Who could replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State?
Bill Snyder’s historic tenure at Kansas State has ended, as the legendary coach is set to announce his retirement. The news of Snyder's decision was first reported by the Manhattan Mercury. Snyder inherited a program in need of major repair in 1989 and engineered one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history. Under Snyder’s direction, the Wildcats went 215-117-1 from 1989-05 and 2009-18. Snyder retired after the 2005 season but returned in ’09. After a 6-6 mark that season, Kansas State made eight consecutive bowl games from 2010-17 and finished No. 12 nationally in 2012.
Who could replace Snyder as the next head coach at Kansas State? Here are nine names to watch:
9 Coaching Candidates to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State
Blake Anderson, Head Coach, Arkansas State
Anderson’s name popped up in the search at Baylor just a few years ago. Would he be interested in a different Big 12 job at Kansas State? Anderson is 39-24 in five seasons with the Red Wolves and has guided the program to five (counting 2018) bowl appearances. Arkansas State has won at least seven games in all five of Anderson’s years at the helm and had a perfect 8-0 mark in Sun Belt play in 2015. Anderson also has stops on his resume from stints as an assistant at Southern Miss, North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico and MTSU.
Bret Bielema, Former Arkansas Head Coach
Bielema’s a longshot here, but the former Arkansas coach is worth a mention considering he has previous experience working under Bill Snyder (2002-03) at Kansas State. Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin from 2006-12 and guided the program to three consecutive Rose Bowl trips (2010-12). He left to take over at Arkansas in 2013 and finished 29-34 over five years. The Razorbacks made three consecutive bowl games (2014-16), but Bielema was dismissed after a 4-8 mark in 2017.
Craig Bohl, Head Coach, Wyoming
Bohl has a natural connection to this job after working under Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor at North Dakota State. Bohl went 104-32 from 2003-13 with the Bison, which included three consecutive FCS National Championships (2011-13). He left to take the top spot at Wyoming in 2014 and has guided the program to a 28-35 mark over the last four years. This isn’t an easy job, so it’s notable Bohl has led the Cowboys to three consecutive non-losing seasons and claimed a division title in 2016. Bohl also has stops on his resume from stints as an assistant at Wisconsin (1987-88), Rice (1989-93), Duke (1994) and Nebraska (1995-02).
Chris Creighton, Head Coach, Eastern Michigan
Creighton isn’t the biggest name on this list, but he’s quietly putting together an impressive tenure at Eastern Michigan – arguably the toughest job in college football. Creighton is 22-39 with the Eagles, which includes two seven-win seasons and a bowl bid in 2016 (the program’s first since 1987). Prior to Eastern Michigan, Creighton went 41-22 at Drake (2008-13), 63-15 at Wabash (2001-07) and 32-9 at Ottawa (1997-00).
Willie Fritz, Head Coach, Tulane
Fritz is a Kansas native and has a track record of winning at every level and maximizing talent. He’s never coached in the Big 12 but has experience winning at every level. Fritz coached at Central Missouri from 1997-09, compiling a 97-47 record during that stint. He went 40-15 at Sam Houston State from 2010-13, leading the program to two appearances in the FCS title game (2011-12). Fritz recorded an impressive 17-7 mark from 2014-15 at Georgia Southern and is 15-21 over three years at Tulane (2016-18). The Green Wave are bowl eligible for the first time under Fritz in 2018.
Chris Klieman, Head Coach, North Dakota State
Klieman is another coach Taylor has ties to and could be involved in this search. He took over as North Dakota State’s head coach after Craig Bohl left for Wyoming prior to the 2014 season. Klieman is 66-6 with the Bison and has three FCS titles in his tenure. Prior to taking over at North Dakota State, Klieman worked as an assistant at Northern Iowa, Loras and Missouri State.
Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon
Leavitt’s name has popped up in the rumor mill as a potential candidate at Texas Tech and Colorado this offseason and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his name mentioned in the Kansas State search. Leavitt worked under Bill Snyder as an assistant from 1990-95 and has stops as an assistant at Colorado (2015-16) and in the NFL with the 49ers. Leavitt has called the plays for Oregon’s defense over the last two years, helping the Ducks show marked improvement on this side of the ball. Leavitt was the first head coach in USF’s history and guided the program through a transition to the FBS level. The Bulls went 95-57 under Leavitt, which included five straight bowl trips from 2005-09.
Seth Littrell, Head Coach, North Texas
Littrell is one of the rising stars in the Group of 5 coaching ranks. After a playing career at Oklahoma and stints as an assistant at Texas Tech (2005-08), Arizona (2009-11), Indiana (2012-13) and North Carolina (2014-15), Littrell was hired as North Texas’ head coach prior to the 2016 season. Under Littrell’s watch, the Mean Green are 23-16 over the last three years and claimed the 2017 Conference USA West Division title.
Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
Considering this is Venables’ alma mater, his name has to appear on this list. However, he’s a longshot to take over in Manhattan. Venables also came up in the search to replace Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, but the program hired Utah State coach Matt Wells. Venables is one of college football’s top assistant coaches and has developed Clemson’s defense into one of the best in the nation on an annual basis. The Kansas native arrived in Death Valley in 2012 after a stint as a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops (1999-11). After his playing career with the Wildcats, Venables worked in Manhattan under Bill Snyder as a graduate assistant (1993-95) and linebackers coach (1996-98).