Billy Beane in Moneyball tried to find market inefficiencies to help keep the Oakland Athletics competitive with higher salaried competition. The same could be said for Bill Snyder at Kansas State.
While there are scholarship limits in major college football now it is no secret that programs with outrageous athletic budgets like the University of Texas are able to build gorgeous facilities which help reel in more higher profile recruits than lower budgeted places like K-State. Obviously location plays a major role in combination with the higher budgets but this fact only helps increase ones appreciation of what Snyder has done in shaping his roster.
One of the major talking points when discussing K-State's Cotton Bowl bid has been the ability to play in Cowboys Stadium within the State of Texas as the state is a major recruiting hotbed. The ability to recruit Texas is thought to be vitally important for every program within the Big 12 and is one of the most talked about aspects of any coach's ability to win within the conference.
With the Wildcats finishing 10-2 in the regular season and ending up with a #8 BCS ranking you would have to make the assumption that Snyder and his staff have been able to effectively get a majority of their talent from the Lone Star State. A look at the K-State roster though shows only a total of 17 players from Texas with only three of them being full time starters in RB John Hubert, DT Ray Kibble & P Ryan Doerr.
What Snyder and his staff at K-State have done is find recruits who are largely overlooked either because of their size or in some cases likely of their hometown locations.
For an example you could look to the Wildcats starting fullback Braden Wilson who grew up in Smith Center in the northwest part of Kansas. He was overlooked by many schools simply because they weren't aware of him and Snyder was able to bring him in and develop him into an above average starting fullback in the Big 12.
Another player with a similar story is Ty Zimmerman who has now been a two year starter at safety for the Wildcats. Zimmerman is from Junction City, KS and while a standout high school athlete he was only ranked as a two star player by the recruiting services. He came into K-State and found his way onto the field in a starting role immediately and was named a Freshman All-American in 2010.
This is not to say that every player Snyder has lured into Manhattan is unnoticed out of high school as the stories of Chris Harper and Arthur Brown prove. Both of these players out of Wichita, KS were recruited nationally and chose to go to Oregon and Miami (FL) respectively before making the decision to come back home and play for the Wildcats.
In fact if you take a look at the official K-State football roster at www.kstatesports.com you will find a total of 52 players who hail from Kansas. This is something that many would find hard to believe for such a highly ranked squad.
In looking at one player who was overlooked mainly because of his size is the previously mentioned John Hubert. He came into Manhattan from Waco, TX after having broken LaDainian Tomlinson's high school records for rushing but he was largely downgraded on the recruiting scene because of his small stature. This season for K-State he was the Wildcats second leading rusher behind Collin Klein while finishing just short of 1000 yards.
While Hubert was a high school player who K-State was able to find there has long been a history of junior college players like Michael Bishop that Snyder has discovered. This years team is no different as Snyder was able to bring in immediate starters from the juco level in guys like Nigel Malone, Meshak Williams and Vai Lutui to help try and improve the teams porous defense from a year ago.
The ability to find hidden talent is one aspect but knowing how to use it to the best of its abilities is another area where Snyder simply seems better than the rest of marketplace at times.
The most obvious recent example of this is Collin Klein who was not recruited by Snyder but by former head coach Ron Prince. Originally a wide receiver Klein was converted to a quarterback and the results this year speak for themselves. A previous example, not that far in the past is Snyder converting Jordy Nelson from a potential safety to a wide receiver. One would have to guess that Nelson has a special place in his heart for Snyder and his ability to recognize the proper position for him.
Even with all the above examples don't be fooled that Snyder thinks he can get by each year on finding diamonds in the rough. Of the eleven football committments currently for 2012, six of them are from the state of Texas but don't be underwhelmed when you see a few Kansas kids on the list as well with only two stars beside their names.