You know a coach’s time is juuuuuussst about up when you start seeing stories like this one in the local press.
The Kansas State football program has regularly withheld bowl rings earned by players who leave the program the following semester. While there are some select few who have departed campus with a ring in hand, the list of those who are still without a physical memento representing the culmination of a season’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears runs much longer.
That ran in the most prominent K-State fan magazine, Powercat Illustrated, and if you think there is any chance this kind of reporting would have seen the light of day if Kansas State had a winning record, I submit that you have not paid very close attention to the buildups of college coaches getting fired.
That’s OK. That’s what I’m here for.
Powercat Illustrated, the Kansas City Star and some other local media institutions have already called for Bill Snyder, 79, to step down for the good of the program he rescued for the first time in 1989, and rescued for the second time in 2009.
To make one thing clear, I don’t think Kansas State is about to fire Bill Snyder in a technical sense. To make another thing clear, though, Kansas State, its boosters and its fans are making Snyder’s decision for him, and whatever language they all ultimately use to describe it is pretty much irrelevant. Unless Snyder wants to get into a standoff with K-State — which he might — this thing is already over.
Typically, the “let’s see if there are former players mad about something” reporting only starts coming out when momentum has already turned against the coach. Feeling that — and very often encouraged by boosters — reporters get bolder, sources get more talkative and fans just pile on. Unless Snyder announces his retirement soon, this won’t be the last airing of grievances by former players or other K-State types in the local press.
This is working out to be an undignified ending for a guy I think is possibly (probably?) the best college football coach of all time, if you’re measuring that by the sheer distance he dragged his program. Nick Saban took Alabama from a 90 to a 99. Bill Snyder took K-State from a 0 to a 90, and kept it there for most of 30 years. His name is on the stadium Kansas State plays in, it’s on the highway you take into town, and there’s a statue of him out front.
I can say this with practically no exaggeration: Every good thing that has ever happened to Kansas State’s football program has been directly because of Bill Snyder.
And now he’s getting run off.
It doesn’t feel right, but at the same time, it also feels like this should be Snyder’s last season. The team has a noticeable talent deficit, which is nothing new. But what is new is that it doesn’t have any of the old Snyder advantages, either. Kansas State is last in the Big 12 in kick returns and in the middle of the pack in punting, punt returns and turnover margin. Since coming out of retirement in 2009, Snyder’s unconventional running game has carried the Wildcats, and Kansas State is third in the Big 12 in rushing with 179 yards per game, but the Wildcats are allowing 170 rushing yards per game themselves, and they have the league’s worst pass offense by a fair margin.
(The kickoff coverage unit remains excellent).
Also, Snyder himself seems a little off this year. He singled out one player for a loss to TCU, which is not the sort of thing anybody is used to hearing from Snyder. He apologized for that.
Then there was the moment in which Snyder, in his own Snyderian verbiage, suggested this might be the worst K-State team he’s ever had.
Maybe in his own little way, Snyder is letting everybody know that he knows they know he knows this season is going to be it for the author of the Miracle in Manhattan.
It was bound to happen sometime. I don’t think this is quite how anybody imagined it.