There are few coaches more well-respected in collegiate athletics than Kansas State’s Bill Snyder. Over two stints and 22 years coaching the Wildcats, Snyder has racked up 170 wins (seventh among active coaches) and has turned one of the single worst college football programs in the nation into one that has appeared in 14 bowl games under his watch.
When he speaks, people listen. However, what he told 610 Sports Radio KCSP, a Kansas City-based station, is probably something the NCAA and conference commissioners did not want to hear.
“College athletics, particularly football, has changed dramatically throughout my career,” Snyder said, via CBS Sports. “I think it’s in a bad place right now. It’s in a bad place for a variety of reasons. We’ve allowed it to become money driven. We’ve allowed it to become TV driven. We’ve allowed athletic programs or football programs to mean more to a university than what the university is really supposed to be all about.”
Snyder did not mention the recent free-for-all of conference realignment, but the writing is on the wall. His Big 12 conference was poached by the Big 10, Pac-12 and SEC to the point where the league was forced to downsize from 14 to 10 schools, even while adding TCU and West Virginia themselves. The fact that Nebraska left for the Big 10 is arguably the most glaring, as the Cornhuskers willingly tossed aside their storied and longstanding rivalry with Oklahoma for the television advertising dollars offered by the Big Ten Network.
“The last I heard, we were educational institutions,” Snyder said. “Certainly there is an education that takes place in football, and I understand all the parameters. But it’s not driven by values; it’s driven by dollars and cents.”
One big issue with Snyder’s argument is the fact that he recently inked a five-year extension worth $14.75 million. Such an exorbitant salary was only made possible by television viewership, stadium renovations allowing for more “premium” and luxury box seats and, simply put, grossly inflated ticket prices.
The way Snyder sees it, however, his salary is an unfortunate byproduct of the game being played at the conference and national level.
“I can only speak personally,” Snyder said. “I’m grossly overpaid for what I do. That’s part of what creates the issue.”
There are those, of course, who would point at the 73-year old Snyder and call him ‘old school’ or ‘behind the times’. The Alabama Crimson Tide simply does not win three of the nation’s previous four national championships if it does not ink Nick Saban to a contract that pays him more than $5 million annually.
Again, Snyder acknowledges that, too. However, it does not mean he has to like it.
“We didn’t grow up with it being the way it is right now,” Snyder said during the interview, referring to college athletics as a whole. “Maybe we’re just hard-pressed to accept change. We’ve been moving in a wrong direction, and I hope somebody can help put the brakes on at some point in time.”
Finally, a host on the radio show asked Snyder two things: First, if he had known what collegiate athletics would be like today, would he have gone into it in the first place?
“There was a feeling that’s [coaching] what I would do. I always thought I would. [But] if I was growing up with how it is now, maybe I would say, ‘Wait a minute. I better seek something else out.’ “
Second, are these changes going to force him out before he feels he is ready?
“You’re not too far away. You’re absolutely right.”
There are a great many things wrong with the way colleges and universities treat their athletic departments these days. Athletic directors, coaches and even assistants are earning millions off the backs of generally dirt-poor players who bleed and sweat and win or lose for them, all in the name of ‘amateurism’.
There are black-tie events in which these men hob-nob or glandhandle with millionaire boosters. Texas A&M sells No. 2 jerseys and makes a mint, but Heisman winner Johnny Manziel will never see a cent of it, even though fans are obviously buying them in support of Johnny Football.
The list could go on forever (why is Rutgers joining the Big Ten again?).
But disillusioning a good, honorable, old-school man such as Bill Snyder would go right to the top of that list, and the NCAA and big-money football is doing everything in its power to make it happen, unfortunately.