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Life After Snyder, and Kansas State’s Major Problem

Coach Snyder and the Wildcats are expected to contend for the Big 12 Title and the EMAW faithful need to soak every minute of this season in. Because if things don’t change in a hurry, once coach Snyder is gone, so are the chances for contending for the Big 12.

Getty Images - David K. Purdy

In his 25 seasons in Manhattan, Bill Snyder is 202-105-1 (the tie really shows how long 25 years is). That is about a 66 percent win percentage. And when you look at just the last 20 years, his win percentage increases to nearly 70 percent. Snyder’s adjusted percentage places him at 21st in the country, just behind Jim Harbaugh. When we narrow it down further, to coaches who’ve been FBS head coaches for at least 10 years, Snyder’s adjusted win percentage is the 9th best in the nation. To boil all of this information down to a sentence, Bill Snyder is a great coach.

Now, as the title indicates, there’s a problem in Manhattan. It isn’t a real problem yet, but it will be very soon.

Coach Snyder is 77 years old. Sooner or later, he is going to hang it up for good and that’s where the problem lies. Nobody does more with less than Coach Snyder, but the flip side of that is coach Snyder doesn’t recruit well. Over the last three years, the years with players the next coach could inherit, K-State’s average recruiting class ranking is 59th in the country.

Of the top, active, established coaches, Snyder is by far the worst recruiter.

TOP 10 ACTIVE FBS COACHES
WITH 10 YEARS EXPERIENCE
Rank Coach Win % AVG Recruiting Class Rank
(Last 3 Seasons)
1 Urban Meyer .855 5
2 Chris Petersen .826 30
3 Bob Stoops .797 12
4 Nick Saban .776 1
5 Gary Patterson .738 32
6 Mark Richt .737 13
7 Bobby Petrino .722 32
8 Brian Kelly .722 12
9 Bill Snyder .694* 59
10  Kyle Whittingham . 675 33
 *Snyder’s win percentage over the last 20 years, because going 1-10 in 1989 shouldn’t count against anybody.

Simply put, coach Snyder doesn’t recruit very well. Partly, because K-State can be a difficult place to recruit to. Manhattan, KS isn’t exactly in the middle of a fertile recruiting area. However, part of it is that coach Snyder really hasn’t needed to recruit well. Snyder uses the JUCO ranks to fill needs and he’s flat-out the best developer in the country. So instead of relying on stars and sheer talent, Coach Snyder and his staff ignore the stars and find guys with specific skill sets that they can coach up.

However, recruiting matters. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, considered the best two coaches in America, are the best two recruiters. That’s not a coincidence.

Coach Snyder is an excellent developer, yes, but unless K-State is going to go get the second best player developer in the history of the sport, they are in trouble. K-State has struggled to turn on the field success into recruiting success, and the cupboard could be considered relatively bare in Manhattan, when you look solely at the recruiting numbers.

Unless something changes, and changes in a hurry, the next coach of Kansas State is doomed. He will be set up to fail from the beginning. And we just have to look at coach Snyder’s first retirement to know that’s true. Ron Prince went 17-20 his two years at the helm. Which begs the question, is Kansas State’s current model under which the college football program operates sustainable under anyone other than Snyder?

Kansas State wants a coach that can run a disciplined, tight program, while continuing the tradition of turning underrated recruits into stars. If we’re being honest, there aren’t many coaches left in modern college football that fit that mold. The ground and pound, Snyderball breed of head coach is dying off, and being replaced by flashy, fast paced spread offenses.

The favorites to replace coach Snyder are his son Sean Snyder, though Wildcat fans aren’t super excited by that, and Brent Venables and Jim Leavitt: a career coordinator who doesn’t want to run a program, or a failed head coach who wants to be in Manhattan.

I know exactly who my first two calls would go to, though. Brent Venables, and Charlie Strong. Yes, Charlie Strong.

They’re both completely capable recruiters, albeit at large schools with natural recruit pools (Texas for Strong and Clemson for Venables). If Kansas State wants to stay with the approach of recruiting hard workers and developing them, Venables, Strong, and to an extent, Leavitt are your candidates. However, Venables hasn’t indicated that he wants to run a program, and USF is expecting two years from Strong. If Leavitt turns Oregon’s defense around and Bill Snyder retires after this season, there is a good chance he’ll be the next head coach.

This upcoming season could be the last for Snyder. If it is, the 2018 recruiting class and the next offseason could be the most important in Kansas State history. A bad hire could doom the program, but bare cupboard could doom even the best hire.

Coach Snyder and the Wildcats are expected to contend for the Big 12 Title and the EMAW faithful need to soak every minute of this season in. Because if things don’t change in a hurry, once coach Snyder is gone, so are the chances for contending for the Big 12.

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