Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Thoughts on Bill Snyder and the search for his replacement

Given everything that is currently happening at Kansas State, this seemed like a good week to have an early edition of K-State Q&A.

We’ve got loads of great questions to get to, as expected, so let’s dive right in. Thanks, as always, for your participation.

North Texas coach Seth Littrell seems like the favorite. He has done a heck of a job with the Mean Green, he is young and he has Big 12 ties going back to his days as an Oklahoma fullback. K-State fans like the idea of him and he’s also currently in New York for college football Hall of Fame festivities. Gene Taylor is coincidentally also in the Big Apple for those ceremonies.

Littrell will almost certainly take the job if offered.

But it’s too early to call the race. You can read our initial list of 10 candidates here.

Taylor has quietly told K-State staffers that he will hire a new coach within the next two weeks. I don’t know that he will need that much time, but he will do his due diligence. His legacy will forever be tied to this football hire, and he wants to get it right.

The Wildcats are using a search firm, Ventura Partners, to assist with the coaching search. That suggests that Taylor wants to vet more than a few candidates and is open to outside suggestions. There might be a few mystery coaches in the mix that aren’t publicly known.

Anyone expecting an immediate hire will need to remain patient. I bet we see something late this week or early next week.

If hiring K-State’s next football coach was as simple as letting fans vote in an online poll and then bringing in the winner, well, Brent Venables would definitely replace Bill Snyder.

Alas, it is not that simple.

There has to be mutual interest for any coaching hire to take place. I’m just not sure that exists here. Yes, Venables is from Kansas. He also played and coached at K-State. There are tons of reasons why he makes sense as the next head coach. But he also has a sweet, high-paying job at Clemson. One of his sons is even on the team.

When reports surfaced that Texas Tech was interested in hiring Venables, he told Clemson media that he would feel like a hypocrite if he left for a different job after convincing his son to play for him. The timing, among other things, seems off.

Venables can also be extra selective whenever he decides to make the jump to head coach, if that’s something he even wants. He’s been so good as Clemson’s defensive coordinator that he could follow the Kirby Smart path and take over a true blue-blood program one day. He may even replace Dabo Swinney.

For the moment, Venables seems unlikely.

We’ve all got to shoot our shot, I guess.

Yeah, sure, Bob Stoops would be outstanding. So would Nick Saban and Chris Petersen. Maybe Gene Taylor can hire them all to the same staff and bring on Mike McCarthy as the QB coach.

Of all the swing-for-the-fences candidates out there, Mike Leach is probably the most realistic. He seemed eager to leave Washington State for Tennessee last year. And I don’t think it would shock anyone if he returned to the Big 12.

That being said, he’s got a good thing going in Pullman. He can say and do whatever he wants, and no one can do a darn thing about it. The fans there love his personality. The Cougars are in the top 15 and just went 10-2. Why would he make a lateral move?

K-State would also probably have to wait until after the Alamo Bowl to hire him. Never say never, but Leach also seems pretty unlikely.

He would be fun to cover, though.

With Skylar Thompson cementing himself as the clear QB1 late in the season, it came as little surprise when Alex Delton announced plans to transfer and play somewhere else next year. On the bright side, that probably clinches Thompson’s return.

I think most players will wait to see how the coaching situation shakes out before making any kind of decision on their futures.

There are bound to be transfers following any coaching change, but the new coach should help retain most of the returning starters. At least he should compared to the transfers we might have seen under another year from Snyder. It’s a poorly kept secret that a large chunk of players were ready to bolt had he returned.

First answer: Keep an eye on North Carolina. Mack Brown is one of Bill Snyder’s oldest friends and always swooned over the impact K-State special teams had when he was coaching at Texas. That would be a good landing spot for Sean Snyder, if he wants a fresh start or the next K-State coach prefers his own special teams coordinator.

Second answer: The salary of the next football coach will depend on the next football coach. If Gene Taylor steals someone away from another P5 school like Mike Leach (not saying that will happen, just using The Pirate as an example) then he will probably get paid considerably more than the $3.2 million Snyder was earning. If it’s a FCS coach like Chris Klieman (again, just using his name as an example) it would probably be significantly less.

Third answer: Haven’t heard a peep about Bret Bielema, other than Dennis Dodd mentioning him as a candidate in this article. But Dodd also lists Dana Dimel and Craig Bohl as names to watch, and I assure you neither of them are being considered.

Favorite Bill Snyder memory: Before K-State played in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl, I went to one of the Wildcats’ practices. Bowl representatives promised the media we would get to watch the first 15 minutes. Snyder knew this, so he instructed his team to goof off during that time. Fullbacks showed off their arms, receivers took turns punting balls into the end zone and nothing of importance happened.

Snyder had gamed the system. Or so he thought. The bowl rep on hand saw this and decided the media deserved to view a true 15 minutes of practice. So he waited to start the 15-minute clock until K-State actually started practicing.

So the moment Snyder thought we were getting kicked out was actually the moment we were getting let in. He was not pleased, to say the least. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face when he asked the bowl rep to remove us from practice and the bowl rep told him no.

Oh man. Next thing I knew injured players were lining up in front of me and trying to block my view from the sideline. He really didn’t want us there.

Snyder on Twitter: We can hope.

My phone usage: My hand and phone basically fused together last week. It was nice to put it down for a while on Monday

Eric Wolford is not a candidate.

He’s a great guy and a good coach with K-State ties. Everyone respects the charity work he has done over the years in Manhattan. Seems like he’s doing a nice job as South Carolina’s offensive line coach. But he’s not in the running.

Bill Snyder will have a heart-felt statement for K-State fans at some point. That will probably be at the top of his to-do list after he returns from New York.

Maybe K-State will put it out in a news release. Perhaps he will purchase an ad in the newspaper. I’m guessing we’ll see something like that. I hope brings back his Twitter account and just tweets at fans all day. That would be cool.

It was definitely awkward that K-State announced Snyder’s retirement without a statement from him. Most retiring coaches have a press conference to say goodbye. That has made some wonder if he was forced out or, at least, nudged into this decision.

Personally, I think he knows it was time to retire. He just wasn’t ready to say goodbye on Sunday. He’s never been big on personal celebrations. When K-State made a huge deal about his 200th victory a few seasons ago, he seemed borderline annoyed by the spectacle.

Everyone hopes he can eventually become the Ernie Barrett of the football team, supporting the next coach from the stands at every game. There would be no better cheerleader for the Wildcats next season. Not sure if that’s how he pictures himself as a retired coach, but I don’t think he will turn against the school like Bob Knight with Indiana.

Under terms of his contract, Snyder will now become a special ambassador for the university at a salary of $250,000. He will retain that job as long as he is physically and mentally able.

What that job entails will likely be entirely up to him.

This yokel will probably miss the consistency Snyder brought to everything.

Over the past 10 years, you could just about always count on the Wildcats beating the bad teams on their schedule and making a bowl. Predicting games usually felt pretty easy.

My week-to-week schedule hardly ever changed. Big 12 teleconference on Monday, local press conference on Tuesday, game on Saturday. I hope the next coach offers more media opportunities, but at least you knew what you were getting. There weren’t a whole bunch of surprises.

No. When Snyder signed his new contract in August I thought he was going to coach into his 80s. I didn’t think he was going to retire until K-State lost to Oklahoma 51-14 in late October. But I was convinced that’s where things were headed afterward.

“Great googly moogly.”

Then I would have taken a bite out of a Snickers bar.

The Wildcats don’t lose a ton of seniors this year, but the ones they do lose are all pretty good like Dalton Risner and Duke Shelley. Alex Barnes could also leave for the NFL.

Skylar Thompson will be back at QB, which is a huge plus. Malik Knowles, Isaiah Zuber and Hunter Rison have talent at receiver. The defense should improve. Running back will be a huge question mark, though. Not sure what to expect from the offensive line.

K-State will have to play at Mississippi State next season, which will be a hard nonconference game. But it gets five home games in the Big 12.

With the right coach, K-State could be back in a bowl next season. I could see something like 8-4 under the right circumstances.

The vast majority of coaches on K-State’s staff are worthy of being considered for positions under a new coach. Most of them work hard and put in work that we never see.

Who stays and who goes depends on the next coach. If it’s an offensive guru, he will probably want to bring in his own people on that side of the ball. Same if he’s a defensive guy.

I bet we see a couple coaches join the new staff. Blake Seiler did a very nice job this season and could continue on as defensive coordinator. Collin Klein is universally respected. Taylor Braet knows how to recruit here. And Sean Snyder worked under Ron Prince, so you would think he will get considered.

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