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K-STATE'S 'ODD COUPLE'

Snyder, Colbert so different, but best of friends
 
 
By Mark Janssen
 
 
In all honesty, they're K-State's "Odd Couple."
 
There's suit and tie Bill Snyder, who is best of buddies with Jim Colbert, who is anything but a suit and tie kind of guy with his turned-up collared golf shirts.
 
There's Snyder's rule of no caps worn in the Vanier Complex, and there's Colbert wearing that funny little cap he wears ... backwards.
 
Snyder, 71, is pretty serious about life by nature; Colbert, 69, is not.
 
Honestly, the two best of buds truly are ... well, as different as a football is to a golf ball.
 
"Most would say we're a little different," Colbert quipped, and adding a laugh. "But I think he semi-appreciates most of my humor ... (pause) ... well, some of my humor.
 
"He'll say something about this hat I wear backwards every fourth or fifth time: 'Why don't you put that thing on right?' But I think he's basically given up on it."
 
What the two Wildcats do have in common is a passion for K-State athletics, and in general, the mental aspect of their games - college football for Snyder, and professional golf for Colbert.
 
"The challenge for both of us is to get to a high, and then direct that high into the job at hand. That's when you're really good. That's when you're in that zone they talk about," said Colbert, a 1964 KSU graduate in political science. "But you also know that you're not always going to be at your best. That's when you need to figure out how to win."
 
Colbert, a winner of eight PGA titles and 20 more on the Champions tour, saw Snyder's success early, and honestly didn't think he could continue winning at the clip he started - five wins in 1990 and seven in 1991 - at K-State.
 
Barely knowing Snyder at the time, Colbert recalls, "It's about that time when I gave him that great advice that nobody could continue to win like this at K-State. I told him to collect some job offers and to take the best one, and to turn this program over to someone younger. (Laughing) Coach didn't really know me, and he didn't say a word."
 
It was two years later in Tuscan, Ariz., at the Copper Bowl when the Wildcats were on the verge of their ninth victory when the two crossed paths again.
 
After returning to the team hotel with golf bag in hand, the team was walking toward the bus. As Colbert tells the story, "I don't think Bill would have known me, but I had my name on my golf bag. He came walking by, and without breaking stride, he said out of the side of his mouth, 'And you said it couldn't be done.' He didn't even look at me, but that's what he said."
 
 Thus came the title of Snyder's book that was penned following his retirement after the 2003 season: "Bill Snyder: They Said It Couldn't Be Done."
 
The two would develop a close friendship with Colbert even flying into Manhattan on cross country flights to golf events just to watch practice. And, the Snyder family would later become one of the "Founders" of the Colbert Hills Golf Course when it opened 11 years ago.
 
Like others, Colbert marvels at Snyder's "... attention to detail in every aspect of his business. Honestly, there aren't many great coaches around, but he's one of the very, very special ones."
 
Colbert continued to say that while Snyder is a man of many talents, "What coach does best is pick talent. He sees that 6-4, 210-pound 17-year-old defensive end, and he can visualize where he can play him and what kind of player he will be in three years as s 250 pounder. The names he recruits aren't those that you see on the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen, but he can really recruit college talent, and then he and his staff can coach them up like nothing I've ever seen before."
 
Few know Snyder better than Colbert, who says the Wildcat coach has lightened up since coming back for his second stint in the program.
 
"I can actually get him to eat two meals a day occasionally and even have a glass of wine now and then," Colbert laughed.
 
Changing moods, Colbert added, "Seriously, he gives his coaches some time off and he spends more time with his own family."
 
Going back to his retirement days from 2006 through 2008, Colbert said he tried to get Snyder to try his hand at golf, but quickly confessed, "He wasn't very good. He could chip and putt, but he had a mean slice. I'm short (off the tee), but he was a lot shorter. (Laughing) I didn't turn out to be much of a coach. I had him out there until his hands were bleeding, but he eventually turned me in as a coach."