Rece Davis, master of ceremonies for Friday’s College Football Hall of Fame ceremony, asked for one last question, gazed around the room, and saw the raised hand of a woman in a purple shawl.
“I have just one question,” Sharon Snyder said. “He’s very good at math, and I used to be a math teacher. However, I need to remind him that we have five children.”
Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, architect of perhaps the greatest turnaround in college football history at Kansas State University, had forgotten to name one of his five kids and the room roared with laughter.
“I was just thinking about that,” Snyder said. “I don’t know who I missed.”
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That would be daughter Whitney, a former standout in equestrian at K-State.
Dad blushed and apologized, and the spin on this slip might be that it took so many people to turn around the nation’s most moribund football program that Snyder didn’t have time to name them all.
Let’s go with that.
“So many wonderful things wouldn’t have happened in my life without all those people,” Snyder said.
Snyder was among 17 new Hall of Fame members introduced Friday, a kick-off occasion to the College Football Playoff title game on Monday between Oregon and Ohio State.
He’s the fourth coach to be inducted while coaching, following Bobby Bowden at Florida State, Penn State’s Joe Paterno and John Gagliardi of Division III St. John’s in Minnesota.
“It means I’ve been around a long time,” said Snyder, who was eligible for induction while still active because he turned 75 last year.
Snyder orchestrated one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history at K-State, which had lost more football games than any program when he took over in 1989.
He turned the Wildcats into a Big 12 power and a national title contender with seven double-digit victory seasons in a span of nine years. Sixteen of the school’s 18 bowl appearances have come during his time in Manhattan.
“Perhaps the greatest coaching job of our generation,” said Davis, an ESPN studio host.
Snyder retired after the 2005 season, but returned in 2009 and has not had a losing season since. The Wildcats went 9-4 this season, wrapping up with 40-35 Alamo Bowl loss to UCLA.
K-State had posted 30 non-winning seasons in the previous 33 before Snyder arrived from the University of Iowa, where he served as offensive coordinator. He turned the team into a winner in his third season, won a bowl game in his fifth and had K-State ranked first nationally in his 10th.
His 187-94-1 career record over 23 seasons speaks to only part of his impact in Manhattan. Winning football changed the image and fortunes of the university and community.
The football stadium, which is undergoing another round of renovations, is named Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Contributing: Associated Press
Hall of Fame facts
▪ The induction ceremony will be Dec. 8, 2015, at the National Football Foundation annual dinner in New York City.
▪ The Hall of Fame was established in 1947 and among those in the first class were Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Knute Rockne and Amos Alonzo Stagg.
▪ Some 5.06 million people have played college football in 146 years. Including the 2015 class, the Hall includes 963 players and 209 coaches.