Kansas State has faced some distractions while preparing to play in the Cactus Bowl.
Coach Bill Snyder still is pondering whether or not he will return for the 2018 season, although speculation is he will be back for a 27th season. Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel is leaving to become head coach at UTEP, and there are the usual issues of injuries, final exams and the possibility of players opting to depart the program plus the new wrinkle of the early signing period.
“Our practices have been good,” Snyder said Wednesday. “We haven’t practiced every day because we have final exams and I wanted to make sure they did get some break time. We’ve practiced in blocks of two days or three days so they’ve stayed reasonably fresh.
“The spirit has been positive. As we got close to this period of time when we’re getting ready to leave (the Wildcats flew to Phoenix on Thursday), maybe the last day or so probably wasn’t all I wanted it to be. But leading up to that, I was pleased with their effort.”
Distractions are taking place on a larger scale at UCLA, the Wildcats’ opponent for the Cactus Bowl on Tuesday at Chase Field in Phoenix (8 p.m., ESPN).
The Bruins already have dealt with a coaching change, hiring Chip Kelly to replace the fired Jim Mora. Kelly won’t coach the bowl game, with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch in charge on the field while Kelly has focused his attention on recruiting.
Kelly has made a few staff changes, but Fisch’s future hasn’t been announced. Fisch, in his first year at UCLA, has been linked to the offensive coordinator position at Missouri.
“When the time is right to talk about the next move, I will be sure to let you guys know what that will be,” Fisch told the Los Angeles Times.
The Bruins (6-6) returned to practice Monday after a two-week break due to wildfires in the Los Angeles area, and there still is no definite word on whether quarterback Josh Rosen will play against the Wildcats (7-5).
Rosen, injured in the Cal game Nov. 24, remains under concussion protocol waiting for clearance for contact. The junior is weighing his options to enter the NFL Draft, where he has been projected as a potential No. 1 overall selection, or returning to play for Kelly, who had a successful run at Oregon before two brief NFL stops at Philadelphia and San Francisco.
“I said to Chip the other day there’s nothing in the interim head coach manual about how to handle wildfires and some of the other things that occur, and we were laughing about it,” Fisch told the LA Times.
UCLA isn’t the only team dealing with a coaching change during bowl season, and the outcomes vary from team to team.
“Every place is different,” Snyder said. “Some people can handle it quite well, and some people perhaps can’t. I think the fact that the interim is a very experienced guy and certainly understands their program and is a coordinator (helps). On the other side of the ball, even though they have some younger graduate assistants that will be taking on lead roles, the (defensive) coordinator (Tom Bradley) is basically the same and is a guy with a great deal of experience and has worked with virtually every position out there.
“I don’t know how disruptive it will or won’t be, but my guess is things will probably work out fine for them in regards to that. I don’t think it will have an overly significant impact. It may be a very positive impact, I don’t know.”