Snyder enjoying 2nd go-around at Kansas State
The bouquets and accolades tossed at Kansas State coach Bill Snyder through the years could fill a large building. Like, say, Bill Snyder Family Stadium. To get there, you might want to take Coach Bill Snyder Highway. And when you arrive, check out the 8-foot, one-ton, bronze statue depicting a certain Bill Snyder.
Naming a stadium for an active coach is rare. Technically, Snyder wasn’t active at the time. KSU Stadium was renamed in 2005 shortly after Snyder retired, seemingly for good. He returned before the 2009 season.
But that honor and the others bespeak the respect for the 75-year-old Snyder, not just in Manhattan, Kan., but points beyond. The radius includes Morgantown, W.Va., where Snyder’s Wildcats play the Mountaineers at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s amazing,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He’s the most-respected guy in our profession. He does it the right way. … They do the right things and play the right way. They don’t beat themselves down.”
Snyder, then Iowa’s offensive coordinator, arrived at K-State in 1989 and orchestrated one of the great turnarounds in college football history, transforming a program known for its stunningly consistent failure for nearly a century. It started with changing a losing culture and laying down the law. Many laws. One was “no ear screws,” meaning earrings.
Snyder’s teams had losing records in three of his first four seasons. Only once in the next 11 seasons did K-State win as few as six games, and it went to bowl games every season. Along the way, the Wildcats won a Big 12 title outright and tied for two more. The program slipped in 2004 and ’05, prompting Snyder’s retirement. But things got worse, setting the stage for Act II.
“The Kansas State family is in flux right now,” Snyder said at his re-introductory news conference. “I want to be able to help. I want to be able to soothe the waters. I’ve learned some lessons, and there are some things I will do to encompass my family.”
Snyder mentioned that Penn State coach Joe Paterno told him he would “get awful sick and tired of seeing Little League baseball games.” He did not disavow the statement.
In Snyder’s second reconstruction, the Wildcats are 36-12 since 2011. He has four former head coaches on a staff that includes his son, who coaches special teams. Sean Snyder is a former K-State walk-on who became an All-American punter. He has worked for his dad since 1994.
The Wildcats are having another strong season despite their 40-21 loss to TCU on Nov. 8, which essentially ruined their national playoff chances. But they can still win the Big 12 title.
“Those guys are sound,” Holgorsen said of the Wildcats. “They know what to do.”
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].