Examining CU, Pac-12, and Big XII Football over the last 10 years using the Hist-O-Graph...and then saying stuff.
"Purple? Even on their uniforms?" He looked at me like I'd gone crazy.
"That's right sir. Purple."
He paused for a long moment, "What the flip are they? A Las Vegas chorus line?"
"Ah..." I thought for a moment, "Actually, sometimes they are, sir."
He furrowed his brow. "Well, we'd better have a look at this."
(If you're confused by the Hist-O-Graph, the introductory article is linked after the jump, and explains a lot).
The Washington Huskies Hist-O-Graph: Here Comes a New Challenger!
We open the decade on Washington with Rick Neuheisal ('99 - '02) doing what he does best; win with someone else's recruits. Not a lot, mind you; just enough to not get fired. UW was part of the Pac-10 Co-Champion three-way in '00, and won the Rose Bowl against Purdue that year. They then continued on the next year to lose both the Holiday Bowl to Texas in '01 and the Sun Bowl to Purdue in '02.
That's when Slick Rick made a gamble and completed the Final and Fourth phase of his plan, 'Operation: Burn the MF'er to the ground.' Ty Willingham('05 - '08) returned to the Pac-10 just in time to pick up the pieces from Neuweasel and Keith Gilbertson, and also to drop an oh-fer in '08.
Now the Huskies have Sark the Shark, and may be a legitimate challenger. Which of our former Big XII brethren does U-dub match up with? Do you even have to ask?
The Kansas State Wildcats Hist-O-Graph: The Short-term Play
This chart shows you almost everything you need to know. Under Snyder the First, K-State won the Big XII North in '00, lost the conference championship game to an Oklahoma team on their way to winning a National title. The parts that this chart doesn't show you is all the awful losing they did for 70 years prior to Bill Snyder arriving and promptly slapping up eight 9+ win seasons in a row ('93 - '00). They kind-of think he's God over there.
The Wildcats were able to keep the train going long enough to win the Cotton Bowl against Tennessee in '00 (the Vols were only 2 years removed from a 13-0 season), win the Holiday Bowl against Arizona St ('02) and then finally win the Big XII for reals in '03. And then it all falls apart.
Two sub-par years under Snyder ('04 - '05) and he decides that he'd rather stop coaching than stop pooping everywhere and Ron Prince is brought in ('06 - '08) and does some pooping of his own; in the recruiting department.
Anyone following football at the time read and heard about how Prince's teams were stoppered up with Junior College players... not too bad if they're named Cam Newton or Chris Brown, but they weren't; and it basically became Kansas St's undoing. A short term play instead of the long-term one had Prince booted (and booed) out before the '08 season was even complete.
Now Snyder is back again and it's like the second coming of Jesus over there. He's winning big and everybody's happy, but a septuagenarian head coach returning from self-imposed retirement is not my idea of a long-term plan.
Why they're Similar: Not Just Because of the Purple, but that is a significant part
Both teams were on top at the beginning of the decade, and then had totally faltered by '04 and bottomed out by '08. Now they're back, but for how long?
For both teams, they have accolades that predate '00, but a few 10 win seasons (K-State) and a claim on a 1960 and 1991 National Championship (UW) don't hold as much bearing because of one reason: Location.
Both schools suffer from something we're familiar with: being in a state with a middling population base and a hometown that's literally a thousand miles away from the so-called football factories down south-a-ways. That's why their recruiting is so strong when they're good ('01 - '02, for both) and so weak when they stop winning ('09, for both). Both teams are essentially bandwagon teams whose primary draw for recruiting is last year's record and not a lot else.
The difference between Washington and Kansas St is this: one has a long-term plan in place and the other does not. Look at the age of the two head coaches and I'll let you decide who is who... I think UW is ascendent in the long-term whereas KSU is going to flash in the pan and then be smothered in the hothouse that is the no-division Big XII. Maybe they're good so long as Snyder is there, but he can't stay around there forever (CAN HE!?!?) and when he leaves, they're going to be in a world of hurt... all over again. UW on the other hand looks like they're assembling the long-term winning strategy. Now if only they can keep an NCAA bracket pool from ruining it all.
The last thing that brings them back together? They're both little girls who wear purple. The end.
#1: Introduction: Colorado and the Hist-O-Gram - It explains *mostly* everything