MANHATTAN, Kan. Legendary Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder, architect of the “greatest turnaround in the history of college football,” was one of 14 former athletes or coaches who were inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Saturday in Wichita as part of the Class of 2006.
A sure-fire Hall of Famer, Snyder (William Jewell ’62) retired in November of 2005 after 17 seasons as the head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats. Named the 32nd head football coach at Kansas State on Nov. 30, 1988, Snyder amassed a 136-68-1 (.666) record with the Wildcats, including a 75-53-1 (.585) mark in Big 8/12 games. His 131 victories are more than triple the man in second place on K-State’s all-time coaching victories list (Mike Ahearn, 39 wins).
"Seventeen years ago, I came to Kansas State because of the people, and I will remain in Kansas because of the people," Snyder said during the ceremony.
But to fully understand the turnaround ushered in by Snyder at Kansas State one must only consider that the Wildcats were in the midst of an 0-26-1 run when he was hired. It also took K-State 51 seasons (1938-1988) to total just 130 wins, while the 12 head coaches prior to Snyder's arrival in Manhattan combined to win just 116 games from 1945-1988. For his efforts, Snyder was named the national coach of the year in 1991, 1994 and 1998. He was also voted by his peers as conference coach of the year five times.
Among all active coaches, Snyder finished his career ranked seventh in career winning percentage and 12th in career victories. Over his final 13 years at K-State, Snyder’s Wildcats were even better, posting a 118-42-1 (.736) record from 1993-2005 for the fifth-best overall record in Division 1-A during that span.
Kansas State is also one of just eight programs in the country to appear in a bowl game in 11 of the past 13 seasons and became just the second program in the history of college football to win 11 games in 6-of-7 seasons (1997-2003). During his tenure at K-State, Snyder’s teams were perennially ranked among the nation’s elite, including achieving the program’s first No. 1 ranking in November of 1998. In all, Kansas State teams finished 11 of his final 13 seasons ranked in the AP Top 20, including a six-year stretch during which K-State finished each season in the Top 10.
K-State’s best-ever ranking under Snyder in the final AP poll of the year was sixth, following its Holiday Bowl win in 1999. The Wildcats also finished up sixth in the 2002 final ESPN/USA Today poll and were seventh in the final AP ranking that season.
Snyder headlined the group of 14 inductees, which also included Marian Washington, Catherine Fox, Charlie Richard, Bobby Douglas, Howard Engleman, Bill Hougland, Jack Mitchell, Xavier McDaniel, Darren Daulton, Natasha Fife, Bill Morse, Luther Taylor and Otto Unruh. The mission of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is to preserve the history of sports in the state for all generations. It was founded in 1961 as part of the Kansas Centennial Celebration.