Legendary coach enjoys leading this year’s ‘hard-working’ squad

Chris Hummer

Bill Snyder knows football.

He was the coach at Kansas State for 16 years from 1989-2005, and he totally transformed the program from one of the most inept in college football, to a Big 12 championship winner.

Snyder did it with an incredible work ethic and appetite for the game, which is more of an appetite than he had for actual meals. According to an article in Sports Illustrated in 1998, Snyder would only eat one meal a day, working right through lunch, which he liked so much that he worked through dinner as well.

However, in 2005 Snyder decided he was done with that kind of effort. He was coming off two consecutive losing seasons, and at 66 years old he decided it was time to hang his hat.

Right after his retirement Kansas State quickly renamed their stadium, Bill Snyder Family Stadium. This is a little ironic considering how much time football has taken away from Snyder’s family time, (18 hour work days in your office will do that.) Snyder enjoyed retirement to, well as much as someone can whose whole life has centered in and around the gridiron can.

“I learned that life after football really can be pretty good,” Snyder said

But, three years later when Wildcat officials approached Snyder, about a return to the sideline, he jumped at the chance.

Now in 2011, Snyder is still striding the sideline, and coaching up young players, while leading Kansas State to their best season in years, as the No. 13 team in the country at 8-2 overall.

When Snyder is asked why he left the comfy confines of retirement to go back into the stressful profession that is a being a division-one coach, his answer was simple. He missed working with his players. Especially guys from teams like this year’s where there is no one great player, just a bunch of hardworking teammates.

“It’s just a bunch of young guys, no real standout individuals,” Snyder said, “guys that play together, care about each other, work pretty hard and try to do the right things. I think they play with discipline — most of the time, not always. They’re pretty good about not beating themselves.”

It not just this team that has those hard working values on the field, every single one of Snyder’s teams has worked together like that. That kind of effort and togetherness is one of the core principals of Snyder’s hard-nosed teaching style.

“That’s what our program has really always been about,” Snyder said, “just the intrinsic values — responsibility and accountability and discipline and toughness and hard work and caring about each other and appropriate attitudes — all those things that we would teach our children.”

Snyder has an old school approach on the game, he looks to push his players further and further every day, making them better at their trade and better people at the same time. His demeanor can be a bit tough to deal with, and he is serious on game day. But his players understand and appreciate the values he teaches, and his drive to make them raise their level of play on a day to day basis.

“It’s all there in his message,” said defensive end Jordan Voelker . “It’s a great message. I think some people have trouble interpreting it, because it is somewhat monotonous. His big thing is improving every week.

“But it makes total sense. He doesn’t want you to look at the next opponent. He wants you to focus on getting better. He wants you to do what it takes to win, and let the games take care of themselves. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s why we’re here.”

Snyder has been around the college game for a while, and has experienced a lot. He has been a mentor, a winner, and a looser as well; he has had a son play for him, and even has a grandson playing under him right now. With all of that experience on the sideline the Kansas State program is in good hands, and his players know how lucky they are to have him on their side of the field.

“We have one of the best coaches in college football,” Currie said. “Everyone realizes what a tremendous leader we have in Bill Snyder.”