I consider Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder to be the smartest coach I’ve ever seen up close.
The “Wildcat formation,” that uses a back rather than a quarterback is basically named after Snyder. His reliance on special teams is legendary. He started creative ways to incorporate his quarterback into the running game that numerous coaches have copied.
I make more mistakes in a day than Snyder has made in his coaching career.
But even the great ones have life-long regrets.
When Snyder faced the ultimate test Saturday — he replayed the defining moment in Kansas State football history.
That career-defining moment stared Snyder in the face against No. 2 ranked TCU Saturday. The Wildcats had outplayed, but more importantly outcoached TCU the whole night.
Down three points, it was Snyder’s move. For the second time in his career, Snyder blinked — and he rarely blinks.
TCU’s talent is literally two touchdowns better than K-State. But here was scrappy K-State finding a way to control the football and keep TCU’s offense off the field.
Fourth-and-1 was K-State’s one and only chance to upset TCU. The Wildcats had TCU on the run all night and converting that fourth-and-1 was the only way the Wildcats would upset TCU. I knew K-State would lose when they elected to kick a tying field goal.
Snyder made the mistake of converting a tying field goal rather than go for the victory.
He made the identical mistake in 1998 when he failed to let Michael Bishop run for a fourth-and-1 at the Texas A&M 4-yard line in the Big 12 championship game.
In ‘98, K-State was 4 yards away from playing for the college football championship. Snyder blinked that time — the biggest miscalculation in his legendary Hall of Fame coaching career.
Bishop was tripped up by his own teammate on a sure-fire second-down play that would’ve delivered a first-and-goal. The Wildcats were left a half-yard away from first-and-goal.
They were a half-yard away from having four chances to play for the national championship.
Saturday brought back painful and career-changing memories from ‘98. Several of Snyder’s coaches bolted to Oklahoma after Sooner coach Bob Stoops successfully sabotaged K-State’s dream of a college football championship.
Life is a lot like football.
What are you going to do when it’s fourth-and-one?
— Jim Misunas