Yes, we realize that Bill Snyder’s clichés have become something of a local giggle — after all, how long can you actually chop wood or row a boat?
Well, maybe we all should pay more attention, because it was almost solely because of relentless chopping and rowing that K-State turned what might have been a truly disastrous football season into a year that will be remembered fondly by the Purple Nation.
Please recall that Snyder’s Wildcats — just hours after their legendary coach saw a statue of himself unveiled in front of the stadium that bears his name — got turned over by a team from Division I-AA.
Oh, and that they lost their first three conference games, despite leading in the fourth quarter in each of them.
They weren’t just 2-4, they were making awful mistakes — critical turnovers and penalties - that seemed completely uncharacteristic of Snyder teams. Even the coaching staff couldn’t seem to decide how to handle its two-quarterback dilemma.
K-State football, for the first time since the departure of Ron Prince, was in a bit of a mess.
There was a kind of bafflement that came over the populace. This sort of nonsense wasn’t supposed to be happening to a Bill Snyder team.
If you tried to sum up fans’ reaction in one word, it probably would have been: “Huh?”
We weren’t even out of October, and the Cats were finished in the Big 12 race. And surely they’d blown any hope of making it back to a bowl game, right?
By the time K-State simply pummeled Michigan 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl last weekend and snapped Snyder’s odd five-bowl losing streak, the Wildcats were good enough to compete with anyone in the country.
It was as if an entirely new recruiting class had been admitted at mid-season, a fresh group of stars who won six of Kansas State’s last seven games.
There weren’t any new faces, though.
No change of tactics or switch in offensive philosophy. No wild move to crazy blitzing on defense.
So what changed so dramatically?
At risk of sounding like a taped Snyder press conference, we’ll suggest that the whole season turned around because the Wildcats kept rowing the boat.
They kept chopping wood.
In real-life language, they simply stayed with it and got better.
Oh, and one last thing: Snyder’s beliefs and the clichés they produce?
We think they’re just as effective off the football field, for all of us, in everyday affairs — work, family, relationships, everything.
That’s the real lesson of a successful 2013 football season at K-State.
What got the Cats to their lofty perch at the end of the year is a pretty good plan whether you’re playing a sport, raising kids, cleaning the garage or building your business.
Bill would tell you: “Keep rowing the boat!”