Today, the legendary football coach who took college football’s worst program and made it into a dominating program for a few years, has retired for the last time.
He retired before in November of 2005. For the second year in a row, K-State was not going to a bowl game. After winning the Big 12 Championship in 2003, against the once “proclaimed” greatest football team ever, Snyder’s team would not play in a bowl game for two years. The team was in disarray, partly due to Snyder’s embarrassment at player antics in the Fiesta Bowl. He decided he could not longer do the job with one game remaining on a dismal, by his standards, 2005 year.
I booked a ticket to Manhattan that same day so that I could be part of the celebration. I was there when Coach Snyder’s 1989 team broke the losing streak against North Texas State (now called North Texas) on a last second throw. I was going to be there at his last game. It was sad time, but a time for celebration. He gave K-State and the fans something no one had ever done – a program worthy of respect and belief that you can do impossible things.
A few years later, he came back after a tumultuous three years under Ron Prince. There were missed expectations and a scandal. To say that Prince was disappointment was an understatement. For all the talent on the team, he was unable to coach them to wins. In some ways, Prince did more to hurt K-State than help, something that many alumni and donors saw and needed to be addressed. It came to an ugly head in 2008 when it was discovered that Prince was given an expensive extension without any announcement.
When Snyder returned, he was only going to stay as long as he needed to right the ship. In 2011, K-State went 10-3 behind QB Colin Klein, who was ill prepared to become a gunslinger type passer, but fit the mold of an option style similar to Michael Bishop.
For fans who waited for the return of 1998 and possible National Championship, it came in 2012. K-State was ranked the BCS #1 team after taking down a resurgent TCU horned frogs team. It wouldn’t last. The team was battered and bruised because of Snyder’s ability to get players to over perform. K-State played a rising Baylor team under Head Coach Art Briles which started the incredible run of the Bears. K-State was beaten badly and lost a chance at getting a spot in the National Championship game and perhaps, give Snyder the biggest prize in football.
Over the next six years, K-State’s record would get worse. No more 10 win seasons. In 2016 and 2017, the Cats had to go on winning streaks just to make bowl games. This year, the Cats were unable to hold onto the lead against Iowa State and K-State’s bowl streak since 2010 has ended.
While it is bittersweet, Snyder’s time at K-State can be considered nothing but miraculous. As a student in the mid 1980’s, football was bad and had been for many years. K-State had less than 10 winning seasons and one championship – back in 1934 – and only one bowl game, a loss to Wisconsin in the Independence bowl in 1982.
Under Snyder, K-State won 215 games, played in 2 BCS Bowls, had number one national rankings in 1998 and 2012, won 2 conference championships, 4 divisional championships, played in 19 bowl games and was one of only two teams to win 11 games in 6 of 7 years. Snyder himself has 5 National Coach of the Year honors, 7 Conference Coach of the Year honors, 211 All-Americans with 24 coming from Kansas, and 55 draft selections including 25 straight years of a player drafted in the NFL, soon to be 26 with the expected draft of All American Dalton Risner.
They said K-State would never be a good program, much less a championship program. He proved them wrong.
Wishing you a wonderful and well deserved retirement Coach Snyder! Thanks for the memories.