The Man in Manhattan

Legendary Head Coach Bill Snyder recently sat down with publisher Tyler Jackson to catch up on life in retirement

I have to start off by asking, as one could certainly safely assume, you’re not too bored in your retired life, are you?

“I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I wouldn’t mind a little boredom, but it hasn’t quite arrived. I imagine it will soon!”

You’ve got five kids, nine grandkids and six great grandkids. What’s a better title, Coach, or Grandpa? 

 “I like grandpa! I’ve been blessed. We’ve been blessed to have wonderful children, and wonderful grandchildren. I mean, truly wonderful people. Now we’re going to find out about all of these great grandchildren. I hope they take after their parents” 

What are your hobbies these days?? 

“I can’t say that I have a lot of hobbies. I still stay active and busy. I like to swim, and i workout on the treadmill everyday as well, as the swimming is over until the weather gets good again. I do a lot of stuff with the children and grandchildren. Outside of that, there’s a lot of odds and ins. I’m better when I’m busy than when I’m not.”

What’s one book that changed your life? 

“I don’t know if there’s one, but like most people, I would probably have to say the Bible. It’s certainly impacted my life. Bobby Bowden wrote a very meaningful book, not just about football, but about many things that had taken place in his life. I really enjoyed that. I like biographies. Dwight Eisenhower has a great one, and Joe Paterno has a great one also. I also enjoyed Hayden’s book (Legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry) as well. Lots of books like that.

D. Scott Fritchen recently wrote a biographer detailing your coaching career, My Football Life and the Rest of the Story, what was it like reminiscing on those days? 

“Well it did bring up a number of times in my life, good, bad & indifferent. We set right here for several weeks & months. We would just talk about things, until we ran out of stuff to talk about, and then we would come back the next day. Scotty always had a interesting list of questions that he would bring. It was just like this, not much different. 

You’re famous for your hand written letters, what’s your philosophy on those?

“Well I didn’t know how to type! That’s probably a part of it. We all get things that come through the mail, and sometimes those type-written things are like form letters. I just think that it’s more meaningful. I know that when I get a hand-written note it’s more meaningful to me because somebody took the time to do that, rather than dictating a letter to somebody. It just makes sense to me.”

Speaking of philosophy, where did you get the idea for the creation of the “16 goals for success” 

“They’re not unique. Everybody in the coaching world, or in the teaching world, or in any classroom or locker room in the country, and there’s words posted. They’re not insignificant, but that’s all they are is just words, until you do something about them. Yes there’s 16, but there was 12 to begin with. There could be 100. But to me, the important thing wasn’t just having a bunch of words posted around, it was about what each one meant, and if they were important, intrinsic values. Which they are. Then how do you implement them in your program to help serve young people? That was the important thing. They weren’t just goals posted on a board. How do we teach? How do we utilize? How do we embrace “commitment”? “Responsibility”? “Discipline”? Etc, etc. So it was about having a process for each and every one of those goals that was really significant.

I’ve read that your mother was your base. How much of that do you credit to your coaching career?

I credit everything to my mother, all the good things in my life anyway. My mother was an amazing woman. My mother was 4’9”, and never weighed 100 pounds in her life. She was the mentally strongest and mentally toughest individual I’ve ever known in my life. She worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. Didn’t make a great deal of money, but saved it all up to send me to college. She disciplined me. She had a sense about what I was doing, or what was good in my life, or what was maybe on the verge of not being so good. She guided me, and sometimes with a strong hand. She was just an amazing woman, and was such a giving person for everybody in her life. She was always attempting to help others. My mother & I lived in a one room - not one bedroom - one room apartment close to downtown St. Joe (Missouri) where she worked. She never drove an automobile in her life, and never had a driver’s license in her life. Therefore, walked to work so she didn’t have to spend money on a streetcar, away from town. She was downhill all the way to work, and uphill all the way back. She was phenomenal.

From Facebook, I asked a couple of our readers, “if they could ask coach Snyder any question, what would they ask?” 

Deb Metzger asks, “What is your all time favorite food?”

“I don’t know, probably hamburgers! I always loved my mother’s grilled cheese sandwiches. I love bacon. I love biscuits & gravy! That’s not one all-time favorite, but those are things that I like!”

Evan asks, “Reflecting back on your entire coach career at Kansas State, what’s the game you still think about the most?” 

“Interesting, because I try to put that in the past, and don’t really think about it. I try to think about the day. Games that come to mind, there would be a number of them. That first win we had here over North Texas was meaningful to a lot of people. I think the loss against Texas A&M was a very meaningful game, and obviously, a difficult loss. I enjoyed some of the Nebraska games, wins & losses. The Michigan game in Tempe was great. The Iowa game we played in Kansas City was significant because of my background. There was a lot of great games. 

Jason Meysenberg asks: “Does Nike pay you a royalty for being the ambassador of a certain shoe, the Nike Cortez?”

“No. Haha! When we went with Nike, I got a royalty, and I don’t remember what it was, or how long it went, or how much it was. It wasn’t much. The thing with Nike was, I enjoyed the people with Nike. That’s where I met Bobby (Bowden) and Joe (Paterno). It wasn’t playing against them, well I had met Joe before, only just met him, but we would travel on a yearly trip with Nike. We would go to a nice place on an island somewhere and hangout for a week. We would spend all of our time talking. We would talk four or five hours a day with Bobby & Joe, and others, and we would share all kinds of stories. I really enjoyed that, and getting to know them, and others. 

Do you ever still wear the Nike Cortez? 

“I don’t wear the Cortez, no, but I still have Nike stuff that I get into from time to time”

Any last words to the great people of Manhattan?

“Ive said so many times, we came because of the people, and stayed because of the people, and when we retired, we continued to stay here because of the people. It’s been home. Because they really are very special. If it wasn’t for the people, we wouldn’t have stayed here. I could’ve went and lived by the water, and enjoyed the warm weather every day, but people are far more special than the weather” 

My Football Life and the Rest of the Story, by D. Scott Fritchen, is now available at your favorite local Manhattan bookstores. 

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