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A Miracle built on the back, callouses of Bill Snyder

By BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Columnist Modified: July 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm •  Published: September 27, 2001
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Editor's Note: This column was originally published on Sept. 27, 2001 as part of a package in which writers for The Oklahoman made the case for the best coach in college football history. Among the others spotlighted: Barry Switzer, Lavell Edwards, Knute Rockne, Bud Wilkinson, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Bobby Bowden, Bill Devaney and Norris Coleman. Coleman was Bill Snyder's coach at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.

Billy Snyder wins where others feared to tread.

There is no reason why Kansas State football wins big. Remote location. Not much talent in Kansas high schools. Decades after decades of losing tradition. A little sister to KU. Ugly uniforms.

No reason other than the sheer will of a coach. Let these numbers soak in. Kansas State's record in the:

'50's: 30-67-3

'60's: 18-80-1

'70's: 36-74

'80's: 22-86-3

'90's: 87-30-1

Some coaches ran screaming from Manhattan, Kan. Others wouldn't even take calls from the Kansas State brass looking for replacements. Barry Switzer discouraged his lower-echelon assistants from even interviewing for the KSU job. A dead end, he called it. A dry hole.

But Bill Snyder didn't run or scream. Where others saw a wasteland, Snyder saw a garden. Where others smelled defeat, Snyder saw a dream.

The greatest college coach is an easy debate. Put Snyder at Notre Dame, or Alabama, or Oklahoma, or Nebraska, or Florida State, and they still would win. And win big. Maybe bigger than ever.

Put any legendary coach - Spurrier, Bowden, anyone - at K-State a dozen years ago, and there would have been no Manhattan Miracle.

Check out the schools where coaches have been built powerhouses from the ashes. Florida. Florida State. Wisconsin. Washington. Nebraska. All were diamond mines, waiting to be dug.

Manhattan was no diamond mine. This miracle was built on the back and callouses of Bill Snyder.

Archive ID: 865673