By Mark Janssen
Some say not to mix family matters with business.
Some say that a father-son relationship in the work force is a recipe for disaster.
To Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder, and his son Sean, that's a bunch of baloney.
"I'm sure some people have screamed nepotism, but everyone in this complex is held at a high standard," said the younger Snyder.
For the Snyders - Bill, soon to be 72, and Sean at 41 - the Kansas State years have been a time of getting to know one another.
As Sean said, "I grew up without a father. Mom and dad got a divorce when I was 12, and he was gone. I missed a lot growing up because of his coaching. It was difficult to balance everything, and I believe I learned from that as a parent, myself."
But now, Sean adds, "This has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know dad, and I've taken full advantage of it."
When Bill Snyder left his family behind in Denton, Texas, in 1979 when he moved from North Texas State's coaching staff to follow head coach Hayden Fry to Iowa, most of the family get-togethers were at holiday bowl games, and maybe during the summer.
When the Snyder kids - Sean, Shannon and Meredith - did visit their dad, they found a small Iowa City apartment-type home that included only the minimum of bedroom furniture. As for the living room, the elder Snyder said, "It didn't have a bit of furniture in it. It served as the recreation room when the kids visited."
"I understood at a young age that in the coaching profession you don't get to spend all the time you want with your family," said Sean Snyder. "Part of that fueled me as a player to get good enough to play at his level. There was a desire to be with him at Iowa."
But that only led to another shocker for Sean.
He went to Iowa as a walk-on punter, but the timing couldn't have been worse as it coincided with his father taking the head coaching position at Kansas State the next year.
Sean would then transfer to K-State where he earned a scholarship, and eventually a place in the Ring of Honor at Bill Snyder Family Stadium as an All-American punter.
"I feel like I had to earn everything. Had things been handed to me, it never would have been a fit," said Sean, who earned Special Teams MVP honors in both of his seasons as a Wildcat with a career punting average of 43.0 yards. "It was wonderful to play for him. It was a start to really get to know one another and build our relationship as father and son."
Sean, who is the father of three and grandfather of one, would add, "Whether we were 800 miles apart when I was a kid, or right here, dad always taught me to take care of my family. I think he admits that he made family sacrifices, and he didn't want me to do the same thing."
Sean Snyder is in his 18th season as a member of the K-State football family as a player and administrator - director of football operations, part time assistant coach, assistant AD for football operations, associate AD for football operations, senior associate AD for football operations, and now special teams coordinator.
For certain, Sean Snyder has no bigger fan than Bill Snyder: "Sean knows more about Kansas State football and how it fits in this environment, and in this community, and within this university, than anyone, myself included."
While there's no question that father knows best, it's also very true that Sean also has a voice of reason with his father.
"He gives me good guidance and direction on everything," said the elder Snyder. "If you take what this football program includes from shoe laces to the final score ... with all the players, support staff and assistant coaches ... he has an amazing amount of expertise gained over the last 20 years. He just has a great feel for it."
And, Sean certainly appreciates the feel that his father has for the K-State program.
"I haven't been under any other coaches, but I know dad is very, very fair in what he asks," said the younger Snyder. "His success speaks for itself."
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