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Something seems off in Wildcat Country

I’ve been thinking it all year, and I can’t put my finger on it, but something just isn’t right

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The first question Bill Snyder received in tonight’s press conference is why the team elected not to go for it on 4th and short on K-State’s third-to-last drive of the game, white-knucking a nine-point lead with still eight minutes to play. His answer was hushed — barely above a whisper.

“Didn’t want to.”

It was strange. Tim Fitzgerald, who asked the question, pressed further.

“Just go ahead and punt it at that point and try to run out the clock — is that what’s going on there?”

“Didn’t want to put our defense in a bad spot,” Snyder replied, almost as a mumble.

He tapped his podium. He sighed. The media was silent for about 10 seconds before Fitz asked about the running game. Snyder remained hushed, tense.

A few questions later, he seemed to loosen a bit and started projecting so the back of the room could hear. His answers were still quick and shallow, no different than a normal Snyder postgame, but something was different. Something was off.

I can’t really put my finger on it, and I’m not one to speculate, but it’s just been a weird year on the K-State beat.

Press conferences, both postgame and Tuesdays, have had a different feel. Snyder seems more willing to talk than usual at times, then less willing at others. He’s more forthcoming about injuries, less forthcoming about schematic decisions. He’ll say things in one presser — like Tuesday when he said they needed to do better about keeping running backs with a hot hand on the field — then do the opposite in the game — like pulling Charles Jones after a 33-yard run when Jones was averaging more than 12 yards a carry.

It was never clear why Jones left the game, but Justin Silmon, Alex Barnes and Dalvin Warmack all saw time to varying levels of success, going firmly against what Snyder had stated earlier in the week.

Snyder has never been forthcoming with the media.

He’s always saying one thing and doing another, it seems. But when he says something that seems logical — like the hot hand should stay on the field — then doesn’t do it, it just seems odd. I’ve never presumed to understand the inner workings of the K-State football offices. This is one of the hardest beats in college football to cover, because media availability is so limited. But there is something in the air this year that hasn’t been there before.

I get a lot of responses on Twitter and in emails suggesting that Snyder isn’t interested in winning. I understand that idea, but I don’t agree with it. It doesn’t make sense, and there’s at least five other explanations for why things are the way they are right now that would make more sense than a head coach of a major college football program not wanting to win.

But there are times after games, even after wins, when Snyder just seems defeated. Last week at Ames and tonight being the biggest examples. It might be exhaustion. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s just in my head. But this year seems weird and has since the beginning. Like I said, I’m not one to speculate, but there’s just something a little off in Vanier.