Jim Leavitt reportedly agreed to become Kansas State’s next coach, but Bill Snyder wants his son to do it
Leavitt’s a former K-State assistant, now Oregon’s defensive coordinator.
Current Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt reached a “verbal agreement” to become Kansas State’s coach-in-waiting and eventual successor to Bill Snyder, . McMurphy says Snyder had the deal scrapped because he wanted his son, K-State associate head coach Sean, to get the job instead.
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Sources said Kansas State’s top officials, including president Richard Myers, and the school’s highest-profile boosters were all on board with Leavitt, then a Colorado assistant, joining KSU's staff and then replacing the legendary Snyder after the 2017 season. Leavitt and the school had an agreement, guaranteeing Leavitt $3 million if he wasn’t named K-State’s coach by Jan. 1, 2018.
However, last December, Snyder pushed back on Leavitt, a former KSU assistant, being named his replacement because Snyder wanted his son Sean, currently KSU’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator, to replace him, sources said.
Leavitt has Kansas State history, and he was a hot coaching commodity last year. He’d just coordinated Colorado’s defense to a striking turnaround that helped the Buffs win the Pac-12 South, and he eventually left to take the same position under new Oregon coach Willie Taggart. Leavitt was linebackers coach and a co-defensive coordinator in Manhattan from 1990 through 1995, before he became head coach at USF.
Bill Snyder’s gone on the record before to state his preference for Sean as K-State’s next coach. He told McMurphy in 2015, “I have a strong belief, and my preference is Sean,” Snyder said, per McMurphy. “He knows more about our football program than anyone. He runs our program. I have great confidence in him.”
Snyder will clearly have a role in deciding who replaces him.
His contract with the university says he’s to be a “special assistant” to its athletic director as long as he’s “physically and mentally able.” Snyder is slated to make $250,000 per year in that job, down from his current rate of around $3 million. That job title includes a clause that he’ll input during K-State’s search for his successor.
So Snyder’s a powerful man, and not just because he’s been the face of the program since 1989. Sean Snyder was a punter at K-State in the early ‘90s, just after his dad had taken over the team. He’s been around since 1994 as an assistant, and Snyder made him an associate head coach a few years ago. He’s one of 56 candidates for the Broyles Award, given annually to the country’s top assistant coach.