July 4, 2012
Editor's Note: Today is the second of a two-part series recognizing the top four athletes in school history that would comprise K-State's Mount Rushmore. Monday highlighted the women's side, while today's article will showcase the men's `Mount Wildcat.'
By Mark Janssen
As we chatted on Monday, it's a holiday week to celebrate America as we announced our female `Mount Wildcat': Judy Akers, women's pioneer for Title IX and Wildcat coach in multiple sports; Austra Skujyte, a four-time Olympic heptathlete and unquestionably the best overall female athlete in K-State history; and, from basketball, Kendra Wecker and Nicole Ohlde from the storied team of the early-2000s.
Today, K-State Sports Extra reveals its `Mount Wildcat' for men with a personal comment, followed by a mini-resume.
In all honesty, we need two... maybe the first for pre-1960 and the second post-1960. But since they haven't added a second part to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we're sticking by the same rules and going with our top four most notable male athletes/contributors to K-State athletics on the men's side.
ERNIE BARRETT: When your nickname is `Mr. K-State,' that says it all.
Barrett not only was an All-American for coach Jack Gardner on the hardwood, but he helped lead the Wildcats to the 1951 NCAA Final Four where they finished second. That team went 25-4, which included a Big Seven title-winning 11-1 record.
After a career with the NBA Boston Celtics in which he was the seventh selection in the 1951 draft, Barrett joined the K-State administrative staff and served as director of athletics from 1969-1975, and he later headed the Wildcats' developmental team.
Whether it be KSU Stadium (now Bill Snyder Family Stadium), Bramlage Coliseum, R.V. Christian Track or Tointon Family Stadium, it was Barrett's efforts through fundraising that made those facilities - plus so many more - possible for Kansas State.
Barrett's thumbprint is on the Kansas State athletic scene like no other Wildcat as he served the university as a student-athlete, coach and/or administrator for 60 years.
Bill Snyder: Without question, the best coach of any sport in K-State history and headed to the Hall of Fame.
It's all in the record book. All accomplishments where "They Said It Couldn't Be Done." All feats that helped create the "Miracle in Manhattan."
Simply said, Snyder, no more than an offensive coordinator from Iowa and a first-time head coach, took the losingest program in college football and placed it among the elite teams in America.
Snyder's 159 all-time wins are 120 more than any other Wildcat football coach
K-State has nine seasons of at least 10 wins, with eight of those being Snyder-coached teams
Kansas State has gone to 15 bowl games with Snyder being the coach for 13 of those
The Wildcats earned its first No. 1 ranking late in the 1998 season with Snyder at the helm
Snyder led the Cats to four Big 12 North titles and a Big 12 Conference championship in 2003
The three-time National Coach of the Year and four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year retired after the 2005 season, but he returned three years later after the Wildcats had gone 17-20 during his absence. In those next three seasons, Snyder reconstructed the program to where it was a 10-game winner in 2011 and a team ranked No. 8 in the nation after picked no higher than eighth in the Big 12's preseason poll.
TEX WINTER: The only individual that was a part of all four trips to the Final Four - 1948, 1951, 1958 and 1964.
From 1953 through 1968, Fred "Tex" Winter led Kansas State's basketball team to a .689 winning percentage, which included 216 wins.
In 1958 and 1964, Winter guided teams to the NCAA's Final Four to highlight a career where seven of his teams entered postseason play and eight won Big Seven/Eight Conference championships. That does not include his years as an assistant to Jack Gardner, which included a pair of Final Four appearances.
Through his invention of the triple-post offense, Winter won National Coach of the Year honors once and today is in the Naismith and National Collegiate Basketball Halls of Fame.
While not as a Wildcat, Winter later coached in the NBA and was a part of 10 professional championships with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. His coaching career started in 1946 and did not end until 2010 when he was a special assistant to the Lakers. Yes, that's a part of eight different decades devoted to basketball, which included the 1940s, 50s and 60s at K-State.
THANE BAKER: A surprise, I'm sure, but he is the most decorated Olympic athlete in Kansas State history.
Gold in the 400-meter relay in 1956. Silver in the 200 meters in 1952 and 100 meters in 1956. Bronze in the 200 meters in 1956.
From Elkhart, Kan., Baker surly had training runs that started in Kansas, but here's to guessing he entered Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma as well. Thane Baker had times that equaled the world records of Jesse Owens of 10.2 in the 100 meters and 20.6 in the 200 meters. In addition, Baker owned world records in the 100-yard dash at 9.3, indoor 60 at 6.1 and indoor 300 at 29.4.
Including relays, Baker was a part of an unprecedented eight Big Seven outdoor championships in the 100 and 200, and four indoors in the 60 and 440. He was also a five-time outdoor All-American, scoring honors in the 100 and 220 in 1951-53. The NCAA did not stage indoor championships during Baker's era.
Following his collegiate and Olympic days, Baker continued to run in the Masters division past the age of 50, setting numerous world sprint standards, while he is in the Masters Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Now, how about yours? Steve Fritz from track? Jack Hartman, Bob Boozer, Mike Evans or Jacob Pullen from basketball? Or how about Lynn Dickey, Mark Simoneau or Darren Sproles from football? Let me know.
If nothing else, we hope this makes for a great Fourth of July picnic discussion.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.