Those who read Writer Granny's World regularly know that I am a huge fan of the Kansas State University Wildcats That's Willie Wildcat in the picture above ready to roll for another game. We live only five minutes from the stadium and started attending games there in 1975. That's when K-State was one of the worst college football teams in the nation. Coaches rolled in and out of here without even having time to completely unpack. Here, no luck, gone!
But then, Bill Snyder arrived as Head Coach, his first time in that lofty position. He'd been an assistant coach at Iowa and was ready to be the number one guy in our program. He had plenty of time to unpack as he made one of the biggest turnarounds in college football ever seen. He brought our wildcats into the Top Ten teams in the nation and took them to one bowl game after another.
Several years ago, Coach Snyder had a not so stellar season, and he got the feeling the higher ups at K-State wanted him to retire, so he did exactly that. In came a young, optimistic new coach who had big plans for the wildcats. In his third year, he was fired. Search on for a new coach.
They didn't need to look very far. Coach Snyder still lived in Manhattan, KS, he still traveled the highway named after him, and he still attended every game in the Bill Snyder Family Stadium, also named for him and the K-State family of fans at his insistence. Enter Bill Snyder as coach once again.
He's done it again, turned around a flailing program. In his second year back, he took the team to a bowl, not a prestigious one, but a bowl. They played in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York in 2010, arriving in a blizzard. Fans bundled up looking like penguins, but they were there.
This year, the wildcats were picked to finish 8th in the Big 12. Wrong! They finished as #2 in the conference and are playing in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Friday night. We finished the season ranked #8 in the BCS poll, and we play Arkansas, who was #6. Coach Snyder has received recognition in many places for his second turn-around of a program needing help. Besides being a good coach, he's a fine man, a class act. He prepares young men for life beyond the football field, and I admire him greatly, as do thousands of others.
The game is at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, TX, and Ken and I will be there with our son and our two oldest granddaughters. We're heading south today, bags packed with purple K-State gear. I'm nervous as a cat about the game. Two tough teams, so it should be a good game.
All this makes me think I'd enjoy sports writing if I could write about the human side of the college sports. The fine points of the game are beyond me, but the people side is my kind of story. Have you ever thought about sports writing? It's a field all its own.
Stay tuned for more on the Cotton Bowl experience later.