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Kansas State's Bill Snyder still winning the second time around

BERRY TRAMEL — Coaching sequels rarely work, but the man who turned around Kansas State football is working another Manhattan Miracle.
by Berry Tramel Modified: October 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm •  Published: October 27, 2011

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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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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Coaching sequels

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

1976-77: 15-7

1978-96: 129-67-3

MIKE RILEY, Oregon State

1997-98: 8-14

2003-2011: 63-45

BILL SNYDER, Kansas State

1989-05: 136-68

2009-11: 20-12



1971-74: 20-24-1

1979-82: 17-24-4

BILL WALSH, Stanford

1977-78: 17-7

1992-94: 17-17-1


1973-76: 33-13-1

1993-96: 12-32


1976-82: 67-14-2

1993-97: 37-21-2



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)

1940: 5-5-1

Joe Bach, Steelers

1935-36: 10-14

1952-53: 11-13


1939-44: 16-33-5

1954-56: 14-22

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)

1985: 7-9


1973-77: 57-20-1 (3-5)

1992-94: 15-33

Ted Marchibroda, Colts

1975-79: 41-36 (0-3)

1992-95: 30-34

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)

2006: 2-14


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