Snyder Returns Home... Sort of

Ed. note: This article first appeared in the Kansas State Official Sports Report on Sept. 17. To subscribe to the Kansas State OSR, please visit

by Mark Janssen, Senior Writer, Kansas State OSR

MANHATTAN, Kan. - When coach Bill Snyder touches down in Los Angeles on Friday, it will mark the return to one of his homes. In particular, one of his first coaching homes.

Before hooking on with USC as a graduate assistant in 1966, Sndyer started his career as the head swimming coach and assisted in football and basketball at Indio High School in the Coachella Valley, located roughly two driving hours east of LA.

While saying he wasn't welcome at many of the staff meetings headed by the legendary John McKay, Snyder defined himself as a "sponge" in soaking up as much information as he could.

At the end of the year, USC was prepping to play Purdue in the Rose Bowl. As Snyder recalled in his book, Bill Snyder: They Said It Couldn't Be Done, McKay looked over at one of the fulltime assistants and said, "Make sure what's-his-name (Snyder) gets a couple of tickets."

At the time, the youthful Snyder thought McKay's swagger was pretty cool.

"I tried to copy him, but I found out real quick, this is not for me," Snyder said. "I had no swagger; I had no reason to have a swagger."

In fact, Snyder was pretty much naïve to big-time football, even at USC.

Again from his book, Snyder recalled how the team always practiced on the USC campus, which was well away from the historic LA Coliseum.

Prior to the first game, quarterback coach Craig Fertig told Snyder to just go through the tunnel into the Coliseum and the locker room would be on his right.

As Snyder tells the story, "I went over to our practice field the morning before our first game and started looking for this 'tunnel' that would take you underground to the Coliseum. I kept looking and looking for an entrance into a tunnel, but was having no luck."

Finally, Snyder ran to one of the ticket gates to the Coliseum, which was four city blocks away.

"I assure you, nobody knew who Bill Snyder was," Snyder said.  "I had to plead for someone to go to the locker room and find coach Fertig to send word that it was okay to let me in the stadium."

Only then did Snyder find out the lore of the famed "tunnel" that leads the USC Trojans into the Coliseum.

As for any ties with the UCLA program while on the west coast, Snyder said there were none.

"I once helped coach our (USC) freshman team against their freshman, but that game certainly wasn't played in the Rose Bowl," Snyder said.

Saturday in a 9:25 (CT) start, Snyder will get his chance to coach in the Rose Bowl against UCLA.