No, this season has had its ups and downs, but who would you rather have coaching your Wildcat team right now than Bill Snyder?
No offense to the Wildcat players of yesteryear or today, but by star-status created by recruiting gurus, the Kansas State coaching staff does more with less than any program in the country.
The question is how?
How can Snyder, and his staff, mold a collection of 2- and 3-Star athletes, plus a handful of yearly walk-ons, into a team that last year won the Big 12, and in recent history has had tremendous success against schools like Texas?
How? What exactly is the key to success?
Snyder will talk about the intrinsic values and buying into being a little bit better today than yesterday, and a tad better tomorrow than today. It's a phrase that he's used and re-used ... well, since 1989 when he strolled onto the K-State campus.
But can it be that simple?
Running game coordinator Dana Dimel says K-State's success starts with what he calls Snyder's "master plan."
"It's a structure that has been tweaked with time, but it's an ultimate plan that serves as our foundation from year to year," said Dimel, who has been a head coach at Wyoming and Houston. "It's our ultimate plan that, if executed, will bring success."
Dimel says the plan starts with intense evaluation of players and a focus on how they will fit into the K-State system.
Then, Dimel says, "It becomes a focus on player development and attention to detail in practices. What we get out of practice every day is more than what other programs get out of their practices. Our practices are long, but with a lot of detail. If you can work though it as a player, that's where our players have an edge."
Assistant coach Mo Latimore, who has also coached at UTEP and Missouri, says Snyder's success starts with work ethic: "I think other programs baby their kids more, while we demand more out of our kids. That's true on the field where all kids love to play football, but our guys know that we truly care about them going out and making it in the world. I think our players understand that, and in turn are willing to work harder than most guys."
Andre Coleman is new to the coaching staff, but he was a Wildcat player from 1990-93 when he was first introduced to Snyder's program and work ethic.
"Once you get that taste of winning it's easy to buy into whatever the coaches ask," said Coleman, whose K-State years included five, seven, five and nine wins. "Like nowhere else I've ever been, there is a commitment to achievement at Kansas State that starts with Coach Snyder. It's the culture. Once you put in the work, Coach Snyder's system becomes machine-like. There's a culture of winning when you buy into the system."
Laughing, Coleman, a modestly recruited talent out of Hermitage, Pa., said, "I'm a living example of buying into Coach Snyder's system and the maturing process that one gets within that system. It's what makes up the foundation of K-State football. It's a process that 'if' you buy into, you're going to be a winner on, and off, the field."
Passing game coordinator Del Miller uses the terms "persistence" and "consistency" in defining what separates Snyder from the other elite coaches in the nation.
"When a normal player or coach says I've done everything I can do ... I'm tired, coach asks for more," said Miller. "That's true with everyone under his supervision."
Former Kansas State quarterback Lynn Dickey has viewed Snyder's program from the outside looking in and marvels at his results.
"Every year you go to those early games and ask, 'Where did that guy come from?' said Dickey.
Last year it was 6-foot-9, 320-pound Cornelius Lucas, who went from not playing at all as a freshman and sophomore, to an All-Big 12 left tackle as a junior.
"You see guys like this at all levels," Dickey said. "They've never been pushed beyond exhaustion into that twilight zone. Once a kid can push past that certain barrier there can be that moment of, 'Holy cow ... I can play!' It just clicks. The coaches have been on you for two years, but there comes a time when 'you' have to say, 'I can do this! This system does work.' They finally see the light of Bill's system."
Past coaches under Snyder echo the words of those of today.
Rod Humenuik, a member of the 1994 staff said, "He is meticulous. A lot of coaches have a plan for every hour, but he has a plan for every minute."
Bob Elliott, who knew Snyder while at Iowa as a graduate assistant and defensive coach, and later as a defensive coach at K-State starting in 2002, said, "I don't think anyone can believe how hard he works until you see it. There is maybe one percent of the people in this country who can concentrate like he can."
If not a football coach, Elliott said of Snyder, "I think he would be a great general .. a General (Norman) Schwarzkopf type."