|Kansas State coach Bill Snyder put together a surprising Big 12 championship run this season. (US Presswire)|
Really, could it be anyone else? Kansas State coach Bill Snyder and his Wildcats again far surpassed expectations this season, claiming the Big 12 championship and BCS bowl berth.
At 73 years of age and four seasons into his second tenure as K-State's head coach, Snyder is as good as ever, taking a program that was again downtrodden when he arrived and turning it into a winner. For that, he earns CBSSports.com's Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.
It seems like ancient history now, given how consistently well the Wildcats played this season, but this Kansas State team was only picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 in the league's preseason media poll.
Instead, it went on the road early in the year and won at Oklahoma, saw QB Collin Klein play well enough to become a Heisman Trophy finalist and if not for an uncharacteristic performance against Baylor, would likely be playing for the national championship in a few weeks.
All that is impressive enough as is. But what truly separates Snyder from his Big 12 coaching counterparts this season is the way his handprints are all over this team's style of play.
This team plays an old-school style of football in a league that has been increasingly new-school in recent seasons. The offense isn't the wide-open spread attack that is favored by the likes of Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Instead, K-State pounds opponents into submission with a strong running game that has multiple threats -- notably Klein and RB John Hubert.
Its defense is among the Big 12's stingiest in almost every key category. The Wildcats keep their opponents off the scoreboard, boasting the nation's No. 10 scoring defense (21.08 ppg). They get "hidden" yards -- No. 1 nationally in both punt and kickoff returns. They force their opponents into mistakes while limiting their own, as they are No. 1 in turnover margin at plus-1.75 per game.
This team is as smart as it is strong. It is No. 3 in fewest penalties per game, committing only 3.5 per game for an average of 28.83 yards per contest.
In short, Kansas State plays the way most head coaches can only dream of getting their teams to play.
The Wildcats don't beat themselves, and they don't make it easy for their opponents to do so, either. That's the definition of an outstanding coaching job, which Snyder has clearly done once again.
He only added to his impressive record at the school this year with perhaps his finest coaching job yet.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter. You can also follow C.J. (@cjmoore4) and Patrick (@patricksouthern).