Bill Snyder of Kansas State and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma are two of the most successful football coaches in the Big 12 Conference, if not the nation.
In 1989, Snyder became head coach of a Kansas State team that had lost 27 games in a row and was one of the worst programs in the nation. Before the Big 12 was formed, there was sentiment in the Big Eight to dump Kansas State because of the ineptitude of the football team.
Snyder changed all that.
And Stoops helped in the process.
Stoops was an assistant for Snyder from 1989 to 1995. After his first season, Snyder took KSU to 11 straight bowl games and had six 11-win seasons. Snyder, a five-time national coach of the year, is just the fourth person in history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as an active coach. He was inducted last year.
Stoops is 9-3 against his mentor, with OU and KSU meeting twice in Big 12 Championship games (OU won in 2000 and KSU won in 2003). Stoops has more wins (179) than any coach in Oklahoma history and has led OU to 17 straight bowl berths and nine Big 12 titles. He is also the only coach to win a national championship and each of the BCS bowls.
Last year, K-State was shut out at home by Oklahoma, 0-55.
Following an upset loss to Texas, Oklahoma outgained K-State 568 yards to 110, dealing the Wildcats their first home shutout in 24 years. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, who did not play in fourth quarter, completed 20 of 27 pass attempts for 282 yards and a career-high five touchdowns without an interception. All five scores came in the first two quarters, tying an OU record for TDs in a half.
“I cannot remember being involved in a game like this since 1989 in the first year that we were here,” Snyder said. “I do not even know if we had one that bad during that first go around.”
OU improved to 6-0 at K-State under Stoops, with each win coming by double digits.
Kansas State lost to Arkansas 45-23 in the Liberty Bowl and was 6-7 in 2015. The Wildcats were edged by Oklahoma State 34-36 and fell to TCU 45-52. Texas upset KSU 23-9 and Baylor won by a touchdown, 24-31. Kansas State had a shootout with Texas Tech in Lubbock and lost 44-59.
One of the secrets of Snyder’s success is his assistants. Kansas State returns all 10 of its full-time coaches in 2016. The Wildcats join Northwestern as the only teams in the nation to do so.
KSU also brings back 90 percent of its offensive production (1,854 of 2,057 total yards), 70 percent of its total tackles (570 of 817) and 71 percent of its sacks (27.0 of 38).
Senior quarterback Joe Hubener in 2015 rushed for 613 yards and 13 touchdowns and also threw for 1,837 yards on 48 percent passing with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The leading rusher for Kansas State, Charles Jones also returns. He had 696 yards on 142 attempts a year ago, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
For the Wildcat defense, linebacker Elijah Lee led the team in tackles with 80 a year ago, and added 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Defensive end Jordan Willis led the Cats with 9.5 sacks a year ago while also adding 15.5 tackles for loss and 34 total takedowns.
Kansas State has talented players.
Phil Steele ranked K-State special teams units – directed by 2015 National Special Teams Coordinator of the Year Sean Snyder – as the best in the country entering the 2016 season. Led by seven players on the defensive side of the ball, 13 Kansas State football players received national recognition from the four major college football preseason publications – Athlon, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and Sporting News – throughout the month of June.
Kansas State must travel to Stanford – potentially a Top 10 school – to open the season on Friday, Sept. 2. A KSU win there would be a big boost to the Big 12 Conference. The other two nonconference games, home games against Florida Atlantic and Missouri State, should be no problem for the Wildcats.
Kansas State is upgrading its football stadium as part of an $180 million master plan for its total athletic facilities.
They are spending $15 million to enclose the football stadium (which is named for Snyder). Unlike before, K-State fans now will be able to circle the concourse completely.
“For the first time in our history, our fans will be able to go all the way around the stadium on both the north and south ends,” K-State Athletic Director John Currie said. “So that will not only provide access for people in section 28 to get over to section 1 faster, but it should cut down congestion on the south end. Everybody wins.”
There will also be a new and improved locker room for the visiting team, which will have its own training room space too. Media for the visiting team will be offered an upgraded space to conduct postgame interviews as well.
“It’s not going to be extravagant and posh, but it is certainly going to be professional and first class as we welcome our visitors to Bill Snyder Family Stadium,” Currie said of the visiting locker room, describing the new interview space as “more comfortable and convenient for our media, and certainly a lot easier environment to work in after a tough loss to the Wildcats.”
Officials will have a conference room, locker room and bathrooms available solely for their use in the new space.