DALLAS — Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder is the oldest coach in the Big 12 Conference and it’s not close.
While 74 is hardly “as old as time” as he described himself, he is the oldest active coach in Division-I football.
Snyder, 74, drew chuckles from the media answering a question about how he combats his age in the high-pressure, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of college athletics.
But Snyder, who addressed the media during the second day of the Big 12 Media Days at the Omni Hotel, also used the question to reflect on his maturation from a youthful high school coach into one of the best in the business at the college level.
“I’ve learned this a long time ago,” Snyder said. “When I was a young coach, I started off at the high school level and moved to a lot of different places, and I was always one of those coaches that wanted to be someplace other than where I was.”
In a world of constant coaching turnover and many coaches job-jumping to bigger and better things at the first sign of success, Snyder is the antithesis. He begins his 23rd season as head football coach at K-State on Aug. 30, and is poised to become one of only a handful of active college football hall-of-fame coaches in the game’s history.
Snyder said he learned many years ago to put 100 percent of his efforts into what he was currently doing, regardless of the level.
“When I was a (high school) head coach, I wanted to be a college assistant,” he said. “When I was a college assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. So that went on for a considerable period of time.
“And I was half-in, half-out, so to speak. And consequently, I was not a very good football coach at all, and probably not a very good person. I learned some time ago, probably 30 some-odd years ago, that I needed to do it a little differently.”
Snyder said once he made the change, it allowed him to enjoy immense success.
“My decision was, simply put, to be where you are,” he said. “And I chose to do that, and that allowed me to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on.”
Snyder shares optimism heading into season
Even when he knows he has a strong team, Snyder isn’t likely to gush about his team’s outlook, especially before the season begins and his team has truly accomplished nothing.
So when asked what reasons for optimism he might have coming into the season, his answer was telling.
“I would share a fairly high degree of optimism for today,” he said, “but tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll see how that goes. I can’t make projections in regards to what kind of a football team we’ll be.”
Snyder was quick to praise each of the five captains joining him at the Big 12 Media Days, while noting the momentum gained from the end of the 2013 season, which saw K-State win six of their final seven games, including the 31-14 win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Snyder said the team may have taken some things for granted early in the season in 2013, but by the end, had come full circle.
“Probably the period of time that I was most proud of the young people in our program was the approach that they took to our preparation for the bowl game,” he said.
“We’ve been to 16, 18 bowls at Kansas State, but I cannot recall a preparation that was as pleasing to me as the one that took place this past season.”