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October 7, 2012

Snyder celebrates 73rd birthday

No one knows exactly what it consists of, but Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder has a distinct routine he follows. Whatever it might be, he adheres to it. His personal life is classified. His preparation work is top secret. Snyder has his own ways, but there is a reason why his current players describe him as a legend, a selfless leader and a model of consistency. There is a reason why a highway and a football stadium in Manhattan, Kan., bear his name.

Snyder treats everyday the same. However, this is no ordinary day. It's his birthday and it's a milestone that is generally reached by a retired citizen. Not Snyder, though. The oldest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision is still one of the best. Sunday, the ageless master turned 73.

That's just it. Snyder doesn't waver from his routine. Other than a few more gray hairs and a brief retirement stint, not much has changed since K-State first hired him in 1989. He has kept the relatively same practice regimen, the same travel schedule and virtually the same uniforms. He only eats one meal a day, he gets the same model of car each year and he still paces the sidelines on Saturday's in a purple windbreaker and Nike Cortez sneakers. It's what he does and it's why he is successful. It's how he resurrected one of the worst programs in college football history.

Looking back on the year that was, Snyder had one of his best years at the helm. At the age of 72, he guided the Wildcats to a 10-3 record, including a 5-0 start in 2012. And on the final day at the age, K-State crushed in-state rival Kansas 56-16. It was an early present and a fitting end to a prosperous year.

"I think the 'W' is probably as good of a birthday present as we could give him," senior quarterback Collin Klein said after the game.

After the Wildcats defeated then-conference foe Missouri 24-17 last October, the K-State players sang the famed birthday tune in the locker room. That didn't happen this year. Instead, several players shared a kind message for their coach during postgame interviews.

There was the message of respect from senior defensive end Meshak Williams. "I just want to tell him happy birthday and it's a blessing for him to be living this long. It's a blessing."

There was the message of loyalty and dedication from Klein.

"Happy birthday," he said with a grin "One more step."

And then there was the message of admiration from senior middle linebacker Arthur Brown. "There goes the victory, Coach. Happy birthday. Thank you."

On Saturday night, Snyder took a break from football as he spent time with his family, but it was a short recess as he returned to work on Sunday because his schedule called for it. The K-State coaching staff always meets on Sunday's and the No. 5 Wildcats have to prepare for their upcoming game at Iowa State next weekend. Snyder has a distinct routine he is determined to follow.

It should come as no surprise that his silver Cadillac Escalade was parked at the Vanier Football Complex for most of the day. Nor should it shock anyone that it will likely be the last car to leave the parking lot Sunday evening or perhaps early Monday morning. It's what he does and it's why he is successful.

There is a reason why he has 164 career victories including eight seasons with 10-plus wins. There is a reason why he took K-State to 11 straight bowl games from 1993-2003 and back-to-back appearances the past two years. And there is a reason why he has been recognized as the national coach of the year four times.

It's because Snyder treats everyday the same. Even his 73rd birthday.





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