Mr. 202 and the Greatest Turnaround in College Football History

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December 28th, 2016 the Kansas State Wildcats defeated former Big 12 foe the Texas A&M Aggies (33-28) in the Texas Bowl. The emotional win may have completed Bill Snyder’s career as his short 2 season contract has expired. The 77 year old coach retired after the 2005 season giving Ron Prince the opportunity to keep K-State’s program among the rankings. After Ron Prince led the wildcats to a Texas Bowl loss in 2006, Prince and the wildcats failed to make any bowl games throughout the 2008 season. Following the 2009 season the Kansas State Wildcats offered Bill Snyder another contract.

As expected results came fast for Bill Snyder, and the Wildcats immediately participated in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Bill Snyder wasn’t new to success before taking a job at Kansas State. At Iowa University Bill Snyder was the offensive coordinator under legendary coach Hayden Fry. Snyder coached among arguably the greatest college football coaching staff of all time in the 1980’s, standing by Hayden Fry, and Bob Stoops. In 1985, the Iowa Hawkeyes finished 10-1 with their first Big Ten outright Championship since 1958 and a Rose Bowl Championship.

In 1988, Kansas State offered Bill Snyder a head coaching job. Kansas State was the worst division 1 football program in the country at the time. Players would go door to door handing out free tickets just to get people to come to the games and fans could bring coolers and pets into the stadium. It’s safe to say that Kansas State football was desperate and was going big or going home. If the Bill Snyder experiment didn’t work, the football program was seriously going to think about shutting down.

As for Bill Snyder, he had never had a head coaching job before and accepted the offer. As he was excited, he was likely nervous and didn’t know exactly what to say in the press conference. Bill Snyder ended up saying one of the most remarkable statements in college football history that changed Kansas State football, and college football itself. “It’s a tremendous challenge here and I think this has the opportunity for the greatest turnaround in college football, exists here today, and it’s not, and it’s not one to be taken lightly.”

Bill Snyder’s first season in 1989 was a disaster of a season but no different than the circumstances he came to as the wildcats finished (1-10) and ranked 100th out of 106 FBS programs. However, his second season Bill Snyder was already jumping to results as the Wildcats finished (5-6), then (7-4 ranked 34th), then back to (5-6). After Snyder’s fourth season K-State fans were sitting on the edge of their seats again but more results proved Snyder was the right guy with a win-loss record of (9-2-1) in his fifth season, already ranked #12 in the polls. As Snyder’s coaching career continued at Kansas State the more they excelled leading the wildcats to 18 bowl games (8-10) and to 2 Big 12 Championships. Snyder and the Wildcat’s first Big 12 title was in 2003, their second was in 2012 and they were inches away from more throughout the years. Winning Big 8 and Big 12 titles were hard to come by with the Oklahoma Sooners, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Texas Longhorns in the conference as the three programs have always been power houses.

In 2005, Kansas State named the football stadium “Bill Snyder Family Stadium” before the final game of Bill Snyder’s first retirement. In 2015, Bill Snyder was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is only the fourth person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame while still coaching. Bill Snyder could be offered another short contract extension but I thought it’d be best to appreciate his work incase he doesn’t. Bill Snyder truly completed his goal with the greatest turnaround in college football history.

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