At 77, Kansas State's Bill Snyder 'keeps doing what we do'

The days each season immediately before Kansas State plays Oklahoma offer a time, in the rare instance that he allows it, for Bill Snyder to reflect.

The K-State coach, 77 as of last Friday, gauged progress in his formative years as a head coach, in part, by success against the Sooners. He still does, in fact, as the Wildcats visit No. 19 Oklahoma on Saturday (noon ET, ESPN).

But from 1993 to 1997, Kansas State won five straight against Oklahoma. It was unthinkable a few years before that and coincided with the Wildcats' rise under Snyder from conference doormat to powerful program.

"It truly did make a difference," Snyder said Thursday. "If you beat Oklahoma, people were going to pay attention to you."

When he took control at K-State in 1989, Snyder said, the timing of a single victory over Oklahoma appeared difficult to project. The Sooners had won 18 straight in the series.

"We didn't have any money, either," he said.

Yes, times were tough. Kansas State moved two meetings with Oklahoma in that era from Manhattan to Norman, taking cash over of a home game. When former Kansas State athletic director Steve Miller told Snyder that the school could not afford to continue construction of a facility to house the football locker room and weight room, Snyder wrote a check.

Of course, he said, K-State did not cash it, because the check would have bounced.

"Every dollar counted," Snyder said. "We had absolutely nothing."

Then in 1992, Kansas State lost 16-14 at Oklahoma. And in 1993, the Wildcats' first home game in the series since 1987, they won 21-7. It vaulted K-State over a symbolic hurdle and later that year to its first bowl game since 1982.

Oklahoma remains a national brand. Kansas State got there, too, after it beat Oklahoma 35-7 for the Big 12 title in 2003. Snyder wants back in the club.

The Sooners throttled his team 55-0 last year in Manhattan, but Kansas State won 31-30 in in 2014. It also beat Oklahoma in Norman in 2012.

Snyder said he expects none of the recent games to impact Saturday's outcome.

"You look around the country," he said, "and the message that is sent is that any team can win against any team any week."

All of it makes Snyder's longevity more impressive. He coached his 300th game at Kansas State last week, a victory over Texas Tech. Snyder needs four wins to reach 200. The milestone, if it happens this year, might carry significance.

"But it's the last thing on my mind right now," he said.

Same deal with his birthday last week. Snyder said he did not celebrate, as usual, but received many cards and saw his office fill with flowers and cookies, all of which he said he appreciated.

"In all reality, it's just another day," he said. "I don't take the time. It's a matter of priorities. Here, we just keep on doing what we do."

Snyder's daughter, Meredith, traveled with her husband and three children to Kansas for the weekend from their home in Texas to surprise the coach.

"It was wonderful," he said, "but I didn't get to spend the time with them that I wanted to, unfortunately, and I feel bad about that."

That's reality, even at 77, for Snyder, who doesn't have time for his birthday -- let alone to reflect on transformative wins from a generation ago.