Kansas State provided Terry Allen his first victory as a head football coach back in 1989.
But the Wildcats gave Allen something more important four years earlier -- a lesson in the ways of the life of a head college football coach.
In 1985, Allen was a young assistant coach at Northern Iowa under Darrell Mudra. The Panthers headed to Manhattan and beat K-State, 10-6, and the Wildcats fired their coach, Jim Dickey, on the spot.
"That week I found out about the real world," Allen said Wednesday at his weekly press conference. "We got the win, and they fired Jim Dickey right after the game. We were still loading the bus. As a young college coach in his second football game, that stuck with me, the importance of wins and losses. ... That was a real eye-opener for me."
That blast from the past came up this week for two reasons. First, Allen -- though not fearing for his job just yet -- is guaranteed his second losing season in two years at KU. And second, the Jayhawks' next opponent, North Texas, is coached by Jim Dickey's son, Darrell Dickey.
Kickoff is 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Kansas (3-6 overall) must beat UNT this week and Iowa State on Nov. 21 to match its win total for last year, and though the Jayhawks can't get a winning record and can't get a postseason berth, Allen still believed KU has motivation to win.
"Now we're in a situation where they're playing for strictly pride and the future development of the program," Allen said. "In the second year of things, from a recruiting standpoint and an offseason standpoint, getting two wins here would be critical for us."
Allen hasn't drilled that thought into his Jayhawks this week. He hasn't had to.
Instead, the 16 seniors called a players-only meeting on Sunday to discuss the immediate future.
"We just said, `Our time is just about up. It's your time to step up and be leaders,'" KU senior offensive tackle Dan Dercher said. "We told them we want to help out the staff with recruiting and we want to help the future. We talked about losing to K-State and how we felt, and we told them we didn't want them, as seniors, to feel like we felt after losing to K-State, not having beat them in our careers. We told them, `You gotta fight hard.'"
If the first few days of practice this week were any indication, Dercher said, they'll do just that.
"I'm sure some of the red-shirts are ready for the season to end," Dercher said. "They're tired of getting beat up on the scout teams. But there were a lot of games we could have folded from already. Oklahoma State, Texas A&M;, Baylor -- we lost pretty bad to Nebraska, but we came back and beat Colorado. Hopefully we'll come back and beat up on North Texas, then go up and beat Iowa State."
Allen said he was encouraged to have three seniors -- Dercher, Justin Glasgow and Michael Lies -- among the five starters on the offensive line.
"Those guys can be the difference for us on Saturday," Allen said. "If we can perform on the offensive line, we think we can rush the football on this team and be successful."
The second part of the offensive line's mission, protecting the quarterback, is paramount in Dercher's mind. Sophomore Jay Alexander will make his first career start against UNT, in place of the injured Zac Wegner. Alexander's backup is true freshman Jonas Weatherbie or running back Henri Childs.
"You don't want to have your young pups give up their red shirts," Dercher said, "and you don't want a running back at quarterback. That's not a good situation. So we're going to fight our tails off to not get Jay hurt."
Curse of Chase?: Allen said it about UNT starting quarterback Chase Corley. "If I were a superstitious guy ... their guy is Chase Corley. Chuck, Chase. I have a son named Chase. And he's wearing my old college quarterback number. I'll be keeping a close eye on him. I don't want to get bit by Chase."
Youth movement: With a winning season out of reach, some teams go through a youth movement at the end of the year. KU will, too, to some extent. "Basically, we play a lot of young players now anyway," Allen said. However, Allen said some younger linebackers -- like red-shirt freshman Andrew LeClair and Marcus Rogers and sophomore Tim Bowers -- and secondary players, like true freshman Andrew Davison, would see plenty of action.
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.