Last year, my insights into the mind of Bill Snyder to decipher his masterful use of nonsensical coachspeak and one-of-a-kind phrases generated quite a response from those eager to learn what K-State's legendary leader is really thinking. At this week's Big 12 Media Days, HCBS stepped up his game with lines such as "My degree of optimism is negotiated daily," and "I'm as old as time and that's not going to change."
It took a little extra time to break the code and find the true meaning of those wise words, which is why you're reading this post Thursday afternoon. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that real life has been busy lately and Sporting Kansas City played a friendly against Manchester City last night that I absolutely could not miss.
What follows is some of the real questions and answers from the press conference, along with my translation of what HCBS was really thinking. Answers have been edited for length, because he does tend to ramble and occasionally repeat himself, probably for strategic purposes.
Scott Fritchen, Powercat Illustrated: Looking at this current team, the reports you've heard, summer conditioning and the workouts and knowing what you have returning, what kind of signs of optimism do you carry heading into the fall?
BILL SNYDER: My degree of optimism is negotiated daily, I think, and the mantra of our program has always been centered around that daily improvement. And when we make daily improvement, then I become a little more optimistic. And when we don't, obviously I don't.
I think my major concern -- and going in the opposite direction but my major concern is always young people taking things for granted. I say young people. I probably can reference everybody in our program, is not taking our performance level, our talent level for granted, not taking the preparation for opponents for granted, not taking our workouts during the course of the summer for granted...
I would share a fairly high degree of optimism for today, but tomorrow's a new day and we'll see how that goes. I can't make projections in regards to what kind of a football team. I know what we have capabilities of being and whether or not we can reach that level or not is dependent upon a lot of things, and the biggest thing is not taking anything for granted.
Didn't tell you anything, did I (laughter)?
TRANSLATION: The problem is these are 18-22-year-old kids we're dealing with, and they're really kind of inconsistent and often unreliable, though not as much as I was at that age. Seriously, I flunked out of Mizzou. That's how bad I was, so at the end of the day, it's tough for me to be too hard on these kids.
When you've lived as long as I have, which is a really long time, eventually you pick up some motivational tactics that work. Also, being able to point to a 2-4 start last season as an example of what happens when you take things for granted doesn't hurt.
Really, this team is providing a lot of reasons for optimism, but it would be dangerous for my health and the health of some of our fans to raise expectations too much, so let's not do that. Plus, there's a chance I'm just in a good mood because this Starbucks coffee is especially delicious today, and I might feel totally different tomorrow.
You've known me long enough to parse out something meaningful from all of that, right Scott?
John Moss, ABC Tulsa: Can you talk about how you've seen Tyler Lockett mature on and off the field since he arrived at your program?
BILL SNYDER: Tyler's a tremendous representative of our program. He has matured greatly, but he was a reasonably mature young man when he came into our program.
We've had his uncle and his brother in our program as well. Comes from an amazingly wonderful family. And each of the three that we have had, even though far different skill capabilities on the field, all of them quality players.
But probably more importantly than anything else is the fact that they are truly genuine young people, have a great value system brought forth by their family, their parents.....
He's an extremely hard worker. He's a young guy that right now -- tomorrow's another day, but right now I'm so proud of his attitude, his value system, and part of that guides him to do anything and everything that he can to get himself a little bit better every day.
He's one of those guys that you leave the practice field, you go in your office, you look out the window and you've got the equipment managers out there twiddling their thumbs wanting to get the lights turned off and Tyler won't let them because he's out there catching balls off the machine and keeping quarterbacks out to throw to him.
So just a young guy that he's got all his marbles in the right place.
TRANSLATION: First of all, he's a Lockett, so he was born to be a star wide receiver for Kansas State. The only thing we really had to do was hand him a jersey.
He works harder than all of you, though not quite as hard as me, just because he knows that would be disrespectful and his body actually requires him to eat and sleep regularly to perform at high levels. I only need a daily meal from Taco Bell and maybe a 2-hour nap in my office.
Oh, and he's going to be really, really good this year as long as we can get him the ball.
Ian Boyd, Inside Texas: At the safety position, what all did Ty Zimmerman do for you guys in the last few years, and which guys are you going to count on to step into that place?
BILL SNYDER: You know, Ty was a quarterback in high school. Father was a high school football coach. They came from just up the road in Junction City.
And Ty was a starter for us as a redshirt freshman and really did -- he grew in the program. He was very knowledgeable. His high school background was beneficial to him in the program. He was a good director of traffic, so to speak. He was a quality leader. He was one of those young guys again that had a great value system, promoted well by his family.
He always did the right things. He always tried to do the right things. He was a very caring young guy. He took on a leadership role very early in the program. And when I say was a good director of traffic, he was one of those guys that made the most of our calls for us and would be able to get people in the right position.
Very valuable young guy.
TRANSLATION: Ian, you seem like an intelligent youngster and that's a great question, so you probably already know I'm not going to answer the second part of it and reveal anything about our new starters.
Let me just tell you how much I loved Ty Zimmerman and how valuable he was for our defense. He's smarter than you. He grew up a lot because that's what happens when you listen to our coaching staff, and if more people were like Ty Zimmerman, the world would be a better place. We weren't nearly as good without him, which you might have noticed at times.
Thinking about what we're going to do without him this season has given me some nightmares.
Tim Griffin: I wonder what kind of sense did you get from the group coming back after the way that your team finished winning six of the last seven and especially the Bowl game? What did that do, do you think, for the program?
BILL SNYDER: Well, the hope would have been and was that we had learned lessons along the way. And the lessons dated back to the outset of the season in which we were not a very good football team. We were 2-4 the first half of the season and lost the very first ballgame to a very fine North Dakota State University team, but a game that we were supposed to win.
And the result of that game was brought forth I think by what I mentioned a little bit earlier, by taking things for granted, taking our performance level for granted, taking the opponent for granted, certainly some other things, but by and large that led to the charge.
And I think that the way that our young people finished the season allowed them to understand the value of not taking anything for granted because they certainly didn't toward the end of the season or the last half of the season and preparing yourself that way on a very consistent basis. And we had a lot of dialogue about that during the last three-quarters of the season.....
And my -- I don't know, we've been to 16, 18 Bowls at Kansas State, but I cannot recall a preparation that was as pleasing to me as the one that took place this past season....
And I was just extremely happy and pleased and proud and very hopeful that that preparation and that approach to the preparation would carry over during the course of the season, spring practice and the summer, and then our preseason workout starting here in August.
Remains to be seen. ....sometimes when you learn valuable lessons, then you have a tendency to reinvest and taking that for granted that you've learned your lesson and everything is in order.
And hopefully we don't do that. And I think during the course of the summer we've been pretty good, at least, grades probably 90 percent. That's not perfect, but still tells me about 90 percent of the young guys in our program have carried that experience forward and are putting it in place to help them achieve success during the course of this year.
TRANSLATION: Well, we sure as hell couldn't get any worse than we were at the start of the season. North Dakota State might have been one of the best FCS teams ever, but we should NEVER lose to an FCS team.
That happened because we got a little lazy and maybe started to feel entitled, which is ridiculous considering we're freaking Kansas State, not Oklahoma. Plus, sometimes the coaching staff, myself included, thought we could get away with some vanilla playcalling and trying new things with quarterbacks.
Luckily, we remembered here at KSU we have to earn everything and we learned how our two quarterbacks could be most effective, though I'm going to keep throwing in those Jake Waters draw plays just annoy people. As a coaching staff, we got a little pissed off at the team, told them how we felt, and they responded well.
I've been to so many bowls and am so old that I can't even remember all of them, but few of those have been more satisfying than taking Michigan out to the woodshed. The opportunity to see that utterly defeated look on Brady Hoke's face renewed my lifeblood and watching that tape hopefully motivated our guys to keep that same mindset going into the offseason.
Then again, like I said earlier, you never really know with youngsters. Of course if I were to grade them this summer it wouldn't be perfect, but I've never given anyone a perfect grade in anything in my life, especially myself. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Barry Tramel, The Oklahoman: By my count, since you were first hired at K-State, the other schools in the conference have had 48 head coaches. When you hear stuff like that thrown out by people like us, does that make you feel old and how do you sort of fight against the age thing and keep coaching at such a high-pressure, high-intensity job that you've got?
BILL SNYDER: Well, I don't pay much attention to what the turnover ratio is from one school to the next. And there's a variety of different reasons.
Sometimes people move on. The age factor, I can't negotiate that. It is what it is. And I'm as old as time and that's not going to change.
Probably the significant thing for me -- and I think I've learned this a long time ago -- when I was a young coach, started off in the high school level and moved to a lot of different places, and I was always one of those coaches that I wanted to be someplace else other than where I was.
In other words, I wanted to continue to climb. So when I was a high school assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. When I was a head coach, I wanted to be a college assistant. When I was a college assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. So that went on for a considerable period of time.
And I was half in/half out, so to speak. And consequently I was not a very good football coach at all, probably not a very good person.
And I learned some time ago, probably 30 some-odd years ago, that I needed to do it a little differently.
And my decision was, simply put, that be where you are. And I chose to do that. And that allowed me, I think, to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on. It wasn't significant to me. I valued where I was, where my family was and doing what we were doing, and that was kind of the approach that I've taken. And I think that's probably why I'm not one of those 48, I guess, that you're talking about.
Where do you get those stats, Barry?
TRANSLATION: I really don't care about any of that because I'm a wizard so age doesn't matter all that much.
When I was younger, back before any of you reporters were alive, I was always capable of being the best coach on the staff and didn't want to be told what to do by an inferior boss. Then high school wasn't challenging enough, so I wanted to move up to college. Honestly, I wasn't even trying at that point in my career.
Eventually at Iowa I found Hayden Fry, who actually had a mind for the game that made me want to work hard and show my offensive genius. I also realized this coaching thing could take me somewhere and lead to a pretty good life for me and my family. My actual family, not the metaphorical one. K-State noticed and they seemed to appreciate me taking their program from the bottom of Division I-A to almost the top, so I get to stay here as long as I want.
What kind of a question was that, Barry?
BARRY TRAMEL: I looked it up.
COACH SNYDER: What was the end result you were hoping for?
TRANSLATION: Were you trying to impress me or something?
BARRY TRAMEL: I was thinking 75.
COACH SNYDER: Okay (laughter). Dig a little deeper; you might find it.
TRANSLATION: Try harder next time.
MAX MORGAN in Dallas: We were talking about coaches and you have a new one in the Big 12 in Charlie Strong. You have a good rapport with your fan base there, Kansas State. What kind of advice would you give him if he asked you, because he said some things that's kind of irritated the Longhorn fan base, or was this just kind of a to each his own kind of thing?
COACH SNYDER: I visited with Charlie just a little bit ago. I was pleased to hear him talk about his family and daughters moving to Austin.
It's not easy being a child of a head football coach any place in the country for that matter. I think the important thing is just be who you are. And if you indeed do that, be who you are, care about people -- I think Charlie cares about people -- I think things can work out fine for him.
TRANSLATION: That's a really dumb question. I met Charlie, and he seems like a good football coach and more importantly, a good human being. UT fans and media need to stop criticizing him before his team has even played a game. But even after last year, we still own Texas.