I don’t think anyone could have predicted what took place on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. After a nail biting loss to the second ranked Horned Frogs, I expected the Cats to make a statement, or at least put a scare into the Sooners. Of course, that didn’t happen. But, in this time of great turmoil surrounding the football program, I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture.
What coach Bill Snyder has accomplished during his tenure at K-State has been nothing short of incredible. Sure, this season hasn’t met the expectations of many Wildcat fans, but I urge them to not give up on this team. To quote Snyder himself, “The reason we came to Kansas State was because of the people, we have stayed here all of these years because of the people and our reason for returning was because of the people.” There have been a few bumps along the road, but I believe that Snyder’s dedication and faith in the university is something that K-Stater’s can learn from. In my opinion, it’s times of adversity, much like this current situation, that defines the true character of a fan base.
Wildcat nation was treated to a historically bad performance, losing 55-0 to the Sooners. I don’t think I’ve seen a Snyder team look as unprepared as it did on Saturday. They simply looked sluggish and defeated from the very beginning. There has been much debate the past few weeks as to whether or not the Wildcat fans should question Snyder. You can question the man all you want, but think long and hard about who you’re questioning. If Snyder never came to K-State in the first place, who knows if the university would still even have a football program!
Just recently celebrating his 76th birthday, Snyder has been the face of Wildcat football for so long that I think people tend to forget the pre-Snyder era. This shameful era is easily forgotten because the Wildcats were bad, and to say they were bad it a bit of an understatement. They were the laughingstock of college football. When Snyder first arrived in the Little Apple in 1989, he took over a program that sported a 299-510 record in their 93 years of existence. Inheriting a mess like that would send most coaches running for the hills, but Snyder saw great potential. He had faith in the success of the program when no one else did. Since then, Snyder’s tenure has been referred to as “The Miracle in Manhattan,” and “the greatest turnaround in college football history.”
Sure, I understand the recent criticism, and I even found myself guilty of second guessing Snyder’s decision not to go for it on fourth down late in the fourth quarter against TCU. Making big time decisions under a massive spotlight is one of the challenges of being a Division I football coach. When the decisions don’t go as planned, it’s always going to reflect on the head coach. I also believe that as fans, we are often harsh critics. We tend to analyze the game to determine what went wrong and what could have been done better.
In any sport, an embarrassing loss will test your faith and dedication you have in your team. There’s really no way to sugarcoat it, Snyder’s team was outplayed in all facets of the game on Saturday. Clearly, Bob Stoops had his team ready to play and Snyder didn’t. The Cats are in dire need of change, and there is no doubt in my mind that Snyder will do everything in his power to make things right. The past success Snyder has brought to the program has created this picture of a larger than life figure, especially around the Manhattan community. This may be difficult to grasp for some K-Staters but Snyder is human just like the rest of us. We all face obstacles in our daily lives and Snyder is no different.
Does all the blame from the recent struggles rest on Snyder’s shoulders? Absolutely not. Injuries have plagued the Wildcats, who are now 3-3 on the season. The Cats began the year with a solid quarterback depth chart and now have a wide receiver taking snaps under center. There has been miscommunication amongst the coaching staff. Tom Hayes’ defense has struggled this season allowing 107 points in the past two games combined. Dana Dimel and Del Miller have been operating a pass-heavy offense that has found little success. With Snyder’s faith and dedication in mind, I believe that these concerns will be addressed in the coming weeks. With 6 games remaining this season, there is still opportunity for the Cats to improve and grow as a team.
As a proud student of Kansas State, I hope that other K-Staters don’t lose sight of what Snyder means to, not just the football program, but the university as a whole. Bill Snyder is and always will be K-State football. I understand the current negativity surrounding the program and there are certainly issues that need to be addressed.
But, K-Stater’s shouldn’t lose faith in Snyder and the football program this season because of the disappointing performance. Snyder has proven his dedication over the years and the least K-Stater’s can do is return the favor. Snyder turned a helpless program in to one that is now nationally recognized. Though it’s difficult to imagine, the Snyder-era will eventually come to a close. When that day does come, I hope Wildcat nation won’t lose sight of the principles of faith and dedication that Snyder brought to the football program, Kansas State University, and the Manhattan community.
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