After retirement, Snyder will continue as special ambassador for K-State

(Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

After 30 years and what most would call the best turnaround in college football history, the retirement of legendary Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder was announced on Sunday afternoon.

The Manhattan Mercury first reported that Snyder would report earlier Sunday, citing a source familiar with the situation.

K-State Athletics formally announced Snyder’s retirement just after 2 p.m.

At the age of 79, Snyder is the oldest active coach in college football. Snyder won 215 games at K-State and proved to all that he is more than dedicated to his players, fans and the university.

When Snyder took over the program after the 1988 season, he was tasked with the challenge of creating a program that would snap a streak of 30 games without a win and bring pride back to K-State football. K-State was 0-29-1 in the 30 games before Snyder’s first win during the fourth game of his first season.

Not only did he do that but he led the Wildcats to 19 bowl games and two Big 12 championships.

While Snyder’s days as head coach are over, he will not be forgotten. Snyder is a Hall of Fame coach, has been selected as Coach of the Year by many organizations and is an active member of many boards all over Kansas.

In its announcement, K-State Athletics stated that “Snyder will transition to a special ambassador role for the University as stated in his current employment agreement.”

Snyder accepted one of the hardest college football jobs ever, facing a challenge that has arguably not been faced by anyone since.

As previously mentioned, Snyder won 215 games, accumulating a record of 215-117-1, compared to the school’s all-time record of 472-600-34. Prior to his arrival, the Wildcats went to—and lost—just one bowl game, but Snyder went 9-10 in bowl games.

Not only did Snyder have an impact on the field, he had a hand in the betterment of the university and community of Manhattan.

Adversity was not unfamiliar to Snyder during his 27-year career.

After a 2003 season that saw K-State win the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma, the Wildcats had a 4-7 record after being ranked 13th in the preseason. In the 2005 season, the team went 5-6 before Snyder retired for the first team.

Seeing his beloved program post just one winning season in three years, Snyder returned to the sideline for the 2009 season. Just a few years later, Snyder led his team to back-to-back double-digit win seasons, winning 10 games in 2011 and 11 in 2012 to pair with a Big 12 title.

The 2016 season ended with a 9-4 record and Texas Bowl trophy for the Wildcats. In February 2017, it was announced that Snyder had been diagnosed with throat cancer.

Cancer will take a toll on anyone. Having to coach and direct a football team would only add to the fight. Some might have thought he would retire, but not Bill Snyder.

Snyder battled the disease and was back at the helm for the 2017 season. He came out victorious in the fight against cancer and led his team to an 8-5 record with a Cactus Bowl victory.

Then, this past January, Snyder’s grandson Matt passed away. He again elected to keep leading the K-State football team.

While this season was obviously not what many expected or would have hoped for with a 5-7 record and no bowl game, Snyder’s impact and determination cannot be discounted.

The decision to step away from a program that one has poured heart and soul into for 27 years could not have been an easy one. Whether you agree that it was time to move on, or that Snyder should have kept going, there is really one phrase that is most appropriate.

Thank you, Coach.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that K-State had an 18-year losing streak prior to the hiring of Snyder. The team had gone 0-26-1 before Snyder’s arrival, losing the first three games of the season for an 0-29-1 mark before K-State won against North Texas in the fourth game of the 1989 season.

Hi, I'm Molly Hackett and I graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in broadcast journalism in May 2020. When I worked for the Collegian, I had a variety of different jobs, including managing editor and sports editor. Additionally, I served a one year term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. I also worked for KKSU-TV and appeared as an anchor on MHK All Day during my final semester at K-State. In my free time, I like to spend time with the people closest to me, travel, drink coffee and take naps.