BETWEEN THE teary Nov. 15 press conference at which he announced his retirement and last Saturday's 36-28 win over Missouri, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder tried to do his job. But he was too emotional to concentrate as he watched film of the Tigers. "After a while," Snyder, 66, admitted on Saturday, "I wasn't sure what I was looking at."
It was a rare moment of fogginess for Snyder. A legendary workaholic, he put in 20-hour days during his 17 years at K-State and once consulted a hypnotist to see if he could get by on less sleep. That's the effort it takes to turn around the country's worst program, which is what the Wildcats were when he took over in 1988. The first college football team to lose 500 games, Kansas State had been to one bowl game in its 93-year history.
By mining the state's junior colleges for talent, running arduous practices and scheduling soft opponents, Snyder pulled off the Miracle in Manhattan: Kansas State became a power. He took the Wildcats to 11 straight bowls and the Big 12 title in 2003. Last week the school renamed its field Bill Snyder Family Stadium. His name would have lived on even without that tribute.