Two months ago, I spent two hours talking life and football with Ron Prince inside an Atlanta hotel conference room and lobby.
I was blown away by two things: 1. His depth of knowledge and passion about the issues that young people face today; 2. He truly believes the Kansas State Wildcats are going to be good this season.
No, seriously, he’s confident the Wildcats are a bowl-caliber football squad. I’m not joking. Our discussion in Atlanta was off the record and casual. It was straight talk between two professionals. I wasn’t working on a story, and he wasn’t crafting a fairy tale. I don’t think.
I’ve reflected on our conversation numerous times during the past two months. I’ve wondered whether he was kidding me, selling me the line that all coaches promote during the offseason.
So I called Coach Prince on Monday to reconfirm his confidence, to ascertain whether I could detect any insincerity, to put our dialogue on the record. I also wanted to check his sanity.
The Wildcats face Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Oklahoma in crossover Big 12 South games rather than Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas. What’s worse, the Wildcats play in the same Big 12 North as Kansas and Missouri, teams that won a combined 24 games last season and return big-big-time playmakers at quarterback.
Prince is aware of all that, and he ain’t scared.
“Missouri might be as good as any team in the nation,” Prince said. “The best thing for us is to be very introspective. The best thing for us to do is worry about playing our game. Internally, if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be fine.”
You know what? I believe him.