MANHATTAN, Kansas — Even in the midst of a bye week, Bill Snyder didn't have time to blow out any candles.
The Vanier Football Complex, the headquarters of Snyder's architectural masterpiece at Kansas State, was humming like normal on Tuesday. There were no special plans in store as the longtime coach celebrated his 75th birthday.
"I will be right here doing what we always do, evaluating film after our practice, practice tape and Oklahoma tape," Snyder said with a grin. "Same old thing."
The No. 17 Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) have a week to prepare for a visit to No. 11 Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1), a game that has significant Big 12 title ramifications. So that's what has Snyder's full attention these days.
However, in his allotted 30-minute session with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Snyder did spend a bit of time reflecting on his 23-year career at Kansas State.
"Part of it is choosing the right people to embrace in your life, making family important, being who you are and working at whatever you do," Snyder said of sustaining his success. "There are multiple things that you learn by having good people in your life. I have learned something every day from good people."
After coaching at the high school and college levels, Snyder has fine-tuned his craft over the past 50 years. He is now the oldest active coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
"That is something I have not really thought about," Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters said of his coach's age. "It is definitely special to see. It is his birthday, but you would never expect that based on how he acts and how he goes about his day."
Besides, age is just a number in college football these days.
Frank Solich, who turned 70 in September, has guided once-woeful Ohio to five straight winning seasons. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier turns 70 in April, and nobody seems to think he's going anywhere soon. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who is closing in on three decades with the Hokies, turns 68 next weekend.
The list of accolades on Snyder's resume is long: more than 180 wins, a pair of Big 12 titles, three trips to BCS bowl games and only two sub-.500 seasons since 1992. But while he's not ready to single out any particular moment, he does always point to one thing for the success that he's had throughout his career.
"My mother was a true guiding light in my life and she was there for me," Snyder said. "In the good things that I have learned, I have learned from her."
Barry Switzer, who coached both for Oklahoma from 1973-88 before leading the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s, famously referred to Snyder as the "coach of the century."
It's hard to dispute what he's accomplished at a school that Sports Illustrated once labeled "Futility U." Along with all the wins, Snyder has pumped out numerous All-Americans and NFL draft picks, a signal of how firmly established his program has become.
It also points to a lack of turnover on his staff. Assistant coaches such as Del Miller and Dana Dimel have spent years with Snyder, in some cases leaving his program to strike out on their own, only to return for another stint under his watchful eye.
Along with several staff members who have spent a decade or more with Snyder, there are five former players on his staff that are working in various capacities.
"It is cool to be coached by someone that has been through everything that you might think of and has coached so many great players," Waters said. "For him to coach us and give all of us his time to us is a special feeling."
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