Thursday, October 14, 2010

Purple people leader: Even in Jayhawk country, Bill Snyder garners respect

In this Nov. 19, 2005, file photo, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder waits with his team to take to the field before a game against Missouri in Manhattan.

In this Nov. 19, 2005, file photo, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder waits with his team to take to the field before a game against Missouri in Manhattan.


Call him a rival, call him old, call him a thorn in the side of Kansas University football.

KU football looking to avenge rivalry loss

When KU takes on K-State Thursday, the team will have some added motivation stemming from a brutal loss last season. The Jayhawks were the favorites then, but the tables have turned this season.

But don’t even think about disrespecting Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

Around here, that doesn’t fly — not even with Jayhawks.

“What he’s done has put Kansas State on the map nationally,” KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. “It is quite remarkable. He’s obviously a Hall-of-Fame coach.”

While tonight’s game against K-State — 6:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium — is the first showdown with Snyder for several current Jayhawks, including KU coach Turner Gill. Long’s relationship with the longtime KSU coach goes back three decades to a couple of recruiting visits and a few years at the University of Iowa.

“He was my coach in college, he was my position coach,” said Long of Snyder, who coached under legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry for 10 years from 1979-88. “Coach (Snyder) and I go way back, all the way back to recruiting back in 1981. So we have a long history, and, in this profession, we just kind of keep showing up against each other.”

As an assistant at Oklahoma, Long faced Snyder’s Wildcats a few times and, during each encounter, he said his pregame chats with the man who orchestrated the “Miracle in Manhattan” were something he looked forward to tremendously. Though the scoreboard says they’re bitter rivals now, Long’s hoping the trend continues tonight.

“He retires, and then he’s back in, and now I’m back in the Big 12,” Long said. “And not only that, but right next door. We always have a good conversation before the game. I’m sure we will again, and I’m actually looking forward to that.”

Long’s not the first Jayhawk to look forward to facing Snyder. Though the Wildcats and Jayhawks have waged war against each other on the gridiron for more than a century, many current and former KU players have fond memories of facing Snyder throughout the years.

One such man is former KU player and coach Clint Bowen, now an assistant coach at Western Kentucky.

Asked last week to sift through some of his best Snyder stories, Bowen — a man who has made no secret about the fact that he bleeds crimson and blue — had nothing but glowing things to say about his former foe.

“The thing about playing his teams was they were always so prepared,” Bowen said. “When you played K-State, you could literally feel them taking a scientific approach to dissecting your defense and, by the end, by the fourth quarter, he’d have handful of plays that would work, and all of a sudden they’re rolling on you.”

Snyder’s done his share of that against Kansas during his time at K-State, including an 11-game winning streak against the Jayhawks that stretched from 1993-2003. KU broke the streak in 2004 and actually went on a small run of its own, winning three straight from 2006-08. During a chunk of that time, Snyder was retired. But after returning to the sidelines last season, Snyder brought his golden touch back to the rivalry, as the Wildcats knocked off the Jayhawks, 17-10, in Manhattan.

“There’s no magic about him,” Bowen said. “In one year after coach Snyder got the K-State job again, he had his guys back to playing unbelievably sound, fundamental football. And you just know that he and his staff would just harp on those things and preach them. It’s all the boring stuff that makes him great.”

Added former Jayhawk Keith Loneker, who faced Snyder four times during his career from 1989-92: “You see him leave, the bottom drops out, and everybody thinks it can’t be done again, and then he comes back and it picks up steam again. Even before he won a game, the buzz around the campus was that they were going to a bowl, even though they sucked the year before. Even though he hadn’t even won anything yet, the shirt sales were back up, ticket sales were back up, and everybody honestly believes each and every week now that they’re going to win.”

Perhaps the most ringing endorsement of Snyder’s method — something of which Long says, “He’s always had a model he’s followed, he’s never wavered from that and look what it’s done for him.” — was that it not only turned around the K-State program but also went a long way toward turning things around at Kansas.

“Indirectly, he had a big influence on me, through (former KU) coach (Mark) Mangino,” Bowen said. “We operated our program almost to a carbon-copy of everything coach Mangino had learned from coach Snyder when he was with him at K-State.”

Seeking a story to emphasize just how similar the two programs were, Bowen recalled a conversation he had with Joe Bob Clements, a man who both played for and coached with Snyder at K-State before spending one season as KU’s defensive-line coach.

“Holy cow, I just stepped back into the Twilight Zone. This is K-State all over again,” Bowen said, paraphrasing Clements’ words after joining the KU staff.

Though it seems obvious why Snyder, who owns a 14-4 career record against Kansas, would have the respect of the Jayhawks, the admiration and appreciation for the three-time national coach of the year goes well beyond the boundaries of the state of Kansas and even extends outside of the Big 12.

“To me, the best football coach in the country is Bill Snyder,” said former Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil.

Added Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who was an assistant under Snyder before winning a national championship at OU: “He means as much, or more, (to his school) than anybody that’s at any other school in the country.”


Otownhawker 9 years, 4 months ago

Still hate snyder, and never will I respect him.

Jeff Cuttell 9 years, 4 months ago

I think he's a great guy and a good coach. He just hasn't accomplished anything except like one Big 12 Championship. Not really a big deal. I think people throw the word "Legend" around with him and I feel like you should maybe have a least one National Title to show before that. Tom Osborne is a Legend. Bill Snyder----No.

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

Coach Snyder is a class act. He's a man of integrity and honor who has tried to do things the right way. In addition, he's one heck of a football coach. What he did at KState is utterly incredible, the so-called "miracle in Manhattan," and as a resident of Kansas, I applaud his accomplishment. This man deserves respect.

Having said that, I hope we beat the Cats soundly tonight.

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

njjayhawk, we now may be witnessing at KU the very early beginnings of your heart's desire. Granted, we have a ways to go before we reproduce KState's track record, but I have a sense that Turner Gill and Bill Snyder are cut from the same cloth.

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 4 months ago

"Bring back Prince"----I hated to see "Purple Rain" go!

He might be a Grandpa, but he can flat out coach.

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

To me, the biggest endorsement of how good of a football coach Bill Snyder is, is that he consistently produced top 10 teams in Manhatten, KS. Think about that...Manhatten, KS. Any of you who have been there know exactly what I mean. How on Earth did he recruit top players to Manhatten?

Think of how difficult it would be to get urban kids to come there to play. Fly into KC, then drive 3 hours into the middle of nowhere, and have a guy convince you to spend 2 to 4 years of your life there.

Cody Stumma 9 years, 4 months ago

His first time he was allowed to fly them straight to Manhattan Airport I thought?

Tom Keegan 9 years, 4 months ago

That's correct. He used to be able to fly top recruits to Manhattan using the university plane. The NCAA changed the rule, making it much more difficult for rural schools to recruit. That rule should be changed back.

Rick Arnoldy 9 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. This rule creates recruiting advantages/disadvantages rather than leveling the playing field.

aviebs51 9 years, 4 months ago

The players he was able to get were JUCO players. The big time 4 year players are going elsewhere. JUCO players are thrilled for the chance to get D1 offers. And you have to think about this. Where are the best JUCO schools year in and year out? Kansas and Texas. He has a connection with TX jucos and lets be honest all the KS JUCO guys heard about was grape state during their "decade" of success. It was indeed a perfect setup for him at KSU. I have respect for what he did, but it's definitly nice playing 3 1-AA teams year in and year out.

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 4 months ago

@ jwiddell----very funny!

@hawkhead----very unique analysis and you are right on!

Rock Chalk---btw, I am already getting the ___ shoveled into my face by K-State fans where I work. The only way that it'll stop will be a win by the Jayhawks!

Kevin Kelly 9 years, 4 months ago

I respect Kstate and Bill Snyder....oh I don't their entire fan base calls us cheaters constantly and has no respect for us. He's a great man? Well none of that has rubbed off on the fans, that's for sure.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 4 months ago

Anybody know if this game is going to be on cable?


LAJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Can't speak to your cable provider, but it's on 5 different channels on Direct TV. 4 of them are in HD.

FreddyinLA 9 years, 4 months ago

This game is not about Gramps, it's about showing off our track on prime time TV.

OnagaCat 9 years, 4 months ago

It's spelled Manhattan, not Manhatten. Nice display of that great uk2 education jhox. The Manhattan area economy was just identified nationally as one of the best off in the country and the best off in the state. There has been jet service by American Airlines to Manhattan Regional for almost 2 years now. Direct flights to Dallas and Chicago. Once the NBAF gets going the area will double in size within 20 years.

Dis Manhattan all you want as "middle of nowhere" but it will soon eclipse that "cultural paradise" Larryville in size as it already had economically.

Any, yes, LHCBC can coach!

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

No offense to either city of Manhattan or Lawrence, Kansas but in essence both are college campus's surrounded by homes and fast food restaurants. Remove the universities and all you'll hear is crickets.

I prefer Lawrence because I went there but I have coworkers who prefer Manhattan because they went there, so to argue about which city has the bigger "package" is like a high school senior watching two 1st graders arguing who is toughest.

Onagacat, you are and should be proud of your city just as I am proud of mine. On a global scale there is no difference because, in the eyes of the rest of the world, we both are in Kansas, so automatically the use of the word "city" is deemed invalid.

It sucks, but that's the way it is!!

LAJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

" to argue about which city has the bigger 'package'..."

Maybe it's the complete lack of sleep I got last night, or, more likely, my childish sense of humor, but that sentence made me giggle like the 2nd graders you referred to in your analogy. Well played.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

LAJayhawk...never lose that childish sense of humor...sometimes, that's all life leaves us!! :)

justanotherfan 9 years, 4 months ago

I have always been less than impressed with Bill Snyder. Look at his coaching record and you will see that it is built on beating mediocre teams.

Overall, his coaching record is a seemingly impressive 146-75-1 (.659 winning %). But look closer and you will see that his record against conference opponents is 81-59-1 (.578 winning %).

His record against KU, Missouri, Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma State (probably consistently the weaker of his conference opponents) he is a combined 56-14 (.800 winning %). Against the rest of the conference, that obviously makes him just 25-45-1 (.359 winning %).

From 1996 - 2003 K-State had a record of 86-22 (.796 winning %), which is quite impressive, until you look at who they were beating. KU, MU and Iowa State were a combined 0-24 against KSU during that period. Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech combined for only 2 wins during that period. That's a 2-10 mark from those three teams vs. KSU, meaning KSU dominated the bottom half of the Big XII to the tune of 34-2. Against the top half they went 4-4 vs. NU, 2-2 vs. Texas, 2-2 vs. A&M, 5-3 vs. Colorado, and 2-2 vs. Oklahoma. 15-13 against the top half of the conference during their "decade of dominance".

And the non-con slate is an embarassment. They played the following teams from BCS conferences - Iowa, USC (twice) and Cal. Cincinnati had not yet joined the Big East when they faced off in 1996. K-State played a TOTAL of 3 non-con road games in those 8 years - @ Rice, @ Northern Illinois, @ USC. Not surprisingly, KSU ran up a mark of 27-1 in non-con during this "decade of dominance", beating such respectable programs as Indiana St. (twice), Louisiana-Monroe (twice), Northern Illinois (twice), Eastern Illinois, Ball St., Western Kentucky, McNeese State, UMass, etc.

They were 1-2 in Big XII title games and 4-4 in bowls, meaning K-State was just barely over .500 when they played halfway decent competition.

And that's the "decade of dominance" that has K-State fans excited?

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

justanotherfan..all good points.

Just one question...have we ever had anything close to a decade of dominance?

I mean, have we even had a decade of decent?

However you want to categorize KSU's record, to split with Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma looks pretty darn good to me.

Just sayin'.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 4 months ago

@justonotherfan I'm having a hard time understanding the point of your post. Why are pointing out all of K States shortcomings and follies when they basically dominated KU for over a decade. It has only been within the last 5 years that Kansas began to restore the rivalry( and that was with a coach who was a 'Snyder Protege')

Basically your saying, KSU sucks, but KU sucks even more, because although Snyder and KSU are less than impressive, they've found a way to blow KU out of the water during his original tenure there???

Before you say Snyder is less than impressive, consider his proteges and coaches that have used his developments in their own offenses: Bob Stoops Mike Stoops Brent Venables Mark Mangino Jim Leavitt Briet Beliema Phil Bennet John Latina Urban Meyer Joe Bob Clements Chuck Long Bo Pelini

I lived in Manhattan for 5 years, and in Lawrence for nearly six..... As a graduate of both schools, I have a hard time choosing sides when these two schools face off in athletics. They are both fine institutions and programs, in their own right. They both offer very distinct college experiences.

Bill Snyder built so much more than a football program in Manhattan. If people would drop the 'school rivalry' mentality for 5 minutes and look at the facts, they'd see and learn that the tridition and impact Bill Snyder brought to Manhattan will live on FOREVER.

There is nothing unimpressive about the class, character, and tradition that Bill Snyder has brought to our great state of Kansas.

justanotherfan 9 years, 4 months ago

I have argued in the past that KU football tradition is lacking as well. I have argued on this board that the people so excited about Mangino's two ok years and one great year - that's all it really was - weren't really that impressive in the grand scheme of things.

K-State has very little tradition in football, even with their decade of dominance. KU has almost the same amount of tradition and, as Oakville pointed out, we probably don't have a period of sustained success that exceeds more than three or four years.

That was my only point. People in Kansas make it seem like Bill Snyder turned K-State into world beaters. That's not true. He operated a solid program and he seems to be an upstanding guy. I give him credit for that, and no more.

HighDesertCat 9 years, 4 months ago

It is so funny how people try to build up Lawrence and tear down Manhattan. I have lived in both towns. They are not that different. Lawrence IS a little bigger and Lawrence IS closer to Kansas City. Big deal. Manhattan is a great town. Urban kids have loved Manhattan, just as some have loved Lawrence. They are BOTH in KANSAS, they are not on the East Coast or near a major metropolitan area.

Someone said it is a "3 hour drive" from KCI to Manhattan? ha ha ha. It is 1.5 hours. Geography must be a weak subject at Kansas University.

I also love the juco comments. Sure, K-State HAS had success with juco transfers. There have also been many juco transfer busts. There have been MORE 4 or 5 year player success stories. Coach Snyder's success has had more to do with the Ell Roberson, Jonathon Beasley, Monty Biesel, Terrence Newman, Darren Sproles, Mark Simoneau, the Lockets, etc than the juco transfers. Same thing with the scheduling, yes Coach Snyder schedules cupcakes, but people conveniently forget the games against Minnesota, Iowa, Cal, USC etc. Sure those games are in the minority but they WERE played. If K-State plays YOUR team, I guess they are a cupcake too.

Should be a good, competitive game tonight. K-State 24 Kansas University 17

Go K-State!
Madness in Manhattan! Bring on the 'Cats!

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

And all this time, I thought you were a University of Kentucky fan!!

hawksquawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Manhattan to MCI in 90 minutes? How fast you drivin', sour grapes? Don't see what it has to do with geography, either.

HighDesertCat 9 years, 4 months ago

134 miles from KSU to MCI. at 70mph that is 2 hours. If you drive a little over the speed limit, it is easily under 2 hours.

Yeah, my 1.5hours is cutting it a little short, but MUCH MUCH closer than the jayidiot that said 3 freaking hours.

Jeff Cuttell 9 years, 4 months ago

I live in Lawrence. I am not a fan of either team. I do like to see KU win unless they are playing my Huskers. (I grew up in Nebraska) I think I can tell you honestly that it is exactly 1 hour to drive to the airport from my house. Now, if I could only get to Manhattan in 1/2 hour.......

This is a ridiculous statement.

Someone said it is a "3 hour drive" from KCI to Manhattan? ha ha ha. It is 1.5 hours. Geography must be a weak subject at Kansas University.

Not even close.

JayCeph 9 years, 4 months ago

I have complete respect for Bill Snyder. I don't care what KState fans do and I don't care what KU fans do. I totally dig how Snyder makes the state of Kansas relevant in the context of college athletics. KU does as well and for that, I am filled with joy.

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

Turner Gill is not nearly as accomplished a football coach as Coach Snyder and still has a lot to learn, but I sense some similar qualities in the two of them. They both strike me as men of integrity and good character who believe in treating others with dignity and respect. I would love to see Coach Gill do for Kansas football what Coach Snyder has done for KState football.

Chris Bruning 9 years, 4 months ago

gill will do better though, all i see hanging at bill snyder stadium is 2003 big 12 champs...gill will do better.

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

RCJ, may your words be powerfully prophetic!

JayCeph 9 years, 4 months ago

I love KU but any school that schedules North Dakota State has no room to rail against another school's supposedly weak schedule.

Jim Williamson 9 years, 4 months ago

Kansas State was micrometers from getting run from the Big 8 and into the Mo Valley. Enrollment was down, hoops was on the decline and football stunk.

Bill Snyder single-handedly kept that from happening (although Jon Wefald likes to think it was him). He gave a school that wasn't feeling very good about itself something to hang their hat on, and they haven't looked back.

And I had the chance to talk with him once in the Phoenix airport. I wanted to just say hi but he kept asking me questions about me and my family. Talked to me for probably 10 minutes when he could've gotten by with 2. He could not possibly have been more gracious and engaging.

Martini_Boy 9 years, 4 months ago

I lost all respect after Snyder played El Roberson in the bowl game and then dropped his a$$ off of scholarship so he had to finish school on his own nickel. Thank Goodness Synder and kitties didn't win the bowl game and we have no idea what happened to El.

BTW, see if there is a stat for the school that has put the most Jayhawks out for the season with an injury. I'll bet KSU is at the top of the list. I still remember Steve Bratton being clipped and tearing a knee....

Bob Strawn 9 years, 4 months ago

no one out here goes to the missouri airport anymore, particularly recruits. they fly directly to mhk on american from dallas or chicago.

nice reading the complimentary comments on this board. bill snyder is a swell guy and great coach.

good luck to your hawks tonight. emaw.

DocBean 9 years, 4 months ago

Is anyone really excited for this game? These teams are just so slow and awful, It's going to be the Sunflower Slowdown.

I'd like to see KU win it, but I just don't care. This first season under Gill just doesn't excite me. I hope he can get some wins, and beating rivals would be a nice way to do it, but I'm not going to be too up or down, win or lose.

I don't know if our pass defense is worse, or their QB. I guess we'll find out tonight.

Brian Leiker 9 years, 4 months ago

Bottom line is that KSUCKS takes D's on transcripts from Jucos. No other Big 12 school does this and this is how he brought in the dumbest yet best athletes to build his program. There's a reason he never left KSUCKS during his run and it wasn't the great smell of Mancrappin. He knew those players wouldn't be qualifying where he was offered.

7texdude 9 years, 4 months ago

Anyone know if game is streaming any where tonight?

Dan Harris 9 years, 4 months ago

Arghhhh! I live in Dallas and just found out Fox is showing the Stars season opener instead of the Hawks! Anyone in this area know of place that's showing the game or a stream of it I could get?

Debbie Mangen 9 years, 4 months ago

Dish Network is having a feud with FOX Network channels and is being blocked. Is the game going to be on the internet tonight?

VAJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I also have it working at Just scroll down to the game. I had to try it a couple times to get it working.

Justin Lindsley 9 years, 4 months ago

Someone needs to give Bugs Bunny a carrot!!

bradynsdad 9 years, 4 months ago

i will give gill his three years he needs to get the program going, but i cant watch anymore of these embarrasing displays of peewee football. i would have been fine with a loss as long as we played a good game, but clearly i was wishing for too much.

squawkhawk 9 years, 4 months ago


If you cannot respect Bill Snyder for what he has done at KSU you are the arrogant, classless fans a lot of people think KU fans are. The monicker "Miracle in Manhattan" is appropriate for one reason...what Snyder did there is nothing less than a miracle. He has never had much talent to work with and has always accomplished more than other coaches who have much more talent. KSU may never be a national champion in football but that says nothing about Snyders capabilities as a coach. It is a simple fact that, in addition to having less talent, he also has little in terms of money and facilities to work with when compared to perenial football powers such as Nebraska, Michigan, USC, Penn State, Texas...etc. Manhattan, KS is simply not as appealing to a lot of young people as L.A., Austin and other big cities with big time schools. So when you truly look at what Snyder has accomplished in the Little Apple, you should only wish that KU had the kind of coach that Bill Snyder is. Coaching aside, Bill Snyder is one of the most genuine and sincere people you will ever meet. He truly cares about his players and not only developing them as players, but more importantly, developing them as young men who will contribute to society after their playing days are over. I could go on and on but shouldn't have to. It is time for KU fans to put their jealousy aside and give Coach Snyder the respect he deserves...much like KSU fans give respect for Bill Self.

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