Sports Extra: Nation Takes Notice of Snyder

Head coach Bill Snyder was considered the "coach of the century" by his peers for the job he was doing at K-State.

Sept. 6, 2011

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Editor’s Note: With K-State’s season-opening 10-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky this past Saturday, Bill Snyder notched his 150th career coaching win one game into his 20th season as coach of the Wildcats. Those 150 wins rank only behind Joe Paterno (402), Frank Beamer (241), Mack Brown (214), Steve Spurrier (187) and Gary Pinkel (151) among active Division I coaches. Only Paterno (46 years) and Snyder (20 years) have never been a head coach at another school.

This week “Sports Extra’s” Mark Janssen, who authored Snyder’s book “They Said It Couldn’t Be Done,” will take us on a mini-journey through those 150 all-time wins. We hope that established K-State fans enjoy the memories, and for the newcomers to Wildcat football, we hope that you enjoy the history lesson.


By Mark Janssen

As the wins mounted and 9- to 11-win seasons became the norm, Oklahoma coaching legend Barry Switzer said of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, “He’s not the coach of the year, and he’s not the coach of the decade, he’s the coach of the century.”

And Snyder was just that.

K-State had won just 299 games in its first 93 years, but has now averaged nearly eight wins per year under Snyder.

K-State had been to one bowl game in its first 93 years, but has now gone to 13 others, which includes 12 under Snyder’s watch.

K-State had just three wins over ranked teams and had lost 66 in a row to ranked teams in its first 93 years, but has since scored 17 wins over ranked teams under Snyder.

And, K-State had been ranked just five weeks in its first 93 years, but has enjoyed 105 regular-season weeks in the polls under Snyder.

Wins From 51-100 (1996-2001)
It was around this time in Snyder’s K-State stay that he admitted that “Pinocchio” was one of his favorite movies.

It’s interesting how that story parallels the K-State football story: From a piece of wood, a craftsman worked with such compassion.

The product matured from individual wins, to streaks of victories, to postseason games, and to Big 12 North championships and not just one or two, but four of them.

It was in 1996, just 21 days before his grandfather’s 102nd birthday, George Owens said of his grandson, “He calls all the time… from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia … there’s no telling where he might call from. He always seems to have 1,001 things on his mind.”

And of Kansas State’s success during this time, Owens, again at 101 years of age, quipped, “I’ve been sending him good plays.”

Those plays worked.

Remarkably, with a meticulous attention to detail coupled with 115-hour work weeks, Bill Snyder’s next 50 wins took only, get this, 60 games. That included a run of four straight 11-win seasons, and end-of-year rankings of No. 10, No. 4, No. 7 and No. 11 in the national polls.

The Wildcats had one run of 19 straight victories which elevated Snyder’s Wildcats to No. 1 status in the nation in 1998, to go with winning, or sharing, four Big 12 North titles and reaching three Big 12 championship games – 1998, 2000 and 2003.

While the K-State fans were giddy about being No. 1 at times, Snyder’s philosophy remained constant: ‘I don’t have a burning desire to win championships, but my only goals are to achieve the things that will allow that to happen. It’s all about the climb. My only burning focus is to get better every day.”    

In all of Snyder’s 20 years at K-State, he has coached under the theme: “Little things are trifles; Trifles make perfection; Perfection’s no trifle.”

K-State’s wins from 51 to 100 included one to end an overall 29-game losing streak to Nebraska, to shutting down Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams (25 carries, 43 rushing yards) in a 38-7 win over Texas, and finally securing win No. 100 with a 10-6 victory at the historic LA Coliseum against USC in the opener to the 2001 season.

Win No. 1
Sept. 30, 1989 – Kansas State 20, North Texas State 17; Snyder’s fourth game as head coach of the Wildcats

First Big 8 Win
Oct. 13, 1990 – Kansas State 23, Oklahoma State 17; Snyder lost his first eight Big 8 games

First Bowl Win
Dec. 29, 1993 – Kansas State 52, Wyoming 17  (Copper Bowl); K-State’s first postseason win

To Become the Career Leader in Wins at K-State
Sept. 30, 1995 – Kansas State 44, Northern Illinois 0; Snyder’s 40th win making him K-State’s winningest all-time football coach surpassing Mike Ahearn

First Big 12 Win
Aug. 31, 1996 – Kansas State 21, Texas Tech 14; First game ever played in Big 12 Conference history

Win No. 50
Sept. 21, 1996 – Kansas State 34, Rice 7

Win No. 75
Nov. 7, 1998 – Kansas State 49, Baylor 6; This win put the Wildcats No. 1 in the USA Today Poll

Win No. 100
Sept. 8, 2001 – Kansas State 10, USC 6

Win No. 125
Nov. 15, 2003 – Kansas State 38, Nebraska 9; K-State’s first win at Nebraska since 1968

Win No. 127
Dec. 6, 2003 – Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7; The win was for the Big 12 Championship

Win No. 150    
Sept. 3, 2011 – Kansas State 10, Eastern Kentucky 7; Snyder’s coaching record is 150-80-1 overall and 82-62-1 in Big 8/12 play

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