SE: Happy Birthday Coach Snyder

October 7, 2015

By Kelly McHugh-Stewart

On Oct. 7, 1939, the average price for a gallon of gas was 10 cents, a loaf of bread cost about 8 cents and the Pittsburgh Panthers were the No. 1-ranked college football team in the nation.

That same year, 1939, two great things happened for the state of Kansas – the Wizard of Oz premiered and College Football Hall of Famer Bill Snyder was born.

Today, Snyder, the “architect of the greatest turnaround in college football history,” will celebrate his birthday on the K-State practice field surrounded by “youngsters” before heading up to his brand-new office at the Vanier Family Football Complex. Today, you’ll find this birthday boy preparing his team for Saturday’s matchup against the No. 2 team in the nation.

He may be one year older, but some things never change.

“It’ll look like every Wednesday for the last 26 years,” said Snyder when asked if he was doing anything special for his birthday this year. “They are all the same. I won’t do anything. I never really have except for when I was a little toot and my mother made me blow out the candles on the cake.”

Though Snyder may not say a word about it, his team is well aware that today is their coach’s big day.

“We have sung happy birthday for him before, but I think he likes to keep it on the down-low a little bit,” laughed junior linebacker Will Davis. “We’ll probably sing him Happy Birthday after practice, but he’ll probably tell us to stop half-way through. We’ll have a little bit of a celebration for him I suppose.”

At 76, Snyder is the oldest active college football coach in the nation and has proven, in his case, wisdom really does come with age. Along with his most recent election into the College Football Hall of Fame, Snyder is a member of seven other Halls of Fame, is a five-time National Coach of the Year recipient and, in his 24 seasons at K-State, has coached 286 college football games.

“It’s certainly neat to have him as a coach, because he’s the oldest active coach right now,” said junior quarterback Joe Hubener. “It’s amazing he’s still able to do what he does at this age and he does it so well. There is so much you can learn from him because he’s been around the game for so long and because of his experience. It’s huge to have this opportunity to learn from him.”

Along with the lessons he teaches on the field, Snyder teaches lessons about life off the field – when the jerseys are hung up and the stadium lights are turned off – as well. 

“Coach Snyder instills things in you that you take with you for the rest of your life,” said Eric Wolford, assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers and former Wildcat (1989-93). “If you apply the things he teaches to your life and to your family, you’re going to be happy and you’re going to have success. You’re going to be a difference maker.

“He’s 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 overachiever.”

Only Snyder has “overachieved” and done so much with what others would label as so little.

He took college football’s worst program in 1989 and turned it into a national contender. He sees potential in everyone and has made a tradition of turning walk-ons into not only college football stars, but NFL stars as well.

“It’s absolutely cool,” said Davis about the opportunity to play for such a nationally renowned coach. “Especially because it’s a person like Coach Snyder who we players and the entire country have a tremendous amount of respect for. Being coached by a legend like him, it’s a huge honor.”

Today, on his 76th birthday, the legendary coach won’t be opening gifts or blowing out candles. Rather, he’ll be hard at work preparing for K-State’s upcoming Big 12 matchup against No. 2 TCU on Saturday afternoon in the stadium that bears his name.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Birthday, Coach Snyder.

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.