Bill Snyder, the legendary coach who built a Kansas State program that was perennially one of the worst in college football into a national championship contender, will announce his retirement today, according to the Mercury.
Snyder, who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015, compiled a record of 215-117-1 as the head coach at Kansas State from 1989 to 2005, then again from 2008-2018 following a brief retirement. Snyder’s teams won Big 12 Championships in 2003 and 2012. He won National Coach of the Year honors in 1998, 2011, and 2012, and was also named Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1990, 1991, and 1993 and Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2002.
Snyder entered the top college coaching ranks as an assistant to the legendary Hayden Fry at North Texas in 1976, then followed Fry to Iowa in 1979 as Fry’s offensive coordinator, where the two coached together successfully for ten years. Before Fry and Snyder came to Iowa, the Hawkeyes had not had a winning season since 1961, and in the 1980s the two helped build Iowa into a two-time Big 10 champion.
Snyder earned the Kansas State job prior to the 1989 season. Kansas State had by far the most losses of any team in college football’s top tier at the time, sporting a hideous 299-510 record at the time of Snyder’s hiring. Kansas State had only two winning seasons in the 34 years prior to Snyder becoming the head coach, and had not won a single game in nearly three years, going 0-26-1 in the 27 games prior to Snyder’s arrival.
AS TRUE TODAY AS IT WAS THEN: Alexa Binckes, 7, and her mother, Lisa Binckes, brought this sign to Bill Snyder's last game before his 2005 retirement. #EMAW (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) pic.twitter.com/Sw6aEgcwH1— WIBW Sports (@WIBWsports) December 2, 2018
In his first season at the helm, Snyder’s Wildcats won their first game in nearly four years, defeating North Texas on a last-second touchdown pass on the way to finishing 1-10 on the season. However, in 1990 Kansas State improved to 5-6 and just missed becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1982.
From there Snyder established a legacy of winning that would become recognized as one of the greatest coaching jobs in the history of any sport. In 1991, Kansas State finished 7-4, only the second winning season for the program since 1970. In 1993, Kansas State earned only their second bowl bid in school history, then thrashed Wyoming 52-17 in the Copper Bowl for the program’s first bowl victory. It was just the first of eleven consecutive bowl appearances. Their 9-3 season earned Kansas State their first Top 20 final ranking in school history.
In 1995, Snyder’s Wildcats took another step forward, enjoying the first ten-win season in school history as well as their first Top 10 finish in the polls.
Kansas State would finish with four consecutive eleven-win seasons from 1997-2000. In 1998, Kansas State earned their first #1 ranking after an undefeated regular season, but lost in the Big 12 Championship Game to Texas A&M. Snyder would finally win the elusive Big 12 Championship five years later in 2003 — a record 69 years after their previous conference title in 1934 — by defeating undefeated and top-ranked Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Snyder retired from Kansas State in November of 2005, boasting more wins during his tenure than the school had compiled in the previous 54 seasons combined. The day after his retirement, Kansas State sought to rename their football stadium after their beloved coach, but Snyder insisted that it be named the Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium after “the people I care about the most.”
After a brief retirement, Snyder returned to Kansas State in 2008 after the program had again fallen on hard times in his absence. He engineered another turnaround, taking the team to consecutive seasons with more than ten wins in 2011 and 2012.
During his tenure at Kansas State, Snyder produced 34 All-Americans, 47 NFL Draft picks, and 46 Academic All-Americans. His coaching tree includes college head coaches Phil Bennett, Bret Bielma, Dana Dimel, Jim Leavitt, Mark Mangino, Del Miller, Carl Pelini, and Bob and Mike Stoops.
“He’s not the coach of the year. He’s not the coach of the decade. He’s the coach of the century,” said fellow Hall of Famer Barry Switzer.