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Kansas State Football Coach Bill Snyder Announces Retirement

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The Wizard of the Little Apple has been the elder statesman of the Big 12 Conference, and a role model for Gary Patterson.

Kansas State v TCU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

TCU and Kansas State have played some memorable games over the years.

The two teams squared off for the first time in 1922, when the Cats smoked the Frogs in the Little Apple by a score of 45-0. The would meet for the first time in the modern era in 1983, once again in Manhattan, with Jim Dicker upending Jim Wacker and the Horned Frogs 20-3. The Frogs won the next two in Fort Worth - the last two times these teams would play without Gary Patterson and Bill Snyder involved.

When the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012, Snyder was coming off of his second retirement and had been back at the helm of K State Football for three years. He led the Wildcats to back to back wins over TCU, a favor which was repaid by Patterson and TCU the next two matchups. After a Cats win in Fort Worth, the Frogs took the next two, giving TCU the 7-5 all-time advantage.

It hasn’t been the wins and losses that stick out as much as how they have come; there was the Trevone Boykin touchdown flip into the end zone in 2014:

Don’t forget Derrick Kindred pick-six in 2015 that sparked a comeback from being down 35-17, or the weird double number penalty that cost TCU a chance to win in 2013. That comeback inspired what most TCU fans will likely list as their favorite memory of Snyder - the note he wrote Trevone Boykin after the game:

Snyder was well-known for his handwritten notes, handed out to opponents from across the country, win or lose, as an appreciate for what they accomplished. The old-school leader was known to carry a voice recorder around with him at every practice, taking copious voice memos and transcribing them by hand after. In 27 seasons as the head football coach in Manhattan, Snyder led the Wildcats to 20 bowl games, including streaks of 11 and eight seasons. K State won four north division crowns and one Big 12 title, went to the Fiesta Bowl three times, finished ranked in the top 25 13 times - including six times in the top ten - and accumulated nine 10+ win seasons. For comparison’s sake, in that same span, Texas A&M had just six 10+ win seasons and finished in the top ten just four times.

Prior to Snyder’s arrival in 1989, the Cats had won more than six games in a season just five times, and that’s in a history that spans back before the dawn of the 1900s. There were 36 seasons where they had two or fewer wins and had eight winless seasons. Snyder first retired after the 2005 season, having 136-68-1 in his first ten years at the helm of the Cats. K State immediately fell off the map under Ron Prince, going 17-20 and making a bowl in year one only. That prompted Snyder to come off the bench in 2009 - Gary Patterson was supposedly considered, but (thankfully) it never got truly serious - and Snyder finished his second run with a 79-49 record.

Patterson, of course, attended Kansas State, and it has always held a special place in his heart for the school and its head coach. “He’s committed. He’s 24 hours, he does it. He asks his assistants, his players, he asks all of them - if you want to work or play at Kansas State, you’re all in. Seven days a week. And he lives it. He’s been doing it a long time, and you can learn a lot from Bill Snyder on how he’s accountable, how he handles things, and what he does.”

Bill Snyder had long been considered the dean of the Big 12 conference, but with his retirement, Gary Patterson becomes the longest tenured coach at 18 years. Mike Gundy is next with 13 years of service, followed by Dana Holgorsen, who started at WVU in 2011. No other current coach in the Big 12 conference has been there longer than three years.

Coach Snyder is expected to remain on the athletics staff at Kansas State in a special ambassador role, and will be given some say as to who the next coach in the Little Apple will be. Likely candidates include Jim Leavitt (defensive coordinator, Oregon), Seth Littrell (head coach, UNT), Craig Bohl (head coach, Wyoming) and Brent Venables (defensive coordinator, Clemson), among others. For an exceptional deep dive into Snyder’s career, this Dennis Dodd article is exceptional.

Congratulations to Coach Snyder on an incredible career - Taco Bell is on me next time I’m in Kansas, coach.