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In 1988, I covered a game between 0-8 Kansas and 0-8 Kansas State. The idea was to describe the bottom rung of the college football ladder. The Jayhawks, with first-year coach Glen Mason, beat the Wildcats 30-12.
That was the state of the program when Bill Snyder arrived in Manhattan from Iowa a few months later. The state of the Wildcats as he retires Tuesday is simply this: Kansas State went 4-7 last year and is 4-6 this season. Twenty years ago, eight wins in two seasons would have gotten him a parade through the Little Apple.
Snyder used astute scheduling and recruited a lot of junior college players to bring the Wildcats to respectability. He also hired outstanding coaches and worked them hard. Six former assistants have I-A head coaching jobs: Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Mike Stoops (Arizona), Jim Leavitt (South Florida), Mark Mangino (Kansas), Phil Bennett (SMU) and, beginning in a couple of weeks, Bret Bielema, who will replace Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin.
It's also worth noting that Kansas State began to struggle as the NCAA ratcheted up the academic progress demands on players. Snyder recruited heavily at the academic margins. That's not a judgment -- that's the reality of luring players to Manhattan. That we're even having this discussion is an indication of what Snyder built.
Snyder and Alvarez coached together for Hayden Fry at Iowa. Snyder turned Kansas State around. A year later, Alvarez arrived at Wisconsin and turned around another dormant program. They are the two best rebuilding jobs in my lifetime.
Come to think of it, though, only Alvarez rebuilt. Snyder built something on an empty lot. He has 135 wins in 17 seasons. In the previous 54 seasons, the Wildcats had won 137 games. For that reason alone, I would be stunned if Snyder doesn't arrive at the College Football Hall of Fame in three years.
-- Ivan Maisel
On The Herd on ESPN Radio, Colin Cowherd said Bill Snyder accomplished one of the toughest things in sports: "He won and he won big at Kansas State."
Cowherd called Snyder's success "the single greatest coaching job in the history college sports."