Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Pete Hughes, Makol Mawien, football predictions and KC's World Cup odds

Kansas State introduces Pete Hughes as baseball coach

New Kansas State baseball coach Pete Hughes arrived in Manhattan with expectations of taking the Wildcats to Omaha and the College World Series. He spoke on June 12, 2018.
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New Kansas State baseball coach Pete Hughes arrived in Manhattan with expectations of taking the Wildcats to Omaha and the College World Series. He spoke on June 12, 2018.

It's time for another K-State Q&A.

Let's dive right into your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Your take on the baseball hire - a no nonsense guy to put the program back on a competitive path or a that’s all there was dude? (I side with the former.)</p>&mdash; Bob Strawn (@StrawnBob) <a href="https://twitter.com/StrawnBob/status/1007278761853837312?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I'm not ready to classify Gene Taylor’s baseball hire as good, bad or anything else in between.

We should take a wait-and-see approach with every new coach, but that seems especially advisable with Pete Hughes. He's not a splashy name, and fans weren't drooling with excitement when he was announced as the baseball coach. But he has a solid track record and seemed like a confident, knowledgeable coach at his introductory news conference.

Could K-State have hired a more exciting, up-and-coming coach? Yes. Could Hughes be a good fit and win here? Also yes.

So it's too early to have a definitive hot take on the guy. But I can break down his resume.

The good: He has a track record for turning awful baseball teams into pretty good baseball teams. Boston College had qualified for the Big East Tournament just once before his arrival, and Hughes regularly had the Eagles winning 30 games and in the upper half of the conference standings. Then he took Virginia Tech to a pair of NCAA Tournaments in seven years there. He also took Oklahoma to the NCAA Tournament and set the Sooners up for success this year. He's an established head coach and he knows the Big 12.

The bad: Oklahoma wouldn't extend his contract after four years in Norman, so he resigned and took a job as a volunteer assistant at Georgia. Though he had the Sooners trending up — given more time, it's possible he could have taken them to the College World Series — he never won more than 35 games at OU and his teams had a tendency of fading at the end of each season. If he couldn't win big at a good baseball school like Oklahoma, it's fair to wonder if he can win big in the same conference with less resources at K-State. He preaches an "Omaha standard" but he has never even been to a Super Regional. He might have already peaked as a coach.

We will see how he does. His success will probably boil down to recruiting. He might be good in that area, as he's clearly a good negotiator. Hughes went from a volunteer position at Georgia to making $375,000 as the head coach at K-State. That's more than the Wildcats were paying Brad Hill, and he won more games than any other coach in school history.

My guess is Hughes can restore K-State to a competitive level in the Big 12 and flirt with the NCAA Tournament. That's what K-State needs at this very moment. But it might be hard for him, or anyone really, to recreate the magic of 2013.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Is Mak Mawien’s finish to last season and growth this offseason the most important x-factor in kstates success this season?</p>&mdash; Adam Jimison (@A_Jimison) <a href="https://twitter.com/A_Jimison/status/1007287655971917824?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I don't know if Makol Mawien will be the most important X-Factor for K-State next season, but he will be near the top.

You probably remember the stat about good things happening when he scored 10 or more points. The Wildcats went 9-1 in those games, with the only loss coming against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament with Barry Brown and Dean Wade on the sideline.

I don't feel like he needs to make huge improvements or become a double-double guy for K-State to take a leap forward, but it would be nice if he could average close to 10 points and five rebounds. The Wildcats should have more post depth next season, but he remains the best option at the 5. So he needs to find ways to defend without fouling. He barely averaged 20 minutes last season. If he can get that number up around 27, then he will be an X-Factor.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Predictions for football, MBB, WBB, and baseball’s seasons next year...or even a floor/ceiling for them?</p>&mdash; Matt &#39;Emaw&#39; Stafford (@mstaffrd) <a href="https://twitter.com/mstaffrd/status/1007300869841391616?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I reserve the right to change my predictions endlessly until each season arrives, but I can take a stab at your request.

Let's try the floor/ceiling approach.


Floor: A 6-6 regular season, followed by a loss in the bowl game. The middle of the Big 12 seems jumbled, Mississippi State is on the nonconference schedule, and Bill Snyder is breaking in two new coordinators. With some oddsmakers setting K-State's over/under win total at six, maybe the floor is lower than this. But I really don't see the bowl streak ending, even under the worst of circumstances.

Ceiling: Let's go with 10 wins. As mentioned above, K-State has new coordinators, but that may not be a bad thing. If the Wildcats can settle on a QB and bring along the defense, 10 victories isn't out of the question. Beat Mississippi State at home and that could lead to a strong conference season. Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Iowa State all feel like swing games. But K-State could win them all.

Men's Basketball

Floor: Something like 22 wins and an early exit from the NCAA Tournament. As we witnessed during the 2010-11 season, it's not necessarily easy to follow an Elite Eight run with opposing teams gunning for you night in, night out.

Ceiling: The Final Four. Barry Brown, Dean Wade and the bulk of the roster are back. Add on Austin Trice and Shaun Williams and K-State is well-positioned to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.

Women's Basketball

Floor: Another trip to the WNIT.

Ceiling: Return to the NCAA Tournament.


Floor: Another last-place finish in the Big 12. Until Pete Hughes gets a chance to bring in his own guys, there might not be much improvement.

Ceiling: Middle-of-the-pack finish in the Big 12. The Wildcats could easily get back to the Big 12 Tournament.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">K-Dawg, do an article laying out KC’s path to hosting games. I’ve been trying to breakout how I see it needing to go but I need your sweet sweet words to give me a roadmap.</p>&mdash; scottwildcat (@scottwildcat) <a href="https://twitter.com/scottwildcat/status/1006907836163600385?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 13, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

First off, let me say I hope it happens. The World Cup hasn't been played on U.S. soil since 1994 and there's no telling when it will be back. This is far and away our best shot to see the event up close. So for those of us who live in the middle of the country there is no stadium more desirable to host games than Arrowhead.

If anyone in the KC area starts a gofundme page to raise bribe money for the selection committee, I will chip in a few bucks.

In all seriousness, it's hard to say if KC will actually get selected or what it will take for any city to host World Cup games.

Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto are Canada's selections. In Mexico, they will play games in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City. Ten games will be played in each country, leaving 60 in the U.S. I have read conflicting reports about how many Canada/Mexico cities will be selected. Some say all six, leaving 10 American cities to choose as host sites from a pool of 17. Some say one or two might get left out, just like the U.S. cities.

How that process works will impact the American selection process.

New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta ... They're probably in. But you can make a case for/against the other 13 cities on the map.

The good news: KC has a strong argument.

Sporting KC sells out all of its games, and the Gold Cup has done well at Children's Mercy Park in the past. There is no shortage of soccer fans in this area. A recent survey had KC as the nation's eighth best city for soccer fandom. The Pinnacle National Development Center could also serve as a terrific base camp for teams.

Sam Mellinger outlined KC's case well in this column.

Location could also be a positive factor. Without Chicago, St. Louis and Minnesota in the mix, KC is the lone Midwest city under consideration. If the selection committee wants to make games accessible to the entire country, it's hard to do that without including KC.

Kansas City's vision for hosting games in the official bid book was also catchy: "Our vision is to unite our two cities, unite our two states, and unite our region, to serve as a catalyst to achieve our dreams of a better way of life for ourselves, our neighbors, and our children."

But it's far from a slam dunk. When Copa America rolled through the U.S. a few years ago it seemed as if the organizers of that tournament were trying to play games as far away from KC as they could. They chose Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Orlando, Seattle and San Francisco as host cities.

Yahoo Sports did a nice job breaking down the chances each U.S. city has of hosting the World Cup and ranked KC 13th, ahead of Denver, Nashville, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

So it will be close.

On top of the cities I mentioned earlier, I bet Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco will host games. Florida will likely get one site, so pencil in Miami or Orlando.

That leaves two openings with KC, Seattle, Philadelphia, Houston, Denver and Nashville as the primary choices. (Sorry Cincinnati and Baltimore, I don't think you're getting World Cup games.) Location, stadiums and soccer fandom could work for or against them all.

It all comes down to what the selection committee prioritizes. Hopefully, KC makes the cut.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What SPF sunscreen did you use on vacation? (I’m leaning 30 but I feel like 50 is in play).</p>&mdash; John Kurtz (@jlkurtz) <a href="https://twitter.com/jlkurtz/status/1007281899499413515?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

For me, it depends on how long I'm going to be in the sun. If I'm at the beach all day, as I was last week in Florida, then I'm going SPF 50. No reason to take any chances on a bad sunburn, especially with a bald head. But if I'm taking the kids to City Pool or watching a baseball game I lean SPF 30.

Or I remember to put on sunscreen at the last minute and go with whatever I can find.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Does the Big 12’s increasing revenue payouts to member schools make everyone relax a bit about the Grant of Rights date in 2025?</p>&mdash; Matthew Engelken (@matthewengelken) <a href="https://twitter.com/matthewengelken/status/1007372874955382785?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

It should. At least a little.

The Pac-12 has become the new whipping-boy conference, lagging behind the rest of the Power 5 in terms of revenue, interest and performance. The Big 12 stands a better chance of raiding the Pac-12 right now than vice-versa.

Hey Arizona/Arizona State, this is Bob Bowlsby. You interested?

Personally, I think future conference realignment is just a boogie man for fans to talk about during slow times. It hasn't worked out all that well for any team that jumped conferences during the last dance. I'm not sure why Texas or Oklahoma would want to leave now.

Maybe that changes with the new media landscape in 2025. If the College Football Playoff expands there will be very little reason for any major team to switch leagues. But, I suppose, staying at four could make certain teams impatient over the long run.

The Big 12 is on solid footing, making more money than every conference outside of the Big Ten and SEC. The Pac-12 won't be stealing any of its schools anytime soon.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Since these are all the rage, let’s hear your take on my 21st century K-State Ultimate Team bank, &amp; tell me how you’d spend your $15.<br><br>Yes, I’m a Shane superfan. Also think Cartier will be worth $5 in due time.<br><br>For the record: Diarra, Ellis, Hoskins, Wade, Beasley <a href="https://t.co/PE8ijgu8nV">pic.twitter.com/PE8ijgu8nV</a></p>&mdash; Tanner Peroutek (@tperoutek) <a href="https://twitter.com/tperoutek/status/1007386429381660672?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Fun game. Interesting choices.

I think I would spend the $5 to lock up Michael Beasley and Jacob Pullen. Bill Walker for $3 seems like a steal. I will then round out my team with $1 selections Cartier Diarra and Lance Harris. Wish I could have Shane Southwell and Wesley Iwundu, instead ... But that's the cost of reuniting Beasley and Pullen.