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Oklahoma State Football

The Words of Wisdom from Coaching Hall of Famer Bill Snyder

June 30, 2022

STILLWATER – This week and next I have vacation from radio. No vacation from Pokes Report. Especially for those paying subscribers, you count on seeing new material every day and I’m devoted along with our staff to delivering that. I have more time in the mornings this week and next and I can drag out my workouts at the YMCA in Edmond and I can spend more time listening to others. I really enjoy the Big 12 Radio on Sirius-XM. I like the guys hosting and the guests. This morning they were talking a lot about the newly named Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark. They also had on Hall of Fame former Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder. I knew Coach Snyder when he was coaching with Hayden Fry at North Texas and then Iowa.

Recently, Mike Gundy, and he has said it for many years, was on the record saying Snyder with what he had to deal with coming in at Kansas State is the greatest college football coach in history.

Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Gundy and Snyder before the 2019 game.

“In my opinion, the best college coach ever is Bill Snyder,” Gundy said on the recent Cowboy Network podcast. “Now, he doesn’t have a national championship. I don’t even think he got close. Maybe one year they ended up seventh, eighth, or ninth in the country, I can’t remember. But if we took, I’ll just throw some coaches out there, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Tom Osborne … How successful could they have been at Kansas State when he (Snyder) took the job?”

Snyder when told of the compliment had this response.

“Well, I am very humbled by it. Mike, himself, is an amazing coach. His record certainly identifies that,” Snyder said when told of Gundy’s comment. “Coming from him it means a great deal to me. Greatly appreciated.”

Gundy made the comment and his overall coaching record in 17 seasons and heading to No. 18 is 149-69. Gundy’s next win will be his 150th. Snyder retired with a record of 215-117-1. Snyder has a winning percentage of .647 and Gundy has a winning percentage of .683. Gundy will tell you Snyder had it harder and he did, but it is not as dramatic as you might think.

Snyder is like a sage. He has forgotten more football than most of us will ever come close to knowing. He is someone that young coaches need to study and not just young coaches, but anyone involved in college sports. Snyder did it the right way at the hardest place at the time to have success. He was asked about how last season the Big 12 made a major move away from the influence of wide open, no huddle, spread offense to more defense and more running on offense.

“I think if you go back in the history of college football in general that you find the same things to be true,” Snyder said of the current game and defense and run offense making a comeback. “It runs like this, offense for a while, defense for a while, offense for a while, defense for a while. There are no new schemes. Everything has been utilized some form or fashion over the years. Really, nothing is new. It just changes with time going back and forth, back and forth.”

In the course of the conversation came the talk of all the change in college football, NIL, transfer portal, conference realignment, and Snyder delivered a strong opinion on how coaches have it right now.

“It has to be dramatically difficult, at the best, for coaches, he said. “They are in the position right now to do what is popular or do what is best for young people. These are harder decisions to make than ever before. I’ve seen occasions across the country where schools have organized NIL entities where everybody shares equally across the board. I think anything other than that then you would have locker room problems that would be unbelievable. You have guys getting $10 million, or whatever the number is, and this other guy is getting 50 cents.

“Offensive linemen are not going to be as popular with NIL as quarterbacks or running backs and one of these days those linemen are going to get together and ask each other why are we blocking for that guy,” Snyder theorized. “It can create major, major problems.”

You can tell that the former coach is really NIL-centric. When he referred to schools that organized NIL to be shared more equally, he is talking about Kansas State and he could be talking about Oklahoma State. Both schools have been supportive of collectives started by alumni that have that kind of distribution and system in mind. More athletes involved and monies collected being shared more.

Pat Kinnison - Chief Photographer
Snyder and staff walking off Boone Pickens Stadium after a loss.

Snyder then got into the time factor, the potential time crunch in a process that has already been locked down. Snyder even admitted that the 20-hour work week for student-athletes in sports is not accurate. He as much as stated they work a lot more. Now, you add NIL to the commitments.

“That is additional time if you do it legally,” Snyder said. “First of all, there is not enough time in the day for that young guy and if he is getting $100,000 then he is probably spending far more time paying attention to that $100,000 and how he is getting it than he is to his classes and he is to the game of football. I think it has a tremendous downside.”

Making Snyder the author of NIL guardrails for college athletics, I could go for that. I believe he would get it right. He was also asked if he had advice for the new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark. He kept that short.

“Do what you do, and do it the best that you can,” Snyder said simply.

As for the Big 12 and the eventual loss of Oklahoma and Texas, Snyder emphasized the Big 12 has been through that kind of situation constantly.

“Change goes with the territory, and you have to change with it,” Snyder said of the Big 12. “I don’t say adapt because sometimes you don’t agree with the change, and you have to battle it, but change with it because it can be out of your control.”

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Vaughn darts through the LSU defense in K-Stae’s Texas Bowl victory.

Finally, a little Kansas State football. I think the Wildcats are a major threat this season. I think they are the best upset candidate to climb the standings, even make the Big 12 Championship Game. A big reason is All-Big 12 returning running back Deuce Vaughn. Snyder knows what it is like to have a short running back like the 5-6 Vaughn, Snyder had the 5-7 Darren Sproles.

“It is a great asset to have that lack of height and I truly believe that. I found that to be true with Darren (Sproles),” Snyder said of Vaughn. “Offensive linemen are 6-6, 6-5 and 300-pounds across the board. You can’t see him. You can’t find him until it is too late. I used to stand on the other side of the line of scrimmage (in the defense) from Darren to see what defensive players were seeing. They weren’t seeing anything.”

Discussion from...

The Words of Wisdom from Coaching Hall of Famer Bill Snyder

1,783 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by TeaTownCowboy
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Looking forward to the content this week Robert!
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Good stuff Robert ! Thx
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I agree w/ Coach Gundy, Snyder never had recruiting classes even in the 30s. Most of the time they were around #50 due to taking a lot of juco kids and just not getting hardly any four stars, let alone a 5 on occasion. A lot of their kids were twos who, like a lot of our guys, improved by working hard. "It is a great asset to have that lack of height and I truly believe that. I found that to be true with Darren (Sproles)," Snyder said of Vaughn. "Offensive linemen are 6-6, 6-5 and 300-pounds across the board. You can't see him. You can't find him until it is too late. --- I've been saying that for a long time. It's actually an advantage to be Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas' height rather than 6'2". Sproles and Vaughn are both tiny compared to Barry and Thurman, LOL.
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