Now or never for Bruce Weber

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Head coach Bruce Weber directs his team during the Wildcats' game against Texas on Feb. 22, 2016, inside Bramlage Coliseum. (Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

Last season may have been rough… but at least K-State beat Kansas at home. There was no postseason. The events that transpired in the post-postseason weren’t fun… but at least fans were treated to a court-storming celebration in the Octagon of Doom.

For the past two seasons, the Wildcats have found a way to best the Jayhawks at home.

This streak was snapped last weekend when K-State fell 63-72 to Kansas.

The loss could hold some major damage for Weber’s future with the program. It’s an unwritten rule in college basketball: You have to beat your rival, especially at home.

There’s a wide range of emotion between beating the top team in the country and getting humiliated by your in-state rivals on your home court. Those emotions can take a toll on players and fans alike, and fans are starting to lose patience.

Weber is on thin ice. His poor history of locking in quality recruits is not helping him stay above water.

In 2005, just two seasons after Weber took over the coaching job at Illinois from Bill Self, he was in the championship game in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois finished the season 37-2. After the ninth season under Weber, Illinois finished 17-15 and missed the tournament completely.

One season after taking over Frank Martin’s job at K-State in 2012, Weber was named the 2013 Big 12 Coach of the Year, and the Wildcats were regular season conference champions. K-State made back-to-back tournament appearances in Weber’s first two seasons.

But as Martin’s players started to weed out, things started to go south.

First, last season was a trainwreck. This season, K-State’s young players are desperately trying to regain control on a roller coaster ride of a season.

Weber’s current contract runs through the 2018-19 season, but not many fans are willing to wait that long for a change.

Last season, shortly after the fiasco involving sophomore guard Marcus Foster and freshman guard Tre Harris, I read a book by John Feinstein called “Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four.” The book served as a reminder that Weber has been somewhere a K-State team hasn’t been in over 60 years: the national championship game.

There is a chapter documenting North Carolina head coach Roy Williams’ reaction after winning his first championship over Weber and Illinois. Feinstein writes that Williams caught Weber as he was leaving the court.

“You had a great year,” Williams said to Weber. “You will be back here. Your time will come. You’re a great basketball coach.”

As a coach, making it to the Final Four once is monumental, twice is extraordinary and anything over that is legendary. If Feinstein’s account of that interaction is accurate, then when will Bruce Weber’s time come? Or have his shining moments already passed?

This season won’t be the last for “Bruceketball.” Time might be running short for Weber, but he will get the chance to turn things around and get K-State back on schedule. It’s on Weber to take advantage of that chance.

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