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A Stat That Backs Up Mike Gundy’s Claim That Bill Snyder Is the ‘Best College Coach Ever’

Kansas State won 65% of its games under Snyder and 34% without him.



[Jackson Lavarnway/PFB]

Nobody disputes the fact that Bill Snyder was an excellent football coach — when you coach in a stadium with your name on it, you’ve got to be pretty good.

But Mike Gundy made a statement that could raise a few eyebrows on a podcast with Dave Hunziker when he proclaimed that Snyder was college football’s GOAT.

“In my opinion, the best college coach ever is Bill Snyder,” Gundy said. “Now, he doesn’t have a national championship. I don’t even think he got close. Maybe one year they ended up seventh, eighth or ninth in the country, I can’t remember. But if we took, I’ll just throw some coaches out there, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Tom Osborne — how successful could they have been at Kansas State when he took the job.”

If you’ve listened to Gundy for too long, you’ll know he has a soft spot for Snyder. Gundy’s argument as to why Snyder is the best to ever do it is fairly clear — Snyder won where coaches aren’t supposed to win.

In 27 seasons at K-State, Snyder was 215-117-1, a .646 winning percentage. Without Snyder coaching the Wildcats, K-State is 276-499-34, a .341 winning percentage. It’s a blueprint Gundy himself has tried to follow in Stillwater. Oklahoma State has a .683 winning percentage with Gundy and a .468 winning percentage with out him.

Gundy also brought up Frank Beamer as a guy who should get more credit. Virginia Tech had a .659 winning percentage with Beamer from 1987 to 2015, and the Hokies winning percentage without him is .553.

Here is a look at that stat with a smorgasbord of high level college football coaches from across the years. The difference in how good K-State was under Snyder vs. any other time in history is staggering, and an up-and-coming coach from Clemson might soon reach that level with the national titles to back it up. The records come from Sports Reference and don’t include any vacated wins, and though some of these coaches had multiple stops, I included their record at the school they are most closely associated with.

Name School Record at School School’s Record Without Winning % Difference
Bill Snyder Kansas State 215-117-1 (.646) 276-499-34 (.341) 0.305
Dabo Swinney Clemson 150-36 (.806) 608-422-44 (.566) 0.240
Mike Gundy Oklahoma State 149-69 (.683) 438-456-41 (.468) 0.215
Tom Osborne Nebraska 255-49-3 (.831) 618-335-35 (.626) 0.205
Bobby Bowden Florida State 315-98-4 (.755) 218-158-12 (.562) 0.193
Nick Saban Alabama 183-25 (.880) 773-282-42 (.705) 0.175
Knute Rockne Notre Dame 105-12-5 (.861) 768-304-28 (.698) 0.163
Barry Switzer Oklahoma 157-29-4 (.826) 718-282-43 (.688) 0.138
Frank Beamer Virginia Tech 238-121-2 (.659) 489-353-42 (.553) 0.106
Bear Bryant Alabama 232-46-9 (.808) 724-261-33 (.711) 0.097
Bo Schembechler Michigan 194-48-5 (.785) 756-286-30 (.705) 0.080
Joe Paterno Penn State 409-136-3 (.746) 478-260-34 (.738) 0.008
Woody Hayes Ohio State 205-61-10 (.743) 629-201-26 (.735) 0.008

Not that it doesn’t matter who these blue blood programs have running things, but the difference in Joe Paterno and every other Penn State coach seems small through this lens. That wasn’t the case with Snyder in the Little Apple.

There are a couple of instances you could extrapolate what one of the traditional powerhouse coaches would do at a non-blue blood. A young Nick Saban went 34-24-1 in five seasons at Michigan State. That .576 winning percentage is actually lower than Michigan State’s .588 without Saban. And Bobby Bowden spent six seasons at West Virginia where he had a .618 winning percentage. Without Bowden, West Virginia has a .575 winning percentage, just a .043 difference.

There are some similarities in Gundy’s argument for Snyder and my argument as to why Mason Rudolph was a better college quarterback than Brandon Weeden. What could Snyder have done with a big budget? What could Rudolph have done with better protection?

Gundy summarized his thought well, essentially saying that everyone is different. There are things Michael Jordan did better than LeBron James and vice versa. Maybe Snyder (or Gundy) wasn’t meant to take on a blue blood program. Maybe they were meant to build programs in the middle of America.

“If [Beamer] was the coach at a school that had a $225 million budget, how successful would he have been?” Gundy said. “I don’t know, maybe he’s not built for that. I think about that a lot with me. Maybe I’m not built to be at a place with a $200 million budget. Maybe I’m built to be at a place that has to bring young men in like Tre Sterling and Jason Taylor and Brock Martin and Malcolm Rodriguez, maybe that’s what I do. The point being is, there’s a place for all of us, and there’s a fit. I think that makes a bigger difference than what people actually understand.”

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