Claremore Daily Progress

September 19, 2012

HORNING: Stoops must know Snyder's secret

CNHI News Services

NORMAN — It’s too bad that Bob Stoops, despite being in an otherwise good mood during his weekly Monday meeting with the media, remained one not to speculate, because the answer would have been fascinating.

Because ever since Ron Prince departed Kansas State making way for the return of Bill Snyder, architect of the Manhattan Miracle, nobody has decided Prince to be a coaching bum.

The guy’s coaching in the NFL these days, running Jacksonville’s offensive line. They don’t let bums coach in the NFL, do they?

Here’s the thing.

Snyder arrived in Manhattan in 1989 and turned the Wildcats into a top 10 program, a Big 12 champion, a national title contender.

It was maybe the greatest turnaround story in the history of college sports.

He didn’t do it by stockpiling talent. He didn’t do it with the best talent. He didn’t do it by finding talent and hiding it away until it was time to sign.

Texas and Alabama and USC and sometimes Oklahoma make runs at Signing Day titles, but not Kansas State.

Some pros have come out of Manhattan the last two decades, but they were pros when they left, not when they arrived. There have been no Adrian Petersons under Snyder, no Tommie Harrises, no can’t-miss stars.

All Snyder and Kansas State ever do is win on Saturday.

So Prince left and Snyder returned and somehow — magically? — Kansas State began to win again. The Wildcats will enter Saturday night at Owen Field a perfect 3-0, ranked No. 15.

People will say Kansas State didn’t look that good against Missouri State and North Texas on both sides of the Wildcats 52-13 victory over Miami and they will be right.

But make no mistake, Snyder’s program is overachieving again. How and why are the questions.

Snyder is a genius, yes. He works 100-hour weeks, very possibly. And who wants to disappoint a legend whose name is on the stadium? There’s all of that but it doesn’t answer the question.

How and why exactly?

Prince must have been disciplined. He must have thought he was running a tight, strong, organized ship.

But not like Snyder.

Bob Stoops has to know the secrets.

“Not being in the building, it’s hard for me to say what they’ve changed,” Stoops said. “I just see what the end product is and you see a lot of good football.”

What about when he was there?

“Just being demanding in discipline and how you play and your technique and I think, too, they are very bright in the schemes and what they put on the field,” Stoops said. “All of it together probably.”

But there is nothing fascinating about that.

That doesn’t tell us that Snyder sees opponent game film in a way nobody else sees it; or that he has some special way with his assistant coaches that simply brings out their very best; or that he’s a play-calling savant, better than everybody else.

It has to be something.

It must be something.

Nobody overachieves like a Bill Snyder football team.

“They do a great job of playing sound, fundamental, gap football,” Landry Jones said. “They are tough against the run and they do a really good job in the passing game with keeping everyone in front of them and making you kind of snap the ball.”

I’m not sure what “snapping” the ball really means, but it must make it more difficult, which is interesting. But that doesn’t explain Snyder’s genius either.

Whatever it is, it works.

Whatever it is, the Wildcats overachieve.

Remember when OU overachieved?

It’s been a while.

The Sooners have been really good, really talented the last couple of seasons, but they didn’t overachieve.

Now would be a good time.

There’s room for it like there hasn’t been the last couple of seasons, when OU had destiny in its hands well into the campaign.

The Wildcats do it.

Stoops has to know how they do it.

He must be able to take a few pages from that book. Perhaps Saturday, against the master himself.