KSU’s Snyder doing more than Texas’ Mack Brown with less


Elisabeth Dillon

Bill Snyder celebrates with his Kansas State team after it beat Texas, 42-24, in its regular season finale last year. The Wildcats clinched the Big 12 title with the win. 

Chris Hummer

Mack Brown and Bill Snyder are two of the winningest all-time coaches in the FBS – Brown is No. 10, Snyder is No. 35 – but the pair has found their success is opposite fashion.

Brown’s best seasons have been spearheaded by an award-winning quarterback, a la Vince Young or Colt McCoy, and a talented core. His most successful teams (2005 and 2009) were stocked full of four- and five-star recruits, many of which went on to play in the NFL.

Snyder, on the other hand, found his success in a different way. At Kansas State, he’s taken an underwhelming national brand and molded the teams into successful entities. Actually, he’s made this transformation twice. Kansas State hired Snyder in 1989 to change the culture at one of the consistently worst teams incollege football.

His first season the Wildcats won a single game, but 10 years later Snyder had flipped the script and Kansas State turned in an 11-1 season. Snyder retired in 2005, and before his final game the school offered to name the stadium after the coach – now known as Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

But Snyder wasn’t done altering the direction of the Wildcats program. In 2009, following four years of underwhelming results, Kansas State reached out to Snyder to guide the school again. Snyder delivered. He took a five-win team in 2008, and four years later had vaulted the Wildcats to the verge of a national championship appearance.

Perhaps most impressively, in both of these instances, Snyder elevated the program with mid-level and undervalued talent. He didn’t benefit from top-level recruits. 

Instead, he molded the players into a real unit, a hard-nosed, mistake-free group based off his personality. Many of these players came from the junior college route and a lot from the small high school ranks, but Snyder enabled it all to gel.

Both Brown and Snyder are highly successful,
renowned coaches. But it’s easy to admit Snyder’s done more with less, especially of late.

The 62-year-old Brown leads a Longhorns team with the players every other school desires. A Top 5 recruiting class each season is the norm, and there are less than three coaches in America who wouldn’t trade their team’s talent with Brown’s in a heartbeat. This makes Texas’ recent struggles all the more baffling, and Kansas State’s all the more impressive.

It’s hard to argue against Snyder, a 73-year-old head coach with an abundance of passion and energy, not finding success with Texas’ current roster. After all, these are the same players he likely
targeted at one point, until the looming giant that is Texas strolled into the equation.

Kansas State, under Snyder and others, has owned Texas the past decade. The Wildcats are 5-0 against Texas since 2003, an Oklahoma-like, borderline shocking, statistic. Texas shouldn’t feature that record against anyone, especially a school considered a moderate power in the FBS.

Texas has an opportunity to knock off Kanas State this weekend, steadying a collapsing ship.  But it won’t be easy; Snyder has loomed above Brown the past decade, despite the pair’s resources. Now, it could be the influence of one all-time-great that seals the fate of another.