By Mark Janssen
Bill Snyder and attention to detail.
Mention one, and it's hard not to mention the other.
It's the foundation that Snyder constructed the Wildcat football team on from 1989 through 2005, and now again in 2009 and 2010.
• Rod Humenuik: "He is meticulous. Nothing is too small to take for granted. A lot of coaches have a plan for every hour, but he has a plan for every minute. His determination is relentless."
• Mark Mangino: "Persistence and sticking by your guns. Nothing was impossible with Bill Snyder."
• Greg Peterson: "Bill is one of the most intelligent men I've ever been around. With this program, Bill was involved from A to Z."
There are the Vanier Complex rules of no earrings and no caps; there's "Snyder Time," which means if the meeting starts at 1:30, it's best to be in place at 1:25 ... in your chair and with both feet on the floor; and, there's the structure of his practices and meetings. Sessions have been known to start at 9:51 ... not 9:50 or 10:00.
K-State senior center Wade Weibert says of playing for Snyder, "He comes up with things that just make you shake your head. 'How did he come up with that?' But when you think about it, while it may sound funny, there's always a reason behind it and it always works."
On Snyder's discipline, Weibert adds, "A lot of coaches talk a really good game when they say things about preparing young men for life ... things that look good on paper, but coach Snyder means it."
And, Weibert laughs when he sees young players who try to slip something past their 71-year-old coach.
"You see freshmen trying to not do all their work, and as an older player, you think, 'You might think you got by with it, but you didn't.' " said Weibert. "He knows what you did, or didn't do. He'll bring it to your attention when the time is right for him."
On Kansas State's present day staff are individuals who have seen a pair of sides to Snyder, who has posted 147 victories at K-State, or 108 "W's" more than Mike Ahearn, who ranks second on the K-State win list.
Defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements played under Snyder from 1995-98, and now is in his second stint on a Snyder coaching staff.
"I've never been around an individual who can consume such an abundance of information, and decipher it as he's consuming it," said Clements. "He has the ability to do a lot of things at once, and a lot of things well at once."
Michael Smith is another Wildcat who has played for Snyder in the "Foundation Years," and now is a member of his coaching staff.
To this day, Smith just shakes his head when quizzed about Snyder's attention to detail: "You're amazed every day about how detailed he is and how strong he's going at 71. He's just like he was in 1990 and 1998. You get used to it, but then you never get used to it. You really are amazed every day."
This is Mo Latimore's 35th year in coaching with 27 of those on a K-State staff and 14 of those with Snyder. After that amount of time, Latimore says he's used to Snyder's ways, but admits, "He is very detailed and he's very demanding, but there's a reason for his demands, and a positive outcome if you carry them out."
"Most coaches are very detailed, but coach takes it to a new level on how things should be done," Latimore said. "If you stay on top of it, and do what you're supposed to, it will work."
Relatively new to Snyder's ways are offensive line coach Charlie Dickey and tight ends coach Rickey Rahne, who have both been with the Wildcat legend only two years.
"He's so organized, so detailed," marveled Dickey. "He doesn't take anything for granted."
Rahne agreed: "Every coach is big on repetition. With coach, you hear the same message five times, not because he doesn't think you're getting it, but he wants you to know it's important. That attention to detail has made him very successful."
In his first year in the K-State program is secondary coach Keith Burns. As a player, Burns played for Lou Holtz at Arkansas, and later coached with such legends as John Robinson at USC, and most recently Dick Tomey at San Jose State.
"Coach is so structured," said Burns. "The man's amazing. He keeps you on your toes, which is good. There's an attitude of what can I do better, not only for the players, but for the coaches, as well."