‘A monumental task.’ A look at Bill Snyder’s first press conference as K-State’s football coach 30 years ago.

Bill Snyder gestures during a press conference on Nov. 30, 1988, after being announced as K-State’s new head football coach for the Wildcats. Almost 30 years to that day, Snyder announced his retirement after achieving much of what he promised in that press conference. (Archive photo by Brett Hacker | The Collegian).

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the Dec. 1, 1988, edition of the Collegian.

Snyder: ‘a monumental task’

By Chris Hays
Collegian sports editor. Fall 1988

“I said, several weeks ago or a few months ago when I came here and stood in front of you, that Kansas State University was in a unique position. … Something very special is going to happen,” Athletic Director Steve Miller said Wednesday at the press conference announcing the hiring of the new K-State football coach. “There weren’t great jobs in this country, only great people. And we have found and isolated and hired a great human being and a great football coach.

“It is not something that will happen overnight, but it will take time,” Miller said of the K-State football situation. “But you need an architect, and no university in this country better understands architecture better. We have hired the best architect in America. We have hired a person who can build this program into something that we can all be proud of.”

Surprise! Iowa offensive coordinator Bill Snyder was named the 31st K-State head football coach Wednesday at a formal press conference in the Union Big Eight Room.

The appointment had become known several days prior to the press conference, although no one from the KSU Athletic Department nor the Iowa football office would confirm any published reports.

Now, it’s official. Snyder will succeed Stan Parrish as the Wildcats’ head coach and it seems that he couldn’t be any happier with this next football task.

“I am so proud to bere here. This is certainly a delightful day in my life. It’s an exciting day,” Snyder said. “This is a task. … It’s a monumental task. It’s one with a tremendous challenge. It’s the greatest challenge in my life and I am certainly proud and I’m honored.

“I could not be happier with the people that were responsible for having me here today. The president and athletic director of this university have proven to me, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Kansas State University is ready to move forward.”

And, with that, Snyder had formally made his first remarks as K-State’s football coach and, as he continued, most of the people attending the press conference could tell just why Miller had chosen Snyder.

An 11-year assistant to Iowa coach Hayden Fry, Snyder seemed to be the spitting image of Miller in a different costume.

You see, Snyder, just like Miller, is a people person, and he occasionally stressed that at Wednesday’s press conference.

“I have never been any place in my life where I wasn’t concerned about people,” Snyder said. “I’m really going to care about the coaches I bring in and the players. …I want all of them to live a quality life while they are here at Kansas State.”

The 47-year-old Snyder, a Missourri native, began his job at Iowa in 1978 and he said Wednesday that K-State and the Iowa he and Fry took over had distinct similarities.

“The state of Kansas and Kansas State University, the state of Iowa and the University of Iowa parallel each other in so many ways,” Snyder said. “It’s an amazing parallel. There was also a tremendous challenge there. The circumstances were identical. And I think that the greatest turnaround in college football exists here today and it’s not a challenge that can be taken lightly.”

Snyder also let it be known there is not a quick fix to the Wildcat football situation and he will not be pushed around or hurried in the process of turning it around.

“I have no timetable,” Snyder said. “I want to establish a firm solid ground with which to work from with no short cuts. …I will not do that and I will not be pressured to do that.

“This will be an honest program … top to bottom. A lot of people work extra hard to get the job done, but sometimes maybe they don’t do it quite as intelligently as they should have. We’re going to this within the restraints of every major college football program in America.”

Snyder will not be able to hit the recruiting trail today, the first day colleges can contact potential high school recruits. He will be on the Iowa coaching staff until after the Hawkeyes’ Dec. 31 Peach Bowl game against North Carolina State.

“Those Kansas high schools and junior colleges are good programs and I pray that they’ll wait, because I’m coming,” Snyder said. “As of about 5 p.m., Dec. 31, I will be at Kansas State University wholeheartedly … lock, stock and barrel.

“I’m going to do all I can do for everybody, and if the ship sinks, then I’m going to be the one to sink it.”

Miller said the whole hiring process had taken so long because of his own stubbornness, thinking that he had to hare and NCAA Division I-A head coach, but then he realized what he wanted was not a title, but a person.

“I can honestly tell you,” Miller said, “that when I walked into home (Snyder’s), I saw all the ingredients that I was looking for in a head football coach. What I found that was most important was that he is a person who cares.”