Kansas State's Bill Snyder may get shot at redemption for 1998

Bill Snyder has Kansas State in contention for the national championship, which could heal the wounds fans suffered in 1998 when the Wildcats just missed out on a spot in the title game. Just don't ask the coach about it.

Mike Riley is an obvious coach-of-the-year choice given the double-double (with fries) charge he injected into an Oregon State team that finished 3-9 last year.

The Beavers are 6-0 for the first time since 1907 and deserving of top-10 accolades.

Bill O'Brien is another strong candidate for guiding Penn State through the first wave of potentially crippling sanctions.

The Nittany Lions might be undefeated and tracking inside the top 15 if not for a tipped-pass-for touchdown surrendered to Ohio and then four missed field-goal attempts in a one-point loss at Virginia.

Yet, neither of those coaches is 73, looks like your slightly agitated grandpa and retired once already only to return to reconstruct what, in his absence, had become a jalopy.

No 2012 coach-of-the-year candidate can yet match defeating Oklahoma in Norman and West Virginia in Morgantown.

The idea that Bill Snyder defied AARP orders to put Kansas State in position to heal 1998's heartbreak hole is, in itself, not very plausible.

Snyder won't allow what is happening now to become fuzzy-warm, as that could only divert attention from a home game Saturday against Texas Tech.

"I'm 73 years old," Snyder said on this week's Big 12 coaches' conference call. "I don't remember what happened yesterday let alone 1998."

This is one sinewy, savvy, hard-nosed Silver Fox.

It is understandable Snyder would not want to dredge memories of 1998, the year Kansas State was much, much, much closer to a national title than it is now.

Kansas State, if life were fair, would have claimed the first BCS championship a decade after Snyder inherited a program that was 0-11 in 1988.

I know because I stood on the sideline at the TWA Dome in St. Louis as Texas A&M ripped it all away with a double-overtime win in the Big 12 championship game.

It wasn't just that Kansas State lost — it was the way the verdict was painfully rendered. It hurt so deep that Snyder compared it to a death in the family.

I was a witness to Kansas State's leading, 17-3, with 10:37 left in the first half, and the stadium scoreboard's flashing that Miami had defeated UCLA, 49-45.

No one needed to explain.

Kansas State fans erupted in a Vesuvius explosion of noise knowing the Wildcats, with victory, would clinch a title-game berth.

Kansas State carried a 27-12 lead into the fourth quarter when the ground gave way and Texas A&M rallied to tie.

It was just plain cruel that Kansas State completed a Hail Mary pass, Michael Bishop to Everett Burnett, at the end of regulation. The only thing missing was a goal line, as the pass play came up a few feet short.

A Texas A&M player joked that the air conditioning system had saved the Aggies.