Kansas State University

With cancer treatment over, K-State coach Bill Snyder focuses on spring

Bill Snyder talks about his 200th win

Postgame press conference with head coach Bill Snyder. Snyder picked up his 200th win on Saturday and is only one of three active coaches with 200 wins.
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Postgame press conference with head coach Bill Snyder. Snyder picked up his 200th win on Saturday and is only one of three active coaches with 200 wins.

When Bill Snyder learned he had throat cancer four months ago, the Kansas State football coach reacted to the diagnosis the same way he would a costly fumble.

“Not something you want to hear,” Snyder said Tuesday at his first news conference of the spring. “But, by the same token, it is what it is and you have to deal with it.”

That businesslike approach seems to have helped Snyder endure months of treatment. Though he appeared to have lost weight and strength while making public appearances at basketball games this winter, he looked back to normal while speaking with media for the first time since K-State’s 2016 season concluded with a victory at the Texas Bowl.

His final cancer treatment was in early March. His doctors have scheduled followup tests, but, for now, he said the prognosis is good.

“The hardest part is just the after-effects that come along with it,” Snyder said. “That is what we are going through right now. But millions and millions of people have done it.”

Snyder downplaying his medical condition is hardly a surprise. He has tried his hardest to remain strong for K-State’s football players while juggling treatment with his job, putting in as much as work as possible, regardless of his health.

He remains focused on next season.

Still, he is sometimes forced to work from home. Snyder admits he is not putting in the same long hours he is famous for, but he still spends more than eight hours a day at K-State’s football complex. He still visits with recruits when they are on campus and attends every practice from start to finish, keeping notes on his trusty voice recorder.

But he sometimes heads home before his staff is done for the day and completes his work there.

“I wish I could spend more time at it,” Snyder said. “I can do most of the things I have been able to do. Some of it I have to do outside of the office. You still put in the time. All of it is not here, though.”

K-State players haven’t noticed a difference.

“It has been incredible that he has been able to keep up, progress and be his old self,” linebacker Trent Tanking said. “He is up there telling us to get going, motivating us at every practice. As far as we are concerned, he is still our great coach who will lead us wherever we are going to go.”

The only noticeable difference in Snyder on Tuesday was his drink of choice. He sipped bottled water while speaking with media after years of drinking coffee from a small Styrofoam cup.

“He is basically the same old coach he has always been,” added quarterback Alex Delton.

Piles of get-well letters helped Snyder push through his rounds of cancer treatment.

When news of his diagnosis became public, support poured in from all across the country. Friends from Manhattan wrote to him, as did acquaintances from other states and strangers from other countries.

At times, his office has felt like a mail room.

“That is a very humbling thing,” Snyder said. “I can’t tell you how many thousands of responses have come in. People are so gracious … I know that people certainly care.”

Snyder received so many letters that he had no choice but to type up a generic response letter saying thank you to all who reached out to him, instead of his preferred handwritten style. But he is trying to send out more personal notes now that he has cleared out much of his inbox.

He describes the task as “quite a chore,” but he’s not backing down. With cancer treatment behind him, the only thing Snyder is taking a businesslike approach with is football.

“When he announced to us that he had throat cancer it was tough for all of us to take,” running back Alex Barnes said. “But we know that Coach Snyder is a tough man and that he is going to be able to get through it. He has our support and he has the support of the entire K-State community. He’s going as strong as ever.”

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett