The possibilities sit in front of Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder like food at a buffet — senior day, a rivalry game, the Governor’s Cup and a shot at his 200th victory.
All of it is on the table as K-State prepares to play Kansas on Saturday. What looks best?
For Snyder, the answer is easy. He orders off menu.
“It’s hard to believe maybe sometimes, but there is only one of those on my mind,” Snyder said, “and that’s us preparing to play well on Saturday. The rest of it is not on my plate.”
Some throw parties after milestone victories. Not Snyder. He has downplayed his career victory total, going so far as to describe winning 200 games as “not a significant statistic.”
K-State will pay tribute to Snyder if he wins the Sunflower Showdown this weekend. So will K-State fans and players. But there will be no fiesta at the Snyder household.
And there will certainly be no hyping the milestone before it is reached.
“When you think about how you try to prepare young people in our program, we always talk about keeping the game between the white lines,” Snyder said, “and being 1-0, making that every thought of every minute and every hour of every day to focus on the task at hand. … It is a total investment.
“It is true for players and for coaches. If we get caught up in the distraction element of it, then we are probably not going to be as good as we need to be on game day. It is important for us to practice what we preach.”
So it will be up to others to celebrate a career milestone few coaches have reached. Snyder is on the verge of becoming the 26th coach in major-college football history to join the 200-win club and the sixth to do it at one school.
That he did it all at K-State adds to the achievement.
His 199-105-1 record was viewed as unthinkable when he arrived at K-State in 1989 and took over one of the nation’s most moribund teams. In all the years before Snyder, the Wildcats qualified for one bowl and claimed one conference title while accumulating more losses than any other program. With Snyder, they have played in 17 bowls and won two league championships while establishing themselves as consistent winners.
Snyder has coached All-Americans, Heisman Trophy finalists and he has turned walk-ons into NFL stars. Last year, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Perhaps the most staggering Snyder stat: He has 160 more victories than the second-most successful coach in K-State history, Mike Ahearn.
There’s a reason K-State fans, and others, call his work the greatest turnaround in college football history.
“The way in which he resurrected a program and basically built it is the thing that is most interesting to me and most impressive,” KU coach David Beaty said. “The way in which he has done it, the guy, to me, is a picture of class. Everyone in our conference respects him. We respect him highly.
“There are a couple of us when we are together at meetings we make sure to watch him and follow his lead just because he has done it so well for so long.”
K-State players know more about Snyder’s legacy than anyone and are the first to say he has nothing left to prove.
Still, they are eager to help his victory count reach a nice, round number.
“It is a big deal,” K-State receiver Deante Burton said. “He doesn’t show much emotion about stuff like this. It could be win No. 2,000 and he will look at you the same way as No. 5. But we want it for him. It will solidify him in coaching greatness if he isn’t solidified there already. It is another coaching accomplishment he can add to his belt.”
K-State seniors think it could add to the atmosphere at their final home game.
“It would be pretty special to be part of his 200th,” K-State running back Charles Jones said. “I have been a part of a conference championship and a part of some key wins, but to be part of his 200th win, that is something you could brag about for the rest of your life.”
One day, Snyder may brag about it, too.
The 77-year old coach allowed himself a short period of time to travel to New York and celebrate his induction into the College Football Hall with friends and family last year, delaying the start of Liberty Bowl research to savor the moment.
Maybe Snyder will eventually talk about winning 200 games the way he talks about winning his first game against North Texas, his first bowl game against Wyoming or his two conference championships.
For now, though, it seems more likely he will simply thank the players, assistants and support staffers that helped him through the years and move on to the next game.
“I admire that he doesn’t make it a big deal,” Risner said. “He cares more about our team than he does about things going on his personal life and his coaching career. He hasn’t mentioned one word about it. That is what makes him a really good coach.”
The possibilities remain in front of Snyder, but he pays them no mind.
That raises a new question: Is there a milestone victory in existence Snyder would consider significant?
That’s an easy answer for him, too.
“Winning this ballgame,” Snyder said. “It was of equal significance last week and the week before and the week before.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett