Bill Snyder arrived at Kansas State in 1989.
OSU’s quarterback was Mike Gundy, in his fourth and final season as the starter. Cale Gundy was a Midwest City High School senior, while Steve Collins, Tink Collins and Chris Melson shared the OU duties. Colorado’s quarterback was Darian Hagan, who had just taken over for the fallen Sal Aunese (cancer). Nebraska’s was Gerry Gdowski. Kansas’ quarterback that year was Kelly Donohoe. Remember him? I do. MIssouri’s QB was Kent Kiefer. Remember him? I don’t. Iowa State’s quarterback was Bret Oberg, who was a good player.
The point being, Snyder has seen a lot of quarterbacking in Big Eight/Big 12 play. Kordell Stewart. Tommie Frazier. Brandon Weeden. Josh Heupel and Jason White. Vince Young. Dozens of players of less stature.
Here in 2013, Snyder remains on the job. He took a three-year hiatus a few years ago, but the Wildcat Wizard knows his quarterbacks. When he has a good one — like Collin Klein in 2012 — Kansas State is tough to beat. The Wildcats won the Big 12 a year ago.
So when Snyder recently was asked to compare the Big 12 quarterback crop in 2013 to years past, I thought his answer bore repeating. He doesn’t try to break new ground, but Snyder definitely offers perspective:
“That’s a good question. I’m not sure I have the answer for that. I’m more focused on our situation than I am our opponent’s. I think probably every program in the conference is going to put the best young guys that they have on the field as No. 1.
“Young guys have come into our program and come into other programs and been their first year and done extremely well. Some do, some don’t. I’ve got a young guy down here in College Station (Johnny Manziel) that came on the scene, and nobody had a clue that he was going to get himself on the field, and ended up winning a Heisman. You just never really know.
“And I understand it’s a major topic at that position where, if you ask about your right guard on offense ‑‑ anyway, none of you are going to ask that question. So for coaches, those two situations probably share some commonality, but for the common readers, that’s probably not the case. I don’t know what kind of impact it will have over the course of the season, whether it’s with our program or somebody else’s.”
Snyder still hasn’t named a starter. He’s deciding between junior-college transfer Jake Waters and 2012 backup Daniel Sams. Typically, Snyder’s first-year QBs aren’t as productive as they are in their second year at the helm. But whoever wins the KSU job has the benefit of an offensive line that return intact.
“Well, if I’m the quarterback, I’m awful happy about it for sure,” Snyder said. “It’s a double‑edged sword, I think. No. 1, given the options, you’d rather have all of them coming back, but you’d want to have them all coming back in an environment in which they are going to improve and continue to become better.
“Sometimes it’s just like you’re able to say just what you said. You have all five of your offensive line starters coming back. They’re aware of that as well. Now, whether or not they take some things for granted because of that, that would put us in dire jeopardy, I believe. If they don’t take anything for granted and they commit themselves to becoming better, then it’s a very, very positive thing.
“So it can work both ways for you. I’d rather have it the way it is than the other, though. And especially with the young people that we have, because I think we’ve got good young people in those positions who are very team oriented, very unselfish, and that means an awful lot at that position, or those positions.”
He’s been talking this for a quarter century in this part of the country, folks. Teaching us football without volunteering information. From the days of Darian Hagan to the days of Casey Pachall.