MANHATTAN — If you’re a frustrated Kansas State fan, Dalton Risner feels your pain.
If you’re a hater, that’s a different matter.
With K-State fighting to salvage what is quickly becoming a lost season, the last thing Risner wants to hear from anyone — fans or media — is anyone tearing down his team or his coaches.
“I don’t get on social media because it’s so bad,” Risner, the Wildcats’ senior offensive tackle and co-captain, said Tuesday during the Wildcats’ weekly media gathering. “I see a lot of what people in here write, too, and it’s unfortunate to see what some people write about my coaches and write about our team, and I don’t like it.
“But it is what it is, and that’s part of the game and unfortunately in life whenever things go astray and things start to get negative, people love to point fingers. And I can’t stand it.”
Risner’s rant came in response to a question about unrest within a team that is tied with Kansas for last in the Big 12 at 1-5, 3-6 overall, heading into this week’s Sunflower Showdown against the Jayhawks. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Snyder Family Stadium.
K-State coach Bill Snyder, 79, routinely faces questions about his future at this time every year. But it has intensified of late, especially with the Wildcats in danger of failing to qualify for a bowl game for the first time in nine years.
Columnists from several media outlets already have called for him to retire.
“I understand the fans,” Risner said. “They might donate a lot of money to this team or just be alumni and they want to see us be successful, and I understand frustration.
“But there’s a huge difference between frustration and trying to sink this ship. Some of the stuff I’ve seen from (media members) in this room and then fans at Kansas State, it’s unwarranted; it’s unneeded.”
Snyder, who retired once in 2005 following back-to-back losing seasons, returned after three lackluster years under Ron Prince with the self-proclaimed mission to “calm the waters.”
The Wildcats went 6-6 and did not go to a bowl in 2009, his first year back, and he has led them to eight straight bowl games and one Big 12 championship. But the team must now win its last three games get to six victories and keep that streak alive.
“We realize that our backs are against the wall in this scenario,” junior center Adam Holtorf said. “We need three more wins to get bowl eligible and we’ve got three games left, so that means we’ve got to win out.
“Everybody realizes that, realizes the challenge that presents and is attacking the work with a great deal of effort and high attitude in terms of trying to correct everything we can to make that possible.”
Snyder, the ultimate grinder, doesn’t question his team’s desire to turn the season around over the last three games. The Wildcats did just that in 2015, when they rebounded from a six-game losing streak to win out and qualify for a bowl.
“I think everybody wants to,” he said. “It’s a matter of, what can we do about that?
“That’s the key element for us, be invested in it. It’s a tough time — and I don’t think I have to tell you that — for young guys and it’s being able to get through that, to work through that and be able to put the adversity aside and strive for that which is most significant to you, that which you desire to do.”
Junior receiver Dalton Schoen expressed confidence in his teammates to deliver.
“The leaders of the team I think have done a great job of stepping up and speaking their mind, how much they want this and how much it means to them,” he said. “I think that inspires guys around them and there’s no doubt everyone’s bought in.”
That, Snyder said, is more important than any fan or media criticism.
“I would imagine people are upset about the fact that we’re whatever our record happens to be,” he said. “But the most significant thing is what takes place in this vicinity — how are the players responding?
“What can we as coaches do, what can players do and how can we right the ship, so to speak.”
The ship, Risner declared, is just fine.
“We’re all behind coach Snyder 100 percent,” he said. “We’re getting hit by waves, we’re getting beaten and everyone knows that.
“But we’re fully intact. Everyone’s on board, and if you’re not on board, you can go home.”