It’s Time for Kansas State to Move on from Bruce Weber
The K-State basketball team beat Oklahoma State this week on a last-second three-point shot by Nijel Pack. The game went back and forth all night, and either team could have won it. It was hard to get worked up about this one, as I find myself numb watching Wildcat basketball nowadays. When Pack hit the three-pointer at the end of the game, I thought, “that’s nice. Good for him and the team.” Then I shut off the television and went to bed. I did not get excited about the victory like I used to. I also do not have any delusions of grandeur that this win will propel K-State on a big winning streak that allows them to sneak into the NCAA tournament. I have watched Bruce Weber and this team too long to believe that will happen.
There are nine regular-season games left for K-State, and as far as I’m concerned, the end cannot get here soon enough. The Wildcats sit at 11-10 on the season and 3-6 in the Big 12 conference. Watching this team play is only slightly more fun than doing your taxes and finding out you have to write a large check to the government. It has been another long, mostly frustrating season for K-State, and I believe it is time for the administration to find someone new to run the basketball program. A deeper dive into the numbers makes it even more obvious that now is the time.
1. His coaching record
Bruce Weber’s overall record in the Big 12 conference has usually hovered around the .500 mark, but the last three seasons have been so bad that he is now 13 games under .500.
Bruce Weber’s Big 12 Conference record: 79–92 (.462)
Bruce Weber’s overall record: 181–140 (.564)
Even though his conference record is bad, his overall record is not much better. Compare those winning percentages to the winning percentages of K-State’s most successful ex-head coaches, and Weber does not hold a candle to them.
Frank Martin was 50–32 (.610) in conference and 117–54 (.684) overall.
Lon Kruger was 34–22 (.607) in conference and 81–46 (.638) overall.
Jack Hartman was 133–91 (.594) in conference and 295–169 (.636) overall.
Cotton Fitzsimmons was 19–9 (.679) in conference and 34–20 (.630) overall.
Tex Winter was 154–57 (.730) in conference and 261–118 (.689) overall.
Jack Gardner was 66–46 (.589) in conference and 147–81(.645) overall.
Weber is just not getting it done.
2. Lack of attendance
Attendance has been dreadful this season. I am sure some of it is due to Covid, but it is more likely due to a lack of interest in the program. The KU game was not even a sellout, with an announced attendance of 9,737. The capacity of Bramlage Colesium is 12,528. I was surprised that the game was not sold-out because it is usually a tough ticket to get. I looked at attendance this season compared to the previous five years, minus the Covid season last year, and the attendance this season is by far the worst it has been in a long time.
Average attendance per game
2021-22 – 6,051
2019-20 – 8,464
2018-19 – 10,640
2017-18 – 8,711
2016-17 – 11,477
2015-16 – 11,903
They are not filling Bramlage half-full on average. The attendance at Wednesday night’s game was 5,860. Attendance, or lack thereof, is an important statistic when Gene Taylor is evaluating whether to bring Weber back or not.
According to 247 Sports’ 2022 basketball recruiting rankings, K-State is currently ranked 10th in the Big 12 and 89th in the country, right between UC Santa Barbara and Appalachian State. K-State only has one commit so far. Mark Smith, Markquis Nowell, and Nijel Pack are nice players, but K-State needs to drastically improve their recruiting if they hope to compete for the Big 12 title in the future.
4. Fan apathy
In general, nobody cares anymore. If you are reading this, you may have friends you text during football and basketball games because you know that they are probably watching along with you. Early this season, I noticed that people were not watching this basketball team. During the game(s), I would text friends who are big basketball fans, especially K-State basketball fans, commenting about the game, and I was getting replies saying things like “oh, are they playing tonight? I didn’t know that.” It has happened to me with quite a few people. Fans that never used to miss a game do not care to watch anymore. That is not a good sign.
5. Embarrassing losses
Many programs have embarrassing losses, but K-State under Bruce Weber seems to have more than their fair share. Here is a sampling.
2021 – Lost to Baylor 107-59
2020 – Lost to Division II Fort Hays State 81-68
2018 – Lost to West Virginia 89-51
2017 – Lost to Oklahoma 81-51
Not very many Division I coaches lose to a Division II team or lose a game by 48 points. And what about games against Kansas? Weber has a 3-19 record against the Jayhawks, with the last victory on February 5th, 2019. A lot of coaches have a dismal record against Kansas, but K-State needs a coach that can beat them more than three times in 22 tries.
If Bruce Weber goes on a winning streak to finish the season, it might be enough to save his job for another year, but it will not change my opinion that K-State needs some fresh blood to inject some life into this once-proud basketball program.