Kansas State fans got a taste of life without coach Bill Snyder, who slipped into retirement for three seasons when it seemed as if he had lost his magic.
The results: Not great.
Snyder came back in 2009 and all has been well since. For the most part, Wildcats fans are in no rush to see the 75-year-old Snyder to step aside again for good.
Elsewhere around the country there are some successful veteran coaches who are reaching crossroads in their careers. In some cases, it’s coaches getting close to retirement. In others, it’s coaches who seem to have plateaued after at least a decade at their current jobs.
A look at some of those crossroads coaches:
FRANK BEAMER, Virginia Tech.
The 68-year-old coach is synonymous with Hokies football, but just 22 victories in the last three seasons have the natives in Blacksburg restless. Best-case scenario for many Hokies fans is the team rides a manageable schedule to another 10-win season and Beamer steps down triumphantly having righted the ship. That could be tough with QB Michael Brewer hurt. And Beamer is very much looking forward to coaching Virginia Tech against Tennessee in the game at Bristol Motor Speedway next year.
GEORGE O’LEARY, UCF
The 69-year-old O’Leary is now also the interim athletic director at UCF. He denies that he is angling to become permanent AD, with an eye toward installing offensive coordinator Brent Key as his replacement. O’Leary built a solid program in Orlando, but with the Knights off to an 0-2 start, it could be time to reset.
STEVE SPURRIER, South Carolina
The Ball Coach went off in July about how members of the media were putting him and his program out to pasture prematurely. Of course, it was Spurrier himself who said after last season he was likely to coach only a few more years. We should all look so good at 70, but Spurrier is coming off a 7-6 season and might have a hard time duplicating it this season after losing to Kentucky — again. What then for the most successful coach in South Carolina history?
KIRK FERENTZ, Iowa
Ferentz is 60 years old and in his 17th season at Iowa. For most of the last 10 years, the Hawkeyes have been pretty blah, usually getting to the postseason, but rarely seriously contending for a Big Ten title. Then there’s that contract. After this season the buyout would still be around $10 million. Hawkeyes fans can only hope that things get better or Ferentz decides to leave while leaving some money on the table.
MARK RICHT, Georgia
At 55, Richt is a long way from collecting social security. He has been at Georgia for 15 seasons, won 138 games and two Southeastern Conference titles, but still Bulldogs fans generally feel as if the program has underachieved. Maybe. There were rumors last year that Richt was considering stepping down. He has always seemed like a coach who would be comfortable walking away relatively young.
BOB STOOPS, Oklahoma.
Some Sooners fans have complained that Stoops has been too comfortable in recent years and let the program slip. After going 8-5 last season, the 55-year-old shook things up and remodeled his staff. Stoops called the victory against Tennessee last week maybe his “favorite” of all at Oklahoma. That’s saying something for a guy with 170 wins and a national title. But what if another season goes sour? Nobody is firing Stoops and he hasn’t been drawing the NFL interest the way he once did. Stoops and the more fickle Sooners supporters might be stuck with one another.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP