Sequels rarely are a good idea. Somebody makes a decent movie, and the next thing you know, you're watching “The Matrix Reloaded.” Or “The Next Karate Kid.”
On the gridiron, some of the sport's most hallowed names came back for Part Deux. Johnny Majors tried the sequel route. So did John Robinson. And Bill Walsh. On the pro side, Joe Gibbs, Chuck Knox and Bud Grant failed to repeat past glory.
But every once in a while, along comes “Toy Story 2.” Or “The Empire Strikes Back.” “The Godfather Part II.”
Speaking of which, Bill Snyder is back. The godfather of football's greatest story ever told is back on top. Back in the top 10. Back in the unbeaten ranks. Back in college football's game of the day.
Back where no one ever thought he would be in the first place.
Snyder performed the Manhattan Miracle on the Kansas plains, then retired. When Snyder came back to the Kansas State job almost three years ago, we all winced. All said, don't do it. Will tarnish your legacy. Will make some forget the miracle of taking a sad-sack football program, the nation's worst, and turning it into one of the nation's best.
But it was us who misremembered. Us who forgot the magic beneath that silver hair, the wisdom behind those quiet words.
Snyder is doing it again. He's got the 7-0 Wildcats ranked No. 8 and hosting Oklahoma on Saturday in a top-10 showdown that could thrust K-State into Big Bowl contention.
We didn't see it coming, and neither did Snyder. But he had a better reason than we did. He wasn't looking.
“We could be 0-7,” Snyder said. “I wouldn't have seen that coming. Or anywhere in between.”
You can ask him a million ways, and the answer is the same every time. There is no miracle elixir. The path to success is not complicated. Hard work and fundamentals and doing things right every single time.
Doesn't matter if it's Year 1, back in 1989, when the K-State facilities were a sty and victory seemed impossible, or Year 15, and you're playing top-ranked Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Or 2011, and you've resurrected a program that was largely forgotten.
Snyder the Sequel is succeeding for the same reason Snyder the Original succeeded.
He works at it.
“Doesn't surprise me at all,” Bob Stoops, a Snyder lieutenant his first seven years in Manhattan, said of the 2011 surge. “I know how Coach does it and works.”
Snyder's initial success flew in the face of K-State's history. Snyder's current success flies in the face of sequel history.
But sometimes, special people can trump trends. George Halas did it with the Chicago Bears, four times taking over as coach and lasting 10 seasons each time. He won an NFL title in all four regimes.
Halas owned the franchise and was called Papa Bear. Snyder is K-State's Papa Bear. Virtually no history, none worth remembering, before his arrival.
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Coaching sequels rarely work in football. Here are the cases in college and the NFL where a coach returned to his former job:
JIM SWEENEY, Fresno State
MIKE RILEY, Oregon State
BILL SNYDER, Kansas State
DON FAMBROUGH, Kansas
BILL WALSH, Stanford
JOHNNY MAJORS, Pitt
JOHN ROBINSON, Southern Cal
George Halas, Bears
1920-29: 84-31-19 (1 NFL title)
1933-42: 88-24-4 (4-2 playoffs, 3 NFL titles)
1946-55: 76-43-2 (1-1, 1 NFL title)
1958-67: 75-53-6 (1-0, 1 NFL title)
Potsy Clark, Lions
1931-36: 49-20-6 (1-0, 1 NFL title)
Joe Bach, Steelers
WALT KIESLING, Steelers
Lou Saban, Bills
1962-65: 38-18-3; two AFL titles
1972-76: 32-29-1; (0-1 playoffs)
Bud Grant, Vikings
1967-1983: 161-99-5 (10-12)
CHUCK KNOX, Rams
1973-77: 57-20-1 (3-5)
Ted Marchibroda, Colts
1975-79: 41-36 (0-3)
JOE GIBBS, Redskins
1981-1992: 140-65 (16-5, 3 NFL titles)
2004-07: 30-34 (1-2)
Art Shell, Raiders
1989-94: 56-41 (2-3)