USATodaySports/Buchanan&Sewell

The colorful connection between Mike Leach and Bill Snyder

TEN YEARS IS a veritable lifetime in college coaching. And when you consider that legendary Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder already is 76, odds are slim he’ll be around in 2026 for the just-announced, first-ever battle between the Wildcats and Cougars.

But what a colorful history he and WSU coach Mike Leach have.

Not on the field, where Leach owns a 4-1 head-to-head record and a 221-106 scoring advantage, but off the field, where Leach has fired up some entertaining quotes about Snyder.

In a 2012 Reddit Q&A a few months after becoming WSU’s coach, Leach was asked about favorite and least favorite Big 12 teams to play and tough coaches to face and offered, with a little prompting, “that I suspect Bill Snyder may be a sorcerer…he's one of the coaches that I admire most!”

Several months later, in his weekly media gathering, Leach shared a stem winder involving the greatest Nike shoe ever made and the hotel his Texas Tech teams stayed at when playing at Kansas State. Said Leach:

”You always stay at the same hotel because there is only one in Manhattan, Kansas. Every time we have ever been there, there is this gigantic frat party going on right next to where our meeting rooms are … One year, the trip coincided with Halloween. I am walking (in) and son of a gun if there's not a guy standing there that looks exactly like Bill Snyder. He’s got him a purple shirt. He's got a clipboard. Bill Snyder's got a trademark that he wears Nike Cortezes, and he's got some deal with Nike that they go through all those old warehouses and they find Nike Cortezes to fit Bill, and Nike Cortezes are some of the best shoes they have ever had.

Quite frankly, I don't know that Nike has made a better shoe than the Cortez. I have a lot of respect for Nike, but that was one of their masterpieces. I actually asked Bill to send me a pair, but he never has. They had their shoes done up so it looked like the Nike Cortezes. As we are walking the meetings, for a second I did a double take and think, 'What is Bill Snyder doing here?' It wasn't Bill, but it was a pretty good costume."

While Leach can be a walking quote machine and Snyder more button downed, the two are similar in a very notable way: they both have impressive coaching trees. In 2013, Athlon Sports ranked Snyder No. 1 and Leach No. 4 on its list of active coaches with the most expansive trees. Snyder's tree includes Bob Stoops and Bret Bielema and Leach's includes Dana Holgorsen and Sonny Dykes.


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