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Commentary Is Bill Snyder’s successor at K-State in the family?

  • Published Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at 8:14 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at 6:25 a.m.

In a “New York Times” article last month, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder was quoted at length talking about his son, Sean, and the hush-hush topic everybody wants to know about.

Or maybe they don’t want to know.

They’re just not sure.

Does Bill want Sean to take over as coach when he decides to retire again?

“If I were to step down today, I certainly would,” Snyder told the Times. “I think he’d be absolutely fantastic at it.…”

Then it got a little sticky.

“. . . But I wouldn’t encourage him to take the job,” Snyder continued. “I’d rather see him lead a more complete life than this.”

What?

Wait a minute, Bill. What are we supposed to do with that information?

You think Sean would be the right guy for the job, but that the job is wrong for the right guy?

When I spoke to Snyder on the telephone last week, I asked him to spell out a little more of what he meant by his somewhat cryptic quotes. He did, up to a point.

“I just said that I don’t think anybody in their right mind would really want to be a football coach,” Snyder said.

He’s talking, of course, about the long hours and the family suffering that is unavoidable for football coaches. Especially coaches like Snyder, who burn oil well past midnight, rarely taking time to eat, even.

“It’s a very unforgiving and diligent profession,” Snyder continued. “I guess the fact that I came back for a second time would tell you that I’m not very smart. I would think people would want to have a life.”

So, what about Sean?

Snyder said his son is uniquely qualified to be Kansas State’s football coach, that he understands the distinctive aspects of the position.

“You’ve heard me talk about that numerous times,” he said. “I’m very high on Sean as a football coach. He’s a tremendous leader and has the investment in the program that is unique. He understands how this works. Sean has been in this program longer than I have.”

So, would Snyder push his son for the job? Would he use his tremendous leverage at Kansas State to push the school’s president and athletic director to give Sean the job when he steps down, whenever that might be? And what about that thing you said about not encouraging him to take the Kansas State job?

Those are subjects Snyder politely declined to discuss. But they are impossible to completely ignore, even in the midst of an incredible 9-0 season that continues Saturday with a game at TCU. A win in Fort Worth could push Kansas State that much closer to a national championship showdown with … somebody.

Sean Snyder went from walk-on to All-American punter at K-State in the early 1990s. He joined his father’s coaching staff as a part-time assistant in 1994 and has continued to learn the ropes. He is currently the Wildcats’ associate head coach in charge or special teams.

If Bill Snyder says his son can coach, I believe him.

It also makes sense that he wouldn’t necessarily be enamored with Sean becoming K-State’s next head coach. But I also believe Snyder has grown to love the Kansas State football program and the university so much that if push came to shove, he would want to see the job of coaching the team kept in the family.

The last time K-State went out of the family to hire Ron Prince as Snyder’s successor in 2006 didn’t work out so well.

There would be inherent dangers in turning over the program to Sean Snyder and one stands out among all the rest – his father’s gigantic shadow.

“When we feel like the waters are smooth, and the program is secure, then I’ll get back on to doing some other things in my life,” Snyder told The Times.

That doesn’t exactly answer the much-asked question: How much longer will Snyder coach at Kansas State?

But it’s an indictor that one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of football probably isn’t going to hang around too much longer. Being undefeated and having his team ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings is pretty smooth water.

Kansas State president Kirk Schultz and athletic director John Currie weren’t around the last time Kansas State replaced Snyder. The decision to hire Prince was made by Jon Wefald, Bob Krause and Tim Weiser. And that decision is one reason none of those men are still at K-State.

How much would the current administration listen to Snyder? Enough to hire his son?

Doing so would be a huge gamble, one that could potentially blow up in everybody’s faces.

But the flip side of that argument is that it could work. Perhaps the Snyder magic has been handed down.

With Kansas State’s football success, this isn’t a front burner concern at the moment. K-State fans wants to relish these good times and enjoy Bill Snyder while they can. He looks like he could go forever in a sequel that is box-office gold.

But Snyder isn’t perpetual. He’ll have to quit sometime and a successor will have to step into his shoes.

Anybody know the size of Sean’s feet?

Read Bob Lutz’s blog at blogs.kansas.com/lutz. Reach him at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com.

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