“The opportunity for the greatest turnaround in college football exists here today, and it’s not one to be taken lightly.”

Fridays at The Salute

Fridays at The Salute

Those were the prophetic words of a future College Football Hall of Fame coach, way back on November 30th, 1988. You and I have heard those famous words over and over again. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear them it motivates me. I realize that no matter what the situation currently is, if you are willing to work hard and do what it takes in the proper way you can get out of the situation.

You can take dilapidated facilities, a sparse fan base and doubtful media members and turn that into new facilities named after you and your family, the sold out stadiums and full coffers and National Football Foundation members that find you worthy of the Hall of Fame.

That’s hard work and determination. Those might be a few of the many words you could use to describe Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder. His favorite might be, “Family.” I opened with a quote from his introductory press conference, but here is another from that same day.

capture“People make the difference. We need to get people involved … we need positive people.”

Oh, did we all get involved. We all found a similar passion to our leader and grew the fan base exponentially. We got excited about winning a game. Then we got excited about winning six games. Then we loaded up our vehicles and spent a week celebrating a bowl berth. Then that became an annual tradition.

Those same positive people did more than save a football program, they just may have saved a university, OUR university. I never thought twice about where I was going to college. I would hate to have to make that decision in a world in which Bill Snyder doesn’t coach at Kansas State. We don’t get to experience full student sections, loud chants, rushing the field, tearing down goalposts and destroying our in-state rivals year in and year out.

“He’s not the coach of the year, he’s not the coach of the decade, he’s the coach of the century.”

Those are the words of Oklahoma Sooner coaching great Barry Switzer. Coach Switzer should know a thing or two about great coaching. He won three national titles and a Super Bowl. He is also in the College football Hall of Fame after being inducted in 2002. He hasn’t coached a college game since 1989 or an NFL game since 1997. He’s been retired for over seventeen years. Switzer is 77 and Snyder is just a youthful 75.

The man hasn’t changed who he is or what he stands for even with all of the success he has enjoyed here in Manhattan. He never left for a better job or a higher salary. He kept his head down and kept moving forward. He laid down a blueprint for all of us to be successful with his “16 Goals.” He gave this university, city and state a positive role model. Lead us to be role models with his mentoring program.

captureBill Snyder made us a stronger community. We will always be indebted to what he did for Manhattan’s economics. He won football games and changed the entire landscape of this immediate region. He deserves the college football Hall of Fame. He deserves a much higher honor than that. Naming highways and stadiums after him isn’t enough. Sculpting an 8-foot, one-ton bronze statue of him on a granite pedestal doesn’t do his efforts justice. So what does Snyder think about all of this?

“Well, as any coach would be, you’re honored and pleased, but it makes you think back about all the people that have invested so much to allow something like that to take place. First and foremost, really, we talk so much about family and that means a lot of people … It means so much. Hopefully it’s meaningful to them.”

Yes, coach. You mean everything to us.

About The Author

Ryan was born and raised around the “Little Apple”, and is a life-long Kansas State fan and 2007 graduate. He is also a lover of all things Tallgrass Brewing. Was once quoted on November 11, 2006 as saying, "If we beat Texas, I will get a Powercat tattooed on my ass!"

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