By Mark Janssen
Michael Bishop called it the single play of his life.
"I can see it clear as day," said Bishop during his visit to Bill Snyder Family Stadium this past week. "I can see the snap coming back, and I remember looking at the safety and rolling to my right. I can see (Darnell) McDonald in the back of the end zone and can even feel me throwing the ball and waiting for him to catch it. That's when all the excitement took over. For me, personally, it was excitement for coach (Bill) Snyder because we had finally defeated Nebraska."
But there was one more aspect of that play.
"I was a guy who could throw it 100 miles per hour, but it seemed like that pass was in slow motion," laughed Bishop, who accounted for 446 yards - 140 rushing with two touchdowns, 306 passing with two touchdowns - in the game. "Darnell said the same thing. He said it was the slowest pass that I had ever thrown. He was wide open, but he didn't think the ball would ever get there."
Kansas State won that game played on Nov. 14, 1998, 40-30, which snapped a losing streak to the Cornhuskers that dated back to 1968.
But on this day, it wasn't an upset. K-State went in unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Poll and Nebraska was No. 11.
With a sparkle in his brown eyes, Bishop reflected, "Yeah, we were pretty good."
Bishop said his second moment to remember was the year before when K-State defeated a Donavan McNabb-led Syracuse team, 35-18, in the Fiesta Bowl.
"We were clicking that night," said Bishop, who passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns, plus ran for 77 yards and another score.
Those were just two memories out of two historic K-State seasons that totaled 22 Wildcat victories.
"They were definitely the best two years of my life," said Bishop. "There were highs and lows, but to be able to play at K-State ... I wouldn't change that for anything."
Pausing he added, "The one thing I would change is I wish it had been four years instead of two. The years went so fast."
After last Wednesday's practice, Snyder introduced Bishop to the 2010 K-State team.
"He just told the guys that he wished he had a team of guys who would play with a chip on their shoulder like I did," said Bishop. "He said he could ask me to run through a brick wall, and I would try and he knew I would give 110 percent."
And Bishop's message to the K-State team?
"I just told them that opportunities to play games like this one (NU) were very few. It should be a game that you look forward to," said Bishop, who was the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Ricky Williams in 1998. "It was an opportunity for them to make a statement, and there would be very few opportunities like that."
It was prior to Thursday's game that Bishop said, "I can't say I have butterflies, but I'd sure like to sneak in there and play a couple snaps. I would love to do that."
Bishop finished his K-State career ranked No. 1 in career passing touchdowns (36), No. 2 in career total offense (5,715) and No. 4 in career passing yards (4,401). Today, he ranks No. 3, No. 4 and No. 7 in those respective categories.
Those glossy numbers, however, did not transfer into a prosperous NFL career. Drafted in the seventh round, Bishop played two seasons in New England behind a quarterback by the name of Drew Bledsoe. His career NFL totals included only three passes caught and nine attempted.
"I don't regret anything. I was in the wrong system at the wrong time," said Bishop, who had also been a 28th round draft pick of the baseball Cleveland Indians out of high school. "I wish it had worked out differently, but I like to look at the big picture, and there were lessons learned."
Bishop's professional career from 1999 through the mid-2000s was a little more than racking up frequent flyer miles. He had stops with New England in the NFL and the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe; he played for the Grand Rapids Rampage, Chicago Rush and Kansas City Brigade in the Arena Football League; in Canada, he played for Calgary, Toronto, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg; and, in the Indoor Football League and Southern Indoor Football League, for the Corpus Christi Hammerheads and Texas Hurricanes.
For Bishop, now 34, this was his first trip back to Manhattan since the 2003 spring game.
"I can't believe how the place has changed," said Bishop, who was accompanied by his 11-year-old daughter Nia. "I even got lost a couple times driving around."
Bishop now lives in his hometown of Willis, Texas, where he is coaching at nearby The Woodlands Christian Academy, plus he is finishing his final three-hour course in philosophy that will complete his K-State degree.
"It's taken too many years (for his degree), but I was busy trying to make a living playing football," said Bishop. "I'm proud that I'm going to finish."
Oh, do those Academy players of 2010 know of the heroics of Kansas State's No. 7 a dozen years ago?
Chuckling, "I tell them, but I don't think they believe it until they go do the research on the internet and find some video clips."
Overall, Bishop said of coaching, "The kids really do listen. There is no second guessing in what I tell them about football and about life. I tell the kids I've been around the world and back because I was able to play football."