I feel honestly terrible, because I completely overlooked Kansas State initially.
And I don’t know how.
Ok. For those of you who aren’t familiar, in the 93 years before Snyder stepped into Manhattan, KS as the head coach in 1989, Kansas State’s all-time record stood at 299-510 (.370).
Under Snyder, the Wildcats have seen much greater success. Snyder has coached K State to a 159-83-1 overall record, while leading the program to their only conference title in 2003.
In 2003, Kansas State upset No. 1-ranked Oklahoma for the Big 12 title, before falling to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats followed 2003 with a 4-7 record ’04 and a 5-6 record in ’05. Snyder decided to retire after the 2005 season from the game and school he made so prominent.
For Kansas State, and Wildcat fans, it was a disappointing send-off for Snyder.
A legendary coach who made the school relevant in football finishing with two subpar seasons? Sure, Synder’s name was on the stadium, but the finish wasn’t what anyone wanted for a man who gave so much to the school, when no one really expected him to.
Ron Prince took over for Snyder in 2005 and the Wildcats returned to a bowl game, which they ended up losing, and finished the season with a 7-6 (4-4) record.
The next two seasons continued slides into mediocrity, with two 5-7 campaigns. Enough was enough, and the Wildcats bought Prince out. With the buyout of Prince, brought the return of Snyder.
What Snyder was then able to accomplish made me raise an eyebrow. It didn’t surprise or shock me, however, because Snyder can coach and his coaching tree is extensive.
It’s taken three seasons for Snyder to bring back Kansas State’s winning ways. In 2011, the Wildcats lost only two conference games, then-No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 3 Oklahoma State, respectively, and their bowl game to No. 7 Arkansas.
The Wildcats finished 2011 as the No. 15-ranked team in the nation.
In 2012, the ‘Cats look to continue their winning ways on the arm and legs of senior QB Collin Klein, who is coming off his first year as a starter. He played time at wide receiver in 2009.
[Related: Big 12 vs SEC Rivalry Continues]
Much has been said about Klein’s mechanics, but the fact is, the kid can make things happen.
Klein accounted for 40 scores last year (13 passing, 27 rushing). Not quite Tebow-esque, but still highly effective.
Klein’s humility has the potential to take Kansas State far. During Big 12 Media Days, Klein spoke more about his off-season work ethic to improve his form, than about how great of a season he led the Wildcats to in 2011.
Despite Klein’s focus, the Wildcats received no love from Big 12 media members, as they were picked to finish 6th in the conference, behind newcomers TCU and West Virginia.
Kansas State has a manageable schedule in the first three weeks, with home contests against Missouri State, Miami (FL) and North Texas. The road to the Big 12 title gets a bit tougher in Week 4, when the Wildcats head to Norman to face-off against Snyder’s former pupil, Bob Stoops, and his Sooners.
With a schedule that has Oklahoma State and Texas visiting Manhattan, and road trips to West Virginia, TCU and Baylor, I expect similar things out of K-State this year as last.
2012 Big 12 Story Lines
- No. 10 Bob Bowlsby, New Commish in Town
- No. 9 Red Raiders and Cyclones, Where do we go?
- No. 8 New Skipper Who Looks Like He Ate the Old One
- No. 7: Big 12 vs SEC Rivalry Continues
- No. 6: Oklahoma State, Life After Success
- No. 5: Baylor, Continuing Success