Big 12 coach Of THE year Snyder honored for Wildcats’ surprising rise
At 73, he earns a unanimous vote for guiding K-state to conference title.
Bill Snyder said he returned to Kansas State four years ago to “calm the waters.”
Instead, he stirred up college football.
The 73-year-old coach, refreshed and rejuvenated after a brief retirement, has once again raised a downtrodden program to national prominence. The seventhranked Wildcats won only their second Big 12 title and the third conference championship in their 117year history, and will play Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl next month.
His star quarterback, Collin Klein, is among three Heisman Trophy finalists, and several other players on a team whose only loss came at Baylor late in the season have futures in the NFL.
It’s no surprise that Snyder was the unanimous choice as AP’s Big 12 coach of the year.
“There’s a lot of people who invest a lot of emotion, a lot of spirit, and probably who as much as anything genuinely care,” Snyder said. “Certainly that embraces all of our players and all our staff and all the support people that we have in our program.”
Snyder joined Okla- homa coach Bob Stoops as the only three-time winners of the award on Tuesday. He also won it last season, when he guided the Wildcats to the Cotton Bowl, and in 1998, when Kansas State came up just short of playing for a national title.
The award was voted on by 18 reporters who regularly cover the conference. The players of the year and All-Big 12 teams will be announced 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 Bill Snyder, Kansas State Bill Snyder, Kansas State Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State Mack Brown, Texas Mike Leach, Texas Tech Mark Mangino, Kansas, and Gary Pinkel, Missouri Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Mack Brown, Texas Gary Barnett, Colorado Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Les Miles, Oklahoma State Gary Barnett, Colorado Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Frank Solich, Nebraska Bill Snyder, Kansas State Larry Smith, Missouri Tom Osborne, Nebraska Wednesday.
Kansas State (11-1, 8-1) was predicted to finish this season in the middle of the Big 12, a league that suddenly featured three returning conference champions in Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU.
Things started slowly, too, with the Wildcats struggling early in a win over Missouri State.
Then they began to pick up momentum.
They ran roughshod over Miami, a team that tied for its division title in the ACC. And after an easy win over North Texas, Kansas State beat then-No. 6 Oklahoma on the road.
The Wildcats’ next big showdown came on the road against the Mountaineers, at the time one of the top teams in the country. Kansas State grounded Geno Smith and Co. in a 55-14 blowout.
The Wildcats finally cracked on a Saturday night in Waco, Texas. They had climbed to No. 1 in the BCS standings for the first time in school history, but were done in by turnovers and blown assignments in a 52-24 loss.
Never more was Snyder’s even keel more valuable.
After a week off, the Wildcats returned to the field for their season finale Saturday night against Texas. They needed a victory to wrap up their first Big 12 title since 2003, and scored 35 second-half points in a 4224 victory.
Snyder even allowed a little smile to slip in the postgame celebration.
“It means an awful lot to all of us,” he said. “A great deal to the young people in our program — they were excited about it. Obviously I speak for everybody in our football family, I think it’s significant and important for each and every one of us.”