The Old-Fashioned Boldness of Bill Snyder

Casual Big 12 fans are probably already getting angry and argumentative after just reading the title of this post.

After all, Bill Snyder is the coach who doesn't really speak boldly because he doesn't really speak to the media at all, at least relative to what you would expect from a major D-I football coach. He typically dresses either like he's going to a dinner at the Reagan White House or with the odd combination of a purple windbreaker and slacks.

Plus, he's probably the only guy in the country that still makes some poor sap carry around a wire for his headset on the sidelines, and it's unlikely anyone's going to call the NCAA's poster child for weak scheduling "bold" for replacing teams like Oregon with Eastern Kentucky.*

*On the other hand, you could possibly make the argument that there was some boldness in his decision to essentially pioneer the highly effective strategy of devising a weaker than weak nonconference schedule. He took the important, easy wins and ignored all the criticism from fans and media. Nestea's more of a crowd-pleaser, so I don't think that's the kind of bold it's looking for.

But those of us here at K-State know from watching Snyder's teams play that he is a man highly capable of bold decisions.

I'm not referring any sort of gimmicky Mike Leach or Gary Pinkel-style offenses, or even conventional measures like fourth-down attempts (although it was a little surprising to learn that in Snyder years since 1999, KSU trails only Missouri and, of course, Texas Tech, who tried for fourth down 52 times more than anyone else).

Snyder's boldness is a little subtler, from the frequent blitzes using his great linebackers (remember those?) to all of the trick plays that the old coach has never been afraid to pull out of his bag.

It's hard to imagine Bryce Brown throwing as many passes as Daniel Thomas did in his two years (12, with several more times where he intelligently decided to tuck and run), but I imagine he'll get some chances. I'd also be shocked if we don't see Collin Klein or any of the other athletic QBs line up at wide receiver on rare occasions this season.

You don't get a reputation as having one of the best special teams units in the country (along with Virginia Tech) year after year without taking chances, and Snyder has surely made other coaches think twice about leaving their starters on the sidelines during returns and not going after kicks.

In fact, I'd say this is something that's been tragically missing in the teams of Snyder 2.0.

Then there's always the legendary Snyder playbook that's been a sideline reporter standby for the last 15 years or so. As long as you're smarter than the average rock (or to be more specific, Michael Bishop/to a lesser degree, Ell Roberson), you've got quite a hefty arsenal to work with when you're the quarterback at Kansas State.

And does it get any bolder than running the option 10+ times when your quarterback is Carson Coffman? Sorry, bad example.

Even in recruiting, Snyder has shown a penchant for a certain kind of admirable boldness. Sure, he probably isn't the most prolific texter in the country, and he probably deserves a nomination for Most Boring Twitter Account in College Football.

Still, he was one of the founders of a seismic shift in the landscape when he started dipping heavily into the junior college ranks back in the '90s, probably because he understood the best high school seniors weren't really interested in coming to Manhattan, KS, to play for Futility U.

Some might even argue that Snyder puts more of a genuine focus on leadership and education, but count me among those who are skeptical on that one. This is not to blame him and he's certainly better than some, but he still knows he's paid to win games, first and foremost.

If you're like me, you've spent a fair amount of time yelling at the field or the TV, demanding more running when the QB can't throw, hoping for more risks as the first half winds down, or wondering why we're not going for that 4th-and-1 when the QB sneak has worked just about every time.

But at the end of the day, there's generally a rational strategy behind those decisions, and it's safe to say it's worked more often than not.

I would love to see Snyder be more bold in addressing the media, as long as he doesn't try to make friends with every single one of them, Ron Prince-style. Actually, he made some pretty bold comments about the defense in an article in today's Mercury. Just try to read all those quotes without laughing. I couldn't.

So sure, Bill Snyder will never have the reputation for boldness of say, Bob Stoops, and I think that's understandable and certainly not a bad thing. But it's probably no coincidence that Stoops learned his craft from the boldest old man in the Little Apple (enjoy the smog and traffic, Colorado).

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