It’s November, which means it’s Coaching Carousel season. In Manhattan, we managed to stay out of that zoo for most of the past couple of decades, once Bill Snyder cut off the brief flirtation with UCLA, said he wasn’t ever going anywhere, and got a lifetime contract from Max Urick. That was in the early 1990s.
Actually, we had a couple of real rounds of it, with the search for Bill’s replacement in late 2005, and then with the firing of Ron Prince and Bill’s return. Now we’re standing right outside the circus tent, since the team is struggling and Bill is 79. Rumors swirl; columnists call on him to step down; stories circulate about whether another coach’s agent has been in town.
In that context, I want to say a few things:
First, Bill Snyder has earned the right to decide what he wants to do. I argued earlier this season that this is a down year, and that I would expect him to be able to bring the team back to sustained success in a couple of years. If he doesn’t feel that he’s up to that, I trust him to be self-aware enough to retire. He’s also been loyal; he could have gone anywhere he wanted many times.
Vahe Gregorian, the excellent sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, is arguing that Bill ought to step down, essentially to save the program once again. He makes the case as well as it can be made. It’s all certainly up for debate, if you really want something to talk about.
But second, for everybody hyperventilating right now, chill out. I very seriously doubt that anything is going to happen, one way or the other, until after the end of the season. The first time Bill retired, he did so about this time of year, on short notice. He has said many times he should never have done that, and wouldn’t do it again. He has said he’ll assess it all and talk to his family at the end of the season. That’s what he’s done every year in his second tour, and my very strong guess is that’s what he’ll do this year. He said so again a week ago.
Does it really do any good for anyone to yammer on about this right now? Bill isn’t ever going to be fired, and that’s as it should be. All that matters is what he decides to do, and he’s made it very clear how and when he will make that decision, year after year.
Third: Whenever the time comes and Bill steps down, the next coach will be worse. Sure, there are lots of good football coaches out there, and perhaps one will end up here. But we’ve contended for many years that Bill Snyder is the best college football coach ever; Dick Vermeil and Barry Switzer said so. That means everybody else is worse. Want to make a case for Nick Saban? Sure, I’ll concede you have a good argument. But he’s not coming here. Think for a minute about hot coaches. There are some every year. Last year it was Scott Frost. How’s that working out for Nebraska? They’re 2-7, hanging around the basement of the Big 10 with Minnesota, Rutgers and Indiana. Worse.
Fourth, when the time comes that Bill does decide to retire, and we really enter the circus, you need to keep something else in mind: There’s a whole lot of malarkey out there.
Witness the rumors (and one published story knocking down the rumor) about a football coach’s agent being in town. All of that was based on anonymous sources.
Guess what, folks? You’re all getting used. Occasionally, we in the media get used, too. Agents drop hints to try to whip up a frenzy, helping their clients negotiate better deals. Sometimes coaches even fly places to talk to another school about a job, and then end up with a whole lot more money from their current employer. Bobby Petrino and Mike Gundy come to mind.
Malarkey, skullduggery and the lightning-fast telephone game of social media mean that you will have to make your way carefully through all this. Rely on good reputable sources of information. Remain skeptical.
Which leads me to my final point, which is really just a reminder: Might as well be positive. Nobody wants to succeed more than the coaches and players at K-State. Nobody has ever wanted that more than Bill Snyder.
Enjoy it. Honor it. Someday, it will in fact be gone. We’ll truly be on the Coaching Carousel, hoping for the kind of ridiculous luck we had — twice — when we managed to land the best coach in America.