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K-State hires the guy running NDSU’s dynasty to follow Bill Snyder

How do you follow Bill Snyder? It’s probably best not to think about it like that, but it’s good to hire a coach who will cause people at his last school to

Kansas State reportedly has its replacement for the legendary Bill Snyder. North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman will take over for Snyder, ESPN reported Monday.

SB Nation reported earlier Monday that the Wildcats were leaning toward Klieman, with Troy coach Neal Brown also in the mix late. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman had reported NDSU was expected to offer the job Monday and that he’d coach out the season with the Bison.

Klieman has been on staff at NDSU since 2011, the year the Bison won their first of six FCS national championships in the last seven years.

He was the defensive backs coach for a year, then spent two years as coordinator before succeeding Craig Bohl in the top job.

He’s been the head coach for three of those NDSU titles and has his team in the national semifinals again this year against a rival it usually beats, South Dakota State. Along the way, NDSU has ruined the days of bunch of Power 5 teams, including K-State itself.

This year’s Bison are a top-20 team in all of Division I, according to the Sagarin ratings, and would be favored against dozens of Power 5s if any of them were foolish enough to schedule them. They have been more dominant for their level than Alabama’s been in FBS.

NDSU’s a unique job, and it’s impossible to draw a line and say exactly how Klieman’s experience at FCS’ pinnacle will translate to the Big 12. The jobs are similar in that neither Fargo nor Manhattan is in the middle of a fertile recruiting region. Player development’s vital at both, and Klieman’s program has shown to be great at that. Of course, NDSU’s recruiting has moved toward the top of FCS as the program’s racked up championships.

In Snyder, Klieman, 51, has a hell of an act to follow.

During Snyder’s 30-year tenure (with three years off in the middle), he orchestrated the greatest turnaround in all of college football and created pretty much the only sustained success the program’s ever enjoyed:

-Snyder won 215 games at K-State, where no other coach has ever won more than 33. He exits with a 215-117-1 record, to be exact.

-KSU’s been playing football since 1896, and 40 percent of its all-time wins have come under Snyder.

-All 13 of K-State’s ranked finishes came under Snyder, and he nearly led the Wildcats to title shots in 1998 and 2012.

-He got Kansas State to 19 of its 21 all-time bowl games, including three each in the Fiesta and Cotton. All nine of K-State’s bowl wins came under Snyder.

Snyder will still be a presence. His name’s on the team’s stadium. There’s also the fact that Snyder will be able to stay involved with things if he wishes — his contract calls for him to stay aboard at KSU as a “special ambassador” for as long as he’s able.

Here’s K-State blog Bring On The Cats on the state of the program in 2018:

While K-State is a much more attractive landing spot than it was in 1989, or even 2006 or 2009, it still comes with it’s share of challenges, the biggest of which is coming out from the shadow of Snyder. That’s hard enough on it’s own, and it might not help that Snyder is set to remain in the athletic department in an as-yet-undefined “ambassador” role. It’s hard to know whether Littrell [can change if it’s not him or nix this last sentence]wants that pressure, or even if his success at North Texas can translate to the Big 12.

Kansas State’s had a few great years, including when it won the Big 12 in 2003 and claimed a co-title in 2012. It hasn’t contended in a while, though, leaving a big job ahead.

Following a legend’s hard, but that’s the job at K-State in 2018.

Klieman’s been so successful that it’s hard to see the challenge scaring him. If he can build a program at K-State that’s nearly as good as the one he’s leaving behind in Fargo, he’ll have proven to be a great choice to succeed Snyder.

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