The ascension of Bill Snyder into the national spotlight has been a slow steady one. It's the sort that Snyder would feel comfortable walking, allowing the noise of the 24/7 media cycle to ignore his work in the nation's hearland while other coaches and programs ask for, and receive, the attention. Yet at this point, it has become impossible to ignore the Wildcats, and it's something that Snyder and his team are now going to have to get used to at Kansas State.
At this point, the Kansas State Wildcats are synonymous with the best in college football. The reason? They own the top spot in the BCS Standings. That's what a 10-0 record will get you these days through the Big 12 -- the toughest conference in the country, all SEC media frenzy aside. The Wildcats have walked into Norman only to show up Oklahoma. They did the same in Morgantown to West Virginia. Each week presents another ranked opponent and each opponent swings and misses. It's been a historic season for Snyder.
In fact, this is Snyder's greatest feat to date in a career that's already legendary in the region and celebrated coast to coast. The highest end-of-season ranking under Snyder in K-State history is No. 7, in '95 and again in '02. Ten years later, he has his team poised on the edge of a national championship, if they can only maintain their focus through the final games of the season.
That specifically is where Snyder's tenure shines brightest: focus. There's no drama here in Manhattan. While other coaches flirt with the limelight and crave the attention, Snyder does his best to shepherd his players and keep expectations within reason. When the team continues to climb, Snyder hovers even more over his brood.
K-State doesn't recruit from the front lines. They don't aim for the headlines. There's no player that will hold a press conference to announce his intention to become a Wildcat. Consequently, there's no drama. There's no distraction. No one here is concerned about anything but becoming a better person and a better player, with the belief that, in the end, it is that transformation that matters the most.
In a world of pro style offenses and oneupsmanship, it's refreshing to see a coach like Bill Snyder, a colleague held in high regard by anyone who works with him or across from him. His opponents say they are cheering for him after they've been beaten. Opposing players respect the program and the approach. His own players, of course, swear by him. He's a breath of fresh air in a me-first world of college football.
Who knows whether it will work. Until now, the results have been very good but not great. However Snyder has a chance for true greatness before him. Yet if you think he's going to change his approach in the least to finally reach the pinnacle of a national championship, you're completely mistaken. It's the reason he's made it this far and it will be the very style that takes him all the way.