Losing: a history lesson for K-State fans

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K-State football players and head coach Bill Snyder step onto the field before the start of the football game between K-State and Louisiana Tech on Sept. 19, 2015 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats dominated the Bulldogs after triple overtime 39-33. (File Photo by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

After Saturday’s offensive debacle in Austin, Texas, Bill Snyder and his football team stare into polluted, rarefied air.

Bill Snyder does not lose often. That’s why he is who he is.

Since 1989, (or year one of real K-State football) the Wildcats have lost four or more consecutive games only six times before this season.

Only four of those teams were coached by Snyder as the 2007 and 2008 teams lost their four and five straight games respectively under the watchful, bold and daring eyes of Ron Prince.

2007 made K-State fans weary, and 2008 found Prince fired after a season that included a blowout loss to Nebraska.

So while those “scary smart” years have the same feel as the losing streak we’re looking at, the conductor is someone much different.

Snyder lost seven in a row in 1989 after getting K-State’s first win after two straight no-win seasons.

Needless to say, the seven in a row in 1989 may have more to do with where Wildcat football was before Snyder got there compared to the miracle Snyder and his staff would soon create.

That leaves us with three different seasons, 1992, 2001 and 2005.

1992 found the Wildcat program in a weird place.

Fresh off of their first winning season since 1982, the Wildcats reeled off three wins to start the season.

K-State would fall in each of their next four, though, including a 7-31 loss to Kansas.

The Wildcats were led by quarterback Jason Smargiasso, who was the last quarterback before the K-State quarterback pedigree significantly improved, starting with Chad May who took over under center next season.

May, along with K-State legends like Kevin Lockett and Jaime Mendez, led the Wildcats to their first-ever bowl win in the 1993 season.

The Wildcats averaged only 244 yards of total offense that season with only 17.7 points per game.

Fast forwarding almost a decade, we reach 2001.

The Michael Bishop years brought K-State the closest that they’ve ever been to a national championship, and they enjoyed their third and fourth straight 11-win season, and second and third straight Big 12 North Title with quarterback Jonathan Beasley leading the way.

The Wildcats, led by sophomore Ell Roberson, were ranked 12th to start the season and began it with a bang, beating Pete Carroll and USC 10-6 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

After blowing out New Mexico State 64-0 in the final nonconference game before a big showdown with No. 3 Oklahoma, the No. 11 Wildcats hung with the Sooners but fell 38-37 due to a blocked extra point that kept them from taking it to overtime.

After that, the spiral continued, as K-State fell in three more conference match-ups before righting the ship in a 40-6 win against Kansas and winning four of the next five to get to a ninth straight bowl game.

Finally, four years later, the ill-fated 2005 season, which saw the largest losing streak in the Bill Snyder era (minus the ’89 season), was upon Manhattan.

After Roberson graduated in 2003 with a Big 12 title and a BCS bowl loss to Ohio State under his belt, the quarterback situation was muggy at best.

K-State great and Ring of Honor inductee Darren Sproles had graduated in 2004 after a disappointing 4-7 season saw K-State’s 11-year bowl streak end.

The Wildcats started off the 2005 season 4-1, including a 12-3 defensive battle versus Kansas.

But five straight losses, including three by three or less points, saw Snyder announce his retirement prior to the last game of the season versus Missouri.

K-State would win that final game, and Snyder would be carried off the field on the shoulders of Ring of Honor inductee Jordy Nelson and offensive lineman Jeromey Clary.

Now, a decade later, K-State is looking down the barrel at what could be the longest losing streak Wildcat fans have had to suffer since that 1989 season.

K-State has lost four in a row so far, with No. 2 Baylor looming on Nov. 5 and a trip down to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech coming on Nov. 14.

Both of these are extremely losable games for the Wildcats.

However, total collapse is not imminent for this K-State team. A bowl game and a salvaged season is still in grasp, but sometimes it is extremely difficult to see the forest for the trees in this season.

The Wildcats undoubtedly had a top-loaded schedule, playing all four of the top teams in the conference in their first six games.

Still, if things do not get righted, it could get real tense in the Little Apple.

Since 1989, a five-game losing streak has meant change at the top, whether that be a retirement of a beloved coach, or the firing of a despised one.

This should be said: Bill Snyder should not retire. Bill Snyder should not be forced to retire.

This season has been a biblical plague of injuries with Snyder himself wondering if he’s ever had to go through more trials in the pursuit of his teams’s first conference win of the season.

“Well, I would not know how to judge it,” Snyder said on Tuesday. “Have I been as frustrated before? Perhaps not, but I cannot put a numerical value on it.”

Whether those frustrations are met with empathy from the powers that be, no one but John Currie knows.

But, if history has shown us anything, years directly after these years of struggle have been productive for K-State when Bill Snyder has been at the helm.

1991 was K-State’s first winning season since 1982. In 1993, K-State won their first bowl game in school history. In 2002, the Wildcats netted another 11-win season and won the Holiday Bowl versus Arizona State.

2015 may not bring Wildcat fans the victories that they’re used to, but history has shown that something big might still be in the works.

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Timothy Everson
Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.