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A Kansas State Fan’s Retrospective: Bill Snyder’s Career Win 200

Left: One of the first K-State games I ever attended, with my brother Derek and my mother Jean. Right: My wife Leah and I after Bill Snyder's 200th career victory at Kansas State.

Asking Bill Snyder to single out meaning to Saturday’s 34-19 win over in state-rival Kansas to notch career win number 200, is like asking any parent to tell you who their favorite child is. To coach Snyder, all wins are as significant as the other, but more important to him is how to improve for the next moment of the season.

“I said to the players in the locker room is that 200 is a number and that stands for a lot of wonderful young people that have come through this program and every single one of them has contributed to that particular number.” Snyder told reporters after the game Saturday.

I have often said, I sure hope my coach (of any team or sport I follow) has no clue what is going on in the blogsphere, because that means they are not focused on the most important thing: coaching their team. Us fans, we are the consumer or probably more accurately the “consumed”. Ultimately if we care about winning most, we are better left to leave that to the professionals. Similarly, I can completely appreciate Bill Snyder has more concern about how to get prepared for the final regular season tilt versus TCU than being one of ten coaches to ever record 200 victories at one institution in FBS level college football.

In post game Snyder would go on, “As I said to our players, it is also about our University and the leadership in our University and how they have supported our program over the last 25 years. This community and the University, everybody is invested in anything good that happens here. There are more people than you can name and without them it does not happen. That is the way I feel about it. I probably do not sound in a very good mood but I am responsive to how we played, and today we played rather ugly. I do not feel good about that, I can assure you. ”

Whereas Coach Snyder would not care to embellish win number 200 much further than the above, I think it is important to leave that to the fans, and let coach go back to doing what he does best. But hopefully too some day coach can look back fondly on this memory as well.

Coach Snyder helped a state of nearly 3 million people grow into the culture of college football Saturdays. Or as my mother decided, there was more to fall Saturdays than cleaning the house and folding laundry with her three sons. After taking the family to our first ever K-State football game in 1995 (a 17-27 loss at the hands of the Colorado Buffaloes), mom had a taste of the experience. Fast forward to spring of 1996, and my mother decided to pull the trigger on 1996 season tickets. While probably not the ideal time financially for my family to add this expense, my mom, dad and family needed that relief from the hard times and hard work. Having no daughters, my mother constantly was looking for ways to facilitate close bonds with her sons. For me, college football was exactly that: a special bond with a mother and a son.

So as I watched the tribute video following the conclusion of Saturday’s game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, I sort of chuckled to myself when they skipped from win 1 to win 27, the 1993 Copper Bowl. At age 31, that game represents my furthest back memory of K-State football. I remember watching it in the basement of my grandparent’s house as they were the closest resource to ESPN and cable TV.

1993 was my introduction to K-State football, so I got in at the perfect time. I was well educated in just how bad it had been, but I only got to witness the good times. Of the remaining clips, only the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City was one I was not in attendance for.

After digesting Zac Carlson’s fantastic graphic of all 200 wins, It dawned on me that I pretty much have witnessed 80% of the 200 wins.

It is hit or miss between wins #27-46, but from #47 on I pretty much have seen them all and have a memory for each of them. 20 of my 31 Fall season have been spent in Manhattan, Kansas attending almost every home game since 1996 save a high school homecoming dances, wedding and a trip to Europe in 2010 meant giving up my ticket to win #146. Since I was a freshman at K-State in 2003, I have been a season ticket holder myself for 14  seasons. Our family left in the wee hours of the morning to drive straight through to Tempe, Arizona to watch Michael Bishop take out the Syracuse Orangemen in 1997 for win #66. In person at neutral site Arrowhead I saw wins #117, #139 and #145. Since 2008 I have taken in eight of those 200 in true road games.

But that video made me realize. It was not necessarily 200 wins as much as it is 200 unique memories for thousands of fans, families, and former rosters. There is no way I am the only one. Fall is a whole different season in the state of Kansas thanks to Coach Snyder. In that respect, it was fitting that the 200th win was able bookend a holiday which is all about giving thanks, creating memories and spending time with family. There to share in the jubilation of Coach Snyder’s milestone with my wife and I were those responsible for starting the first of the 150+ unique memories I have with K-State football, my mom and dad.

Thanks mom, thanks dad, and thanks Coach for all those memories.

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