This Week in History (1997): Three QB’s battle for starting spot

K-State football head coach Bill Snyder waits while the referees review a play and make their final call during the football game against KU on November 10, 2018. K-State defeated KU 21-17. (Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

During this week in 1997, College Football Hall of Fame Coach Bill Snyder had to decide between three quarterbacks to start for his ninth team at Kansas State. The three players up for the starting position were Adam Helm, Jonathan Beasley and Michael Bishop. 

Adam Helm

In his three years at Kansas State, Helm made 24 appearances, completing 41-75 passing attempts for a 54.7 percent completion rate. The attempts tallied to 489 yards, with zero touchdowns and three interceptions for a 101.4 career passer rating.

Unfortunately, his effort earned him a third-string quarterback position on the depth chart, behind what would become K-State legends. 

Jonathan Beasley

If you research Jonathan Beasley in the Kansas State record book, you’ll see his name everywhere. Everything quarterbacks are responsible for, he cracked the top 10: career passing yards, career passing touchdowns, single-season passing yards and single-season passing touchdowns.

Beasley’s listed as seventh in career rushing touchdowns and fifth in single-season rushing touchdowns. He used his single-game rushing touchdown record of five to lift him to those heights.

Beasley appeared in 37 games throughout his four years with the Wildcats from 1996-2000 and recorded a career passer rating of 132.7. However, the sophomore gunslinger only received nine passing attempts as the back-up to Michael Bishop.

Michael Bishop

Lastly, we have the first ever Kansas State Heisman trophy finalist, Michael Bishop. As the first Heisman finalist, Bishop frequently appears in the Wildcat record books, achieving eighth in career passing yards, fourth for single-season passing yards and third in single-game passing yards.  

Bishop also torched single-season passing touchdown records. He sat in fourth with 36 career touchdowns, 23 in his 1998 campaign. The effort launched him into second place for all-time single-season passing touchdowns. 

His final record is being top 10 in rushing touchdowns, totaling 23 to land him ninth all-time in K-State history. After a very successful two years at Kansas State, Bishop finished with a career passer rating of 147.2, higher than ring of honor candidates Colin Klein and Ell Roberson.

Snyder’s Decision

Ahead of the 1997 season, Coach Snyder relished each quarterback’s capabilities, acknowledging their strengths and struggles.

 “It’s apparent to all of us that they all are capable young guys,” Snyder said to the Mercury in 1997. “Each one has had his good days and each one has had his bad days.” 

Snyder made a decision that would impact the entire season and arguably his career by choosing Bishop as the starter moving forward. He threw for 1,557 yards and 13 touchdowns to cement his spot as the 1998 starter, and finished second in Heisman voting to Ricky Williams.