Prince FIRED - Who Will Be New HC?

After just 34 games into his coaching tenure, Kansas State football coach Ron Prince was fired Wednesday. Who will be next? Athletics director Bob Krause said someone with head coaching experience would be a must.

How does one hire a football coach without a president of the university, and a first-year athletic director, who's also in his first year of athletics?

What will the interest level be for a program possibly headed for its fourth sub-.500 year in the last five years, and a franchise that will always be uniquely financially strapped, by Big 12 standards?

That's the challenge facing Kansas State President Jon Wefald and athletic's director Bob Krause following the dismissal of third-year football coach Ron Prince on Wednesday.

Like Prince has said of his football organization, Krause said that he, too, has "a plan" in place to find the answers to a program that is question-filled.

It's apparently a fast-moving plan as he hopes to have Prince's successor in place "... before the end of the season, if that's possible."

Asked if that means the new coach was currently out of the business, Krause replied, "That's not what I said."

Answering the question of, "Why now?" just 17 days before the end of the regular-season finale against Iowa State on Nov. 22, Krause explained, "It gives us additional time in terms of being able to get out and start the process of the search, and puts us in position to have conversations with some people that, in all fairness, you don't do when you have a coach in place."

Krause said he plans to have conversations with several individuals, which includes former Wildcat coach Bill Snyder.

"You start with a list of folks you think have the ability to lead the program and accomplish the things we need to accomplish," Krause said. "From that point, we move forward."

Asked if Snyder would top the list of candidates, Krause said, "I have not talked with Bill. He is one person, along with others, whom I will be consulting with in the near future. You start out at a consulting basis and you move forward from there."

Later Krause added, "I would like to involve him (Snyder) very heavily, but I need to talk to him about that."

Calls to Snyder were not returned on Wednesday.

Krause did say that topping the list of requirements for the next coach would be "...a person that had experience and a winning track record as a head coach. That would be my first criteria. I think that's very important with the stage we are at. I think the ability of overall track record in terms of past experience, networks, recruiting lines ... all that. I think the first things, obviously, that I'm looking for is the experience factor."

On a short list of coaches immediately available would be Dennis Franchione, who resigned under pressure from Texas A&M after the 2007 season.

Franchione, 57, served as an assistant to Jim Dickey at K-State from 1978-80.

Saying he would have an interest in talking to K-State, Franchione said, "Kim and I loved our time in Manhattan. It's where our oldest daughter was born. There's always been a little purple in us as we've followed Kansas State."

Franchione went on to say that because of his years as a K-State assistant, "I think I probably have a little better understanding of the problems, which gives me even more appreciation for what coach Snyder accomplished." Throughout his career, Franchione has been involved in a host of significant turn-arounds from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., to Southwest Texas, to New Mexico, to TCU, to Alabama and finally Texas A&M.

"Every turnaround is different," said Franchione, who has a Division I coaching record of 107-81 and eight overall conference titles on his resume. "It's like a business, you want to identify what your resources are, what needs changed, how to change and what to do to make it work."

Franchione, who now lives in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, now does radio work for ESPN. Following Franchione at TCU was Gary Patterson, who has posted 62 wins in the last seven seasons. That includes four 10-win seasons and four Top 25 finishes. His present Frog team is 9-1 and ranked No. 11.

A native of Larned, Patterson played at K-State as a walk-on, and was on Dickey's staff in 1982.

Patterson, 48, is said to have a contract on par with the mid-ranking Big 12 teams, plus has an annuity believed to be $1.5 million that will come into affect by the end of the decade if he stays at TCU.

Last year Patterson reportedly turned down a $2 million per year offer from Minnesota. Calls put in to Patterson were not returned. Phil Bennett, defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh, also said he would be open to receive calls, but said he has not been contacted.

"Obviously, I would have an interest. Manhattan and Kansas State will always hold a special place in my heart," said Bennett, who was Snyder's defensive coordinator from 1999-01. "But it's like having a girl friend. You'd like them to like you as much as you like them." Bennett, 53, left K-State to become the head coach at SMU where he posted an 18-52 record from 2002-07.

"I could cry about it, but it was a tough job," said Bennett, whose best season was 6-6 in 2006. "My next job would have to be from somebody who knows me, and knows what I'm about and what I'm capable of ... someone who would believe in me."

Pausing, he said, "It's like Bill Belichick. At Cleveland, he was the worst coach in the NFL, and now look what's happened." Bennett said he still hopes to get back into a head-coaching chair, but added, "I'm not consumed with it."

An out-there candidate could also be Terry Bowden, who now lives in Orlando, Fla., and does radio work for Westwood One and writes for Yahoo Sports.

Kim Shiff, a representative for Bowden told The Manhattan Mercury, "Coach Bowden is on record saying that he is very interested in getting back into coaching. However, he is not commenting on any particular opening at this particular time."

Bowden, the son of legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, last coached at Auburn from 1993-98 when he posted a 47-17-1 record.

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