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Translating Bill Snyder at Big 12 Media Days

Find out what Kansas State's legendary coach really meant when he spoke with media for one of college football's most overblown exercises Monday morning.

Straight answers from Bill Snyder at Big 12 Media Days? AS IF!
Straight answers from Bill Snyder at Big 12 Media Days? AS IF!
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of year again, when we're so starved for football that we put enormous stock into what coaches say about teams that haven't even practiced together yet and still won't play a game for another 40+ days. Naturally, as a sort of defense against the insatiable media hordes, coaches have developed a defense mechanism known as coachspeak to duck impossible-to-answer questions or avoid telling the entire truth about their team. Few have developed a more elaborate and complex language than Kansas State's Bill Snyder.

Luckily, from years of study, we here at BotC have learned how to decode Snyder's ramblings and translate them into something we hope you will find useful. What follows is an abbreviated version of real questions and answers from the press conference, along with a translation of what HCBS really meant. You can find full the full transcript here and the video here.*

*Note that this is only from the teleconference, so it does not include Snyder's incredible responses to questions about why he eats just one meal per day, as chronicled by the KC Star's Kellis Robinett.

BILL SNYDER: Not a whole lot to share with you. We can go ahead and get started. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to be here. Been here longer than most of you, I think. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it is what it is.

My respect to our conference and those of you that cover our conference. We greatly appreciate that.......

We've got four young guys here. You're supposed to -- I think you'll have an opportunity to hear from them. All of them are tremendous young people, good teammates, good students, care about each other, care about doing things right, and I think you'll find that. I hope that each and every one of you get an opportunity to be in front of them, and I think you'll be impressed by the quality of character of those young guys. Good football players as well.

TRANSLATION: You know how this goes. I'd rather be watching film or molding young men and if you want to actually learn something about our program, you're going to have to ask the right questions and hope I'm in a good mood. I respect that you all have jobs to do, but don't try to pull anything stupid. I've seen it all before.

We also brought along four of our players, since that's required, and they're probably going to answer questions in more or less the same manner as me.

SCOTT FRITCHEN, GOPOWERCAT.COM: I saw where you have seven quarterbacks listed on your roster, and I don't recall seeing seven quarterbacks on a Bill Snyder roster before. Upon going through the entirety of spring, I was wondering if you could assess the quarterback spot right now. Then, also, the summer transfer, Jonathan Banks, what he possesses and how he might fit into the mix.

BILL SNYDER: Yes, we do have seven quarterbacks. I think probably four of them at this particular point in time -- in my eyes, anyway -- should be competitive for the position. We will go into our proverbial two-a-day practices with that in mind.

It's hard to get all the repetitions you would like with four guys sharing the opportunities, so it will be significant for us to be able to pare that down as quickly as we possibly can. I don't know how fast that will be. Right now they're all on equal footing.

Three of them went through spring practice. The young guy that you mentioned, Jonathan Banks, just recently joined us, a very athletic young guy. We haven't seen him in a practice environment yet. So that remains to be seen. But he will be one of the four probably that will be certainly in competition for the position.

I think they're all good young guys. They all care. They're all good teammates. They all do things the right way. They all want us to see. So I think that will be very competitive. We just want to sort it out as quickly as we can.

TRANSLATION: Congratulations on knowing how to read and count. Alex Delton, Joe Hubener, Jesse Ertz and Jonathan Banks are the guys with a real chance to be our starting quarterback, which means none of them have really proven they're good enough to lead our offense. We need to fix that problem immediately.

Banks is very athletic, which probably isn't surprising to any of you if you've paid attention to Kansas State football for most of my career. But you'll also know it takes a lot more than just that to be able to play quarterback for me, unless you have the athleticism of Michael Bishop, of course.

KEVIN HASKIN, TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL: Regarding the Big 12's new rule restricting live contact, what do you think of the rule? Has the amount of contact in your practices changed over the years? How much do players need to have contact to get acclimated to games?

BILL SNYDER: I would think that you have to have some. It will not affect us because the rule defined as it is in place right now, and we've had discussions of it in our conference meetings, is identical to what our needs are. So it doesn't alter anything that we have done. We don't have to make any changes in that respect.

I like the way we do our practices. We've been doing them the same way for a long time. So it plays out to favor what we do, I think.

TRANSLATION: Football is a contact sport, so yeah, you want to have some in your practices. None of you will ever see us practice, but don't worry, we'll continue to follow the rules and do what we need to do.

BARRY TRAMEL, THE OKLAHOMAN: A lot of talk about expansion the last few weeks has risen up again. You have long advocated for a championship game, no matter what the conference format is. How do you stand on expansion? Do you feel like the league needs to get back to 12, or is 10 okay as long as you have a championship game?

BILL SNYDER: Let me try to answer it this way. I've long been an advocate of a certain way, and only because of its value to Kansas State. I mean, everybody has different opinions about it, and I understand that. We all have to think about collectively the conference and certainly our own programs and our own universities.

I have always favored the way it was at one time. I favor a 12-team conference, I favor two divisions, and I favor a championship game. You might remember that, when we had that format, we were one of only two teams that played a game in December, and that was one of only two conferences. That was the Big 12 Conference and the SEC. Now we're the only conference that does not do that and have that particular format.

I know it's hard to come by with being a ten-team conference. And as I said, I understand everybody doesn't want to do it that way. They all have very adequate reasons why they would not want to do it that way because of what it means to their particular program. That's just my opinion.

TRANSLATION: The national media and pollsters don't really notice Kansas State much, but they certainly noticed when we beat the hell out of No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game in 2003. If we could go back to the old format and do that again, it would be great. That would definitely give us a better chance of making the playoff.

I understand why Texas or Oklahoma wouldn't want to have a championship, since their program prestige and name recognition helps them out when it comes to the postseason. Again, just look at 2003, when OU still made the national title game - and lost again. But as long as I'm the coach at Kansas State and we don't get the respect we deserve from the rest of the country, I'd like to have a championship game to prove ourselves.

If one of you mentions 1998, I will stab you with this microphone.

CHRIS BUCKNER, FANREACT: Clearly, you are very passionate about your fan base, and your fan base is extremely passionate about Kansas State football. In light of all these awesome new renovations that you all have going on right now, can you talk about how important that fan base is to make Kansas State special.

BILL SNYDER: It goes back to the history, I think as much as anything. When we went to Kansas State University in '89, Kansas State University was a step away from being eliminated from what we define as Division I football at the time. And we had an attendance, average attendance of 13,000, give or take. There was an NCAA rule in place at the time that indicated that to be a Division I team, you had to have an average attendance of 19,000.

So there was discussion on the board of regents what to do, move to a lower level or drop football altogether. Both were on the table. And our fans stepped up, and we went above the necessary numbers for the first season. And every year there on out, we've grown. And we've learned to play in front of sellout crowds for quite some time now.

The fans have been -- they're wonderful. They care about the young people in our program. I have a great appreciation for that. They care about them as young people, not just win or lose guys. They're not nameless. They're young guys that I believe they're good young guys. Our fans believe they're good young guys. And they appreciate very much the kind of young people that we have in our program.

That's what's important to me. We haven't always been -- we've had some years that have been what some would consider to be down years, and the fans have been there for all of these young guys. In this day and age, that's somewhat rare, and I appreciate it a great deal.

You might remember several years ago when Pete Carroll was at USC and Kansas State played -- we played out in the Coliseum one year and then the following year they came back and played us in Manhattan. Pete Carroll went on one of the national TV shows after the ball game and said "The most intimidating crowd we have ever played in front of" in his history at USC. I thought that was saying something.

So I'm just so proud of them. They are - it says Family on that stadium. My personal family, certainly, that's for them, but it is also for the Kansas State family because I consider them personal family as well. Wonderful people.

TRANSLATION: Well, let's not forget about how terrible this program was before I got here and what I've done to stake my claim as one of the best college football coaches ever, if not the best. Considering all that, I'm pretty sure I deserve any renovations we get.

Needless to say, the fans have realized that and their overwhelming support in the good and sort of bad times makes it all possible. They're incredible in their giving of money, as well as making our stadium one of the toughest places to play in the country. That's a lot of fun for everyone, except our opponents.

I know every coach says that about his team and fanbase, but we've got other coaches vouching for our fanbase, too. You don't hear that in Lawrence, or in Austin or Waco, for that matter.

Family, family, family, family.

KELLIS ROBINETT, WICHITA EAGLE/KC STAR: Dante Barnett has been getting a lot of preseason attention. He's on a number of awards watch lists. How has he been handling that? What is it about him that you think will allow him to handle the top billing as the leader on your defense?

BILL SNYDER: I appreciate you saying it that way because that's exactly the way it has to take place. As I said, each one of those young guys I've alluded to, it's wonderful. Congratulations on being selected on this watch list, that watch list, et cetera, et cetera, but that's not the significant thing. The important thing is will you work hard enough, will you make it important enough to you to earn it in the light that is expected of you, which is to be a great teammate and make it about the team and not about yourself.

He is a young guy like the rest of them who I think will do exactly that. I think he cares more about the accomplishments of his collective team and his teammates than he does about his own. I have great appreciation for that. There's a humility there. Dante is a very confident young guy, and I appreciate that a great deal. But by the same token, humility is part of his makeup, and I appreciate that a great deal as well. But I also believe that it's deserved because he has been -- aside from the other things, he's been a fine player as well.

TRANSLATION: Finally, someone who understands me! We work hard to basically mold these young men into football-playing machines that put forth maximum effort to get better each and every day, with little to no regard for individual recognition.

Dante has matured into that type of player, and even though he's well aware he's one of the best defensive backs in this league, he's focused primarily on winning football games. If you don't have that mindset, you don't play, regardless of your talent level.

CAMERON BROCK, HEARTLAND COLLEGE SPORTS: Coach Snyder, you say that you're in favor of conference expansion. Which teams do you see as viable options for the conference if they in the future choose to do so?

BILL SNYDER: Well, I haven't gotten into that. I do the easy part of it. I can identify issues. Solution is another story. I'm not going to -- I'm not going to be part of answering the question or providing solutions. If I could, probably -- if asked, I certainly would try to help. I don't have enough background information because I don't venture in that direction. I don't want to get sidetracked in what we do. So I really couldn't tell you.

I hear the schools that are mentioned from time to time, and I think all of them are mentioned for a reason. Obviously, they have fine programs, good universities. But I don't have a favorite or two favorites, and I don't know where all that would go.

TRANSLATION: That is not part of my job, so I don't concern myself with those matters. But if someone asked me to find additional teams for the conference, I would obviously find the best teams available and convince them to join the Big 12, because I am Bill Snyder and I can succeed at anything.

KIRK BOHLS, AUSTIN-AMERICAN STATESMAN: Bill, I don't know how much longer you're going to coach, but do you think in the next 10 or 20 years -- have you thought about a second career in anything?

COACH SNYDER: I get asked some type of question like that quite frequently. When I retired, I missed football probably for about six months, and after that, I didn't. I truly didn't. I mean, I was enamored by it, but I didn't miss it.

I had the opportunity to do a lot of things I really enjoyed doing. We initiated Kansas Mentors, which is a statewide mentoring initiative that was significant for me and what was important to me. We initiated the Kansas Leadership Center, which was significant to our state, which is important to me. And I was heavily invested in the Kansas State University Leadership Studies program, which I helped initiate, and it's very important to me as well. I was invested in those things as well as more family time, and I enjoyed that.

When I was asked to come back, that was not an easy decision to make. Most people think "You missed it so much, you had to be back," and that was not the case at all. It took me, as I've indicated, probably around six months to make the decision to come back.

And the reason I came back was because of what I perceived, anyway, to be the capacity to help guide and direct young people to become successful in life and to help create a value system or implement a foundation for the rest of their lives. That has always been my highest priority in coaching, and that had more to do with me coming back than anything else.

TRANSLATION: I hope you don't think you're the first one clever enough to ask that question, because you are not and you certainly won't be the first person to get a straight answer. Instead, let me tell you about the first time I left, before Kansas State football found it needed me far more than I needed it.

It turns out there are other things in life besides football, and some of them proved very meaningful to me. I discovered my family is actually made up of very nice people, and I enjoyed spending time with them. I initiated some programs in an attempt to improve the embarrassingly awful leadership in this state, and I could have easily beaten out Sam Brownback for governor in 2010.

Of course, that didn't happen in large part because Ron Prince nearly ruined KSU football for everyone, and when John Currie asked me to clean up the mess left by Bob Krause -- well, I couldn't say no. John was just so desperate.

More importantly, he made the excellent point that many young lives were in danger of being ruined by the Prince regime, and I just couldn't stand to see all those kids fall short of their potential. Not after what K-State had done for me while I realized my full wizard powers. It wasn't a mistake to retire, but it was a mistake to not make sure I'd left a blueprint in the hands of someone capable of continuing my legacy. That's something I'll be sure to do whenever I depart for good, whether it's one year or 100 years from now.