When he came to Kansas State in 1989 as a defensive backs coach, he had known nothing but winning.
He just expected to win again. He didn’t know exactly how downtrodden Kansas State had been in the previous years.
“I wasn’t paying attention to that,” Stoops said. “All I knew . . . was winning, so it never entered my mind that we wouldn’t win.”
Before Stoops and new head coach Bill Snyder arrived in Manhattan, KS, the Wildcats had six straight seasons with three or fewer victories. Nine of the last ten had ended with that low of a win total.
The new coaching staff took over a team that had posted back-to-back winless seasons.
For the next seven years, Kansas State had less than five victories only once – in that first season – and surpassed nine wins three straight years before Stoops left for Florida.
“They were great for me,” Stoops said. “I worked with great people along with him. It afforded me other opportunities that have led me to here. I always appreciated my time there with him and the whole group of guys there.”
Stoops, who had spent one year at Kent State after a five-year stint at Iowa as a graduate or volunteer assistant, had known nothing but winning. At Iowa, he was routinely apart of teams that won eight to ten games.
It wasn’t by chance that Kansas State had almost immediate success. It was because of the coach who gave Stoops his first chance. It was the coach who is still there now.
It’s the coach that Oklahoma will face Saturday. It’s Bill Snyder.
“That’s why I think we were able to do it, not just because I felt it,” Stoops said of the success at Kansas State. “I felt coach Snyder really believed we would.”
Snyder’s 75th birthday fell during Kansas State’s bye week, and he spent it like he’s spent so many others: In the film room breaking down tape on Oklahoma. For the past two weeks, Snyder has had a chance to watch Oklahoma, waiting for Saturday’s top-15 matchup in Norman.
Now in his 21st year as the head coach at Kansas State, Snyder has had unprecedented success as a program seen nationally as an afterthought.
Under his watch, the Wildcats have had nine double-digit win season and made 14 bowl games – all in the past 15 years that he has been on the sideline.
“He uses his personnel really well,” Stoops said of Snyder. “He’s always balanced run and pass. They always have some quarterback run game where they try to outnumber you. You always have to be prepared for that. They’re smart in the plays they run.”
Snyder’s time on the sideline is slowly running out though.
At some point, his legacy with the Wildcats will write its final chapter. This year though, Stoops has at least one more chance to coach against his mentor in a game Snyder called the “most important game that we will play this year.”