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The Wiz of Odds: KSU's Snyder best coach in college football
Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.
It’s a world infatuated with trophies.
There are trophies for winning competitive eating contests, trophies for being Employee of the Month. There are trophy wives and trophy husbands. They even give out something called the Lowsman Trophy, which depicts a player fumbling a football. It’s awarded each year to Mr. Irrelevant - the last person taken in the NFL draft.
Trophies are supposed to be public acknowledgement of a person being good at something or, in the case of Mr. Irrelevant, good enough to get drafted.
But trophies often go to the wrong person for the wrong reason.
Take the 2011 college football Coach of the Year award. They’ll be awarding this trophy in the next couple of months and chances are Les Miles or Nick Saban will be carrying home the hardware. Why? Because their team happened to win the Bowl Championship Series title game.
At that point, connoisseurs of the sport should be outraged.
Miles and Saban have it all. Big budgets, fervent fan bases, fertile recruiting grounds and talking heads fawning over them from week to week on a network that has heavily invested in their product.
Try putting either Miles or Saban in Manhattan, Kansas and we will see what they are made of. Chances are they wouldn’t win half the games Bill Snyder has.
Kansas State’s Snyder is the true genius of the profession. He has been for nearly 20 years. He’s the Steve Jobs of college coaches.
Snyder seldom loses games his teams are expected to win and he wins a majority of games that his teams are supposed to lose. Consider this season, when Kansas State was picked to finish eighth in the 10-team Big 12, just ahead of Kansas and Iowa State.
Now, his Wildcats are preparing for a Saturday showdown against the powerful Oklahoma Sooners - the team that was supposed to be 7-0 on October 29. Instead, it’s the 6-1 Sooners vs. the 7-0 Wildcats.
In many ways, the LSUs, Alabamas and Oklahomas represent a college football world gone mad, with teams focused on greed as much as games. Money and power breed arrogance and the elite teams are like a Wall Street firm or powerful bank deemed too big to fail.
Kansas State is like the rest of us. Located in a small hamlet in the middle of the prairie, it’s a program left by the wayside when there is talk of forming the next super conference. The Wildcats represent the 99 percent who slug it out day to day, simply trying to make ends meet.
Snyder’s team has no business playing Oklahoma in a game of this magnitude. His roster has few big-time recruits and remains 12 scholarships under the NCAA limit. The Wildcats’ two-deep roster includes four transfers, two walk-ons and eight junior college transfers. No wonder Kansas State is a double-digit underdog.
Making a wager with your heart instead of your head is the quickest way to the poor house. But confess: Aren’t you pulling for Kansas State to ruin the BCS party?
No, they don’t hand out trophies for upsets, but if history is a guide, it’s never wise to bet against Bill Snyder - the finest coach in the game.
Week 8 impressions
- The gold mine of betting teams ranked in the Associated Press top 10 hit a dry patch last weekend. The top 10ers were 6-4 against the spread, dropping the season mark to 54-17-2, which is still a splendid 76.1 percent.
- On the topic of trends, check this: There are eight unbeaten teams - LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Boise State, Clemson, Kansas State and Houston. Combined, they are 48-11 against the spread. That’s 81.4 percent.
- If you enjoy chaos, pull for UCLA, Arkansas and Duke to win out. The Bruins, 48-12 losers to Arizona, control their destiny in the Pacific 12 South. The Razorbacks need LSU to beat Alabama. Then if Arkansas beats the Tigers in the season finale, they have a shot of winning the SEC West, knocking LSU and Alabama down a notch. The 3-4 Blue Devils somehow control their destiny in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division. Go figure.
- I feared that Dana Holgorsen was in need of a couple of stiff drinks after West Virginia’s loss at Syracuse.
- Hunch of the week: Take Stanford, the only team to cover the spread in every game, and lay the points at USC.