The Case for Coach Snyder

6 Dec

Bill Snyder hugs senior Sammuel Lamur before Lamur's last home game. Photo: Orlin Wagner / AP

Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder is one of 10 finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. This is an honor voted on by fans, and the recipient receives $50,000 for a charity of his choice as well as $20,000 in scholarships for his university.

In 20 seasons with Kansas State, Snyder has already been Coach of the Year several times before. He deserves it again this season.

Beginning of season: The Wildcats were picked to finish eighth out of 10 teams in the league. The team had nine guys starting who had never started before. The team that got seven regular-season wins in 2010 had lost its NFL-caliber running back Daniel Thomas to graduation, and heir apparent Bryce Brown never materialized. Last but not least, it is well publicized that Kansas State is not a place that usually gets 4-star or 5-star recruits. Over the years, it has been a football team known for overachieving with a roster of 2-star and 3-star and junior college players. This year, it was the same way.

End of regular season: The Wildcats (10-2) finished No. 8 in the BCS poll, barely missing out on a BCS bowl and landing in the Cotton Bowl. They won eight games by seven points or less. The only opponents they blew out were Kent State and the University of Kansas. In all the others, it went down to the wire. That kind of close-game, crunch-time survival has everything in the world to do with coaching. Persevering through a grind of a game, week after week, takes mental toughness, and Snyder has instilled that in his players. Being able to win games with little separation week after week also takes discipline, and Snyder stresses attention to detail. The coach refers to what the team needs to do as “being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there,” and throughout the season the Wildcats have minimized penalties and turnovers.

Bottom line: In reality, there have not been any Heisman contenders on this year’s team, and maybe not even any All-Americans. It’s possible that no names on this year’s roster are top-10 picks in the NFL draft. What’s beautiful about what Bill Snyder has done at Kansas State, though, is that none of that stuff has to matter. If kids buy into a program, work hard, do their best to support the success of their coaches and teammates, an awful lot can be accomplished.

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