Kansas State University

A look at how K-State, first year coaches have finished after 0-2 conference starts

Kansas State has started 0-2 in Big 12 play six times since 2000. The Wildcats have finished with more than eight wins in those seasons only once.

Over the past four years, there have been four first-year power 5 coaches to start 3-0 but lose the first two conference games. One finished with more than eight wins.

Here is a look at how Bill Snyder’s teams did when started 0-2 in the Big 12 and how others across the country fared:


Last year, K-State beat South Dakota and UTSA with a loss to Mississippi State wedged between, but after that, the Wildcats lost three straight to start the Big 12 schedule.

The Cats faced back-to-back ranked opponents in West Virginia and Texas before going on the road to Baylor and starting 0-3 in the Big 12.

By that time, K-State was 2-4 and still hadn’t played TCU, Oklahoma or Iowa State, all of whom it would lose to.

Non-conference: 2-1

Big 12 start: 0-3

Final record: 5-7

Final Big 12 record: 3-6


K-State started 3-0, but its most impressive win came at home against Louisiana Tech, 39-33.

When the Wildcats started Big 12 play, they hit a wall. They lost their first six conference games. K-State salvaged the season with three straight Big 12 wins over Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas. It reached bowl eligibility after the six-game losing streak.

Non-conference: 3-0

Big 12 start: 0-6

Final record: 6-7

Final Big 12 record: 3-6


K-State’s 0-2 Big 12 start in 2013 could come with an asterisk.

The Wildcats had to go to Austin to play Texas and followed it with a road game against No. 21 Oklahoma State. They went another week before finding their first conference win after a home loss to No. 15 Baylor.

K-State won six of its final seven games of the 2013 season, including one against No. 25 Texas Tech.

Non-conference: 2-1

Big 12 start: 0-3

Final record: 8-5

Final Big 12 record: 5-4


2004 was the floor for K-State’s past 0-2 Big 12 starts.

The Wildcats finished with four wins. They lost to Fresno State, Kansas and Colorado. This year’s team already has a road win over an SEC team, so there is little reason to believe 2019 will resemble 2004.

Non-conference: 2-1

Big 12 start: 0-3

Final record: 4-7

Final Big 12 record: 2-6


Opposite of 2004, this is the ceiling.

In 2003, K-State finished 11-4, the only time the Wildcats have started 0-2 in Big 12 play and finished with more than eight wins in this stretch.

K-State had a power 5 non-conference win over California at a neutral site and beat No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game ahead of the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

The Wildcats lost at No. 13 Texas and at OSU to start their Big 12 season before winning six straight conference games.

Non-conference: 4-1

Big 12 start: 0-2

Final record: 11-4

Final Big 12 record: 6-2


In 2001, K-State opened with a 10-6 road win over USC but hit a rock to start its Big 12 schedule.

The Wildcats lost at No. 3 Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas Tech and Texas A&M before beating up KU to earn their first conference victory. The Wildcats caught fire.

K-State won four of its final five regular-season games and lost at No. 2 Nebraska by 10.

Non-conference: 3-0

Big 12 start: 0-4

Final record: 6-6

Final Big 12 record: 3-5

Joe Moorhead - Mississippi State, 2018

K-State coach Chris Klieman’s first season in Manhattan is mirroring Moorhead’s first year in Starkville.

Last year, Moorhead beat K-State on the road for an impressive power 5 win. He started 3-0 in non-conference play. The Bulldogs were flying high but lost their first two SEC games to Kentucky and Florida.

Moorhead’s path to Mississippi State was similar to Klieman’s, too, coming from FCS power Fordham.

Non-conference: 3-0

SEC start: 0-2

Final record: 8-5

Final SEC record: 4-4

Justin Wilcox - California, 2017

Wilcox did one better than Moorhead.

In his first season at Cal, he earned wins over the SEC’s Ole Miss and the ACC’s North Carolina. When Pac-12 football started, the Golden Bears had to play No. 5 USC and Oregon on the road.

They lost both games and another at No. 6 Washington before turning things around over No. 8 Washington State.

Non-conference: 3-0

Pac-12 start: 0-3

Final record: 5-7

Final Pac-12 record: 2-7

P.J. Fleck - Minnesota, 2017

When “Row The Boat” came to Minnesota, it started strong with a 3-0 non-conference record.

That momentum didn’t carry into the Big 10. The Gophers lost three straight, including the conference opener against Maryland at home.

Fleck’s first season mirrored Wilcox’s at Cal.

Non-conference: 3-0

Big 10 start: 0-3

Final record: 5-7

Final Big 10 record: 2-7

Tracy Claeys - Minnesota, 2016

Claeys’ first and only season at Minnesota was a roller coaster.

Claeys won his first three games before losing to Penn State and Iowa to start Big 10 play.

Claeys was fired after suspensions of 10 Minnesota football players accused of having a role in a sexual assault case.

Non-conference: 3-0

Big 10 start: 0-2

Final record: 9-4

Final Big 10 record: 5-4

Related stories from Kansas City Star

Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.