SE: Congrats, Coach Snyder | Part 1

K-State Sports Extra is in New York City this week covering K-State head coach Bill Snyder’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Through this three-part series, K-State Sports Extra will focus on three aspects of the beloved Wildcat head coaches’ life: football, friends and family. Snyder will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the National Football Foundation's National Awards Dinner at New York City's Waldorf Astoria this evening

A Timeless Message

Joe Hubener remembers vividly the first – and last – time he dozed off in one of Bill Snyder’s team meetings. It was a warm August afternoon during Hubener’s first camp with the Wildcats. He had dozed off for just one second, but it was enough to catch Snyder’s eye. Hubener awoke to a not-so-happy- coach staring him down. 

“He stared me right through the soul,” Hubener said. 

Snyder didn’t have to say a word to Hubener that afternoon – the sheer humiliation of the whole scene was enough to teach the young quarterback his lesson, and he hasn’t closed his eyes in a team meeting since. 

It may be kind of a silly story to start out a series of thoughts about Snyder’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, but it goes to show one thing: freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, Snyder’s players respect the heck out of him.

But, then again, how could they not?

Snyder’s been coaching football since before they were born – since before some of their parents were born. He knows the game inside and out. In his coaching career, he’s produced 192 wins, 17 bowl games and two Big 12 Championships.

But it’s not for just his knowledge of football that his players (600-plus players, give or take, over the years) love and respect him; it’s for his character, too. It’s for the life lessons he teaches through the game they all love. 

“I came here as a young boy and I left as a young man,” Terrence Newman, cornerback for the Wildcats from 1998-2002, said during a visit back to Manhattan.  “He helped me transition, big time. I owe a lot of my success and my attitude to him. He helped mold me into the man that I am today.”

In Snyder’s time with K-State, he has coached 81 total All-Americans and 247 all-conference players since 1993. He has seen numerous players make a name for themselves in the NFL and many, many others move on to begin their lives as husbands, fathers and workers in countless professions. He’s coached policemen and accountants and farmers and broadcasters.

Bill Snyder leaves an impact on his players that far surpasses the game of football. 

“Coach Snyder loves football, he wants to win, but he cares more about the guys on the team and who they’re becoming as men,” said senior cornerback Morgan Burns. “He’s always coaching football, but he has the undertone of how it is going to help you in your life as a father, a husband or a leader in your job. He really wants to see men grow in their character and leadership and be successful after football. With him, football isn’t life. He’s had a huge part in growing my character as a man, and I’m very thankful for that. He’s shaped who I am in so many different ways, the same as so many other players as well. It’s an honor to play for him.”

At the same time Snyder’s players are on the field learning how to perfect their craft as a football player, they’re also learning how to perfect themselves, their attitudes and habits, outside of the white lines.  

Snyder turns kids no one has ever heard of into starters, then captains, then NFL stars. The coach has a way of pulling the best out of an 18-year-old kid and making that kid believe if he works hard enough and sticks to Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success that he can do anything. 

And it works. 

“The thing about it is, he believes in the system, and once the kids buy into that system, it leads to success,” said former Wildcat quarterback Michael Bishop. “So now you can only sit back, smile and think, ‘Those are the same things that we talked about when I was here.’ When you come in and listen to him talk to his kids now, it’s the same things over and over. And the kids buy into it. And it sells. And that’s where the success come from.”

He’s been at K-State for 24 years, and regardless of when they played for him, Snyder’s message has remained the same. 

“Coach Snyder instills things in you that you take with you for the rest of your life,” said former offensive lineman and current San Francisco 49ers offensive line coach Eric Wolford. “If you do those things, if you apply those things to your life and to your family, you’re going to be happy and you’re going to have success. You’ll be a difference maker. Coach Snyder has proven to take average men and make them overachievers. People that are really special in this world are overachievers, and he can take a young man and turn him into an over achiever.”

Snyder coached Wolford from 1990-93 and Bishop from 1997-98, but their words sound almost identical to the words of Snyder’s current football players.

Need proof? See Morgan Burns’ quote above. They all say the exact same thing. 

Bill Snyder’s message is timeless. 

There is just something different about a Bill Snyder coached football player.

“You can tell how people are different depending on the school they went to,” former wide receiver Tyler Lockett (2011-14) said, “but the thing about us is, Coach Snyder prepared us as if we were going to work at a certain job tomorrow. We know how to present ourselves, how to talk. We know how to carry ourselves not only in work, but outside of work too. Everything he teaches helps us when we get into the real world.”

With his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame tomorrow evening, Snyder will go down in history as one of the greatest coaches to ever coach college football. Only the fourth person all-time to be elected while still an active coach, he’ll be remembered for the greatest turnaround in college football history – for taking a program near extinction and turning it into a national contender. He’ll be remembered for his five national coach of the year awards and the now eight Halls of Fame he is a part of.

But to his players, he’ll forever be remembered as the man who taught them how to be good men, both on and off the football field.
“In terms of what he means to me, I don’t know how to put it into words,” said former center B.J. Finney (2010-14) as he took a long pause. “But without Coach Snyder, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. Without his mentoring and his leadership, his wisdom and his knowledge, I wouldn’t be the man or the football player that I am. Coach Snyder and his program gave me an opportunity to play football, and in doing so I learned so many things about being a great player, but I learned tenfold more about being a great man. 

“So putting what he means to me in words, I just can’t do it. I don’t think there are any words that can do it justice.”

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh-Stewart or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.