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.
The other night, still working in his office, Snyder talked about the sequel, about the differences in taking over a wasteland, knowing virtually no one, and taking over a program that has excelled, and knowing everything there is to know about everything.
“I can assure you, I don't know everything about everything,” Snyder said.
“What's different between now and then, I think it's obvious, we're in a better place when I came back than we were way back in '88, '89.
“The physical things are so much better. The facilities are in place. Our numbers are better.”
But some things are the same. Namely the people. Snyder built K-State the way all good leaders build. With good people.
“The kind of young people that we had and have are very similar,” Snyder said. “Guys that want to do very well. Guys that have principles about them that they want to be successful.
“If you don't have good young people, you can coach as long and as hard as you can, and you will have some issues.
“I had a lot of wonderful people around me. The same thing is true again … quality people around you, and not just the coaching staff. I've been blessed to have that. That's been here from Day One.”
Snyder is 72. He's 23 years removed from taking the job that other coaches ran from. Thirty years from coaching quarterback Chuck Long deep into the night at Iowa, where graduate assistant Bobby Stoops would bring some food he knew his friend, Long, would eat and his offensive coordinator would ignore.
Snyder isn't the same coach he was in 1998, when the 'Cats came within a whisker of the national title game, or 2003, when he toppled the unbeatable Sooners. Isn't quite the same man. Snyder has slipped some. No doubt about that. We all do or will.
“I have had ah-ha moments, where something came back to me,” Snyder said. “Some things I had left out of the equation, but I could draw from past experiences.
“It might be something schematically done on the field, how we did a certain thing offensively or defensively, bumble around, then it comes to you.”
But for the most part, K-State football 2011 is the same as K-State football 2001 and K-State football 1991. Monday morning meeting, achieve this goal. Monday afternoon meeting, achieve that goal. Monday practice, achieve, well, you get the idea.
Snyder Strikes Back. The sequel continues.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
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)