term job security. Prince’s two-year 12-13 record certainly doesn’t merit a pay raise. Nor should the Wildcats reward a four-game losing streak they take into the 2008 season in which the defense allowed an average of almost 50 points per contest.

These circumstances put a strange twist on the comments of Kansas State athletic director Bob Krause regarding Prince’s new covenant.

“We are pleased with the direction of football program under the leadership of Ron,” he said. “He has a plan in place and is right on course with that plan.”

In response, Prince merely echoed the words of his boss.

“The administration has proven its long-term commitment to us as a program as evident in the current facility expansion and other projects that are essential for sustained success," he stated.

Like most collegiate contract extensions, the one offered Prince focuses on recruiting. Rivals play on prep players’ fears that a coach may leave before their eligibility expires. Conversely with a reworked agreement, a coach can claim smooth sailing without any interruption in service.

Prince’s 2008 signing class creates grave concerns. Of the 32 recruits, 19 inked letters of intent via the junior college route, a strong indication high school players have turned a deaf ear to the Kansas State program. If the prep pipeline doesn’t start flowing again, dark days in Manhattan await.

In his two years at the Wildcat helm, Prince has engineered a few success stories. His teams defeated Texas both at home and on the road with the Longhorns carrying top-10 national rankings at the time. Kansas State also qualified for the 2006 Texas Bowl against Rutgers.

The wide-open field in the Big XII North provides Prince his biggest advantage in returning KSU to the glory years of the Bill Snyder era. Although Missouri rates as this year’s overwhelming favorite, Tiger quarterback Chase Daniel completes his senior year in 2008, and no other team appears ready to fill the void.

New contracts haven’t stopped colleges from pulling the quick trigger on coaches in the past. In the Big XII, Nebraska canned Bill Callahan, and Texas fired John Mackovic, both of whom had received lengthy extensions less than a year before their termination. The pair had also captured division titles in their previous season, and Mackovic had even won the Big XII championship.

Glen Mason received the same treatment at Minnesota. University officials awarded him a five-year contract extension in 2005. But one year later, they axed him after the Golden Gophers’ 44-41 loss in the Insight Bowl where Minnesota squandered a 31-point lead.

For Prince, the path at Kansas State remains clear. Win and he stays in – lose and they show him the door.
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About John Hillman

John Hillman graduated from Baylor University in 1974 with a BBA in accounting and earned an MBA from Baylor in 1987. He worked for accounting firms until 1982 when he became the chief financial officer for an independent insurance claims adjusting service, a position he still holds today....
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