It's been quite a ride for Bill Snyder and Kansas State. It was true when he first took over the program, it's been true in his second term as the head Wildcat, and it's been true this season.
He built the Wildcats from the worst program in college football into Big 12 champions, winning the division three times ahead of national power Nebraska and finally getting the first Big 12 title in school history in 2003. The program slowed after that win against Oklahoma, and Snyder rode off into the sunset.
He couldn't stay away for long.
Two of Kansas State's three seasons without Snyder featured losing records, and he returned. He's done it again.
Saturday, his return will culminate in yet another title. The Wildcats will transform into the Big 12 champion for the first time since 2003 and receive the league's automatic bid, heading to the Fiesta Bowl for the first time since 2003. It will be the school's third bowl game since that season.
In fitting fashion (more on that later today), it'll come against Texas, which Kansas State will have beaten seven times in nine meetings since the Big 12 began play in 1996.
This isn't the season Kansas State imagined just a few weeks ago, when the Wildcats were on track to play for the national title. But, like Oklahoma State losing its chance to play for the national title last season, time will allow perspective. In the moment, there's pain, but a Big 12 title will feel better and better as the calendar turns.
It was a special season in Manhattan, even if it promised so much more. The memories of the Baylor loss will fade with time, but the crystal Big 12 trophy won't be going anywhere. Reaching the BCS No. 1, even if it was only for a week, was an accomplishment in itself.
This team will be remembered forever, and its final home game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be a great one. Here's hoping the fans recognize Saturday's game for what will have been accomplished, and not what was lost.