"If Lon hadn't led them to four straight NCAA Tournaments, I'm not sure a new conference would have included Kansas State."
Fortunately for Kansas State, major conference shifting didn't occur for several more years.
Arkansas joined the SEC in 1990, the first major domino to fall in what would shape future BCS conferences.
By that time, Kruger had the basketball program back on track, highlighted by an Elite Eight finish in 1988.
Bill Snyder was on the brink of turning around the football program, leading K-State to 11 consecutive bowls (1993-2004).
When the Big Eight joined four Texas schools in 1996 to form the Big 12 it was a no brainer to include Kansas State.
"By then, Kansas State had some purple chips on the table," Holthus said. "Subsequently, they became part of the Big 12. But if conferences were formed a little sooner, and Lon hadn't brought basketball back, I don't know if it would have ended well for Kansas State."