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Opinion: Big 3 — Klein, Snyder, Self — help Kansas save face

October 22, 2012

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Kansas has just six of the 538 electoral votes, generally gets ignored on the political stage and tends to make national news mostly for unfortunate headlines such as the 2005 evolution vote, tornadoes wiping out small towns and a very strange man named Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK Killer.

Just when you start to get paranoid that some parts of the country view us as oddballs, college sports figures ride to the rescue.

For a state so small population-wise that it has just 1.1 percent of the electoral votes, Kansas can take bows for having three of today’s brightest bulbs and hottest names in college sports.

In the wake of running for four touchdowns and throwing for three in a rout of West Virginia, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein knocked Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith out of the Heisman Trophy watch perch seat. Klein has the Div. I-A record for career rushing touchdowns and is the second-rated passer in the nation. He’s Tim Tebow in his prime, minus the overexposure.

The only question about whether Bill Snyder’s mug belongs on the Mount Rushmore of college football coaches is whether to carve a likeness of him during his first Manhattan miracle or his second. If Snyder is able to keep this team undefeated and coach it all the way into the BCS title game, his second tenure already will outdo his first.

Nobody builds a winning football program at Kansas State, except Snyder, who almost never loses. Nick Saban certainly belongs in coach-of-the-year discussion this and nearly every year, but doing it at Alabama doesn’t equate to doing it at K-State. Joe Namath didn’t play quarterback at Kansas State, and Bear Bryant didn’t coach there. Bob Stoops has done remarkable things at Oklahoma, but he couldn’t beat Snyder this year, and, again, doing it at OU doesn’t match doing it in Manhattan.

In the past five years, Kentucky’s John Calipari has won a national basketball title and made it to another national-title game, then coaching Memphis. Mike Krzyzewski coached Duke to another national title and the USA to another two gold medals. Two remarkably accomplished basketball coaches.

Kansas University coach Bill Self, like Calipari, has a national title and runner-up finish to his name in the past five years.

Just as Snyder ranks higher on the likeability scale than Saban, Self ranks higher in that regard than Calipari and even higher than Coach K.

Klein, Snyder and Self to the rescue.

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