Kansas State coaching search: Seth Littrell, Bret Bielema among candidates to replace Bill Snyder

Kansas State is just getting started after the retirement of Bill Snyder on Sunday. Sources tell CBS Sports the school is casting a wide net to find the best possible replacement for the hall of fame coach.

The school is considering hiring a search firm and, as of Sunday, planned to thoroughly vet seven or eight candidates.

I get the feeling K-State is in no rush even with the early signing period just about two weeks away. It would rather find the absolute right coach even if that means relying on the traditional National Signing Day in February to get most of its class.

I've said it many times: K-State football exists on a cliff every day of its existence as the most isolated campus in major-college football. It must develop players at almost every turn rather than get five-star prospects. The guy to follow the guy will have to be a Snyder clone in that respect. That's a big ask but not as big as the ask was in 1988 when Snyder was hired.

Now, it's a case of keeping in place what Snyder built.

1. Seth Littrell, North Texas coach: The former Oklahoma fullback under Bob Stoops and Mike Leach knows the Big 12 landscape. The Denton, Texas, campus is a bit isolated even though it is within 50 miles of Dallas, it is closer to the Oklahoma border and frankly looks a lot like the K-State campus. Littrell is that guy who resembles Snyder in that he can coach up players. His quarterback Mason Fine had no meaningful offers mostly because of his height (5-foot-11). Now, Fine is the school's career passing leader. Littrell is young (40), energetic and smart Xs and Os guy. He would bring a top staff to Manhattan. That said, North Texas athletic director Wren Baker is going to do everything he can resource-wise to keep Littrell.

2. Jim Leavitt, Oregon defensive coordinator: To say Leavitt would walk to K-State for the job is an understatement. Snyder's former defensive coordinator has a clause in his Oregon contract that allows him to leave for K-State without paying a buyout. Plusses: Leavitt is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. His unit helped Colorado get to the Pac-12 Championship Game two years ago under Mike MacIntyre. He knows the landscape at Kansas State and would be welcomed back as a native son to the program. Minuses: Leavitt turns 62 on Wednesday. While that's not Les Miles (65) or Mack Brown (67), it might be a concern. Also, Leavitt left South Florida after allegations of laying hands on a player.

3. Bret Bielema, New England Patriots consultant: Last I checked, Bielema was having the time of his life with the Patriots. He loves the fact it's just football -- no recruiting, no booster groups, just pure ball. That said, Bielema seems a good fit at Kansas State. In 2002-03, he was Snyder's co-defensive coordinator. Bielema went to Arkansas to test his coaching chops in the SEC. It didn't work out. If Bielema still has the college itch, he knows the K-State landscape, too. A quotable, bigger-than-life figure in Manhattan, Kansas, wouldn't be the worst thing.

4. Dana Dimel, UTEP coach: Dimel has spent a combined 13 years with Snyder in two different stays at K-State. Last year, he left as offensive coordinator to take the UTEP job. Even though the Miners went 1-11, Dimel is well-respected in Manhattan and knows the program better than anyone on this list. In three different head coaching jobs, Dimel is 31-50. He's got friends, coaches and players who would make him feel comfortable in Manhattan.

5. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State coach: Anderson doesn't have any K-State ties but has won at least seven games each year at Arkansas State. He is 39-24 over five seasons.

6. Chris Klieman, North Dakota State coach: Klieman may be the most accomplished coach on this list. Taylor hired Klieman at NDSU in 2013. Klieman has gone on to win three FCS national championships in five years since. That's not major-college football, but that's damn good.

7. Craig Bohl, Wyoming coach: Taylor also hired Bohl, who left Nebraska and won three consecutive national championships with NDSU before going to Wyoming in 2014. Bohl has a first-round quarterback draft choice (Josh Allen) on his resume.  The former Nebraska defensive coach was treated unfairly when he was run out in 2002. At age 60, getting the K-State job would be the crowning achievement of his career. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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