MANHATTAN — The official title was "Celebrating Snyder," and it certainly lived up to its name.
The several hundred Kansas State football fans, former players, coaches and invited guests who gathered Saturday night at Bramlage Coliseum to honor Bill Snyder's 27-year coaching career at the university got a celebration and then some.
It was part tribute and part pep rally, with even a few biblical references thrown in. But mostly it was a giant family reunion.
There were many common threads in the remarks from a list of speakers that included administrators, friends, ex-players and assistant coaches, but when Snyder stepped to the microphone to cap the evening more than two hours in, he quickly brought it all back to family.
"It's been a family for 30 years, because of you," he told the crowd. "I'm humbled by the things that have been said tonight, but this truly is about a family.
"This is about you. It wouldn't have happened without you. It didn't happened because of Bill Snyder, it happened because of this family."
"It," of course, was what has been dubbed the greatest turnaround in college football history, directed by Snyder from 1989 to 2005, then again for a second time from 2009-18.
Snyder singled out his own family, including wife Sharon and all his children and grandchildren, who received a standing ovation at his urging. But he also relayed the story of how, when former athletic director Tim Weiser told him of plans in 2005 to rename the stadium Bill Snyder Stadium, he agreed under one condition.
It had to be named Snyder Family Stadium, in part to honor his immediate family, but also to express his feelings for those who supported the program.
"Most of you have heard it. On the walls in the stadium and around, there's that statement that was made some time ago," Snyder said. "We came to Kansas State University because of the people and we stayed because of the people."
"With an abnormal number of opportunities to leave Kansas State and to leave Manhattan … with all those opportunities, we never, ever interviewed for another job. There was a reason for us to be in Manhattan and the reason was very simple. It was people."
That was true after his retirement in 2005 after the first 17 seasons, and hasn't changed since he stepped down again last December.
Jon Wefald, who was K-State president when Snyder arrived in Manhattan as a highly-regarded offensive coordinator at Iowa, recalled the state of the football program in 1989. It was dubbed "Futility U," in a Sports Illustrated article chronicling the Wildcats' decades-long football woes, and rightfully so.
But Wefald was not about to give then-athletic director Steve Miller all the credit for convincing Snyder to take the job.
"It's just my opinion, but I think the Good Lord had a lot to do with this," he said. "The Good lord directed us to Bill Snyder. You got that?
"It was divine providence that we were lucky enough to hire Bill Snyder, who became one of the greatest football coaches in the history of America."
Perhaps it also was divine providence that Snyder developed his 16 goals for success, which anybody who played for him can recite by heart.
"He's got 16 concepts — I would call them commandments," Wefald said. "Moses had 10, Bill's got 16."
Former Wildcat wide receiver Kevin Lockett, who spoke on behalf of players present during K-State's first rise to prominence in the early 1990s, also brought up the goals for success.
"People ask me all the time, what's the secret sauce, what's the magic that coach Snyder had, that allowed him to go from literally the worst football program in America to becoming a perennial powerhouse in a very, very short period of time?" Lockett said. "And it's kind of difficult to explain a lot of times, but I always tell them, 'Look, there's really no secret sauce.'
"The easy thing to do is I point them toward those 16 goals. Because when you look at those 16 goals, they eventually became those first bricks that were put in place for the foundation that was built for this program."
He cited goals No. 5, Be Tough; No. 10, Never Give Up; and No. 13, Expect to Win, as examples.
Professional golfer Jim Colbert, a K-State graduate in the 1960s, told of how he was introduced to Snyder when the coach and some school fundraisers hit him up for money to help finance the football resurgence. The two became close friends, and he remains a Snyder confidante.
Offensive lineman BJ Finney, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, spoke for the players of Snyder's second coaching tenure from 2009-18. He started his K-State career as a walk-on, but all it took was a meeting with Snyder during a recruiting visit to convince him Manhattan was the place for him.
"Coach asked me, 'Do you want to be a part of the second greatest turnaround in college football history?' and that got to me," Finney said, adding that thanks in large part to Snyder he became the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
Bob Stoops, who went on to lead Oklahoma to a national championship, represented a long list of former Snyder assistants that achieved success as head coaches.
He spent four years as a player and five years as an assistant at Iowa when Snyder was offensive coordinator there and served as an assistant and defensive coordinator for Snyder's first seven years at K-State.
"He knew how to win," Stoops said. "We did it at Iowa and we were going to do it here, and it was because of that faith and it was because of that faith and belief in coach Snyder.
"The example Coach has given through the years is one of incredible determination, fight and find a way. And don't let that suit and that quiet, soft demeanor fool you. Believe me, he is a bulldog, and I've always loved that about him."
Current K-State president Richard Myers, promised that despite Snyder's retirement from coaching, the university would continue to call on him to serve.
After all, it's all about family.