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Snyder admired for improbable success at K-State

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- While creating his "Miracle in Manhattan" and taking Kansas State from the depths to the heights of college football, Bill Snyder left lasting impressions on those who worked with him.
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Arizona's Mike Stoops, SMU's Phil
Bennett, Kansas' Mark Mangino and South Florida's Jim Leavitt are
only a few of Snyder's former assistants who have become head
coaches.

"He taught us how to coach," Mike Stoops said. "His legacy
will always be a relentless work ethic and unquestioning loyalty.
And it was the greatest turnaround in college football history.
That's as true a statement as anybody can make."
Snyder, who announced Tuesday that he plans to retire as Kansas
State's coach after this season, will stay on until his successor
is named. Athletic director Tim Weiser isn't saying how long that
will be, or speculating on who will be charged with following
Snyder.
Snyder will stay on the university's payroll as a special
assistant to Weiser, but that won't require the long hours that
helped define Snyder's 17-year tenure.
"I don't know how I'll deal with it," he said at a news
conference announcing his decision. "I really don't know. I'm
going to find out."
When Snyder arrived from Hayden Fry's Iowa staff at the end of
the 1988 season, Kansas State was the only major college program
with 500 all-time losses. The school's creaking, rusty, early-50s
facilities didn't measure up even to those of top-flight high
schools.
Many felt it was time for Kansas State to withdraw from
collegiate competition, as Wichita State had done, and leave the
University of Kansas as the only big-time football program in the
sparsely populated Sunflower State.
"I don't believe as much as you write about it, you truly know
how down it was and how poor and how bad it was," Bob Stoops said.
"The facilities, the players on scholarships ... their budget at
the time and what their opportunities were to do it.
"What he has been able to do is just remarkable."
Chuck Neinas, the founder of the College Football Association
and former commissioner of the Big Eight Conference, often gets
asked the same question almost everywhere he goes.
"They say, 'How did Bill Snyder do it at Kansas State?'" Neinas said.
In those dark early days, before high school superstars would
even return his calls, Snyder was forced to develop an uncanny
knack for sizing up a young athlete's potential. The foundation of
the program that would one day capture a Big 12 championship and
play in 11 straight bowls was laid with average athletes who were
coached to their utmost performance.
"The blue-chippers wouldn't even talk to Kansas State," Neinas
said. "So Bill and his staff had to be so very, very careful to
find kids they could develop into good players. Then as they
started winning, the blue chip players started paying attention to
them.
"The construction project Bill did at Kansas State is unsurpassed in my memory in terms of developing a program."
Snyder, whose last game will be Saturday at home against Missouri, noted that he will leave the next coach with 18 returning
starters, and the sort of lowered expectations and pressures that
come with two straight losing seasons.

"I think the time is right ... because first and foremost, it's
best for the university," said Snyder, whose 135-68-1 record
Manhattan includes a run of 11 straight bowl games that began with
the 1993 season. "I think that because of the nature of the
profession that we are in, it becomes a difficult thing to follow a
great deal of success."
After winning the Big 12 championship in 2003, the Wildcats have
stumbled to two straight losing seasons.
Kansas State, (4-6, 1-6 Big 12) has failed to qualify for a bowl
game for the second straight year, the first time since 1991 and
1992 that Kansas State missed bowl games in consecutive seasons.
But those recent struggles haven't made Snyder's departure any
easier to take, senior offensive tackle Jeromey Clary said.
When Snyder told the team Monday night that he was leaving,
Clary said, "I sat by my locker, and tears ran down my face. The
man was a legend. He made some of my dreams come true."