Finding the Successor to a Legend

Scads of head coaches will want to be not the next coach of the Kansas State Wildcats, but the one after the next.

Following a legend can be dangerous to the career of a coach.

Sure Tom Osborne did it after Bob Devaney, but just ask Frank Solich, who succeeded Osborne at Nebraska.

"You never want to follow a legend," said KSU President Jon Wefald. "He's someone who has been a giant, yet I know that Tim Weiser (KSU's AD) will in the near future do a great job in finding our next great coach."

Weiser said that this week is not the time to talk about who the next coach will be.

"This week is to celebrate what Bill Snyder has meant to this school," Weiser said. "I'm not going to address that issue until next week."

Snyder is leaving, but most assuredly will be a sounding board for his successor.

With that in mind, the name Chuck Long, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach of the University of Oklahoma, is sure to come up.

Snyder, a former offensive coordinator at the University of Iowa, has openly talked of his fondness for Long, who he coached with the Hawkeyes.

Also at the University of Oklahoma as associate head coach and defensive coordinator is Brent Venables. He played linebacker at K-State from 1991 to 1992 and served as Snyder's assistant from 1996 to 1998.

Another former K-State assistant who has made his mark in Division I football is Jim Leavitt, 49, the head coach at South Florida since 1996 when he started building the program from scratch. The team turned Division I in 2001.

"Kansas State lost a great coach today," Leavitt told The Mercury. "No one will come in and do for that program what he has done the last 17 years. He's had a great influence on my life."

Leavitt said that this was not the appropriate time to discuss his interest in the position.

Gary Patterson, the head coach at Texas Christian University for the past five years (posting a record of 42-18), might also test the Wildcat waters. Patterson played at Kansas State in 1980-81, but never lettered, and served as a graduate assistant in 1982.

This year, TCU is 10-1, ranked No. 14 in the BCS poll, and owner of a 17-10 win over Oklahoma.

Other possible candidates with Kansas State ties would be Phil Bennett, a former Wildcat defensive coordinator and now the head coach at SMU, and Darrell Dickey, a former Wildcat quarterback and now the head coach at North Texas.

"First let me say that I hope everybody at Kansas State knows of the job coach Snyder has done there," Dickey said. "It's my opinion, that he's done the greatest coaching job in college football history."

Of his own interest, he said, "It would be an honor to even be considered. It would be an honor."

Dickey and North Texas have struggled to three wins this year, but he was the recipient of the Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors in each of the last four seasons.

When told of Snyder's decision, Bennett said, ''This knocks me off my feet. I'm just shocked. He's been unbelievable to me. He's an unbelievable football coach, and a more unbelievable man.''

On his possible interest in the position, Bennett said, ''I'm going to have to give you a 'No comment.' I'm just in shock.''

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