The Quick Wit of Coach Snyder

29 Nov

Kansas State’s Bill Snyder has a reputation for being not the most forthcoming or scintillating interview subject. He is not a big sharer of specifics, and he can skillfully circle a topic until a reporter has forgotten the original question. Most of Snyder’s answers are true but vague responses that go back to the fundamentals of the game, team sports and life in general. To be fair, those are constant, and Snyder has been answering the same questions about football teams for decades now.

What most outside the weekly press conferences miss out, though, is this: Snyder is funny.

Today’s little quirky responses reminded me of the first time I encountered the Snyder wit.

I was a freshman in college, 18 years old and probably the only girl and the youngest person in the room. I could literally feel my pulse quicken as I prepared to ask the legendary coach a question. The response I got made such an impression that I actually transcribed it, along with the exact wording of my question, and I found it saved on my computer today.

I got a kick out of it, and I figure some others might as well.

“Coach, could you tell us about your decision to use Gregory in the fourth quarter and then why you put Coffman back in after that possession?”

“Well, you may remember Coffman was laying on the ground, flat on his back, and you can’t take snaps from there.” – Oh yes, the entire room is snickering now. –  “I didn’t mean that to sound rude. Anyway, we needed to take him out, and when Grant went in the ball game, and he did some good things, and then Grant, er uh Carson, had cramps and he had managed the ball game up to that point in time, very critical period of time, very critical drive, and just having the experience, back on the field, the experience of the game. Had that same thing taken place in the second quarter of the ball game, we probably would have gone longer with Grant. We put him back in, he came back in after that, finished that last drive and got a very critical—Carson got a very critical first down when he brought it out of the pocket and Grant got a very critical first down for us that one, so both of them did something special in the ball game.”

As you can see, he took an opportunity to make a joke, but he also followed up with a sincere answer. This is Snyder’s modus operandi. The vast majority of the time, if he pokes fun at a question, he apologizes and then gives a more quotable response.

All in all, though, it’s good to see that after 50+ years in the business, he still has a sense of humor and is not afraid to use it.

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