COACH OF THE YEAR
KANSAS STATE’S BILL SNYDER
Bill Snyder began coaching before the wishbone offense became all the rage in college football in the late 1960s.
He was a veteran coach by the time the West Coast and run-and-shoot offenses became the flavor of the decade in the 1980s. Now, he’s an old coach who has seen a proliferation of spread offenses permeate the Big 12 and other conferences across the college football landscape.
Snyder has seen styles come and go, but he’s always known that sound offensive football and great defense win games.
Though Snyder is 73 now, he’s still proving he can coach with the best.
Snyder took a Kansas State team that was picked sixth in the Big 12 to an 11-1 record and the conference title to earn a spot in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon. It’s the latest in a remarkable line of coaching jobs by Snyder, who is the Tribune-Herald ’s choice for Big 12 coach of the year for the second straight season.
“You have to give the man credit for being one of the best, if not the best coach in the country,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “They’re a tough, well-coached football team. They were No. 1 in the country until they had a bump in the road against Baylor. They’re loaded.”
The Wildcats won their first 10 games and were on track to reach the BCS national championship game before Baylor pulled off a 52-24 shocker Nov. 17 at Floyd Casey Stadium. But the Wildcats rebounded with a 42-24 win over Texas to clinch the Big 12 title and the league’s automatic BCS bowl berth.
“It means an awful lot to all of us,” Snyder said. “I think it is significant and important for every one of us. I am happy for our players because they work diligently and have gone through an awful lot. To come back after what happened down in Waco, I thought that was quite formidable.”
There were loads of Kansas State doubters coming into the season. After losing a talented group from last year’s 10-3 team that took second in the Big 12, few observers thought they would come back with an even better season.
Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein at quarterback, the Wildcats won the Big 12 title with an old-school offense that mixed the pass with an option attack that made few mistakes.
With former Midway star John Hubert rushing for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns and Klein amassing 890 yards and 22 scores, the Wildcats relied on ball control to average 40.7 points per game.
“Kansas State is up there because they’ve got a phenomenal football team and a phenomenal leader in Collin Klein,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “They put it together and won tight, tough games.”
Led by gifted linebacker Arthur Brown, the Wildcats allowed the fewest points in the most explosive offensive league in the country. Kansas State limited opponents to 21.1 points per game and forced 31 turnovers while the Wildcats’ offense only committed 10 turnovers.
Kansas State’s plus-21 margin in the turnover category was easily the best in the Big 12.
That lethal combination of a ball control offense and an opportunistic defense worked for Snyder during his first remarkable reign over the Kansas State program from 1989-2005. It’s working now after he was coaxed out of retirement in 2009.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
KANSAS STATE QB COLLIN KLEIN
Collin Klein looks like a throwback from the 1960s.
Kansas State’s senior quarterback is tough and rugged and plays like he was born to run the option offense.
But he’s a throwback with a 2012 twist. Klein is also a tremendous passer who can hit receivers for big plays.
“I don’t know if many guys who were 6-5 and 230 pounds in the 1960s could run like him,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “I think he’s a modern day quarterback without question.”
However you perceive Klein, he’s a winner.
During the last two seasons, Klein has guided Kansas State to a 21-4 record including an 11-1 mark this year and the Big 12 championship. His talent and leadership have made him the Tribune-Herald ’s choice for offensive player of the year.
Klein will be in New York City tonight as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy along with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
“I do not know of anybody that means more to his football team than Collin Klein,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “He has made tremendous improvement during his time in the program, and it has happened because of the quality of person that Collin is. He works diligently at trying to improve his skills, and consequently does.”
Klein has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading Big 12 quarterbacks with 890 yards rushing and 22 scores. But most importantly, he’s got a knack for making the big plays at key moments in the game whether it’s a run with defenders hanging all over him or a touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett streaking downfield like he threw in the Wildcats’ 42-24 regular season-ending win over Texas last weekend.
“He’s maybe the best player on one of the best teams in the country because without him they’re not the same team,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He’s the leader, the toughness, the heartbeat. He can run power for a quarterback, he can run option, he can beat you scrambling. You can’t discourage the guy.”
The Wildcats expcted big things from Klein after a junior year in which he threw for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 1,141 yards and 27 scores.
With the Wildcats winning their first 10 games, he appeared to be the Heisman frontrunner until he threw three interceptions in a 52-24 loss to Baylor, which doubled his season total for picks. But that loss was the only blemish in a great season for Klein and the Wildcats.
“Klein has what any great quarterback brings to a team,” Briles said. “He’s got maturity and a great sense about him from the way he leads his teammates to his production. He’s very engaged with everybody on the team and makes intelligent decisions with the football. He’s started a lot of football games and won a bunch.”
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
TCU END DEVONTE FIELDS
When Devonte Fields showed up at TCU workouts this summer, coach Gary Patterson knew he had landed a game changer.
Most freshmen need a transition period no matter how gifted they are, but Fields played like a veteran from the day he stepped on the field.
Fields became a force at defensive end by leading the Big 12 with 17.5 tackles for losses and ranking second with nine sacks behind Kansas State’s Meshak Williams. Those numbers made him the Tribune-Herald ’s defensive player of the year as well as the defensive newcomer of the year.
“A lot of freshmen get caught in the shuffle, but Devonte has a lot of football smarts,” Patterson said. “A lot of freshmen play hard in spurts as they try to get adjusted to the speed of the game. But he plays hard every game and has really been a gem.”
The 6-4, 240-pound Fields felt so comfortable in his transition to major college football that he recorded at least one sack in each of TCU’s first seven games. The former Arlington Martin High School star finished the regular season with 49 tackles including 32 solo stops.
Fields was recruited by schools like Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas A&M, but Patterson is glad he stayed in the Metroplex.
“He came here when he could have gone anywhere in the country,” Patterson said. “He’s very talented. If you get enough guys like him, your team has a chance to be special.”
OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
BAYLOR RB LACHE SEASTRUNK
It took a while for Lache Seastrunk to see much action for Baylor this season.
But once he became a major player in Baylor’s offense, he blasted off like a rocket gone haywire.
Seastrunk rushed for 693 yards in Baylor’s last five regular season games to earn Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year. It was no coincidence that the Bears won four of their last five games after Seastrunk began producing big numbers.
“Lache has done an exceptional job as the season has progressed,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “He had to become more comfortable with us and vice versa. He’s got great ability and character and is a great teammate. He’s been a real positive addition to our football team on and off the field.”
After starring at Temple High School, Seastrunk didn’t get on the field for two years as he redshirted at Oregon in 2010 and had to sit out last season at Baylor under NCAA transfer rules.
Seastrunk only played sparingly at the start of this season before taking off in the second half. With his 178-yard performance in last weekend’s 41-34 win over Oklahoma State, Seastrunk moved into sixth place among Big 12 rushers with 874 yards while averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
“Lache is a special player,” Baylor quarterback Nick Florence said. “He’s been patient and it took him some time to get this offense down. But he’s done a heck of a job.”
TRIBUNE-HERALD 2012 ALL-BIG 12 FOOTBALL TEAM
|OL||Gabe Ikard||Oklahoma||6-4||295||Jr||One of best centers in country|
|OL||Cyril Richardson||Baylor||6-5||335||Jr||O-line leader for nation’s top offense|
|OL||LaAdrian Waddle||Texas Tech||6-6||318||Sr||Huge tackle key for Tech|
|OL||Lane Taylor||Oklahoma State||6-7||303||Sr||Could be high NFL draft pick|
|OL||B.J. Finney||Kansas State||6-4||303||So||Center of powerful O-line|
|QB||Collin Klein||Kansas State||6-5||226||Sr||Heisman Trophy finalist|
|RB||Joseph Randle||Oklahoma State||6-1||200||Sr||League-leading 1,351 yards rushing|
|RB||James Sims||Kansas||6-0||202||Jr||Rushed for 1,013 yards, 9 TDs|
|WR||Stedman Bailey||West Virginia||5-10||195||Jr||Leads Big 12 with 23 TD catches|
|WR||Terrance Williams||Baylor||6-2||205||Sr||Leads nation with 1,764 receiving yards|
|WR||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||5-9||172||Sr||League-high 110 catches for 1,259 yards|
|UT||Nick Florence||Baylor||6-1||205||Sr||387.7 yards total offense leads nation|
|K||Quinn Sharp||Oklahoma State||6-1||205||Sr||Nailed 25 of 31 field goals|
|DL||Devonte Fields||TCU||6-4||240||Fr||Leads league with 17.5 tackles for losses|
|DL||Alex Okafor||Texas||6-4||265||Sr||Third in league with 8 sacks|
|DL||Meshak Williams||Kansas State||6-3||245||Sr||Big 12-high 9.5 sacks|
|DL||Kerry Hyder||Texas Tech||6-2||281||Jr||Recorded 13.5 tackles for losses|
|LB||Arthur Brown||Kansas State||6-1||231||Sr||Leader of strong K-State defense|
|LB||Eddie Lackey||Baylor||6-0||220||Jr||Returned 2 interceptions for TDs|
|LB||A.J. Klein||Iowa State||6-2||248||Sr||Keyed ISU defense with 98 tackles|
|LB||Jake Knott||Iowa State||6-3||239||Sr||79 tackles in eight games|
|DB||Jason Verrett||TCU||5-10||180||Jr||6 interceptions, 14 pass breakups|
|DB||Durrell Givens||Iowa State||6-0||211||Sr||3 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries|
|DB||Aaron Colvin||Oklahoma||6-0||181||Jr||4 interceptions, 11 pass breakups|
|DB||Nigel Malone||Kansas State||5-10||180||Sr||5 interceptions, 8 pass breakups|
|KR||Justin Brown||Oklahoma||6-3||214||Sr||Penn State transfer strong punt returner|
|P||Quinn Sharp||Oklahoma State||6-1||205||Sr||Averaged 45.8 yards per punt|
|OL||Ivory Wade||Baylor||6-4||310||Sr||Anchored BU O-line at center|
|OL||Joe Madsen||West Virginia||6-4||310||Sr||Veteran center led Mountaineers’ line|
|OL||Trey Hopkins||Texas||6-4||298||Jr||Strong Longhorns’ offensive lineman|
|OL||Blaize Foltz||TCU||6-4||310||Sr||Powerful blocking lineman|
|OL||Bronson Irwin||Oklahoma||6-5||305||Jr||Force for strong OU line|
|QB:||Geno Smith||West Virginia||6-3||214||Sr||4,004 yards, 40 TD passes|
|RB||Lache Seastrunk||Baylor||5-10||205||So||820 yards in Big 12 play|
|RB||John Hubert||Kansas State||5-7||191||Jr||892 yards, 15 touchdowns|
|UT||Seth Doege||Texas Tech||6-1||205||Sr||3,934 yards, 38 TD passes|
|WR||Kenny Stills||Oklahoma||6-1||189||Jr||75 catches, 892 yards|
|WR||Josh Stewart||Oklahoma State||5-10||178||So||96 catches, 1,154 yards|
|WR||Darrin Moore||Texas Tech||6-4||220||Sr||81 catches, 948 yards, 13 TDs|
|K||Anthony Cantele||Kansas St.||5-10||181||Sr||18 of 21 field goals|
|DL||Adam Davis||Kansas State||6-0||259||Sr||7.5 sacks, 12 tackles for losses|
|DL||Dartwan Bush||Texas Tech||6-1||255||Jr||5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses|
|DL||Stansly Maponga||TCU||6-2||265||Jr||Big force at defensive end|
|DL||Chuka Ndulue||Oklahoma||6-3||251||Sr||Strong force for Sooners’ line|
|LB||Kenny Cain||TCU||6-1||225||Sr||Veteran of TCU defense|
|LB||Joel Hasley||TCU||6-1||215||So||Eight tackles for losses|
|LB||Bryce Hager||Baylor||6-1||235||So||League-high 115 tackles|
|LB||Ben Heeney||Kansas||6-0||218||So||112 tackles, 12 for losses|
|DB||Sam Carter||TCU||6-1||220||So||4 interceptions, 10 pass breakups|
|DB||Tony Jefferson||Oklahoma||5-10||199||Jr||Second in league with 113 tackles|
|DB||Ty Zimmerman||Kansas State||6-1||203||Jr||5 ints., 2 fumble recoveries|
|DB||Kenny Vaccaro||Texas||6-1||215||Sr||Set tone for Texas secondary|
|KR||Skye Dawson||TCU||5-9||183||Sr||Top 5 in kick and punt returns|
|P||Alex King||Texas||6-2||205||Sr||Averaged 45.3 yards per punt|
Offensive player of the year: Collin Klein, Kansas State
Defensive player of the year: Devonte Fields, TCU
Offensive newcomer of the year: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Defensive newcomer of the year: Devonte Fields, TCU
Coach of the year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State