THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by Coach Bill Snyder from Kansas State. Coach, welcome. He’s going to make an opening statement for us today.
BILL SNYDER: Thank you very much. Very quickly, I would say perhaps two things, number one, I hope our dear friend Donnie Duncan is still in everybody’s thoughts, a fond, fond member of the Big 12 conference staff and someone that we cherish, have always cherished.
Secondly, to extend my thoughts in regards to — you know, I read so much about the Big 12 conference, maybe not being as prolific or as strong, et cetera, et cetera, and I can assure you under Bob’s leadership and the wonderful people at the Big 12 office who have been amazing, excellent universities, I think all of you would share that feeling as well. I don’t think the Big 12 conference is in any jeopardy whatsoever and not nearly as weak as some might want to portray in some of the media outlets.
That being said, it’s open to questions.
Q. Obviously, the news last week about Scott Frantz and him telling the rest of your team about being gay and really the ripples, I guess, that didn’t make on your team, I’m wondering just how that played out for you behind the scenes. It sort of has echos of Michael Sam a couple years ago apparently telling his teammates at Missouri about him and then that really wasn’t a big deal either.
Does it say something about where things are as it relates to college football and those sorts of things, how they’re accepted now?
BILL SNYDER: Well, Scott made — wanted to make it public knowledge this year. He shared that information with his teammates over a year ago. I appreciated our players’ response, the response of our coaches, and Scott’s response as well to his teammates. Their thought was, okay, fine, let’s move on. So what? So to speak.
They cared about him. He cared about his teammates. The coaches cared about him. He cared about the coaches. So it wasn’t a major issue.
This year Scott had come to me and asked about being able to make that public statement. Yes, I had some uncertainty about it at that particular point in time and the impact. And he and I had several discussions and we talked about the impact that it might have on, not his teammates in regards to how they felt, but the response from outside, social media response, the response of the fan base, the response of faculty and administration, and the world, so to speak. And cautioning him that there could be some issues because of that.
We talked about it for an extensive period of time, and what impressed me so much and allowed me to contact Holly about it was the fact that he wanted to do it for the right reasons, number one, and it wasn’t about exposing him to the media as such or making himself a national figure. What he wanted to do was help others, number one. That was important to me.
Number two, he wanted the opportunity to feel free to live his life as he would like to do so, and he felt hindered prior to that being able to do so.
I appreciated those things because I thought they were meaningful. I thought the idea that he could help others really hit home with me at the time. So we decided to allow it to happen, and I think the response has been excellent to this point in time. So I’m proud of him. I’m proud of our players and how they handled it.
Q. Coach Snyder, 2015’s team was picked seventh in the Big 12 conference, 2016 picked eighth. This season you guys are picked third in the Big 12 preseason poll. I was just curious about the momentum that this program has, carries right now heading into the season. Do you guys talk about that preseason pick at all?
BILL SNYDER: Well, I’m not naive to the fact that the players certainly are going to pay attention to that. I mean, they read everything that’s put out. If you can get it on any type of social media outlet, they’re going to see it, I guarantee you that.
We flew down here in the plane for an hour and 20 minutes or so, and all five of them — we brought five tremendous young people with us, and all five of them are buried in their phones. Now, some of that was goofy video games, but also it’s just gaining knowledge. It’s amazing what young people have exposed themselves to in regards to the use of social media, et cetera.
We’ve never approached a season any differently, one any differently than another, whether that be right or wrong. And the idea that, if you do have a certain number of people returning — which we have a reasonably large number returning, players, starters in the program — it’s not about who you have back or how many you have back, it’s really about how you prepare yourself game by game. That’s the important thing for us.
My caution to our players and to anybody that would listen would be not take anything for granted. You still have to do it. The old adage you still have to play the game. You still have to practice every single day. If you’re not doing anything to get yourself better, then you’re putting yourself and your teammates in jeopardy.
Q. We’d just like an update on how you’re doing. You had a little bit of a health scare in the summer. Just tell us how you’re feeling and how you’ve recovered.
BILL SNYDER: Well, I’m doing fine. I mean, the recovery is ongoing, quite obviously, but I’m doing fine, getting around fine. Don’t have any issues right now other than trying to prepare for the season. That’s always an ongoing issue. That’s 365 a year. But, no, I’m doing fine, Barry. Appreciate you asking.
Q. Bill, I was curious, Jesse came in as the starter last year, did some good things. Just where his progress is going into this season.
BILL SNYDER: You know, I’m awful pleased with Jesse in a lot of different ways. First and foremost, Jesse is a tremendous young man. He’s another one of those young guys that possesses a great core value system. He’s a hard worker. He’s disciplined. He’s dedicated. He cares. He’s a great teammate with his teammates. He’s here because he’s a captain in our program.
From a physical standpoint, I saw him throw in the spring, and I thought he came back and threw well. Since that time, he’s gotten stronger and stronger and stronger, and I think he readily admits right now that he’s throwing the ball better than he ever has. The players tell me in their workouts that he’s throwing the ball as hard and accurately as he has at any time in his career that they can remember. They’re going to tell me the truth, and I trust that. So that’s a good thing. And he feels good. He’s totally recovered.
Q. You talked about with Scott, how your goal was to be able to help other people. What message would you give another player or coach on that situation and what you’ve learned and the best way to go about it?
BILL SNYDER: You know, it’s such an individual thing. It’s easy for me to say — I think what Scott has done has really benefited him a great deal, and I think he’s able to manage the — all aspects of his life much better and live a more comfortable life now. And I don’t know, but my guess is he’s a good, good young guy — that’s not a guess. I mean, I know that. But my guess is that, if a young person is a good young person, not to have fear to be able to do that.
I mean, it wasn’t their — I mean, they didn’t create that in themselves. So people will be accepting, I think.
Q. There’s kind of a trend among some teams, some in the conference, some outside, where there are really a lot of kind of off-field analysts or quality control, whatever the terms are, but ever-increasing staffs. I was just wondering what you make of that trend, whether it’s something that’s occurred to you, how you think it can be helpful or not.
BILL SNYDER: Well, I think this: I think every program is a little bit different, and I think coaches in every program in the country normally make very good decisions. And I understand there’s a tremendous discrepancy in terms of the numbers of people that one staff may have or one program might have as opposed to another, but I think those — sometimes that’s dictated by cost, that — what a university or program can afford and what they can’t, but also some of that has to do with the individual thinking of the head coach and decisions that he’s going to make.
I think everybody’s just going to do what they think is right for their program provided they can afford it. I don’t know that everybody wants to invest in 100 people running around, butting heads with each other all the time, but by the same token, for those that have done it — Alabama is a perfect example. I was told the other day that they have something like — I don’t know what the number is, but a large, large number of support staff people, and obviously they have a mentally fine program. So it works for them. Others have much smaller and have successful programs, so what they have works for them as well.
I can’t tell you that there is — or at least I don’t have the perfect answer for the number of people that you would have doing a variety of different roles. I mean, you can always think of something that needs to get done. But also from our standpoint, we could probably use more people, but by the same token, we’d like to have our coaches be responsible for virtually anything and everything that takes place in our program. So they carry an awful lot of responsibility in that respect. It maybe could be divided up to others in our program.
I don’t know if that’s a very good answer.
Q. Kansas State beat every Power Five Texas program last season. Is that something that you-all can move going forward and why were you-all able to have so much success against Texas schools?
BILL SNYDER: I’m not sure I understood the totality of the question. Stop me at any time if I’m going in the wrong direction.
I don’t pay an awful lot of attention to the dialogue about and Power Fives and what that means. We — and I said this a moment ago. We take every season virtually the same. There’s slight changes here and there, and we take every single day, you know, virtually the same way and every season the same way and every game the same way. We try to remain consistent. We try to base everything we do on a minute-to-minute environment, and the basis of the program really is to find ways to get better every single minute that we possibly can.
And when I say get better, I mean, I don’t want the youngsters in our program spending 24 hours a day on football, but I’d like to instill a value within them that creates their desire to become better every single day in all facets of their life — their faith, their family, being a better person, being a better student, as well as being a better football athlete every single day, and that’s kind of the way we approach it virtually every single day.
And not — I can’t tell you that the players aren’t — they’re attuned to the responses in regards to Power Five schools. They know all that terminology and all that exists out there. That’s not something I get invested in. I’m invested in the young people in our program and all that that stands for and the rest of it, I’ll let somebody else deal with.