MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Bill Snyder stood stoic at field level in the northwest corner of the stadium that bears his name, watching prideful as some 120 Kansas State players took a victory lap on senior day, slapping hands with the fans who lasted more than three hours in the bitter cold to watch the Wildcats win for just the fifth time in 11 games.
The moment appeared fit for commemoration with a statue. Alas, the 79-year-old coach already has one of those here.
Snyder built Kansas State football. He is Kansas State football. Hired 30 years ago this Friday and credited with directing the greatest turnaround of a program in the history of the sport, he's won 215 games at a place that managed two winning seasons in the 34 years before his arrival.
But is Snyder's time finished?
The question looms large over K-State. Snyder in the past two years has battled throat cancer and watched his program slip. A week after that senior day win over Texas Tech, the Wildcats blew a 17-point lead Saturday night in the fourth quarter at Iowa State to finish 5-7 -- their first losing regular season under Snyder since 2005, after which he stepped away for three seasons.
Asked about his future in the wake of the 42-38 defeat, Snyder said it was "the last thing on my mind right now."
His future, though, is prominent in the minds of many around Manhattan. Snyder and Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor are set to visit this week about the coach's plans, and a growing segment of the fan base hopes he'll retire.
"If I was not wanted and didn't feel like I was having an impact on the lives of young people and my family wasn't interested in me continuing," Snyder said last week, "I certainly wouldn't."
The decision is not quite that simple, though. Snyder's contract, redone in August as a five-year deal to replace his automatic rollover, stipulates that Snyder will be allowed "appropriate input" to the athletic director and president in the selection of his replacement.
For years, Snyder has made clear his desire to hand the program to his son, Sean Snyder, the Wildcats' associate head coach and special-teams coordinator.
Taylor and K-State president Richard Myers may wish to go in a different direction.
All of it may place Kansas State in an uncomfortable position.
"Obviously, I knew what I was getting into when I took the job," said Taylor, hired in April 2017, weeks after Snyder finished cancer treatments. "Even before I got here, there was always the question of how long Coach was going to coach. I just take it year in and year out and see what he's thinking, see how the program's going and go from there."
The program looks somewhat stagnant. The season-ending loss marked Kansas State's 17th defeat in its past 18 games against AP-ranked foes and just the 12th loss in 193 games under Snyder after the Wildcats led at halftime.
Snyder is a critic of the new redshirt rule that allows players to appear in four games and preserve a season of eligibility. After a Week 10 loss to TCU, he benched Isaiah Zuber and uncharacteristically criticized the receiver for his fumble on a punt return.
In recruiting, as the early signing period approaches, K-State lags, known to have secured just one pledge from a prospect in the past two months.
Still, the Wildcats played hard in November and won twice to preserve their bowl hopes before the late collapse at Iowa State. It snapped a 10-game winning streak for KSU in the Farmageddon series.
After the game, as Snyder struggled to express his feelings, ISU coach Matt Campbell, himself a rising star in the profession, opened his postgame remarks with this:
"Let's talk about Coach Snyder. You know, you get into this profession, and you see guys do things the right way. Build programs. Stand for what's right.
"The honor to compete against one of the true legends in this sport is tremendous. I think ... what he's done, the consistency he's done it with and standing for what's right in our sport is really powerful."
Kansas State players are equally moved by Snyder.
"I respect that guy to death," senior captain and All-Big 12 offensive tackle Dalton Risner said.
Sophomore QB Skylar Thompson told reporters after the season finale that he's not worried about Snyder's coaching future. "He's going to make the right decision for himself and his family," Thompson said.
In the concourse at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in the waning minutes of the Nov. 17 win over Texas Tech, the hardiest of K-State fans were largely unified in their opinions on the coach. "I think a lot of people believe there needs to be a change," said 25-year-old Garrett Holaday of Holton, Kansas. "That's how I feel."
"He's done a great job for us, but it's time for him to retire," said Mark Tonn, 56, of Haven, Kansas. "It doesn't seem like the enthusiasm is still there."
"My buddy and I were talking about it earlier," said Michael Mertz, 51, of Salina, Kansas, "and we agreed that it almost never ends well for the legends."
And therein lies the crux of the problem for Kansas State. When his run ends -- this week or next year or even beyond -- it's hard to envision a scenario that works out well for Snyder and the school to which he has contributed so much.
"As athletic director," Taylor said, "my job is to figure out what we need to do to keep moving the program forward. But he has a lot of leverage, there's no question."
It's not a word often used by an AD to depict the tenor of postseason talks with a Hall of Fame coach. Then again, this moment at Kansas State looks as unique as the project that Snyder inherited three decades ago.