Kansas State's Bill Snyder: The Ageless Wonder
By Ryan Wooden
If Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder wasn't such a good man, this would be the spot to make an off-color joke about the 74-year-old man making a pact with the devil — his soul in exchange for an unending supply of Pedialyte and a winning football program.
But Snyder is a genuinely humble human being, so we won't joke. And ignore any insinuations that we already have made that joke via technicality. Instead we'll embrace him as one of the modern grandfathers of the sport.
Ribbing aside, the longevity we've seen in Manhattan over two tenures spanning the last 25 years has been remarkable and beckons a simple question: How does Snyder continue to make the Kansas State Wildcats relevant?
Running an offense that most would deem antiquated, with a program bereft of the financial resources of conferences powers like Oklahoma and Texas (or even Oklahoma State, for that matter), this should be the twilight of Snyder's career. After bringing Kansas State out of the doldrums of the 1980s into prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, Snyder's return to K-State seemed temporary — a final farewell to the program's patriarch.
Instead, Snyder managed to reshape the program in his image, stern and unerring. After a pair of seasons where the program hovered around .500, Kansas State has managed to win 29 games in the last three seasons. It ranked in the AP Top 15 in 2011 and 2012, and it finished the year with an impressive win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to finish 8-5 in 2013.
Despite the recent success, Snyder only has managed to place Kansas State in the Top 50 of Rivals' recruiting rankings once in the last five seasons, and that was with his most recent 2014 class (47th). While rankings of high school prospects are still relative, it does give a clear illustration of Kansas State's success.
The Wildcats aren't drawing in droves of blue-chip prospects like Texas, but Snyder's squads have managed to win four more games than the Longhorns in the last three seasons. That's because Snyder is recruiting to the system, and as a talent developer, he always has been one of the best in college football.
At 74, one only can wonder how he relates to high school prospects on the road. However, the fact remains that once he gets athletes on campus, he's proven himself as an educator.
He doesn't have a Twitter account. In an era where most coaches are leaning heavily on social media because it's an unregulated source of contact with recruits, he seems to manage just fine with handwritten notes like the ones linked above.
We can joke about age when it comes to Snyder because he defies age, and it amazes us. He should be a relic, but he isn't. And while other coaches question how long Snyder can remain relevant, the fact remains that he is. I expect to see Kansas State competing for a Big 12 title again in 2014.