MANHATTAN, Kan. — The average person wouldn’t be overjoyed to awake on a Sunday morning, on their birthday no less, and head to the office to get started on another grueling work week.
Bill Snyder is not, by any stretch, an average person.
He’s the guy who eats once a day, so precious is his time. The guy who built Kansas State into a national powerhouse from almost nothing. The guy who turned 73 on Sunday, one day after beating rival Kansas 56-16 to remain undefeated, and had very clear plans on celebrating his birthday.
“I’ll be right over there,” he said, pointing his finger as his office.
The sixth-ranked Wildcats wouldn’t be where they are without Snyder’s tireless work ethic, barreling through another season that is rapidly turning into one of the best in school history.
They’ve already beaten Oklahoma on the road. Knocked off Miami. Dominated their in-state rival for the fourth consecutive year, and head to Iowa State next week with enough momentum and confidence that outside observers are already peering ahead to the next week, when they’ll face No. 5 West Virginia in a game that could ultimately decide the Big 12 championship.
Oh, you can bet Snyder won’t be looking that far down the road.
Chances are he breezed into his office bright and early Sunday, ever-present cup of coffee in hand, and got ready for a self-critique. He popped in the tape of Saturday’s game against Kansas, settled into his chair with remote control in hand, and pored over the Sunflower Showdown.
Which turned into another Sunflower Beatdown by the time it was over.
The Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) led just 21-14 at halftime after the Jayhawks pulled off an audacious faked field and faked punt, held the ball for all but 8 1/2 minutes, and made a goal-line stand as time was running out to send themselves into the break on a high.
Then the second half happened.
Collin Klein found his big tight end, Travis Tannahill, for a short touchdown throw, one of two Klein had in the game. John Hubert had touchdown runs of 32 yards and 1 yard, two of the four he had. Klein added a touchdown run of his own, one of two that he had.
The final three touchdowns of the third quarter took over just 5 minutes to score.
The game was out of reach just that quickly.
“There was definitely a level of frustration, and we knew we left some plays out there and did some things we can’t do,” said Klein, who went over 100 yards passing and rushing.
“Coach tells us all the time, ‘Keep playing,”’ Klein said. “Sometimes good things are going to happen, sometimes bad things are going to happen. You just have to keep playing.”
As poorly as the Wildcats played in the first half, they were dominant in the second.
As well as the Jayhawks played in the first half, well, you get the picture.
Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist was 7 of 8 for 77 yards and a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, but was 9 of 21 for 112 yards with three interceptions after it. He lost a fumble, was sacked five times and gave way to redshirt freshman Michael Cummings late in the game.
Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis said not to put much stock into the move at quarterback, but he also indicated that after another lopsided defeat, changes could be necessary.
“I think I’ve got to be objective and look at every position,” Weis said, “and quarterback’s got to be included with everything else.”
Crist is completing exactly half of his passes, with three TDs and seven interceptions.
Perhaps even more troubling for Kansas (1-4, 0-2) was that Tony Pierson left the game early and never returned. The Jayhawks’ leading rusher and second-leading receiver was scheduled to have tests for an undisclosed injury, and Weis said he wasn’t sure of his status.
“Tony’s one of our few home-run hitters,” Weis said. “He goes down, and it isn’t like you haven’t practiced other guys to do the same jobs, but they’re not the same player.”
Kansas State has been fortunate when it comes to injuries this season, and that remained the case Saturday, when Klein and most of the starters sat the fourth quarter to be safe.
There was no need to play them in a game so far out of hand.
The Wildcats had already proven once more they’re the pre-eminent team in the Sunflower State, piling up at least 50 points for the third straight year and winning their fourth Governor’s Cup in a row. Now, they’ll turn their attention to bigger things still to come.
Snyder was already at it Sunday morning.