Shortly after Bruce Weber arrived at Kansas State, a coaching colleague advised him to become friends with Bill Snyder.
The colleague was Roy Williams, and the North Carolina basketball coach was rather insistent.
“You better go talk to him,” Weber remembers Williams saying six years ago. “He has done the greatest job in college sports history.”
Williams got an up-close view of Snyder and his K-State football teams while he was coaching basketball at KU. Weber took him up on his advice and quickly got to know Snyder. Over time, they developed a strong working relationship.
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Snyder attended most of K-State’s basketball games after football season came to an end and occasionally spoke to the basketball team.
So Weber was naturally disappointed to hear the news about Snyder’s retirement last weekend. His career came to an end with 215 victories, 19 bowl games, two conference championships and one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history.
K-State football was hapless when Snyder came to Manhattan in 1989, and he turned the Wildcats into consistent winners over the course of three decades.
“It has been an honor to be part of it and to watch it,” Weber said at his weekly media availability Thursday. “What he has done, it truly is a miracle. I believe that.”
This is the first school Weber has worked for that was able to sustain football success.
That has helped him with recruiting visits in the fall and given him something fun to watch on Saturday afternoons.
“I have just enjoyed so much being here,” Weber said. “I have not had the great fortune of being at places that had good football. There was a long run at Purdue where they weren’t very good. Drew Brees came right at the end, and then I left.
“At Southern Illinois, they were almost as bad as they were here. They had something like 25 straight losing seasons. Then Coach (Jerry) Kill came and changed it, and I left. Then at Illinois they had a couple good years mixed in while I was there.”
Snyder announced his retirement after 27 years on the job Sunday at a team meeting, not long after K-State’s basketball team returned from a road basketball game at Marquette.
Weber shot him a text when he heard the news and hopes to see him at future basketball games.
“It’s sad,” Weber said. “When I texted him, I just said I pray and hope he can enjoy his retirement. That’s the biggest thing for any coach.”