As the month of February draws to a close, we come to the fourth conference in our offseason sojourn, the Big 12.
Here are the Big 12 standings.
The Sunflower State saw their actual record differ significantly from their expected record. For Kansas State, and their first year head coach Chris Klieman, the difference was positive. The Wildcats were a solid 3-2 in one-score conference games and also boasted a non-offensive touchdown net ratio of +3. The Wildcats returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in Big 12 play while allowing none. Those kickoff returns kept them close in a loss to West Virginia, provided the winning margin in a victory over Texas Tech, and extended the margin in a tight game with Iowa State. Meanwhile, Kansas, also led by a first year (for them) head coach, went 1-2 in one-score games and finished tied for last in in-conference turnover margin at -8.
Purple Magic Continues in Manhattan
I have made no secret of my affinity for Bill Snyder on this blog. Regarded by me, often seen as the authority on all things college football (don’t bother looking it up), as the best college football coach in history, 2019 marked just the fourth season Snyder was not roaming the sidelines in the past thirty years. His replacement, Chris Klieman, did a fine Snyder impression, at least in regards in doing more with less, if not in general curmudgeonyness. Allow me to explain what I mean.
When Bill Snyder initially revitalized (or vitalized if you want to get technical) the Kansas State program in the mid-90s, one of the ways he managed to acquire talent was through the junior college ranks (JUCOs). A somewhat novel way to recruit talent to an outpost like Manhattan, Kansas was to take chances on players that could not get into FBS institutions out of high school or were forced to leave FBS institutions once they arrived. As an early adopter of the strategy, this netted Snyder a number of talented players that otherwise may have never considered Kansas State. As the new decade dawned and the Clinton era of prosperity gave way the Bush era of recession and war crimes, Kansas State’s early adopter advantage of using JUCOs began to diminish. After winning the Big 12 for the first time in 2003, the Wildcats finished with losing records in Bill Snyder’s final two seasons. He retired following the 2005 season and Ron Prince took over. He guided the Wildcats to the postseason in 2006, but posted consecutive losing seasons in 2007 and 2008 before being fired. Instead of bringing in a new coach, the Wildcats coaxed Snyder out of retirement. His second tenure lasted ten seasons and featured eight bowl appearances, another Big 12 title, and three appearances in the final AP Poll. He continued scouring the JUCO ranks for talent, but in his second tenure, Snyder’s teams also boasted an uncanny ability to consistently and significantly outperform their expected record based on YPP. Emphasizing special teams, red zone defense, and playing at a slow pace to limit the number of possessions, the Wildcats routinely hung with, and often beat superior teams. Using the same blueprint, Klieman managed to do the same thing in 2019.
In the eleven seasons (ten for Snyder and one for Klieman) since Snyder returned from his first retirement, Kansas State exceeded their expected record based on YPP by far more than any other Big 12 team. The following table lists the average amount each Big 12 team has over or under-performed relative to their expected YPP record since 2009. I have also included the number of seasons each team played in the Big 12 since the membership has changed significantly.