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Bill Snyder to coach Kansas State at age 77 in 2016

One of the greatest coaches in the game's history will return.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Bill Snyder intends to return as Kansas State's head football coach in 2016, the school announced Monday.

'Following our bowl game against Arkansas, I had a chance to visit with my family, and they collectively wanted me to do what I wanted to do and none were against my decision to return as long as I am having a positive impact on the young people in our program, my health is in order and as long as I am wanted by the University and the wonderful Kansas State fan base,' Snyder said.

The 76-year-old (who'll turn 77 next October) remains a coaching legend at Kansas State and across the college football landscape. He first made his mark when Iowa legend Hayden Fry brought him to Iowa City to be the team's offensive coordinator in 1979. The Hawkeyes finished in the top 20 in six different seasons with Snyder on the sidelines, and that success led to a head coaching job at Kansas State in 1989.

Snyder took over a program that had lost more games than any other in college football history. He told SB Nation's Bill Connelly what that process was like:

I was just amazed to hear young guys talk about never wearing their letter jackets because they were too embarrassed. They were not going to class because they were embarrassed. They were not going to [local bars-and-restaurants district] Aggieville. There were no rules against it -- it was because of total embarrassment.

What I found, to the man, was that their GPA and classroom attendance had dropped steadily from the day they entered Kansas State. What I realized very quickly was the dramatic impact the lack of success had on not only football, but their entire life. Our first approach to it, and I think this was what becomes significant because it's never changed, was never what the scoreboard said. I made that clear to our youngsters.

What I wanted them to embrace were intrinsic values, the same things you teach your children and I teach my children. Things that would benefit them in all facets of their lives. One of those was just the capacity to find ways to get better every day, the implicity of improvement.

His first few seasons were laced with small improvements, including a 1-10 debut that featured the team's first win in over two years.


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By the time the Big Eight had become the Big 12, Snyder's Wildcats had become a national power. Between 1971 and 1990, Kansas State had exactly one season with a winning record. Under its new head coach, it had 11 in the 17 years between his hiring and his first retirement. That includes four-straight 11-win seasons from 1997 to 2000 and six seasons in which the Wildcats finished in the top 10.

Snyder retired in 2005 at the age of 66, but didn't stay away from the game for long. The legendary coach stepped back on the field -- at a stadium that now bore his name -- to right the K-State ship. Three years after his return, the WIldcats were back in the Cotton Bowl.

Snyder's made it clear that when he does step down, he'd like his son, associate head coach Sean, to be considered for the job.

Recent years have introduced us to a kinder, gentler Snyder, and while the question is whether K-State can continue to win with this change and the one that follows, there's no question that Snyder's made his mark as one of the sport's greatest coaches ever.