_FANalysis: Waiting on the Pine

You probably think this is going to be about who is (and isn’t) playing quarterback for K-State, and in part it is. But overall, this is about what K-State football has become, and the issues at the quarterback position are just a part of that. In reality the struggles we are seeing from K-State football under Bill Snyder this season are nothing new, but will there eventually be a repeat of the last 2 seasons  (or the 2002 and 03 seasons) and double digit wins with plenty of success, or is this really the end of an era (again)?

Most well informed K-State fans know that one of the (many) quirky things Bill Snyder is known for is his favorite movie; Disney’s 1940 rendition of Pinocchio. So much so that still shots from the movie adorn the walls of his office. I’d imagine that in many ways Snyder views his ability to build football teams with many parallels to Mister Geppetto’s ability to create puppets out of pine or oak. The question for the Wildcat fan becomes will this team eventually come to life like past seasons of K-State football under Snyder?

The 90s spoiled K-State fans in this regard; every season those football teams gained life and 9, 10, and 11 wins seasons piled up. For an 8 year stretch, K-State never lost more than 2 games in conference play and won 82% of their games overall. Initially, 2001 appeared to be a fluke; a young team with quarterback issues struggled to win games, but the following 2 seasons brought back success and K-State’s 2nd conference championship. Then things fell off again, but Snyder’s retirement cut short another attempt at rebuilding his program and an attempt to repeat the success from the 90s. After Snyder returned, the process began again and a team with a developing QB in 2010 eventually became a highly successful team in 2011 and 12. Now it appears K-State is in the midst of one of those developmental seasons once again. The same quarterback issues exist that have been present before, but maybe even more pronounced are the losses on defense from the last 2 seasons.

As these charts show, the trend over the last 10 seasons for Snyder is very mixed success. Snyder’s rebuilding seasons have avoided the terrible 1-2 win failures that other programs might go through, but they have still been ugly. Its fair to critique the process and question whether or not repeating success will happen again. There was certainly carryover from the the 90s Snyder teams to the 02 and 03 seasons, but 2001 still shared some of the rebuilding traits that we’ve seen in Snyder’s other mediocre seasons. And the seasons from 04 and 05 didn’t appear to have the same success in store, but Snyder’s 1st retirement cut the process short. However, he was able to pick it up upon his return, and after 2 seasons found high success again.

Regardless, the seasons in which Snyder’s teams have struggled have had similar traits; offensive struggles, holes on defense, and mistakes and errors that don’t seem to be typical of Snyder’s best teams. Those issues have been discussed plenty this season, and much of the criticism from fans is well deserved, but K-State fans have to decide if they are willing to be patient with another cycle of the process.

Unfortunately at this point in the process there are more questions than answers. Will Sams be another duel threat like Roberson or Klein that Snyder will build a successful team behind? Will Snyder and his staff choose to go a different direction with Waters? Can that work? Can the holes in the defense be fixed by developing younger players and bringing in more talent from junior college or high impact transfers? Does Snyder have the time, ability, or coaching staff to repeat the process one more time?