Once upon a time, coaches were simply that—coaches. They were hired and fired based on how their teams did on the football field, basketball court or wherever.
At every level, expectations of coaches have risen as much as the mercury in a Kansas thermometer in summer.
At the NCAA Division I level, the expectations for head football coaches are through the roof. Coaches need to be able to effectively recruit the best student-athletes, raise support for the football program, manage a large coaching staff, follow a set of complicated rules, spend time doing media interviews, make frequent appearances before alumni groups and fans and, of course, win a lot of games.
As long as college football has been saddled with the BCS format, another requirement for coaches appears to be campaigning for their team to be in the championship game.
Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder is undoubtedly one of the best college football coaches in America. His ethics appear beyond reproach. Until there’s evidence to the contrary, it appears he does things the right way, no nonsense and by the book.
Snyder’s teams are remarkably consistent and almost always improve as the year progresses.
No one outside of the K-State faithful believed their team had a chance to win the Big 12, much less make a run at the national championship. Snyder knows a lot, but I doubt that even he knew how good this team would be.
Wildcat fans were understandably disappointed when their team’s national championship hopes fizzled after a loss late in the season at Baylor.
But after the dust settled, it’s apparent that this team overachieved this season.
Appearances don’t mean a lot. Snyder looks as much or more like a professor than a college football coach. He also looks like he could be your neighbor or even a kindly grandpa.
His story has been well documented, but it’s still remarkable. When he was hired as K-State’s new head coach, the Wildcats were winless in their last 27 games. The previous 12 head coaches had combined for 116 wins; that’s fewer than 10 wins total per head coach.
On top of that, Snyder was the 19th candidate to interview for the job.
The players respect him, and that’s saying a lot in this day and age.
When Snyder started at KSU in the late 80s, he earned $85,000—not a lot by Division I standards.
Even now when he’s making $2.2 million this season, he’s the lowest in total compensation among the coaches who have their teams in the AP Top 10. The average coach in the Top 10 makes $3.16 million.
If you’re curious, in-state rival Kansas coach Charlie Weis is making $2.5 million. K-State fans are allowed to chuckle.
Do you think a few schools—i.e., KU, Texas and Nebraska—would welcome having Snyder patrolling their sidelines?
Much is made of Snyder’s age, but at 73, he’s just six years older than the next oldest coach in the Top 25, Steve Spurrier. The average age of the coach of a team in the Top 25 is 48 years.
If he has a weakness, and he doesn’t appear to have many, it may be that he’s not political enough.
Of the coaches whose teams were in the running for the BCS championship game late in the season, Snyder stayed true to form and remained mostly silent.
Snyder is old school. Some might say his style is a bit old fashioned. He doesn’t boast or brag. He lets the team’s performance speak for itself.
How refreshing is that?