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Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder Still Kicking Ass at 73

Oct 22, 2011; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder watches the team warm up before the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium. Kansas State won the game 59-21. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
Lisa HornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterDecember 31, 2016

In 2011, the Kansas State Wildcats beat the Miami Hurricanes 28-24 on the road, yet failed to make the AP's Top 25 poll. The following week, the Wildcats beat No. 15 Baylor 36-35 and were finally rewarded with an initial ranking of No. 20 in the AP poll. 

The 7-0 Wildcats were ranked No. 8 in the BCS Standings but were only ranked No. 10 in the AP. Three one-loss teams, by the way, were ranked ahead of the Wildcats in the AP poll: Oregon, Arkansas and Michigan State.

Such is Kansas State football.

Disrespected? Probably not. Overlooked? Probably.  

The football Gods simply don't pay that much attention to football in certain regions of flyover country because college football in Kansas doesn't turn a lot of dials—nor heads. Basketball is a different story. 

But looking at the state of football in Kansas over the years, one coach has proved that he can and will win football. He never was—nor will he ever be— a fluke. And he still can kick your ass.

Bill Snyder. 

At 73 years old, Snyder is the oldest active coach in FBS football; he celebrated his 73rd birthday last Sunday. He's at the age where he should be sporting a gifted gold watch and reading 'Twas the Night before Christmas to his grandchildren as they sit on his knee sipping hot cocoa. 

Instead, Snyder is roaming the sidelines in Big 12 country searching for his first BCS Championship. 

From 1989 to 2005, Snyder coached the Wildcats to a remarkable 136-68-1 record. The Wildcats had lost 27 straight games prior to when Snyder took over the program and were the first FBS program to lose 500 games. They were bad. 

But Snyder masterminded one of the greatest turnarounds in athletic history. Five years after he started, the Wildcats got their first taste of victory in the postseason: a Copper Bowl win.

Snyder's career includes Coach of the Year (AP, Walter Camp Football Foundation) in 1998 as well as numerous conference awards. But in 2005 Snyder retired, the Wildcats' stadium was renamed in his honor and Ron Price was named head coach at Kansas State.

After a disastrous three-year Prince era (17-20), Snyder came back in late 2008. No one thought he could rebuild again, but he's quietly doing just that.  

It's as though he's invisible. Or not that exciting. Maybe that's the reason why he doesn't make the late-night highlight reels like other coaches. No visor-throwing, no heated arguments with players, no rage. Snyder always has that same look on his face: one of deep thought and mild concern, but devoid of panic, anger or frustration. 

Kansas State University's Leadership Studies program used Snyder's approach in a case study of leadership. Robert J. Shoop and and Susan M. Scott wrote a book on that case study called Leadership Lessons from Bill Snyder. 


Three of the book's excerpts are very telling about Bill Snyder:

"For many people a goal is a specific, measurable, end product.  For Snyder, a goal is actually the adoption of a process. His goal is to make continuous improvement.”


Snyder's own words:

"There are no plays in football that work just exactly like we put them up on the board.  It just doesn’t happen that way…  We believe that the players on the field are in the best position, with the best vantage point to make critical decisions.  The ideal situation is to have your team so well prepared that each time the defense presents itself we will know exactly what we need to do.”

 "Yelling, screaming and swearing is not the answer. You can be very demanding without that.  Accepting mistakes and less than a player’s best performance is also not the answer.  He must know that you will not tolerate less than his best, yet he must know that you love him like your own. This is the true art of coaching.”

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