Manhattan From the campus bookstore to the governor's officer in Topeka, word spread quickly Tuesday of coach Bill Snyder's retirement from a 17-year career that reinvented Kansas State football.
Before Snyder made the announcement at his weekly news conference in Manhattan, plans to honor the coach already were in motion at Ballard's Sporting Goods. The Aggieville store near campus will print commemorative T-shirts and towels saluting the coach credited with engineering one of the greatest program turnarounds in college football history.
"He is K-State football," said the store's co-owner, Becky Ballard. "I think people wish him well. I don't think anybody's bitter."
Snyder's announcement came just days before KSU plays its last game of the season Saturday at home against Missouri. The Wildcats are 4-6 and lost all but one game in Big 12 Conference play this season, ruining any chance at a bowl game for the second year in a row.
Before that, Snyder took KSU to 11 consecutive bowl games and a 135-68-1 overall record.
Before Snyder took over in 1989, K-State was the only major-college football program with 500 losses. The Wildcats had only one winning season from 1971 to 1989 and zero wins in the two years before Snyder's appointment.
KSU steadily improved and went from being a joke on most teams' schedules to a national-championship contender. The success changed the community and the state.
"It's evident coach Snyder cares about not only the school and the students, but the entire community. That's the mark of a great leader," Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "He'll be missed on the football field, but I'm confident he will continue to play an important role at K-State and in Kansas."
Steve Levin, manager of the Kansas State Student Union Bookstore, said he was surprised by the news.
"The whole town benefited from coach Snyder being here, and we're very grateful for him coming to K-State," Levin said. "We had probably two shelves worth of K-State merchandise (in 1993), and now we have three stores full. That has a lot to do with Bill Snyder."