You haven’t lived until you have spent 30 minutes waiting for a table at Denny’s on Christmas Day.
Eating out is always a challenge on Dec. 25. I experienced this a few years back while covering the Kansas State basketball team at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. After K-State beat Long Beach State in the championship game, I stopped at a Chili’s on my way to the airport for dinner. Seating wasn’t an issue, but food was.
I was there with my family (no way they were sitting out a trip to Hawaii) and I don’t think any of us got our first choice. Hamburger? Out. Chicken? Out. Steak? Out. Pretty sure we ended up sharing a massive appetizer sampler. They still had chips and salsa!
I encountered a different problem at the Denny’s in Scottsdale, Ariz. They had plenty of food and seats, but virtually no staff. The restaurant was half full, yet the host said it was going to be an hour wait (it turned out to be shorter) for everyone in line. At the time, this seemed liked a hassle, but it turned out to be quite entertaining.
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The one thing I learned about this experience is that you never want to tell a senior citizen that he/she will have to wait an hour for their grand slam. One after another, they pointed out how many booths were available and that the Denny’s staff needed to get its act together. The poor host grew so tired of complaints that he abandoned his post, creating an even bigger log jam at the front door. Some really aggressive customers walked back into the kitchen and demanded someone return to the counter.
Not sure what happened to the original host, but we never saw him again. A nice lady took over.
One customer grew so angry that he announced he was leaving Denny’s to go eat at … another Denny’s. The service was far better there, he exclaimed. He had first-hand knowledge of this, as he claimed to have eaten there earlier in the day and got in and out. Denny’s twice on Christmas Day? This was my first visit in years.
I thought about leaving, too, but my wife (the Robinetts also made this trip) convinced me to stick it out. There weren’t many alternatives. Christmas dinner at our hotel looked amazing, but it was $89 a plate. Some fast food places were open, but they had lines, too. Plus, my kids had just watched "The Santa Clause" and they were happy to eat at the same play Santa took his son when he botched the turkey at home.
Staying was the right choice. We all ended up having a solid meal, and it was better than the Chili’s in Honolulu.
Now, let’s get to your K-State questions. Lots of great topics on tap this week. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
Not that big, honestly.
K-State’s team celebration after the Cactus Bowl struck me as a bit odd. When the Wildcats beat Michigan and Texas A&M to win their last two bowls, the reaction was pure jubilation. The mood in Phoenix was closer to meh. Players and coaches were happy they won, sure, but it just didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Bill Snyder didn’t even get a Gatorade/confetti bath.
Maybe that’s because the game was against a mediocre opponent that was missing its coach and star quarterback, and everyone expected K-State to win. Not sure. It just felt very ho-hum, like a home win over Baylor. A loss would have been disastrous.
Without knowing who, for sure, is coming back, it’s hard to talk about momentum right now. And there is obviously going to be a QB debate next season.
Jake Waters torched Michigan as a junior. Jesse Ertz lit up Texas A&M as a junior. Those were viewed as breakout games that would lead to big senior seasons.
Alex Delton had a career game against UCLA, but Skylar Thompson seemed like the future beforehand. K-State will head into next season with a big question mark at quarterback, and a few other places. The Wildcats might have a strong season, but I doubt the Cactus Bowl will have much of an impact on 2018.
I still think Skylar Thompson is the future quarterback, because he has the stronger arm and won over the locker room with all his late-game heroics this season.
But Alex Delton ain’t going down without a fight. He showed that much in Phoenix.
Maybe there is a way Bill Snyder can use both (and given K-State’s recent run of QB injuries the Wildcats will almost certainly need both) but it would be preferable to go with a clear-cut starter and backup.
If you want to run the Michael Bishop/Collin Klein offense, Delton is the guy. But that’s not going to work against every defense. UCLA was a dream matchup for Delton, and he took advantage. Could he lead K-State to victory against a team that was strong against the run and weak against the pass?
Snyder yearns for balance, and Thompson provides more of it than Delton. That’s why I give him a slight edge in this debate. But that’s just my thinking. It is going to be a very competitive position battle throughout the spring and summer. We probably won’t have an answer until August.
Alex Delton saw 20 carries against UCLA, which would equal 260 over a complete season (with bowl). Given that Delton suffered two concussions while running the ball 100 times this season, I’m leaning toward no. It doesn’t seem sustainable or smart, especially if teams start loading the box against it.
But Collin Klein attempted 317 rushes as a junior, so I suppose it technically is sustainable ... with a Transformer running the offense.
I asked Bill Snyder if he wanted radical change in his offense next season before the Cactus Bowl, and he said the playbook would remain the same as it has always been. The plays K-State chooses to run out of that system will depend on personnel. Alex Barnes averaged 5.6 yards per rush this season and 7.9 as a freshman, so I agree he should see a bigger workload. But I don’t see the Wildcats abandoning their QB run game for a pro-style attack that leans entirely on running backs to move the ball on the ground.
The Wildcats could be better next season. The offense returns just about everyone (Jesse Ertz and maybe Byron Pringle/Winston Dimel are the only expected departures) and K-State could be tough to stop with a veteran line returning.
They could also be worse. The defense will lose Will Geary, Tanner Wood, Jayd Kirby, Trent Tanking, Cre Moore and maybe D.J. Reed. Perhaps an influx of speed could help the Wildcats defend the pass a little better, but Geary will be hard to replace.
With some luck in the health department, K-State could make a run at 9-3 or 10-2. But with some bad luck it might be looking at 6-6 or 7-5. About the same as this year, really.
Here’s guessing K-State is picked to finish in the middle of the 2018 preseason Big 12 poll, behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and West Virginia.
I will give you two names: Da’Quan Patton and Mike McCoy.
Patton has all the tools to be an all-conference linebacker. With a redshirt season under his belt, he could be legit next year. McCoy is in a similar situation on offense. It may be hard for him to crack the RB rotation with Alex Barnes, Justin Silmon and Dalvin Warmack ahead of him, but he will run over you.
Trent Tanking will be hard to replace from a leadership standpoint, and Jayd Kirby will be hard to replace from a knowledge standpoint ... But, yes, K-State’s linebackers have the potential to be a bigger, faster and stronger unit next season.
Elijah Sullivan seems ready to step in and anchor the group. Justin Hughes and Da’Quan Patton have lots of potential. It’s on them to have productive offseasons and learn the defense the way Tanking and Kirby did, but if they can do that they could be really good.
Collin Klein and Andre Coleman as co-offensive coordinators has a nice ring to it. I still think that’s what ends up happening.
Definite perk of going to the game!
But I missed out on all those close ups of Phil the Bobcat in the fourth quarter.
Maybe. But I don’t feel like Cartier Diarra was all that hyped to begin with. He entered the season with a cult following, and some fans expected him to be really good, but Bruce Weber threw ice on those expectations every chance he got. Even Diarra said his goal for the year was to be a “glue guy” off the bench.
I thought he would be better than this, but not a ton better. He’s had some good games.
I’ve been more disappointed with Makol Mawien and Mawdo Sallah. As transfers, Weber said they were both ready to make an impact. Mawien has had some OK games, but Sallah has been very quiet. Size remains an issue for the Wildcats, and it will stay that way until those two produce at a higher level.
From top to bottom, the Big 12 is definitely the best basketball conference out there.
All 10 teams enter conference play thinking they will (or can, at the least) make the NCAA Tournament. Texas has the worst record in the conference at 9-3. That’s absurd.
TCU and Texas Tech surging into the top 25 makes the conference a real bear. Where are the easy wins? Oklahoma State and Iowa State were supposed to be the bad teams, and they have gone a combined 19-4.
Kansas seems down from where it has been, which means there should be more parity than ever. I wonder if 12-6 might be good enough to take first.
Road wins are going to be hard to come by in the Big 12. You’re right about that.
Ken Pomeroy projects K-State as a road favorite over Iowa State ... And no one else. I think K-State wins in Ames, and it really needs to. Teams have to take advantage of every winnable game, and this is definitely one of them.
The Wildcats have been pretty decent on the road the last few years, though. They won at Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas last season. Almost won at KU, too. I think they win a handful of road games. But can they hold serve at home? Losing five straight Big 12 home games last year is what prevented K-State from having a great season.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett