Kansas State finally reaping rewards of rebuilding
This wasn’t the rebuilding job that Bill Snyder inherited the
first time he arrived at Kansas State. Not by a long shot. The
program back then was on the verge of extinction, its facilities on
the level as some high school programs – and its performance on the
field not much better.
Instead, Snyder came back from a brief retirement three years
ago to ”calm the waters.”
There was plenty of angst surrounding the program after the
rollercoaster ride of Ron Prince, and Snyder understood that
everything he had built the first time around was on the verge of
coming undone. But there were pieces that he could work with and a
blueprint some 20 years old that he could follow.
Recruit the right players. Build some depth. Instill a winning
After a couple of tedious years, Snyder’s second rebuilding job
is ready to pay off. The Wildcats are coming off their first bowl
appearance since 2006, return 24 players who started at least one
game, and will suit up highly touted brothers Arthur and Bryce
Brown after they sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules.
”If there was a little disarray there, if I could, I wanted to
bring people back into the same kind of environment they’ve become
accustomed to,” the 71-year-old Snyder said Friday during the
program’s annual media day, recalling his decision to return to the
sidelines after three seasons away.
”Maybe we’re beginning to turn the corner a little bit.”
Expectations are certainly high again in Manhattan, just like
they were during the 1990s, those heady days when the Wildcats were
a fixture in the national polls.
Kansas State opens its season against Eastern Kentucky on Sept.
3 before hosting Kent State two weeks later. That should give the
Wildcats ample opportunity to work out any kinks before a visit to
Miami on Sept. 24, their final nonconference game and one that
could prove critical to any sustained success.
The Wildcats, of course, will play the entire Big 12 gauntlet
now that Colorado and Nebraska have left for other conferences.
That includes a homecoming game against Oklahoma, one of the
overwhelming favorites to win the national championship, and
high-profile match-ups against Missouri, Texas Tech and Texas
Most of those teams are expected to be ranked when the AP
preseason poll is released.
”Knowing Coach Snyder, from the top to the bottom, every
position across the board, it’s going to be competitive,” said
Collin Klein, who is first in line to start at quarterback. ”It’s
that way on purpose. Everybody gets an opportunity to make plays.
When you get that opportunity, you’d better make the most of
That’s because there’s somebody else waiting in line.
Snyder believes the Wildcats have more depth across the board
than each of the past two seasons, even though they are well under
the NCAA scholarship limit. He also said several positions are up
for grabs early in fall camp, particularly on defense, where Kansas
State struggled mightily a year ago.
If competition breeds competition, the Wildcats are on the right
”With no depth chart, I think it’s really helping the team a
lot,” wide receiver Broderick Smith said. ”You have everyone out
here working hard, because they’re thinking they have a
One of the big reasons that Snyder has been able to rapidly
rebuild the program is because he’s surrounded by many of the same
coaches that helped establish Kansas State so many years ago.
Co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel started off as a graduate
assistant at Kansas State in 1987 and `88, prior to Snyder’s
arrival from Iowa, back when the program was in the midst of a
30-game winless streak.
His co-coordinator, Del Miller, is in his third stint on the
Kansas State staff. Defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements played
for Snyder and got his start in coaching during the 1999 season,
while Michael Smith followed a similar career trajectory. Defensive
line coach Mo Latimore is starting his 28th year in Manhattan.
And on and on it goes, all the way down to graduate assistants
Jonathan Beasley and Blake Seiler, both former players who
understand the Kansas State culture.
”My first year here was ’94, so as a player there was never a
year I didn’t go to a bowl game. But the guys who built the
foundation, when they weren’t going to bowl games, they have seen
some similarities in the rebuilding,” Clements said. ”It feels
like we’re progressing maybe a little faster than we did back
”I would like to expect that we’d have a better record than we
had last season,” he added. ”I would like to expect there’s not a
game we can’t walk in and win, and I don’t know if we could say
that last couple seasons. So in that respect, maybe expectations
have increased. We’ve certainly made progress.”