Long before battling Cyclones and Mountaineers, decades before sending handwritten notes to Bears and Horned Frogs, Bill Snyder sat down with a roster of 52 other pilgrims to enjoy a nice harvest celebration.
Up until this point, little had been known about the first Thanksgiving. Only two other firsthand accounts had ever been written. While Snyder’s memory is a little hazy of these events that occurred just several centuries ago, his take on this monumental moment in history is certainly worth reading.
As a young and dumb teenager in the 17th century, Bill Snyder paid little regard to the importance of the first Thanksgiving. Sitting down on the ground Indian-style with William Bradford, Massasoit and Squanto, Snyder only paid minimal attention to conversations related to pig-skin.
“It was during the second day of the feast that I learned the basics of the wishbone,” Snyder recalled.
Snyder’s hormones were alive and well, but thoughts of creating a son and future successor, were non-existent. The man’s first love developed during those three, crisp fall days as he carved x’s and o’s into the long oak table they dined on.
“There were no bowls,” Snyder remembers about the first Thanksgiving, “no west coast, and certainly no wildcats to be found.”
After three days of food, family and pigskin, Bill Snyder knew it was his calling to lead a group of young men to new heights.
Coaching philosophies are often built through experiences as a player and assistant under several different signal callers. Snyder, though, came from the Squanto coaching tree and modeled his approach to coaching after the bilingual diaper dandy.
“I learned several centuries ago that your message carries no weight if the recipient can’t understand it. Have you ever tried using five syllable words with a guy from Seward County Community College?” Snyder told WRNL.
Squanto, Spanish for “one true champion”, influenced the entire college football landscape long before the Longhorn Network was even a thought and many years before conference expansion brought even more mediocrity to the Big Ten.
Snyder, who often prefers to pen his thoughts, opened up to his peer Squanto while fishing one day.
“I told him, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime,” Snyder recalled.
His response was priceless and is still printed on clothing to this day.
“Ok, cool. Hook ‘em,” Squanto said (most likely referring to the fish).
Snyder to this day invites prospective recruits to his house for a Thanksgiving-like feast of waterfowl, venison, lobster and squash the Sunday before they leave their official visit.
“Convincing the Native Americans to give up their land was very difficult and involved much bloodshed. It’s the second hardest thing I’ve done in my life next to convincing people to come live in Manhattan, Kansas,” the ball coach told WRNL.
Bill Snyder and Elizabeth Warren remain as the only two living participants from that first Thanksgiving.
“I still pen hand written letters to Mrs. Warren, and send through carrier pigeon,” Coach Snyder said.
Warren, rumored to be a candidate for the Cleveland Indians managerial position was not available for comment, making Snyder’s recollections all the more valuable.
While there have been several memorable Thanksgivings since the first one, this one may bring about the most nostalgia as it may be his last as head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats.
Snyder, owner of the last remaining windbreaker from the 1621 Plymouth Pilgrim Bowl, has forgotten more about the first Thanksgiving than many pretend to even know. Kansas State fans can certainly relate as many have forgotten about their all-time losing record, their 12 bowl losses and their losing record against teams from Ames, Iowa.
Just a few generations after the first Thanksgiving, many thought the Prince era would bring an end to the purple reign a top the Big 12 North for good. They never anticipated a second-coming of the Plymouth vampire.
Unfortunately for Snyder there is a new pilgrim in town and although the results have been cordial for the first couple of years, Matt Campbell has no reservations about kicking this chief off his tee pee.
Many centuries ago a young Bill Snyder fell in love with pigskin sitting on the ground at the Thanksgiving feast. Generations later a young man from the town of Massillon, Ohio fell in love with the process. It is time the process loved him back.
Happy Thanksgiving to all- even the haters and losers.