Letter: K-State would be nothing without Coach Snyder

Bill Snyder watches his team before the game against TCU on Nov. 3. K-State lost against TCU 14-13. (Meg Shearer | Collegian Media Group)

This letter to the editor was written by Michelle Larson, Kansas State alumna. If you would like to write a letter to the Collegian, send us an email at letters@kstatecollegian.com or visit kstatecollegian.com/contact.

In response to assistant sports editor Molly Hackett’s opinion piece, “Snyder’s legacy is a K-State miracle, but he needs to move on,” from Oct. 31:

Many of the current Kansas State students have only realized the football program’s success under Bill Snyder. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when I was walking the hallowed halls of KSU, our football program was referred to as the “Toilet Bowl.”

Imagine, if you will, a Bill Snyder Family Stadium where you didn’t have to buy season tickets to get into the games. Students could sit anywhere they wanted to in the stadium… if they went to the games.

These were the years of great basketball teams led by the legendary coach Jack Hartman. Students crowded Ahearn Field House to watch players such as Rolando Blackman and Ed Nealy play as Hartman orchestrated winning seasons.

At the time, I never thought that KSU would ever have winning football seasons because that seemed to be our destiny.

Snyder has provided more for K-State than winning football teams. He has brought in millions in revenue, which I believe wouldn’t have happened if not for Snyder’s willingness to come to K-State because of the people — and stay because of the people.

Some of us remember our first win over Nebraska in 30 years. As I recall, it began snowing and no one wanted to leave the stadium… Bill Snyder magic. Mario Fatafehi, defensive tackle at the time, began making snow angels on the sidelines.

This was not the only magic Snyder has provided in his years at K-State. Just six short years ago, we were No. 1 in the nation and undefeated, winning a second Big 12 Championship. In 2003, we won the Big 12 Championship as a clearly decided underdog against then-No. 1 Oklahoma. But wait, Bill Snyder magic again, we beat Oklahoma soundly by a score of 35-7. I still watch that game on YouTube!

Snyder has been much more to K-State than a football coach. He has included the entire K-State nation as his family, as he has stated that we, the fans, have helped him to achieve. He has taken young men under his wing and helped them grow as human beings.

He is one of the few coaches who will allow Kansas kids to walk on into the program, giving them a chance to prove themselves, earn a starting position and end up in the NFL. A couple of those players come to mind: Jon McGraw, Jordy Nelson, and the list goes on and on.

I contend that if our record now were six wins and three losses, people would not be discontent with Snyder and would be looking to buy tickets to our next bowl game.

We may win our next three games, and we may not. What I focus on is that the players are not out there trying to play badly, and that they are youngsters, as Snyder refers to them, trying to win games. I’m also pretty sure Snyder isn’t trying to coach them badly, as he has an impeccable record at K-State.

He’s had plenty of chances to leave K-State through the years, but stayed because of the people. I think the people at least owe him a debt of gratitude for staying and putting K-State on the football map and turning it into a premier program.

Michelle Larson is a Kansas State alumna who graduated in 1981. The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.