MANHATTAN — If Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder had his way, today's game against Missouri would be more meaningful.
That's not to say he views the Wildcats' 97th meeting with the visiting Tigers as unimportant. K-State is ranked 20th and hasn't beaten Missouri in five years. A good crowd is expected and ABC will broadcast the game regionally. All indications of a big game.
But he feels like something is missing. Compared to the Big 12's old setup, when the league was split into North and South divisions with a title game deciding the conference's champion, today's game doesn't seem as significant.
Now, the winner is only keeping pace with league heavyweights Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State.
"It gave teams like Kansas State such a tremendous opportunity that they may not get otherwise," Snyder said. "And it wasn't just Kansas State. I think Missouri profited from it so readily. The University of Kansas profited from it. Iowa State... "
K-State won the North division three times under his leadership, and raised the conference championship trophy in 2003. Those are some of his favorite memories.
But even when the Wildcats missed out on the Big 12's premier game, he enjoyed being in a position to reach it, as was the case in 2009 when K-State went 6-6 and fell one win short of a North title. Its final game at Nebraska had both bowl and conference championship implications.
"That's a very positive thing, motivational for your players to be able to finish a season still with an opportunity," Snyder said.
Now that the Big 12 has begun expanding by inviting TCU to the league, Snyder hopes the conference continues to grow. He is in favor of anything that will return added meaning to games like today's.
"It was the best of all worlds for programs like Kansas State," Snyder said. "I thought it was great. You look at all the conferences now, everybody is going where we were, with being able to have two divisions and have a championship game.... It's a no-brainer."