Snyder thanks others, talks retirement adjustment at career celebration

By  | 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - On a night about his legendary career that transformed Kansas State, Bill Snyder focused on everyone but himself.

"We came because of the people," Snyder said in his closing speech. "We stayed because of the people."

It showed why on Saturday night, as a crowd made up of former coaches and players, Manhattan celebrities, plus friends and family turned out to celebrate the man who orchestrated the greatest turnaround in college football history.

"Bill, God bless ya," former Kansas State president Jon Wefald said in a speech. "You are our most valuable player."

But that's something he'd never say.

"Everybody here, whether they were on the floor or in the stands, everybody here had a role in this," Snyder told the media after the ceremony. "This wasn't just Bill Snyder."

Listening to those in attendance, you'd have a hard time believing that.

"The reason I am the man I am, the husband that I am, and the brother and the son that I am is a huge part to coach," Steelers offensive lineman and KSU alumnus B.J. Finney said in a speech.

"We became better players, better coaches, but most importantly, we became better men," former K-State wide receiver Kevin Lockett said. "Thank you."

"I don't think until you lived it like we lived it, how poor and bad this program was, and to bring it back and to get it where it is now, and to win like we did, it took a lot," former Oklahoma head coach and K-State assistant Bob Stoops said. "He was the one that directed it all."

Listening to all of that touched Snyder, who said the academic and off-the-field achievements of his program made him as proud as anything the Wildcats accomplished on the field.

But now, the College Football Hall of Fame coach has to try and focus on being off of the field.

"There's an awful lot of things that I have put aside 30 years, 40 years, 50 years that I'm trying to get through right now," Snyder said."

One might say things have piled up.

"Our house is full of boxes," Snyder said with a grin. "I'm a pack rat and I save everything. Thursday of this week was the first day I got things cleaned out enough where I could actually sit at my desk."

The Wildcat legend said he's getting back into golf, even if he has to do some stretching exercises to get the club over his shoulders. He's exercising every day, whether that be on the treadmill or in the swimming pool.

But with working out, he's also working on saying no. Snyder cited doing 29 speaking engagements in April alone, which he admits was probably too much.

"It's been busier than I had thought or hoped for," Snyder said of the retirement life. "We're gradually slowing it down."

Does staying busy stave off the desire for coaching though, like what he felt the first time in 2005, only to return years later?

"I've always said it took about six months the first time before I really realized what was going on and was at ease with it," Snyder said of his readiness for retirement this time. "I haven't gotten through it as well as I did the last time. I'm not 100 percent at ease yet, but it'll come."

As it does, the focus turns to what's most important and who he's most proud of: his family.

"Nobody really knows what they have to endure," Snyder said. "The kind of sacrifices that a family has to make."

He'll sit in a suite with them next season at Bill Snyder Family Stadium to watch the transformed product that 30 years of his own sacrifices brought, the kind that brought out so many to celebrate him.

"Very heartwarming, humbling, emotional," Snyder said of the celebration. "I was touched by the people that were here."

So much so that you knew exactly how he'd end his speech.

"You truly have been an amazing part of all positive things that have taken place," Snyder told the crowd. "I thank you and am forever indebted to you for all that you have meant to me and my family, to this program, to our university, to our state.

"You truly are special I thank you for the lovely evening. But even moreso, I thank you for you are and what you have meant in my life and the impact that you have had on my life."