SE: K-State Through The Decades | Part Two

Earlier this fall, K-State Athletics established a new way to engage former student-athletes from around the state, region, nation and world with the launch of the Varsity K Club. Since the first K-State football team took the field in 1896, over 10,000 men and women have represented 20 sports programs by wearing a K-State uniform. The Varsity K Club provides an exclusive opportunity for former student-athletes to reconnect with former teammates and stay up to date with recent K-State Athletics news and events. 

Leading up to the Varsity K Club’s inaugural All-Sport Reunion Weekend taking place Nov. 20-22, K-State Sports Extra will give its readers a quick look back at K-State Athletics’ past 119 years.  

Through this three-part, weekly series, K-State Sports Extra will hit on key events, spotlight former student-athletes and recognize defining moments in K-State throughout the years. To read Part 1, highlighting 1986-1950, please click here. 

A look through the years | 1960-1989
1960-69 - In 1963, K-State golfer Jim Colbert burst onto the scene, finishing as the NCAA Championship runner-up in 1964. Also during the spring of 1964, K-State basketball made its fourth trip to the Final Four, as Tex Winter’s squad upset No. 5 Wichita State in Wichita with All-American Willie Murrell leading the way. In track and field, Ken Swenson was a four-time All-American during his late 1960s career, winning four NCAA Championships and later competing in the Olympics.

1970-79 – The legendary Jack Hartman was hired in 1970 as the head men’s basketball coach and was quick to bring success to the program, leading the Wildcats to three Big 8 regular-season and tournament championships, while also capturing two Elite Eights, three Sweet 16s and leading teams to nine postseason appearances. The team’s success was highlighted by Lon Kruger, a two-time Big 8 Player of the Year honoree, Mike Evans, the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer of all-time and a fellow two-time Big 8 Player of the Year honoree, and Chuckie Williams, who was a two-time All-American.  

Women’s basketball began in 1968 as an official intercollegiate sport, but it wasn’t until 1971 that Judy Akers’ squad began its legendary run of success with the program’s first postseason appearance in the AIAW Region Tournament. From that point on, Akers’ teams averaged 22 wins per season and posted a then-school record 28 wins in 1975-76, claiming the first of four consecutive regular-season Big 8 championships. With the implementation of Title IX in 1972, many female sports achieved intercollegiate status, including volleyball, which began its first season in 1974. In track and field, Teri Anderson became the first woman to earn All-America status in that sport for K-State, winning four Big 8 titles over her career.

1980-89 – Men’s basketball success from the 1970s continued into the 80s. Two-time First Team All-American Rolando Blackman started his career in 1979, but he hit arguably the greatest shot in K-State history as a senior in 1981. With time running out, Blackman’s jumper helped the Wildcats upset No. 2 Oregon State in the NCAA Tournament en route to an eventual Elite Eight appearance. A few years later, Lon Kruger returned to K-State to take over as head coach, leading the Wildcats to four-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including another Elite Eight appearance in 1988, led by All-American Mitch Richmond. That same season, the Wildcats unveiled a new home for K-State basketball with the addition of Bramlage Coliseum. 

The Wildcat women’s basketball team also enjoyed success during this time, as head coach Lynn Hickey led K-State to five-consecutive postseason appearances, including an Elite Eight in 1982. Led by All-Americans Priscilla Gary and Tami Romstad, and later by three-time All-Big 8 pick Carlisa Thomas, the Wildcats won five Big 8 Championships during the 1980s and averaged 21 wins per season. In track and field, four-time All-American Deb Phil set a total of five Big 8 indoor and outdoor records during her career, and she still owns the school record in the indoor mile and the outdoor 3,000 meters. In baseball, the arrival of Mike Clark in the latter part of the 1980s sparked a revival of the program, highlighted by the career of Craig Wilson, who was a two-time All-American and the program’s first Consensus All-American as a senior. 

Finally, no singular event changed the course of K-State Athletics as much as the hiring of Bill Snyder as head football coach in 1989, a move that would forever alter the success of K-State Athletics.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Clarence Scott, Football 1968-1970
In 1971, NFL Draft Day was nothing like it is today.

There were no cameras, no red carpets and no fancy dinners. There was no ESPN, no Twitter – there was nothing flashy about it.

“The top guys didn’t go into New York and they didn’t have a TV show about the guys waiting in those days. We didn’t have that,” explained Clarence Scott, K-State defensive back from 1968-1970. “We stayed in our dormitories. All the teams had your number and information. You stayed in your dorm and they’d give you a call and let you know what team chose you.”

In 1971, after helping lead the Wildcats to a 6-5 season in 1970 – their best record in 16 years – Scott was selected in the first round as the No. 14 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.

“So, I stayed in the athletic dorm and got a call from Art Modell, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns,” added Scott. “I got a call saying I was Cleveland’s No. 1 draft choice and that I was the first defensive back taken in the draft. So that was really good.

“And, oh, let me give you this part: not only was I a No. 1 draft choice, but my favorite team growing up was always the Cleveland Browns because of Jim Brown,” continued Scott. “He was my favorite player.”

The road to the NFL Draft wasn't an easy one. It took Scott a lot of hard work, but it was all worth it in the end.

During Scott’s time at K-State, he helped the Wildcats earn their first-ever win over a top-10 team as Kansas State defeated No. 8 Colorado, 21-20, on Oct. 3, 1970. That same year, his senior season, he helped K-State lead the Big 8 Conference in total defense, while the Wildcats ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation. 
  
A team leader, Scott was one of K-State’s four captains his senior season and earned First Team All-America honors – becoming K-State’s first All-American in 17 years – in addition to being a First Team All-Big Eight honoree. As an All-American, he had the opportunity to play in numerous postseason All-Star games and even took a trip to Hollywood to appear on the Bob Hope Show with fellow All-Americans from throughout the nation.

“I played in all the postseason All-Star Games – the Senior Bowl in Mobile, the East-West All-Star game in Miami,” said Scott. “Then there was the College All-Star Game, the top college players would play the team that had won the NFL Championship. It was played the end of the summer before the pro teams would go to training camp to prepare for the season.”

After his collegiate career, Scott spent 13 years playing in the NFL with the Browns, was a three-time All-Star and played in the 1973 Pro Bowl. In 1973 – one of Scott’s most exciting seasons – he recorded five interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. His 34 career interceptions are tied for 84th all-time in the NFL.
He credits his success with not only the Browns, but also his life, to the lessons learned as a K-State Wildcat.

“K-State was a great opportunity for me to continue my education coming out of high school,” said Scott. “It was a great opportunity for me to go on and earn a degree for myself, which I did in social science. Although it was a long ways away as well as a different environment than Atlanta, it was a good, clean, wholesome place to be for me out of high school with good people, good athletics, a good football program, and Coach Gipson was a good coach.

“I was around some of the top coaches in the country and I learned from them. When it was time for me to move on to the next level, I think just the exposure and the contact that I had with great college coaches and the program that helped me. It helped my confidence. I was ready when the NFL called.”

Scott was recently inducted into the K-State Football Ring of Honor and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He said he attends K-State football watch parties any opportunity he gets.

“It is wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” he said with a laugh when asked about spending time with fellow K-Staters at the watch parties. “It’s the next best thing to being in Manhattan. The next best thing to being in Manhattan is walking in a restaurant or bar here in Atlanta and seeing the purple all over the place. Seeing the logos everywhere, it’s great, it’s really, really great.”

Stay tuned next for next week’s K-State Sports Extra story looking at the Wildcats’ success from 1990-2015. For more information on the Varsity K Club and to learn how you can get involved, please click here. For information on the upcoming Inaugural Varsity K Club Weekend, please contact Matt Giller at mgiller@kstatesports.com.


 

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 Kelly McHugh-Stewart or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.