KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As long as it’s up to Bruce Weber, he’ll be back for Year 10 at Kansas State next season.
Following K-State’s season-ending 74-68 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 tournament Thursday, Weber addressed rumors that he’s contemplating retirement.
He said there’s no truth to any of it.
“I love coaching,” said the 64-year-old Weber, who is 170-130 in nine seasons in Manhattan, including a pair of Big 12 regular-season titles. “I love practice. I love being around the guys. I love their development. I think we’ve improved as much as any team in the country. I mean, we were so low, we better have improved. I love coaching. I love being around players. So I’m looking forward to next year. I can’t wait.”
Speculation about Weber’s “retirement” has percolated on social media and message boards in recent months.
But the talk ramped up to another level Monday, when a tweet started to gain traction.
“Two big jobs I’m hearing are very likely to open after this season: Kansas State (likely Bruce Weber retirement) and Arizona (Sean Miller past the breaking point with NCAA violations),” tweeted Jeff Ermann, the founder and publisher of 247Sports’ Maryland site.
“Seems like it could be a busy coaching carousel.”
247Sports is a network of sports websites that focuses on college sports.
Weber’s daughter saw the tweet and reached out to him.
“She said, ‘Dad, are you retiring?’ I said, ‘No. Why?’” Weber said. “She said some — I don’t know who it is; some dude on social media said I was retiring. I asked his name and I’ve never even heard of the guy, to be honest. She deals with social media all the time because she’s in advertising, and she said he was verified or had a check (mark). I don’t know what the heck that means, but I guess he must have a lot of people following him. I don’t know if he knows something that I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
Though Weber ranks third in program history in victories by a head coach, the past two seasons have been a struggle. The Wildcats only won 11 games in 2019-20, and Thursday’s setback capped a 9-20 season.
Yet these two forgettable seasons followed two of the best the Wildcats have ever known: They made a run to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18, and then captured a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship in 2018-19 in the final year for the Barry Brown/Kamau Stokes/Dean Wade senior class.
Weber isn’t oblivious to the highs, and lows, he’s experienced during his K-State tenure.
“Obviously, we haven’t won as many games the last two years as you hope,” he said, before making a bit of a pointed statement about his place in K-State history. “But it had been a long time since they had won championships (before I got here).”
Weber conceded that while he didn’t “know anything different” about being back next season, he expects to be, though any concrete decision about his future won’t come until he meets with Gene Taylor, K-State’s athletics department. Per Weber’s contract, which expires April 30, 2023, he is required to sit down with Taylor prior to April 30 of each contract year to discuss the previous season.
Weber agreed to a two-year extension in May 2018, and the university hasn’t extended his contract since.
Taylor told The Mercury on Jan. 30 that the “intention” is for Weber to be back on the sideline for the 2021-22 campaign. At the time, the Wildcats were in the middle of an eight-game losing streak. They went on to lose five more times — the longest skid in Weber’s 23-year career as a head coach, and the second worst in K-State history — before ending the drought last month against TCU.
After that victory over the Horned Frogs, the Wildcats went on to pick up victories in three of their final five outings.
With every player on the roster set to return — potentially including senior Mike McGuirl, who could take advantage of an extra season of eligibility after the NCAA granted players a waiver this year — Weber is eager to see what the group can accomplish next season.
“I think we have a great nucleus,” he said. “Hopefully this group wants to stay together, and (hopefully) this gave them a lot of hope and drive and motivation and we can continue moving forward.”
Weber said an interaction with a homeless man at the team hotel Wednesday in Kansas City hammered home the point that the Wildcats are a work in progress, building now for what it hopes to be a bright future.
“(The man said), ‘Hey, Coach Weber! You know the difference between Kansas and Kansas State? Kansas reloads and you’ve got to rebuild,’” Weber said. “That homeless guy is pretty smart. I think we’ve done that.”
The manner in which they’ve gone about turning around a dismal season in the closing stretch of games, Weber said, can’t be downplayed.
“We’ve done it,” he said, “the right way.”