It's time to appreciate Bill Snyder's career at Kansas State; Mailbag
Late Saturday night in the Oklahoma press box, while writing
Most informed college football fans would readily agree Snyder is one of the sport's all-time great coaches, and yet you could go months without hearing his name. Then his Wildcats go and upset Oklahoma, and we all slap ourselves and go through another round of ... this.
To appreciate just how incredible Snyder's career has been, consider this: Snyder's winning percentage in 21 seasons at Kansas State is .659. The program's winning percentage in its other 92 seasons of football is .357. Even with its modern success, K-State's all-time winning percentage (.439) is lower than all but three BCS programs (Northwestern, Indiana and Wake Forest). Try to imagine current Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, who went 1-11 in his first season (much like Snyder went 1-10 in his debut campaign), eventually leading the Hoosiers to six 11-win seasons in seven years (as Snyder did from 1997-2003). That's how improbable Snyder's run would have seemed in 1989.
There are a number of reasons Snyder flies under the radar. For one thing, he's nondescript. When you think of the most celebrated coaches both past (Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler) and present (Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Chip Kelly), the majority of them have distinct personalities. They give memorable quotes. Even after 20-plus years on the sidelines, Snyder is mostly anonymous outside of Kansas (though we know he loves Pinocchio). Good luck getting him to say much more than "we've got to keep rowing the boat."
Snyder also isn't considered the guru or pioneer of a certain type of offense or defense. Few realize he was one of the first to employ his quarterback as a shotgun zone-read runner back in the late '90s, directly influencing future spread-option coaches like Meyer.
And then there's the one glaring omission from his résumé: a national title. I would contend that winning 10-plus games a year at Kansas State is more remarkable than winning a national title at an established powerhouse, but the general public wants trophies. Bobby Bowden turned Florida State from an also-ran into a preeminent program, but he wasn't truly lauded until winning his first title after 18 years at the school. Nebraska's Tom Osborne "couldn't win the big one" right up until he won three in a four-year span just before retiring. It's a lofty standard, especially given the subjective nature of college football's national championship, but it's reality.
Few expect this year's K-State team to contend for the top prize. But it could very well win the Big 12, which would be quite a feat given the context. Remember, the Wildcats had started to slip in the two years before Snyder retired in 2005 (going 4-7 and 5-6, respectively). Like many, I was skeptical of K-State's decision to bring him back in 2009 at age 69. Obviously I was wrong. Snyder's methods are timeless. Hopefully one day they'll be appropriately appreciated.
Hang on. I need a second to process which part of this e-mail is more delusional: the notion that Oklahoma should fire Bob Stoops or Kevin's apparent belief that Harbaugh would voluntarily leave his gig as the coach of a Super Bowl contender to come to the Big 12. Amazingly, it's probably the second part, which is saying something, because the first part is pretty absurd, too. Stoops has won 80 percent of his games in 14 seasons, but you're right -- he's only played for four national titles. What a loser.
I'm not saying everything's peachy in Norman these days. Having attended last week's game, there's definitely something "off" about that program right now. Yes, it lost a lot of key players from last season, but it's more that the Sooners' swagger is gone. Kansas State beat Oklahoma on its own field and no one there seemed particularly surprised. In fact, one program insider flatly told me before the game, "I don't think we're very good this year." Even Barry Switzer thinks these Sooners "
But given Stoops' substantial track record, I wouldn't count out his team after one conference game. It's not like the Wildcats dominated the contest; it was all but decided by three brutal turnovers. Mike Stoops' defense did a nice job containing Collin Klein prior to two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Landry Jones obviously has his limitations, but the offense has some nice young players, like freshman receiver Sterling Shepard, that will only get better as the season goes along.
This may just be a transition year before the Sooners really take back off in 2013. And given all realistic options, I'd gladly take Stoops coaching that team.
It's not even close. The NFL's officiating crisis has poisoned that league's credibility so badly it makes every controversy in BCS history seem like little bug bites by comparison. You may not like the inherent subjectivity of college football's national championship, and you may disagree with various results the pollsters or the computers have spit out over the years. But at the end of the day, no one is questioning the legitimacy of the actual on-field results. You may not agree with the established rules that govern the BCS, but those rules have at least been enforced correctly. The replacement refs are making procedural errors that directly affect the outcomes of games (and, in turn, teams' Super Bowl chances). Fans of the 2004 Auburn Tigers may disagree, but those gross injustices inflicted on NFL teams and their paying fans are far more inexcusable and avoidable than any BCS controversy.
Now, college football has not been without its own heinous officiating mistakes over the years. The Colorado-Missouri Fifth Down game was arguably a more egregious debacle than Monday night's Seahawks Fail Mary because it involved no degree of judgment whatsoever. The officials in that 1990 game flat out botched a basic procedure, and it wound up directly impacting not only the final score, but also the national championship race. The 2006 Oregon-Oklahoma onside kick replay fiasco was also pretty bad, though it wasn't the last play of the game. But one thing's for certain: The replacement refs have given everyone new cause to appreciate not only the regular NFL refs, but the top college officials as well. There are roughly 40 more FBS games than there are NFL games per week, yet there haven't been remotely as many game-changing errors so far this season as there have been through the NFL's first three weeks.
If you were to name a four-week MVP in college football, Te'o (38 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries) would certainly be deserving of the award. So would Georgia's Jarvis Jones (4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception). The difference, of course, is that Te'o plays for Notre Dame, and therefore gets more attention. He will be on national TV every week this season. He's also a four-year starter with a great story and built-in name recognition. If you were looking to build the prototype necessary for a true defensive player (no kick returns) to overcome 77 years of Heisman history, Te'o may well be it.
More realistically, voters won't stay focused on a linebacker for 14 weeks. Linebackers don't put up eye-catching statistics like quarterbacks do. That's why West Virginia's Geno Smith (81.4 percent completions, 1,072 yards, 12 touchdowns, no interceptions) is on top of every Heisman board right now. The one glimmer of hope for defenders like Te'o or Jones is that several of the most sport's most lauded offensive stars -- Matt Barkley, Denard Robinson, Monteé Ball -- have already slipped. It may be that the exodus of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III has left an offensive void this year.
Keep in mind: Voters have already bucked history several times in recent seasons. They awarded the Heisman to a sophomore (Tim Tebow) in 2007, gave 161 first-place votes to a defensive tackle (Ndamukong Suh) in 2009 and presented last year's trophy to a player from a 9-3 Baylor team. Still, a linebacker winning the Heisman would be truly extraordinary.
I can't tell if you're suggesting that Te'o is overrated or that Alabama linebackers don't get enough credit. Either way, seeing as Te'o is a former five-star recruit and a consensus first-round NFL prospect, he'd certainly fit in with the Crimson Tide.
What's this? A college football fan in San Jose? I'm writing these very words from a Panera Bread in San Jose and it's making me realize: I haven't come across anyone in school colors here since the season started. I'm in a bizarre vacuum.
LSU's continued quarterback woes are admittedly puzzling. Miles has in fact coached a couple of pretty decent passers in his day: Oklahoma State's Josh Fields (15th nationally in pass efficiency in 2002, though he regressed to 42nd the next year) and LSU's JaMarcus Russell (third in '06). But something's definitely been amiss ever since Jimbo Fisher left as offensive coordinator after the 2006 season. Matt Flynn, who would go on to become an NFL player, ranked just 64th during the Tigers' 2007 BCS championship season. Obviously Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson struggled for four years, and now Zach Mettenberger is off to a modest start (he's thrown for fewer than 200 yards in three of four games).
Part if it is a byproduct of the type of the conservative, run-first offense Miles wants to run. But Alabama takes much the same approach, and the Tide's quarterback, AJ McCarron, is currently the nation's fourth-rated passer. And it's not like LSU doesn't have talented receivers. It's had them in the past and it has them again now.
Mettenberger has the physical skills that prompted two different SEC schools (originally Georgia) to sign him. I'm inclined to cut him some slack for now, seeing as last Saturday's Auburn game was his first career SEC start. But if things don't improve over the course of the season, it would definitely become an indictment of the staff's ability to get the most out of that position.
No argument here -- so why are you still penciling them in for Indianapolis? Don't go sleeping on Purdue.
Robinson's career to date has certainly been all over the map, but there are still plenty of games left for him to tilt things one way or the other. At this point, it's obviously a lost cause to think Robinson will ever salvage his reputation as a passer. Last Saturday's performance was an extreme low, but it wasn't exactly out of character from his past games against elite defenses. However, he's still such a dynamic playmaker that you know he's going to register more 150-yard rushing games against overmatched defenses. Besides Michigan State, there's no defense on the Wolverines' conference schedule at the level of Alabama's and Notre Dame's. (Ohio State's should be, but it has underperformed to date.)
We'll see how things play out, but barring a drastically terrible senior season, I've got to imagine most Michigan fans will remember him for the positive more than the negative. He came along at a time when Michigan football was at its lowest point in modern history and gave fans something to be excited about. He produced some of the most spectacular individual performances in school history, particularly the 2010 and '11 Notre Dame games. He helped break an eight-year losing streak against the Buckeyes and deliver a BCS berth. There's a lot to like, even if those moments came interspersed with some alternately agonizing lows.
Ah yes. That one.
Easy, there. I'm not "so sure" about anything when it comes to that Oct. 6 game, other than I can't wait to watch it. There's a lot to like about both teams. South Carolina could not have looked much better against Missouri. Connor Shaw is now healthy and completing 76 percent of his passes. Marcus Lattimore is getting healthier and back to his workhorse days (he had 28 touches for 145 total yards against the Tigers). And Jadeveon Clowney and that defense -- wow. You don't want to play quarterback against them. But of course, I could say nearly all the same things about Georgia. Aaron Murray is on fire (averaging 10.5 yards per attempt), freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are averaging a combined 7.8 yards per carry and the aforementioned Jones and that defense are getting better by the game.
I want to wait and watch the teams' respective games this weekend (Georgia hosts Tennessee while South Carolina visits Kentucky) before making a pick. But yes, I do have the Dawgs in
You know what? This "you hate my team" stuff is getting old. If you really feel that way, don't write a bitter e-mail. Do what this Georgia fan did: Produce a hilarious video.
Remember when I revisited my
I'm in awe of the passion and energy it took for that online community to put that thing together. Never mind that the results pretty much proved my original point (Seventy-three recognized the Georgia helmet while 27 did not, and some of those 73 didn't sound incredibly sure about it). I was so blown away by the whole production that I placed a call to the man in the helmet.
... Originally I thought I'd knock this out in two hours. It was a lot longer process than I expected, but it was great fun. Even if I'd never read your article, if someone had said, "You should go ask 100 people if they recognize the Georgia helmet and film it," I'd say: "OK. That sounds like a fun thing."
And it's amazing to me that one seemingly innocuous Mailbag passage could inspire such initiative. Kudos to everybody involved.