Imagine if Joe Gibbs had come back to the Redskins for a second time, and instead of four relatively mediocre seasons with a pair of playoff berths, he somehow bettered his first tenure with the team -- three Super Bowl wins and a fourth NFC title in 12 seasons.
That's about where we're headed at this point with Bill Snyder, the 73-year-old football genius who built Kansas State, one of the worst college football programs ever, up from the ashes when he first took over in 1989 and now has returned to do it again. The Wildcats are one of just six undefeated schools in the country at 8-0 and are second in the latest BCS standings. Kansas State, which faces Oklahoma State on Saturday, has beaten three ranked teams.
It doesn't seem possible. Snyder retired in 2005. It looked as if he had finally run out of steam after his team missed out on bowl games in his final two seasons. Former assistant Ron Prince took over and managed three more mediocre years before his contract was bought out.
The school convinced Snyder to return in 2009, and he immediately posted a 6-6 record. In 2010 the Wildcats finished with a winning season (7-6) and made a bowl game. Last year they were 10-3 and played in the Cotton Bowl. Now they have a legitimate shot at a Big 12 title and could play in a BCS bowl or even for the national championship.
The best Snyder has ever done was an 11-1 record and a 1997 Fiesta Bowl victory. Six different times Kansas State won 11 games during Snyder's first tenure. It never finished higher than sixth in the final Associated Press rankings, but this was also a program that had won 21 games total in the 1980s. When Snyder took over, the Wildcats hadn't won a game in two seasons. It's no surprise he coaches in a stadium with his name on it.
- Brian McNally