By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
On Oct. 7, 1916, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland, 222-0, in the greatest display of offensive football in college football history.
Twenty-three years to the day later, Bill Snyder was born.
In a way, it is fitting, that the two share the same date in history, for if Tech set the standard for offensive football, Snyder has spent his life dedicated to reaching such perfection.
Although caught up in something of down season in 74th year on this Earth, his Kansas State Wildcats standing at 2-4 and 0-3 in Big 12 play as Saturday’s game with West Virginia University approaches, one cannot erase the memory of last year’s 55-14 beating put on the Mountaineers or so many other accomplishments that have been carved out during his career.
Indeed, he has grown into something of coaching legend.
Clint Trickett is a coach’s son, his father, Rick, being the veteran offensive line coach at Florida State who spent a couple of tours of duty with the Mountaineers.
As such, Trickett has a warm place in his heart for the coach he will try to beat this weekend, Bill Snyder of Kansas State.
“I’m excited to play against a legend,” Trickett said. “He really is. The stadium is named after him, and he’s still there.”
Indeed, the stadium is Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“I’ve always looked up to Bill Snyder because he doesn’t have the best situation at Kansas State as far as recruiting and everything like that, and he keeps winning,” Trickett said.
This success, as with so many others, is the result of the input of others.
On the football side, he is a disciple of the one-time Iowa coach Hayden Fry, who was his mentor.
But, as Berry Tramel, the NewsOK columnist pointed out recently, Snyder credits his mother with creating the person who became the legendary football coach.
“I would never cross her. She was as tough as anyone could be. She taught me so much about values,” Snyder said.
He offered this tale as an example. His parents had been divorced, his father buying him a 1954 yellow Mercury convertible which surely would make him at Lafayette High School.
“I took the liberty of starting to hang out with friends and have my car, do all the things kids will do,” Snyder said. “Amazing car.”
The Snyder Rebellion, as Tramel labeled it, lasted two weeks.
“After two weeks, my mother called my father,” Snyder said. “‘You come and get this car.’
“She took my car away from me. About two years later, she allowed me to buy a 1947 Chevrolet, from my grandfather, for $50.”
That was the kind of principles this 4-foot-9 woman ingrained into her son.
“My mother was a fascinating person in my life,” Snyder said. “Toughest person I’ve ever known.”
From his upbringing and his early coaching experiences under Fry, he developed a code for his football teams to live by, his 16 principles for success:
5. Be tough
7. Great effort
9. Eliminate mistakes
10. Never give up
11. I don’t accept losing
12. No self-limitations
13. Expect to win
This is the code he has lived by and the code he has passed on to those who have worked for him and played for him.
It led to much success for him and for those who became his disciples. In fact, in 2008, the national championship game was played between Oklahoma, coached by Bob Stoops, and Florida, coached by Urban Meyer.
It was Snyder and Rich Rodriguez, working separately, who developed the spread option offense, which remains today alive and well in college football and which was responsible for much of the scoring explosion and for Meyer inventing Tim Tebow.
Perhaps more amazing, however, is that he has been able to remain relevant coaching college kids into his mid-70s.
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen understands what Snyder has meant to Kansas State and its program.
“It starts with Snyder and the job he has done as a head coach and the program he has built over his 22 years he has been there. I know he was gone for a few years, but he got it right back on track with their record and what it has been over the last couple of years,” Holgorsen said. “He is a tremendous football coach that has done a lot of things for our profession. He does a lot of things for his kids, like building character, being a disciplined football team on all three sides of the ball and getting kids to play with tremendous effort.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.