Evil Gail’s comment on my Butler post brought up an interesting point: as with last year’s Missouri team, it was hard for me not to like this year’s Kansas State team. Rival or not, I like teams that have a personality/style, play hard, and have players that make big shots in important situations. This year’s Wildcats fit that description to a T.

I don’t think I’m the only Big 12 fan out there who will admit I was wrong about Frank Martin. When he was hired to take over for Bob Huggins, I held the non-K-State fan line: he was a figurehead designed to keep Dalonte Hill on the staff and Michael Beasley on campus the next season who, with his past and personality, was sure to get K-State placed on probation quickly.

We were wrong.

He might be a nut job on the sidelines during games, but it’s clear he’s a legitimate Division 1 coach. He’s done what no coach has done at K-State since Lon Kruger left: turn them back into a contender both within the conference and nationally.

As I told a few people in Kansas City a week ago, I like Frank Martin for another reason: he’s a character. College coaches these days tend to be vanilla. They are media savvy and want to protect their contracts, so few rock the boat. There are plenty of coaches out there I don’t like, but I don’t like them because they are arrogant or whiners or phonies. There aren’t many true characters like there were in the Big 8 in the mid-to-late 80s, when Norm Stewart, Billy Tubbs, and Johnny Orr patrolled the sidelines. Frank Martin is in that class, with a twist.

Off-the-court, he seems like about the nicest guy in the world. He’s always full of good things to say about his opponents, his players, and the game in general. He seems like a guy I’d want to talk hoops with if we ran into each other.

But during games….dude is a maniac. There are plenty of coaches who perform on the sidelines. But with Martin there is an undercurrent of danger in his actions. I always feel like he’s right on the edge of going Bobby Knight, if not worse, on a player. In an age where few coaches are willing to show their true personalities on the sidelines, I enjoy watching him.

This leaves me in a strange situation. I admire Frank Martin and his teams. I admire Mike Anderson and his teams. My least favorite Big 12 coach? That phony, Eddie Haskell M-Fer in Waco. I never thought I’d see the day when I had more dislike for the basketball coach at Baylor than those coaching KU’s two biggest rivals.

Wacky, wild stuff.