Sunday, November 20, 2011

9 Angry Wins

Last night, Bill Snyder was the angriest nine-win coach in America. His Kansas State Wildcats - underdogs once again, continuing a trend that makes one wonder whether folks in Las Vegas think Manhattan, Kan., is actually a fictional town - topped the Texas Longhorns, pushing their season win total to nine... Not bad for a team whom many predicted would not earn the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility.

With the NCAA's broken postseason system*, the Wildcat win won't push them toward better postseason seeding, but it does give them a chance to share the Big 12 championship - this in the Big 12's first season of round-robin conference play. With scheduling quirks no longer affecting week-to-week action and the lack of divisional play eliminating the opportunity for a conference championship game ups (see: 2003), K-State was not supposed to be able to compete for conference championships anymore. This point was so clear, it may have even been printed in Dan Beebe's book of daily affirmations.

*Bowl System Logic: You had a borderline-good-to-great season, how about you go play in one more game, but this one will be in a random city. No, you won't ultimately have a chance at the NCAA Championship, but you can win a trophy that bears the name of a corporate sponsor that may very well be bankrupt in three years. Hooray!

The fact that the Wildcats are here - chasing a piece of a championship - surprises pretty much anyone who is not directly associated with the Kansas State football program. It's been the sort of season that many coaches might dream about. So, why was Bill Snyder so mad?

As Snyder put it, Texas "beat the tar out of us." The Longhorns out-gained the Wildcats 310-121. The Wildcats averaged a meager 1 yard per rush attempt - a total they might have matched if they had just lined up in a goal-line formation and run quarterback sneaks every single play. The passing game was not much better, with the Wildcats completing barely half of their attempts, gaining just 83 yards through the air, and getting sacked five times. Essentially, if you gave your dog a Playstation controller and turned on Madden Football, the mutt's team might have a chance of topping K-State's offensive output.

With a week off prior to their final game of the season, the Wildcats have a chance to rest - good news, since news came out that quarterback/walking-bruise Collin Klein had not really participated in practice over the last two weeks - and also a chance to shore up on any misgivings. Asked what the Wildcats need to focus on during the bye week, Snyder quipped something along the lines of "We need to learn to play offense." ... He's nothing if he's not subtle.

Once again, the Wildcats won. It was a fairly big win; one many coaches would accept with wide smiles on their faces. As the last Kansas State coach repeated after every single game (and as he exhibited during his time on the sidelines), "It's tough to win football games." The Wildcats have already exceeded expectations. They've won games they "shouldn't" have won. They've even surprised the most optimistic fans, yet Snyder isn't happy. He wants more... And that's probably why they're competing for a piece of a championship in the first place.

Stay angry, Bill.

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