In Manhattan, a solidified college football program is brewing to the point of boiling over. A transformation era that leaves behind its dreadful records and replaces it with an era of hope and consistency. Not the Manhattan with towering skyscrapers and specific clam chowders. I’m talking about Manhattan, Kan.
The Kansas State Wildcats football program enters the college football scene, once again, as a secret surprise with a forceful punch. This is a team that recently beat down the offensively-potent No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers 55-14 away. Before that? A 24-19 win over then No. 6 Oklahoma. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 300-113 through eight weeks. Those numbers wouldn’t be achievable with Kellen Moore under center for Boise State facing Western Athletic Conference opponents.
Sure, look at Colin Klein, an emerging Heisman candidate with his near 1,400 yards passing, 70.5 percent completion rate and 10 passing touchdowns. Or you can credit the Wildcats’ rock-solid defense, which ranks 14th overall in points allowed (14.1 per game) and has not allowed an opponent to score over 21 points in a game.
I’m looking at someone else. That someone is Head Football Coach Bill Snyder.
To start off, this isn’t Snyder’s first head coaching stint at Kansas State. When it was Snyder’s first year coaching, back in 1989, the situation wasn’t pretty. K-State had gone 299-510 in 89 years of play and had only been to one bowl game, the 1982 Independence Bowl. Kansas State football was equivalent to the Chicago Cubs and their continued chase of a World Series title since their last one in 1908. It just wasn’t happening.
Snyder brought a new face to the program, a fresh and upbeat one for a football program that continued to get kicked in the gut. In 1991, Snyder brought home a 7-4 record, K-State’s second winning season since 1970. Two years later, the Wildcats are in their second ever bowl game, the Copper Bowl, which resulted in a win. In 1998, Kansas State posted an 11-0 record and a No. 1 overall ranking in the polls, a first for the school. This would be 10 years after Sports Illustrated named the Wildcats the worst football program in the country.
Things began to change in 2005, when Snyder announced his retirement after posting an astounding 136-68-1 record. However, this change was brief.
When things began to go sour for then Head Coach Ron Prince, the man who took over for Snyder, Kansas State knew what it had to do. In 2009, Snyder began his second tenure with the university, only to continue to turn more heads.
By 2011, the Wildcats finished with an 11-2 record, good for second in the Big 12 Conference and snubbed of a BCS bowl bid. Currently, Kansas State stands at No. 3 in the BCS standings and is in contention for a National Championship bid.
This coach is a Paul “Bear” Bryant award winner (1998), a Walter Camp Coach of the Year winner (1998) and a Woody Hayes Coach of the Year winner (2011). Those accolades, while impressive, don’t represent what Snyder stands for. This is a coach who took on an adverse and daunting challenge to flip it around 360 degrees. This is a coach who gave a name to a hopeless program. This is one of the greatest coaches our generation will get to witness.