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Knute Rockne. Bear Bryant. Joe Paterno. Woody Hayes. Bud Wilkinson. Amos Alonzo Stagg.
That’s right. Don’t go too far down your list of the greatest college football coaches of all time before you get to that name.
It’s an amazing story. If there was a Lifetime network for men, this could be one of their movies.
The year Bill Snyder was hired, 1989, Sports Illustrated had named Kansas State “Futility U.” — the worst college football program in the history of athletics.
And why not? They had the most losses in Division I history at that time, 510. That encompassed 93 years of losing. They had two winning seasons in 34 years.
Only once in their history had they been to a bowl game. Their trophy case displayed the spoils of one conference title in 34 years. Just in case that wasn’t enough, the team Snyder took over was also on a three year winless streak.
Changes don’t come over night. Snyder’s Wildcats had to crawl before they walked. They managed one win in his opening season, beating North Texas State. There was a long, long way to go.
The next season Kansas State went 5-6. That gets you fired at Alabama but a lifetime contract at K-State.
Snyder had his first winning season in 1991, 7-4. His team slipped back to 5-6 the following year. Then the paradigm shift occurred. From 1993 through 2003 Kansas State went 109-29-1. The Wildcats were running with Oklahoma, Nebraska and anyone else in the country.
During the 1998 season, Kansas State was voted the No. 1 team in the country with an 11-0 record. They lost their last two games to spoil the dream. (Men’s Lifetime would never have let that happen.) But it took a mere 10 years to take Futility U to the very top of the college football world.
No one had ever done so much, so fast with so little.
After a few mediocre seasons, Snyder retired. They immediately attached his name to the stadium. If it weren’t for the Jayhawks at Kansas University, they probably would have named the whole state after him.
The program struggled without him and three years later, he was back. And, soon winning again.
In case you can’t fully grasp this miracle, go to Manhattan sometime. I don’t mean the home of Broadway and Carnegie Hall. I mean the one where a big shopping day takes you to the WalMart on Bluemont Avenue and date night is a movie at the Carmike Cinemas out on Farm Bureau Road.
The speaking circuit isn’t exactly burning up with Bill Snyder requests, either. Have you ever heard him speak? Neither have I. Let’s face it, he doesn’t have this immense, gregarious personality. There is probably a folksy charm to him but he keeps it well hidden.
I don’t know what his secret is, but he sure can win college football games. Last season Snyder went 10-3. Seven of those wins were in games where one score would have changed the outcome.
The wiseguy consensus before this season was the Wildcats would lose at least a few of those games. Betting UNDER on the season win total was practically a prerequisite to label yourself as any type of sharp bettor.
So far, it ain’t happening. The wiseguys still aren’t convinced. They have bet against them in games versus Miami, Oklahoma and even last week against West Virginia. Morgantown is a tough place to play. Fans around the country anticipated this game featuring the undefeated Wildcats against the Mountaineers, one of the most exciting teams in the country.
Kansas State posted 24 points on the board before West Virginia got to the end zone. That was on a kickoff return, by the way. Their offense never scored until halfway through the fourth quarter.
After a 55-14 victory, Kansas State left little doubt they are for real. They have four difficult conference games left in the regular season. Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and Texas. They are not a cinch to win any of them. Now that the world has woken up to them, well, you know how that can go.
Regardless of what does happen, Bill Snyder has enough on his resume to stamp himself as a miracle worker who can rival any in the annals of sports history.
Give me under 407
With 5:10 gone in the Louisiana Tech-Idaho game, the score was 21-14. For you old guys who are impressed by point-a-minute scores, this was just shy of a touchdown a minute. Had the same pace been kept up, the game would have produced 406 points.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Chris has a dedicated thread in the Pregame.com forums, answering your questions and more. Contact Chris at [email protected].