December 24, 2013
By Mark Janssen
It's hard to believe that it was 20 years ago - December 29, 1993 - that Kansas State thrashed the Wyoming Cowboys in the Copper Bowl, which in reality, is now the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl that K-State will be playing in against Michigan.
The 52-17 Copper Bowl victory was the first bowl win in K-State history, the first in the Bill Snyder era, and, only the second postseason football game in the school's history.
Twenty years ago: December 29, 1993.
"That was a fantastic win for our program," said K-State co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel, who was on Snyder's coaching staff in 1993. "On that night, we were a much, much faster team. I'm not sure if we had more than three or four kids on that team that had another Division I offer, which just says how they developed within our program."
Del Miller was the offensive coordinator in 1993, and shares that title with Dimel today.
Entering the '93 season, he said, "We thought we were making progress, but more than anything that team had an attitude to go along with all of the team speed we had."
One of those flyers was wide receiver Andre Coleman, who today serves as K-State's receiver coach: "We weren't cocky, but we did have an attitude of wanting to prove how good we were. We had plenty of guys on both sides of the ball who could go out and make plays."
Along with a collection of talent, coach Bill Snyder had a coaching staff littered with Division I head coaching potential: Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Mike Stoops (Arizona), Jim Leavitt (South Florida), Mark Mangino (Kansas), Dana Dimel (Wyoming and Houston), plus Del Miller (Southwest Missouri) and Nick Quartara (Drake) at the Division I-AA level.
On the night of Dec. 29, 1993, the coaches coached, and the players made plays all night long.
• J.J. Smith rushed for 133 yards
• Chad May passed for 275 yards and a pair of scores
• Andre Coleman caught eight passes for 144 yards, and returned a punt 68 yards for another
• Kenny McEntyre returned an interception for a score
As Jaime Mendez said, "Our offense scored, our defense scored and our kicking game scored. It was a fairy tale."
Snyder added, "It was a complete ballgame. We couldn't have played a whole lot better."
Before a crowd of 49,075, the Wildcats rolled in Tucson, Ariz., that night, and in that year:
• The Cats opened at 5-0 for the first time since 1931
• The 9-2-1 record was the best since 1910
• K-State went undefeated at home
• May set a Big Eight passing record with 489 yards against Nebraska and the 565 yards of total offense K-State put on Nebraska was the most ever allowed by a Tom Osborne-coached team
• Jaime Mendez was All-American, and was joined by Thomas Randolph, Quentin Neujahr, Coleman and May on the All-Big Eight team
• Bill Snyder was Big Eight Coach of the Year.
It was days after the Copper Bowl victory that a western Kansas visitor stopped by Snyder's office at the Vanier Football Complex to say thank you and to define to the K-State coach the importance of football in the Wildcat Nation.
"He said it was the most important event of his entire life," said Snyder. "It was an occurrence that allowed me to truly understand how much the success of our program meant to those who remained loyal K-Staters. It was a magical night."
A night enjoyed by 22,000-plus K-Staters who flooded the Arizona desert.
As then-athletic director Max Urick announced to a pregame pep rally in Tucson, "As the sun begins to set on Tucson tonight, you're going to see a purple haze on the horizon because they're coming, and they're coming by the thousands."