Prior to the mid 1990’s, Kansas State was a mere footnote on the radar of the college football world. In fact one would say that they would have been the Homecoming opponent of choice for most schools. Before this time period the Wildcats had not experienced back-to-back winning seasons since the early 1950’s. However, all of this would change under the direction of head coach Bill Snyder wh,o after four seasons of being at the helm, placed K-State not only on the map, but instilled the fear of playing the Wildcats across the college football landscape. After going through season-after-season of mediocre results, Kansas State would turn into a national powerhouse, averaging nearly ten wins a year.
With this new found success, simply winning games wasn't enough; the school and passionate fanbase wanted to win it all. In college football every championship caliber team has to possess a game changer, a player whose dynamic abilities separated them from the rest of the pack on the field. The most notable place to start, which goes without saying, is quarterback. So in 1997 Coach Snyder took his chances on a junior college QB out of Texas who was more than lighting up football fields everywhere.
Michael Bishop of Willis, Texas, played two years at Blinn Junior College where, as a freshman, he led the Buccaneers to a 12–0 record and the NJCAA National Championship. But he wouldn’t stop there as the following season he would duplicate the feat by going 12-0 once again, winning a second national championship. His numbers were stellar, recording 3,086 yards rushing, including 47 touchdowns and scored a total of 438 points (36.5 avg. per game).
Although Bishop's numbers spoke volumes and he was being recruited by major Division I colleges everywhere, schools wanted him for the purpose of playing him at defensive back. That is everyone except the Kansas State coach who could see the potential of what Michael would bring to table.
In his first year at Kansas State, Bishop started all 11 regular season games passing for 1,557 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also added 556 yards yards on the ground with nine rushing touchdowns. Bishop was voted second-team All-Big 12 Conference while also being voted the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. During that season K-State won 11 games including a 1997 Fiesta Bowl victory over Syracuse led by Donovan McNabb by a score of 35–18. The Wildcats’ only loss of the season came to the eventual national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. The loss was the first of only three in Bishop's collegiate career.
In Bishop's senior season, the expectations were loftier than ever before in the school’s history. Kansas State was not just a good program, they were considered a contender for the National Championship. During the 1998 season Bishop broke school season records with 2,844 yards passing and 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He would also lead the team with 14 rushing touchdowns and finished second with 748 yards. He led the Wildcats to an undefeated regular season and the Big 12 North title, putting Kansas State in 1st place in the Associated Press poll and 2nd in the Coaches Poll. However, just two weeks later, the Wildcats' national championship dreams were crushed as they would lose the Big 12 Championship Game in double overtime to a No. 10 Texas A&M 36–33.
It was not the fairytale ending Bishop or Kansas State had hoped for, although no one can deny that it was truly an amazing ride. Michael Bishop started in all 25 games (including bowl games) during his two seasons at Kansas State and posted a 22–3 (.880) record. He received 792 votes (including 41 first place votes) in the 1998 Heisman Trophy voting but would come in second to Texas running back Ricky Williams. He finished his Wildcat career fourth on the all-time passing list with 4,401 yards and set the career record with 36 touchdown passes despite playing only two seasons. He ranks second only behind Lynn Dickey in Kansas State history with 5,715 yards of total offense. Bishop also set a school record with 59 total touchdowns (rushing and passing). After his senior season, he was voted a consensus All-American and All-Big 12 Conference selection and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
Michael Bishop, another great quarterback in college football history. #RESPECT