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Bob Lutz: Snyder stays on the job

Sean Snyder, Bill’s son, might be 78 by the time his father decides it’s time to stop coaching football at Kansas State.

I wouldn’t say my jaw dropped at the news today that Bill Snyder, all 73 years of him, signed a newBill Snyder.five-year, $14.75 million contract that could keep him at Kansas State through the 2017 season, possibly longer.

But the five years was a mild surprise, giving Snyder’s age.

You know who has to feel good about this, don’t you? Even better, perhaps, than Bill?

It’s Kansas State athletic director John Currie, who can stop worrying about having to hire “the guy after Bill,” at least for a few years.

Remember the last time K-State hired “the guy after Bill?” Sure you do, and it was a mess. Ron Prince, bless his heart, just wasn’t cut out of the same cloth as the miracle worker/savior/savant/soothsayer – well, you could go on and on with slashes/adjectives, but you get the point.

Snyder is K-State football and nobody,  no matter what they say, feels entirely sure of the level to which the Wildcats will play once Snyder someday decides he’s had enough.

He decided that once before, you know, after the 2005 season. K-State was coming off a 5-6 season, after being 4-7 in 2004, and it looked like the 66-year-old Snyder – or as they called him back then, “Whippersnapper,” was at the end of the line.

He wasn’t. After the failed experiment with Prince, he was coaxed into returning to the sideline and has steadily built K-State back to being one of the elite teams in college football.

I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out how Snyder does it. Nobody thought there was a coach alive who could win college football games in Manhattan. Nobody was even that enthused about the hiring of Snyder, a nondescript assistant at Iowa, back in 1988.

But Snyder did the unthinkable. He made K-State into a consistent winner. And in so doing, he has become the most important, and comforting, security blanket in the world that doesn’t belong to Linus. K-Staters are breathing easier today because Snyder will be around for a few more years.

Those same Wildcat fans were restless after Snyder assistant coaches Joe Bob Clements (Oklahoma State) and Michael Smith (Arkansas), both of whom played for Snyder at Kansas State, recently took new jobs. Why were they leaving? What did they know? Are they getting out of town in front of Snyder’s second retirement?

Today’s contract announcement has no doubt calmed many nerves. Temporarily.

I’m 80 percent sure that Snyder isn’t getting any younger, although with him there is some evidence that he has been able to turn back time. There will come a day when Currie and K-State president Kirk Schulz, or whomever is in those positions when the day arrives, will have to hire a new football coach.

Snyder has endorsed his son, Sean, while also saying that he hopes his son doesn’t get the job because of its difficulties. I believe Snyder believes he is one of only two coaches in the country who understands the complexities of coaching football at Kansas State, and that he believes Sean is the other.

That whole situation has the potential of devolving into a quagmire, but for now it can be avoided. Snyder is staying. There is peace in Manhattan.

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