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Slate: The Search for the Legend’s Successor Begins

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Some sports writers still think K-State is in a galaxy far, far away.

New Horizons Nears July 14 Flyby Of Pluto
This is Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. Dennis Dodd believes K-State plays football there.
Photo by NASA/APL/SwRI via Getty Images

The period for post-mortems is so inadequate in college sports. Already yesterday, a day removed from Bill Snyder’s retirement, most of the media outlets that had been camping in the Vanier Complex parking lot for a week waiting to break news of that event began speculating about who his successor will be.

Before going there, can we acknowledge that this all seems a bit abrupt and anticlimactic? Coach Snyder led the Wildcats for twenty-seven years and will forever remain an institution at K-State. Sadly, we haven’t heard any words from him about his decision to retire. We can only assume it is Coach’s decision not to speak. We can only hope the silence is temporary.

Closure is one of the modern world’s most overused words, but K-State fans everywhere could use a little encouragement from our mentor before we venture into the frightening unknown without him. We would also love the chance to stand and appreciate him one more time. Surely he will speak to the K-State family or at least write a farewell statement before settling into his new role.

Football

Though I chide professional media for turning the page so quickly, we fans were compelled to do the same. Our own Derek Smith zeroed in on perhaps the most often mentioned candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy: North Texas head coach Seth Littrell.

Arne Green at the Salina Journal writes that K-State Athletic Director Gene Taylor is ready to tackle the coaching search. Over at the Wichita Eagle, Kellis Robinett writes that the hire will shape Taylor’s legacy at K-State.

Chris Vannini at The Athletic (subscription) delves into the pluses and minuses of the K-State vacancy. Meanwhile, Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports trots out the usual false tropes that K-State exists on the far side of Pluto and therefore, should not hope for much unless a Snyder reincarnation appears. Allow me a digression to eviscerate him.

Here is the money line from his piece:

K-State football exists on a cliff every day of its existence as the most isolated campus in major-college football. It must develop players at almost every turn rather than get five-star prospects. The guy to follow the guy will have to be a Snyder clone in that respect.

Cliff, huh? (Poor analogy for a school in Kansas, first of all.) Most isolated campus in major-college football, huh?

Look, we understand Manhattan is an untenable 120-minute drive from anything Mr. Dodd might consider an actual city. We also understand that Manhattan’s airport is a mere “regional” outpost. But flights from real world hubs (i.e., Dallas and Chicago) land there every day, and 15 minutes of traffic-free road time will put you at the stadium after you get off the plane. It’s easier getting to K-State, in fact, than to a number of other universities, including West Virginia, Washington State and probably even Penn State. Do they exist on the precarious precipice of college football, too?

We understand that K-State may not enjoy the geographical advantages of some other schools, but the notion that its very existence is threatened by inaccessibility is tired and based on information that is no longer true, if it ever was. If Mr. Dodd is talking about the perceived lack of talent available to K-State in its own backyard, perhaps he should visit with some of our obscure alumni, including Darren Sproles, Terence Newman and Jordy Nelson. K-State has shown the ability to import talent, too. Witness the Georgia pipeline that has given us Isaiah Zuber, Duke Shelley and Justin Hughes.

The point is, Mr. Dodd’s characterization of K-State’s dire disadvantages based on location alone is overstated and based on antiquated assumptions about the Wildcats’ place in the college football world. I hope the next coach—who almost certainly does not have to be a Bill Snyder clone, if any such person exists—shows just how wrong Dodd’s assertions are.

That diatribe aside, back to the news.

Another name mentioned in the infancy of the coaching search is that of Chris Klieman, the coach that Gene Taylor hired as successor to Craig Bohl at North Dakota State. Klieman has compiled a 66-6 record as head coach of the Bison, but says that Taylor has not contacted him about K-State’s coaching vacancy.

At least one columnist kept to nostalgia for another day, as NewOK’s Berry Tramel celebrated the honor of getting to write about Coach Snyder and included links to some of his favorite past articles about the legend.

In the NFL, Tyler Lockett caught another touchdown pass, and Jordy Nelson caught ten balls for 92 yards in an otherwise quiet weekend for K-State alums.

Women’s Basketball

Jeff Mittie’s women, fresh off a defeat of SEC opponent Vanderbilt, will take on Lamar Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

Track and Field

After completing his collegiate high-jumping career at K-State, Lamar Garret worked at a Home Depot and provided cleaning services at a radio station and a strip mall while he worked his way into a paid position on a college coaching staff. Corbin McGuire at K-State Sports Extra chronicles his journey back to K-State as an assistant track and field coach.