Big Ten gets an ESPN 'GameDay' close-up, deserved or not

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Ball of Wisconsin checks in at No. 40 among national rushers, although there is a "Bell" in the top five.

The Heisman front-runner now is West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, but the most intriguing national story line involves a 72-year-old, silver-haired coach from Nowhere, USA.

Bill Snyder already rescued Kansas State once, turning upside down the worst program of the 20th century before retiring in 2005.

After three years of Ron Prince, the school begged Snyder to return.

After seasons of 6-6 and 7-6, Snyder led Kansas State to a 10-3 record last season. Not everyone bought in, as Phil Steele's respected magazine had Kansas State ranked No. 35 entering the season.

Yet, here the Wildcats sit, in late September, at No. 7 in the AP poll after last weekend's upset of Oklahoma.

The problem with trying to promote Kansas State is that Snyder approaches publicity as if it's the flu.

Snyder goes out of his way to be boring. He is Clint Eastwood in the way you picture him chasing kids off his lawn. If Snyder spoke to a chair, though, the chair might get up and leave.

Kansas State player sound bites are as colorful as ransom notes. "I-am-very-proud-of-our-team," senior linebacker Arthur Brown said this week.

Senior punter Ryan Doerr had a nice game against Oklahoma. "I-just-wanted-to-get-out-there-and-help-the-team," he said.

The Wildcats are led by brown-bagger quarterback, Collin Klein, who does not throw particularly well or run fast — unless you need him to do either to win a game.

"A very focused young man," Snyder said.

In 1998, Snyder hurt quarterback Michael Bishop's Heisman chances by refusing to let him speak with the media.

Klein does speak — but never without a Snyder prompter.

Klein: "Coach wants us to be the best we can possibly be individually, the best we can possibly be collectively as a team, and I think we all want that too."

Being the highest-ranked Big 12 Conference team in the AP poll does not play well into Snyder's CIA-operative approach.

"I'm going to have to get back on the coaches' poll,'' he quipped during a teleconference this week, "so I can get us down in the rankings."

None of his obfuscation can undercut the brilliant job he is doing. The coach of last century is already putting in a bid with century 21.

Snyder's mantra continues to be "keep sawing wood."

Until "GameDay" gets out of the Rust Belt, we'll stick with sawing logs.

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