One thing Sean Snyder enjoys about the start of a new football season is the way it shifts attention away from nebulous topics like fan debates and his father’s coaching longevity to tangible things like tackles and touchdowns.
That is always a welcome change, especially now.
Snyder’s name was in the news more than ever this offseason with K-State football coach Bill Snyder, his father, recovering from throat cancer treatment. No one knows how much longer he will continue coaching, but, at the age of 77, his long and successful career is nearing its end. Who will succeed him? No one knows that, either. But Bill has made it known he wants Sean to get the job.
That gets brought up every time a news outlet writes something about K-State’s potential succession plans, which happened quite often this summer.
“I think it has been like that the last two or three summers, pretty prevalently,” Sean Snyder said. “The reason I say that is I get asked about it all the time.”
How does he handle those repetitive questions?
“I don’t put any ownership in trying to figure out when dad is going to retire or who is going to replace him,” Snyder said. “I’m not the one hiring the position. I know what my job is. I go to work and do my job the best I can. I don’t put a lot of thought or worry or anything else into the what-ifs. What I know is I’ve got a season coming up and I am going to do everything possible to get us ready.”
That means getting involved in several areas. As his job titles imply, he has many responsibilities with the Wildcats. He is the team’s associate head coach, special teams coordinator and director of football operations.
Once a star punter at K-State, he now directs the team’s special teams unit during practice and games. Off the field, he says he handles everything from administrative duties to making sure the football complex stays clean. Last spring, he even directed a few practices and spoke at a news conference when his father couldn’t attend.
No detail is too small for Sean Snyder to brush aside. For example, he spends countless hours analyzing how to use multiple kickers on kickoffs against various opponents. Ask how he plans to rotate between Matthew McCrane and Mitch Lochbihler and he responds with nearly 200 words.
He is ready for the season to get here.
Bill Snyder likes to say Sean “virtually runs the program” while he is simply along for the ride. One day, he wants to see his son take over and lead the current coaching staff. Together, they have been around for every stage of K-State’s turnaround since 1989, helping their coach win 202 games, claim two Big 12 championships and reach 18 bowls.
“I feel very good about the people that are on our staff and in our program,” Bill Snyder said. “They have had successful careers and I want them to continue. I hope that takes place when the time comes.”
Sean Snyder is honored his father thinks he would make a good head coach. He didn’t always think that way.
When Sean Snyder got his start at K-State as a punter, he worked his way onto the team as a walk-on. The first time he was up for director of football operations in the 1990s, he was turned down. The first time he inquired about coaching, dad told him he wasn’t ready.
“Considering the fact he has tried multiple times over the years to find someone else to hire besides me, it’s a big honor,” Snyder said. “I truly appreciate the way dad has made me work over the years. If he would have given me anything I think the outcome would have been different.”
As it stands, Sean Snyder has worked the bulk of his professional life at K-State, coming on as a part-time assistant coach in 1994 and gaining responsibilities since. There were times he thought about leaving for other schools and other football programs, but staying always felt right.
“Dad is who I modeled my career after,” Snyder said.
Perhaps he will one day follow in his footsteps as K-State’s coach. Maybe he won’t. It’s one of the most divisive topics you can bring up with fans. Some like the succession plan. Some despise it.
Snyder tries not to think about his future, even though K-State coach is his dream job. Good thing the season is less than two weeks away.
“I would love to have that opportunity,” Snyder said. “On the other side of it, I’m not the one hiring that job. I love K-State. I love everything about it. That would be a great opportunity for me, as it would be for a lot of other people. But now is not the time to worry about that.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett