One of the things we love about college football is the impact an outstanding coach can have on their football program, and no one personifies that more than Bill Snyder, the head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats, Snyder, the oldest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision, will turn 75-years-old this season. He has served at the head coach at only one school, Kansas State, something he did twice, once from 1989-2005 and again since the 2009 season. .
When Snyder took the job at Kansas State in 1989, it was the most losing program in college football. The Wildcats had been to only one bowl game, losing the 1982 Independence Bowl to Wisconsin. The Wildcats hadn’t won a game in three seasons, and would win only one Snyder’s first year at the helm. But progress was being made, and in his second year, the Wildcats would improve to 5-6, and in year three they would finish 7-4. In 1993, KSU would begin an 11-year bowl game streak that included appearances in the Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Copper Bowl and Aloha Bowl. Since he returned, the Wildcats have made a bowl game the last four seasons, including the Cotton Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. .
So much of what makes a head coach successful is having great assistant coaches. During his career at Kansas State, Bill Snyder hired several assistants that would go onto become head football coaches. The list includes Bob and Mike Stoops, Bret Bielema, Mark Mangino, Carl Pelini, Phil Bennett, Dana Dimel and Jim Leavitt. Looking at who these coaches hired adds Kevin Sumlin, Mike Leach, Kevin Wilson, Bo Pelini, Art Briles, Dana Holgorsen and Vic Koenning to the family tree. Snyder was part of Hayden Fry’s staff at North Texas and Iowa.
Bill Snyder Family Stadium
In 2005, KSU Stadium was renamed Bill Snyder family stadium in honor of the then retiring head coach. When he was came out of retirement in 2008, he became the fifth coach to lead his team in a stadium bearing his name. The list of the others is impressive, including Amos Alonzo Stagg (University of Chicago, then a member of the Big Ten), Bear Bryant (Alabama), Ralph Jordan (Auburn) and LaVell Edward (BYU for one game).
Looking at Snyder’s coaching tree, it’s clear why other coaches respect him. When I saw Kansas State fans at the Cotton Bowl, I was struck by their feelings for Coach Snyder. They didn’t just like him as a coach, or want to win — they seemed to love him. When he spoke, everyone listened. His amazing record at KSU affords him that respect.