Five possible candidates to replace Snyder at K-State

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 42-38. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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(WIBW) -- On Sunday, Kansas State University announced the retirement of former head coach Bill Snyder after 27 seasons and 215 wins.

Now, the search to find the candidate to replace the Wildcats’ all-time winningest football coach begins.

According to athletic director Gene Taylor, the search for a new coach will begin immediately.

Here are five potential candidates to fill the vacancy:

SETH LITTRELL, NORTH TEXAS HEAD COACH

Littrell led North Texas to a 9-3 season this year in Conference USA, including major wins over Arkansas and SMU. One could safely copy and paste this candidate bio into just about every head coach opening this year in NCAA football based on his success and leading the Mean Green to three-straight bowl games. But what makes Littrell stand out for the job with the Wildcats was the reported mutual interest.

However, the Denton Record-Chronicle has since reported pulling Littrell away from UNT would take something special.

Littrell signed a five-year deal with a base salary of $1.2 million after last season. The contract includes multiple incentives including the school agreeing to pay his full base salary for the first three years of the contract, and the full tenure of it became 100 percent guaranteed for the next two years after North Texas won their seventh game last season. Littrell’s success has also triggered a clause in the contract that elevated its buyout clause.

Still, his success is hard to ignore. The Mean Green have improved in all three of their seasons under Litrell after the former Oklahoma full back, beginning with a 5-7 season in 2016 after going 1-11 in 2015.

The Denton Record-Chronicle also reported Litrell’s buyout is $2.1 million.

CHRIS KLIEMAN, NORTH DAKOTA STATE HEAD COACH

An FCS head coach making the jump to the leader of an FBS team is a rather massive stretch, but Klieman cannot be ruled out indefinitely due to his relationship with K-State athletic director Gene Taylor.

Taylor hired Klieman in 2014 (before leaving NDSU for the same position at Kansas State) when former NDSU head coach Craig Bohl left for Wyoming. Klieman was an assistant coach under Bohl, who left disorder and dysfunction at NDSU with his departure during the middle of the playoffs in 2013.

It was also the 2013 season in which the Bison defeated Kansas State in the Wildcats’ season opener. Klieman was defensive coordinator then.

In four years at North Dakota State, Klieman has won three FCS national titles. The Bison are currently 12-0 and set for their ninth-straight appearance in the NCAA quarterfinal round.

BRENT VENABLES, CLEMSON DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

In any potential succession candidate article for Kansas State football, Brent Venables is almost guaranteed to be included.

Venables is a former Wildcat linebacker. Following his playing career, he served as a graduate assistant under Snyder from 1993-1995 and as the linebackers coach from 1996-1998. Venables then went on to become the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops from 1999 to 2011.

Since arriving at Clemson in 2012, Venables has helped develop the Tigers’ defense into one of the best in the nation on a yearly basis.
Currently, he makes $2 million a year with Clemson, but he would not owe the school any buyout money should he decide to leave. And, Venables is a Salina, Kan., native.

JIM LEAVITT, OREGON DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Remember Jim Leavitt? It would seem one has to after a report in November of 2017 surfaced about the possibility of Leavitt being hired as a coach-in-waiting behind Snyder.

The report by Brett McMurphy said K-State president Richard Myers and other school officials had reached a verbal agreement with Leavitt to take over the program, but that the plan fell through when Snyder didn’t agree. The report cited unnamed sources, but it was later reported that Myers and former athletic director John Currie did, in fact, exchange a CBS Sports analysis of Leavitt via email. No conclusion was ever made on the matter, and both Snyder and Leavitt denied the reports.

Now Leavitt is the defensive coordinator at Oregon, but does appear to still have an interest in the head coaching position at Kansas State. His contract with the Ducks includes a special clause that drops his buyout to zero if he is hired as the Wildcats’ next head coach.

Leavitt was an assistant under Snyder from 1990 to 1995, and has made stops at Colorado and with the San Francisco 49ers. His most tangible success was as the head coach of the University of South Florida where he led the Bulls’ to a 95-57 record and five-straight bowl appearances from the football program’s inception in 2005 to 2009.

SEAN SNYDER, KANSAS STATE SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR

Former head coach Bill Snyder has spoken many-a-time of his desire for his son Sean Snyder to succeed him at the helm for the Wildcats.

Sean currently serves in three roles for the Wildcats: special teams coordinator, director of football operations and associate head coach, and is in his 25th season with the team.

Sean does not have any head coaching experience, but nonetheless, cannot be ruled out. Especially since Bill Snyder can have a say in the next head coach if he decides to stick with K-State as a special advisor.

OTHER NOTABLES

The following is simply an aggregate of other names being mentioned in Kansas State's coaching search. Naturally, some are more outlandish than others, but Bill Snyder's coaching tree and connections extend far across the nation.

- Ricky Rahne, Penn State offensive coordinator
- Willie Fritz, Tulane head coach
- Mike Norvell, Memphis head coach
- Neal Brown, Troy head coach
- Blake Anderson, Arkansas State head coach
- Bret Bielema, former Arkansas head coach
- Gary Patterson, TCU head coach
- Bob Stoops, former Oklahoma head coach
- Dana Dimel, UTEP head coach
- Dan McCarney, former North Texas head coach
- Craig Bohl, Wyoming head coach
- Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan head coach