Manhattan — Ron Prince says coaching Kansas State’s last three games after he’d already been fired provided some important lessons in human nature.
“People are really resilient. They really fight through what normally could be really trying circumstances,” he said.
Josh Freeman, who soon might also be telling Kansas State goodbye, threw four touchdown passes and led the Wildcats to a 38-30 victory over Iowa State on Saturday, sending Prince out a winner. In their first two games with a lame-duck head coach, the Wildcats (5-7, 2-6 Big 12) were blown out by Nebraska and No. 12 Missouri, and some people wondered if they had given up.
“When people from the outside world are telling you that you should cave in or give in, or that there is no hope, that’s not what the human spirit is all about,” Prince said. “That’s why people go climb mountains or go find hidden treasures and find their dreams.”
Hired three years ago, Prince was 17-20 after succeeding Bill Snyder. He was winless against Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, which no doubt hastened his dismissal. Kansas State has not announced a replacement, although athletic director Bob Krause said when he disclosed the firing that he wanted to pick a successor before the end of the season.
“I think I’ve grown a lot as a person,” Prince said. “I think I’ve grown a lot as a coach.”
The victory ended a five-game losing streak for the Wildcats and enabled them to squeeze past Iowa State (2-10, 0-8) and escape last place in the Big 12 North.
Austen Arnaud was 31-for-45 for a school-record 440 yards and three touchdowns for Iowa State, which lost its 17th straight on the road and gave up 226 points in its last five games. Their 626 net yards was third-best in team history.
Nevertheless, the future could also become perilous for Gene Chizik, who is 5-19 in two seasons as Iowa State head coach. After winning their first two games, the Cyclones ended the season on a 10-game losing streak.
Brandon Banks had seven catches for 116 yards for Kansas State, including a 20-yard touchdown, and became the sixth receiver in school history to go over 1,000 yards in a season.