"… Who can say, what brought us to this miracle we've found; There are those who'd bet love comes but once; And yet, I'm oh so glad we met the second time around."
Instead of trying to decipher the words to Lady Gaga's "Second Time Around" lyrics, let's all go back to the days of Frank Sinatra, and for that matter, Bill Snyder, in talking about this coaching … second time around.
Creating such a career that a stadium was named after him from 1989-2005, Snyder went into a three-year retirement after the ‘05 season, but has now returned elevating the program to 6-6 in 2009, and today has the Wildcats off to a 4-0 start and receiving votes in the Top 25 poll.
On the improvement from last year to this season, Kansas State defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements offered, "A year ago, none of these players knew what to expect with a new coach, but now we have a majority of our players who can help the newcomers. If there are questions to ask, there are teammates to go to. The second year in a program always has great advantages."
Mo Latimore, in his 29th season in the KSU football program, agreed: "Not that we weren't together last year, but you can sense a togetherness with the team and the working for the same common goal. That comes from the kids knowing us as coaches, and what's expected of them to go out and become better football players."
In Snyder's first season in 1989, K-State won one game. The Wildcats lost games by an average of 32-12.
In 1990, K-State improved to 5-6 for the best season the school had enjoyed in the previous seven seasons. The Wildcats scored 23 points per game, or an 11-point improvement, and allowed 27 points per game, for a 5-point improvement.
Michael Smith was a receiver on those early-Snyder teams, and now is K-State's receivers coach. In both instances, he says, "There's a feeling out process for both players and coaches. They (players in 2010) know us now, and we know them. That helps in how you call a game and how you use the weapons that you have. There can be a vast improvement from year-one to the second season."
There "can be," but prior to the season, Snyder was the first to ask, "Will there be?"
While pleased to be 4-0, Snyder has been less by awed by his team's play heading into this bye week before playing Nebraska on Oct. 7.
"There's always that chance to feel like you're better than you are, but maybe the fact that we haven't played as well as I think we're capable of playing has tempered some of the misperception that a 4-0 record can bring," said Snyder.
Snyder said he does think this team feels good about itself having come from behind in three of the four wins, but he questions why the ‘Cats have fallen behind.
"We're not giving in, which was an area where we did have some dialogue about last year," said Snyder.
"It was something that they wanted to overcome and demonstrate that they could finish some games. We've been in three of those games where we've had to come back, so the important thing now is to figure out why we're getting behind and get that problem solved."