In 1988, Bill Snyder accepted the challenge to coach the collegiate football team with the worst record in the NCAA Division I-A: K-State.
How Snyder and the players were able to tackle that challenge and turn around the program is what a K-State graduate said he is hoping to capture in his documentary “The Miracle in Manhattan.”
Dan Youngman, 2007 K-State alum, is working to combine his passion for K-State and his experience in video production to create a documentary that tells the inside story of what’s been considered the greatest turnaround in the history of college football.
“I immediately knew there was a story to tell, but beyond that I knew it was one that was very important to tell and that anyone else from outside the K-State family would look past,” Youngman said.
The documentary will focus on the time between Snyder’s start at K-State in 1989 to the team’s first bowl victory five seasons later in the 1993 Copper Bowl game, Youngman said.
“With the people on board and the content I already have, we are without question on to something very, very special here,” Youngman said.
The documentary will feature interviews with Snyder, former K-State football players, coaches and staff.
Youngman said his love for K-State football is what interested him in the beginning of the project.
“My favorite thing about K-State football would just be the people,” Youngman said. “I mean, it really is. Whether it’s the guys on the team or the people in the stands, the people are just the greatest people on earth to me.”
One thing that makes K-State’s story unique is how Snyder and the team’s efforts extended far past the football program, Youngman said.
“They didn’t just build a football program, they built the university and an entire city really, based on their hard work and sacrifice,” Youngman said. “Manhattan, Kansas, was just this little tiny dot on the map that no one really knew about, but now on Saturdays you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get here.”
Youngman said during his time working on the documentary he has gained a greater appreciation and understanding of Snyder’s principle of family.
Michael Orr, former K-State football player who will be featured in the documentary, said some of Snyder’s success could be attributed toward his priority of instilling discipline and responsibility in the players.
“He really did a good job at making football more than just about the game itself, but really saying as you grow and become men, life is going to be hard and this is going to prepare you for life as well,” Orr said. “And honestly 25 years later it has.”
Zaldy Doyungan, KSNT news reporter and K-State graduate, shared a teaser for the documentary on Facebook that has reached over 100,000 views and over 2,000 shares.
“It was really cool to see the amount of excitement and how fast it spread,” Youngman said.
Laura Bergkamp, freshman in industrial engineering, said she has seen the trailer and is excited for the documentary’s release.
“I’m really excited about it because I love K-State football, and Bill Snyder is a great coach,” Bergkamp said. “I think this can really show how much he’s done for K-State.”
Youngman said he plans to have the documentary finished in August, but said there is no set release date yet because how it will be released is undetermined.
“It is incredibly, incredibly important to me that this story be told with the integrity it deserves and with the highest quality possible,” Youngman said.
Youngman said he is optimistic about the potential for the documentary to be easily accessible once released and hopes that it will be a success within the K-State fan base and beyond.
“The impact will be tremendous in terms of making people take notice that what we do at K-State is special,” Youngman said. “Not only are we doing things on the same level as everyone else, but we are doing it better. All while keeping a smile on our face.”
Orr said he is equally optimistic about the potential for the documentary.
“I really think it’ll be a national success because Dan is doing it the right way,” Orr said. “He’s taking the time to get the details and find the inside story that nobody else knows about except the guys who were there.”