Perhaps befitting Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder’s penchant for keeping the inner elements of his program hidden from view, an 8-foot, one-ton bronze statue of him on a granite pedestal was installed Wednesday and largely remained under wraps until an unveiling ceremony on Friday morning.
On a day the school was showing off the $90 million West Stadium Center renovation for its season opener at 7:30 p.m. against North Dakota State, at the epicenter was the man who made such an addition both necessary and possible: Snyder, whose name already is attached, of course, to Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The entire extended family of 18 is represented on the statue, too, with hand impressions on its base.
As for what’s on the base, Snyder’s pose was derived from photos and sketches but not, in fact, Snyder posing — something Snyder apparently wasn’t even asked by K-State to consider because of the likelihood he would refuse.
But his stance for the statue nonetheless is a familiar, almost iconic one to any K-State observer: left hand on hip, right hand holding his game book, gaze fixed on some element of the game, all part of a demeanor that speaks fluently to the aura of poise and assurance and control that he exudes.
The statue was installed under a shroud of packing blankets and shrink wrap within a box built to cloak the work.
“They’re not messing around with the secrecy,” Kansas City artist Spencer Schubert said in an embargoed interview with The Star earlier this week. “That is unique.”
Schubert did the work at his Kansas City studio, but the statue was cast in Lawrence, at Ad Astra Art Bronze Inc.
For that matter, Schubert is a KU graduate who believed that affiliation was a point of discussion after he was recommended by art consultant Paul Dorrell of Leopold Gallery.
“But I’m a sculptor, and thankfully they just saw that the quality was what they wanted it to be,” said Schubert, who laughed and added, “I would have audited a class at K-State if I needed to.”
Schubert, whose work includes portrait busts of Buck O’Neil, Dred Scott and Rush Limbaugh for the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, spoke at length with The Star about the dynamics of trying to study and understand Snyder as he prepared to create the statue and what it means to do such work.
Read about it in The Star on Sunday.