Two coaches earned the highest possible honor the game can bestow, as Kansas State head coach and former Ohio State and Youngstown State head coach Jim Tressel were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame on Friday.
Considered arguably the greatest coach of all-time after conducting the undisputed best turnaround effort in the game’s history, Snyder becomes the only active coach to enter the Hall. He joins Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno and John Gagliardi as the only active coaches ever chosen to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Snyder arrived in Manhattan in 1989, inheriting a moribund Wildcats program and turning it into a national power. He went 1-10 in his first season, 5-6 in his second and experienced only two losing seasons after that. K-State went 44-7 from 1997-2000, posting four consecutive top-10 finishes and winning the Big 12 North championship in 1998. He also posted back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 2002-03 and 2011-12 with Big 12 championships in ’03 and ’12. Kansas State’s 1998 and 2012 teams each came one game shy of playing for a national championship – a completely ludicrous thought under Snyder’s arrival.
Snyder retired after the 2005 season and returned before the 2009 season, proving that he could pull Kansas State from the depths of mediocrity to elite not once, but twice.
Snyder also earned a reputation as one of the best coaches’ coaches in college football. His coaching tree includes a dozen pupils that went on to take Division I head coaching jobs, and nine among the FBS ranks – including Bob Stoops, Jim Leavitt and Bret Bielema.
K-State’s Bill Snyder on CFB Hall of Fame induction, jokes: “I’m grateful voting took place before (Alamo) bowl game”
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 9, 2015
While Snyder getting in as an active head coach is rare, Tressel is the exceedingly rare sitting college president to reach the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach.
In a quarter century’s time as a head coach, Tressel experienced more national championships (five) than losing seasons (four). After spending a dozen seasons as an assistant at Akron, Miami (Ohio), Syracuse and Ohio State, Tressel took over at Youngstown State in 1986. After going 14-20 in his first three seasons, Tressel guided the Penguins to six straight Division I-AA playoff appearances, including national titles in 1991, 1993 and 1994. He again won the crown in 1997, and reached the title game in 1990, 1992, and 1999.
He left Youngstown for Columbus in 2001 and brought Ohio State a long-awaited national championship in 2002, just his second season on campus. After a 7-5 debut campaign, Tressel’s Buckeyes finished outside the top-10 only once – and even then they finished No. 20 in both polls after an 8-4 season – and appeared in eight BCS games, the most of any team in college football during that span.
Overall, Tressel finished with a mark of 229-79-2 in 25 seasons with at least a share of eight conference championships (and, remember, Youngstown State was independent for nine of Tressel’s seasons at the helm) and five national titles.
He left coaching after receiving an NCAA show-cause penalty following the 2010 season, and currently works as the president of Youngstown State University.
Snyder and Tressel coached against each other once: a 35-28 Ohio State victory in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.
Former Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron was also elected Friday for his exploits as a Yale running back from 1970-72. The full class includes Trev Alberts (Nebraska), Brian Bosworth (Oklahoma), Bob Breunig (Arizona State), Sean Brewer (Millsaps, Miss.), Ruben Brown (Pittsburgh), Wes Chandler (Florida), Thom Gatewood (Notre Dame), Clinton Jones (Michigan State), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), Rob Lytle (Michigan), Michael Payton (Marshall), Art Still (Kentucky), Zach Thomas (Texas Tech) and Ricky Williams (Texas).
The 2015 class will be inducted Dec. 8 at the annual National Football Foundation awards dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.