Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Replacing a legend is never an easy thing to do. When that legend's name is on the stadium, it is that much harder. That was the task at hand for Ron Prince, who became Kansas State's 33rd football coach after Bill Snyder retired.
In 2006, the squad Prince inherited went a respectable 7-6, following the last two years of the first Snyder regime, which saw the Wildcats post consecutive losing seasons and a combined four conference wins. However, Prince was not able to sustain a winning atmosphere at K-State, and was fired before the end of last season.
Before anyone sheds a tear for Prince's unceremonious dismissal, just look at the shady, buy-out deal that former K-Sate Athletic Director Bob Krause negotiated, which is a column for another day. I'm pretty sure Prince, who has returned to the University of Virginia to coach special teams, will make out just fine.
Getting back to the topic at hand. A fan base crying for an answer last year, got a familiar one in the form of Snyder, who cut short his retirement and returns to the sidelines for the 2009 campaign, as the team's 34th head football coach.
The only questions are -- does Snyder have that same desire and drive to achieve, and can he presided over a winning product on the field and bring Kansas State back to prominence in the Big 12?
The numbers are staggering when comparing the pre- and post-Snyder eras. The 54 seasons before Snyder took over the program saw the team amass 137 victories and a winning percentage of just .266. There were only five winning seasons during that time and a single bowl appearance. In sharp contrast, Snyder's 17 years at the helm produced 136 victories, a .664 winning percentage, 11 winning seasons and 11 bowl appearances, with six bowl victories.
Bill Snyder cut short his retirement to return to the sidelines for the 2009 campaign.|
There is every reason to believe that the 69-year old Snyder is up to the task at hand, although it could be a slow start.
It certainly would have been a smoother transition if All-American QB Josh Freeman decided to stay the course. However, the ultra-athletic signal-caller took his talents to the NFL a year early, and was a first-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the spring.
That leaves junior QB Carson Coffman as the face of the program. He has seen little action with Freeman in front of him on the depth chart, but will get the opportunity to change that in 2009.
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore end Brandon Harold (6-6, 265) is a solid piece to build around. As a freshman, Harold racked up 45 tackles, 10.5 TFLs and three sacks, en route to Freshman All-American honors.
It remains to be seen if Snyder can once again build the kind of team that can light up a scoreboard, while preventing the opposition from doing the same.
Those K-State teams just before and after the turn of the century were juggernauts, winning 11 games in six of the seven seasons between 1997 and 2003. They were certainly proficient on the offensive side of the ball, but it was their play defensively that made them such a force on the national level. Few teams rivaled KSU's defensive tenacity and as a result, there were very few losses year-in and year-out.
Others have tried to return to the school where they have had great success and failed to deliver the second time around. Snyder isn't overly concerned about what others have or haven't accomplished.
"You know, I don't know if it will be any different than maybe what some others have experienced. And that wasn't the...purpose behind re-entering Kansas State University's football program. You know, it had something to do with things, I think, above and beyond that. Primarily, it had to do with the people of Kansas State, tremendous support people that we have, K-State Nation, so to speak, our football family. What the outcome will be, I have absolutely no idea. But, you know...I've said so many times, if we can settle the waters, it will have been worth the effort."
One thing is for sure. Bill Snyder has a passion for Kansas State and the feeling is obviously mutual.
It's hard not to root for him and a second revival in Manhattan.