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DYKES CALLS SNYDER "A BREATH OF FRESH AIR"

Also See: K-State Garners Two Big 12 Weekly Awards

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Former Texas Tech football coach Spike Dykes doesn't hold back his feelings when asked about the coaching talents of Kansas State's Bill Snyder.

"He's astonishing. The most difficult thing that a coach can do is change the entire culture of a program, and that's what Bill did," said Dykes. "A lot of people can change a record, but it takes a special breed of cat to change the culture, and he did it.

"Bill has a real passion for what he does, and a real passion for where he is," continued Dykes. "That's unusual these days. Everyone is looking for a better deal, but he has the deal that he wants."

Dykes, who coached Texas Tech to an 82-67-1 record from 1987 through 1999 with seven bowl game appearances, was the featured speaker this past weekend during Kansas State's high school coaching clinic hosted by Snyder's Wildcat football program.

Dykes said that he and Snyder first became acquainted as members of opposing coaching staffs at a Blue-Gray game, in his words, "years ago."

"You could see that he was an intriguing person. What you saw was what you got," said Dykes. "He doesn't tell you what you want to hear, but he tells you what he thinks. (Laughing) In this profession you have quite a few phonies, but Bill does it for all the right reasons. He really cares about the kids. That's not only until they finish their eligibility, but for the rest of their lives. Bill is a breath of fresh air to our profession."

Dykes first faced Kansas State in 1986 as the defensive coordinator of the Red Raiders when his side came out a winner, 41-7, against coach Stan Parrish's Wildcats.

"We weren't that good, but they really were not very good ... not very good at all," Dykes reflected. "And then Bill comes and around 10 years later they're a Top 10 program in America."

Dykes, who now lives in Horse Shoe Bay, Texas, located between Austin and San Antonio, said it's one thing to turn around a program like USC or Notre Dame, which has had great success, "... but it's another thing to turn a program around that has never done anything. Now that's unbelievable."

With Snyder having K-State on the upswing when the Big 12 season started in 1996, the Wildcats and Red Raiders played twice while Dykes was still with Texas Tech. Both games - 21-14 in 1996 and 13-2 in 1997 - resulted in K-State wins, which included the inaugural Big 12 game played on Aug. 31, 1996, at KSU Stadium.

On opening the year against K-State, Dykes quipped, "I looked at it like going to the dentist. You had to do it, so you might as well go get that tooth pulled and get it over with. Going against Bill, you better have better players because you're not going to be more fundamentally sound, and you're certainly not going to out-coach him."

In preparing to play Snyder-coached teams, Dykes said watching tape on K-State was like "... watching a clinic. What they did, they did very well. They maximized their talent and played with enthusiasm and passion."

While K-State has not won every game that Snyder has coached, what he did say was this: "You never saw K-State lose a game that they should have won, but I saw them win a bunch of games they had no business winning. That's about the biggest compliment you can give a coach and his staff."

A four-time Southwest/Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year, Dykes says that every coach has a "formula and recipe" for success, but few follow through with the consistency as Snyder has at K-State.

"Bill is a man of principle. He has his beliefs and he's non-compromising. He sticks by his guns. He's going to do it his way and he could care less about what other people think," Dykes said. "A lot of coaches worry about their persona, but he doesn't care too much about what anybody thinks."

Dykes says he "was and wasn't" surprised that Snyder came back for a Part II of his K-State coaching career.

"As an assistant coach you hope your head coach has a hobby so he will go off and do something besides football, which means maybe you as an assistant can sneak off and do something else," Dykes said. "With Bill, he has no hobbies. Football is his hobby, and his life.

"The more you put into something, the more you get out of it. That's just logic," said Dykes. "Well, I promise you, no one put more into something than he did. He didn't just go out and buy success; he went out and earned it."


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