SE: Congrats, Coach Snyder | Part 3

K-State Sports Extra spent the week in New York City covering K-State football coach Bill Snyder’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Today’s story is the third and final story of this three-part series focusing on Snyder through football, friends and family. To read Part 1 | A Timeless Message, please click here. To read Part 2 | It’s All About Family, please click here


The People 

NEW YORK, New York – Though New York City was filled with red and green lights and the shoppers and visitors were busy coming and going, at the beautiful, purple-lit Gustavinos, time stood still for Bill Snyder. 

It was the evening before he would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Wildcat head football coach gathered at the banquet hall in the Big Apple with his family and his closest friends to celebrate his exciting and ongoing football career. 

“There were so many people there from so many different arenas of my life,” said Snyder. “I had friends from high school, friends from University of Iowa and friends from, obviously, Kansas State. They were all people who I’ve known for a long period of time, and when they all of a sudden showed up in my honor, it was really special to me. I’m not really someone who shows emotion very often, but it truly was an emotional night. I had to step back away from the tears from time to time.” 

Among the people gathered at the beautiful Gustavinos banquet hall was Bob Ross, one of Snyder’s best friends from high school in St. Joseph, Missouri. The two have been friends for a long time, and Ross was absolutely thrilled to be in New York this week celebrating his friend.

“We were classmates, played sports together and we were lifeguards at the pool. We were just guys; just a couple of guys,” said Ross. “And now he’s in the Hall of Fame, it’s something that’s amazing. It’s hard to believe, but at the same time, it’s not hard to believe because I watched the evolution of it.”

Though Snyder has long moved away from St. Joseph, the town takes a lot of pride in producing one of college football’s finest coaches. Ross still lives in St. Joseph, he always has, but he has kept close contact with Snyder. He’s a member of the town’s “Bill Snyder St. Joseph Fan Club,” and had a special delivery for Snyder on Monday evening.

The St. Joseph mayor, Bill Falkner, declared Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the day Snyder was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, as “Coach Bill Snyder Recognition Day,” and Ross got to be the news bearer.  

“It certainly was a surprise,” said Snyder about the Proclamation. “It means the world to me because I was born and raised in St. Joseph, Missouri, my family stayed there. It was a remarkable community with a lot of wonderful people that truly impacted my life. I think about high school coaches, elementary school teachers, there are just so many, many people that impacted my life. I appreciate them.”

In one section of the mayor-signed Proclamation the mayor writes: WHEREAS, with all his awards and recognitions, his character has never wavered from that which was installed in him by his mother. As a friend stated, ‘It is encouraging to see that integrity, commitment and honesty can coexist with success.’

The town simply loves him.

“We are all just so proud of Bill,” said Ross. “We’re not just proud of football and winning, but of the things he’s done with his life and how he’s been able to do them. It’s really special. We’re all so proud.”

The guest list alone at Monday evening’s celebration dinner was a tribute to Snyder’s five-plus decades in the game. From Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (K-State defensive coordinator, 1989-95) to Arkansas’ Bret Bielema (K-State co-defensive coordinator, 2002-03) to Snyder’s good friend and fellow Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne, numerous coaches Snyder has impacted over the years joined him to celebrate. 

To Mike Smith, a record-setting receiver during his years playing football at K-State, Coach Snyder means a great deal. Smith played receiver for Snyder from 1989-92 and, following his career, went on to work with Snyder as a student assistant (1993) a graduate assistant (1995-96) and as the team’s running backs coach (1997-2005). Smith returned to K-State during Snyder’s second tenure and coached the team’s wide receivers from 2009-12 and has since worked as the wide receiver coach at Arkansas. 

“Coach Snyder is the most remarkable man, as far as my coaching career, that I’ve ever been around,” said Smith. “He taught me a lot about the game, a lot about life. Besides my father, he’s the guy. I love him to death. I’m so happy for him and I’m so honored to be here.”

Snyder also had former players at the event, including fellow College Football Hall of Fame member, Mark Simoneau.

“It’s just special to be here tonight, to look at Coach and reflect back at the time that he’s been at K-State, all that he’s done for the university and what he’s meant to this program and the players who played for him,” said Simoneau. “The coaches, the fans and the university, this is just such a special time to reflect. It’s a special moment for all K-Staters and anybody who loves college football.”

To Snyder, every person surrounding the K-State football program – inside and out – is important. To Snyder, each and every one of these people helped pave the way to his Hall of Fame induction. The fans who have supported him since his first season in 1989, the athletics faculty who run the day-to-day, behind the scenes operations surrounding his program, his coaches and his players, they all have made an impact on Snyder just as he has made an impact on them. 

“I’m so honored. To the Selection Committee, I’m forever grateful to them, but as I’ve said so many times, it’s about the people.” Snyder said. “My only hope for all this is that the people who really made it all take place understand that their role was important and is special. Everyone is going to say they’re thankful for all these people, but I hope all of our people at Kansas State understand it’s not just talk. They’re really something and they’ve all been special.” 

To watch K-StateHD.TV's video feature from Coach Snyder's evening at Gustavinos, please click here.  

 

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