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K-State’s Bill Snyder: College football has sold out to money and TV

Bill Snyder is normally one of the last coaches likely to stir the pot on the weekly Big 12 teleconference, but the 77-year-old Kansas State patriarch did exactly that Monday.

Snyder, a man who generally doesn’t tip his hand, said college football is consumed with cash and television deals when asked about the recent big-money coaching news at Texas and LSU.

“It’s my feeling that we have exploited college athletics in general and college football, in particular,” said Snyder, who won his 200th game on Saturday.

“We speak all the time about the welfare of the student-athlete and, indeed, that is not what has evolved as the most important thing. It’s been strictly about winning and dollars. Maybe dollars first and then winning second or vice versa, but you know, I think we’ve sold out to the dollars and cents. And we’ve sold out to TV.”

Snyder, acknowledged as one of the best coaches in the country for building something out of nothing at K-State, is a relative bargain. His salary of $3.1 million ranks just sixth in the Big 12. Yet he was quick to point out he’s been a benefactor of what he feels is an out-of-control system.

“I make far more than I’m worth, I can assure you of that,” he said, “but coaching salaries are ballooning toward $10 million a year.”

Jim Harbaugh of Michigan leads the pack with a $9 million salary. Charlie Strong, just fired at Texas, was sixth at $5.2 million, similar to what new Longhorns coach Tom Herman is expected to bring home. There was talk of LSU paying Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher or Herman north of $6 million before the Tigers settled on promoting Ed Orgeron for $3.5 million a year.

Snyder, whose 7-4 Wildcats finish at TCU this Saturday, pointed out college football needs television money to feed the beast.

“We’ve sold out to TV, and if I were in the TV field, I’m sure we’d want to promote all that we could for our business,” he acknowledged, “but you think about games being played for money. That’s the intent of it, you play for money, so we’re playing games on — you pick the night of the week. I think there are one or two nights we don’t play college football.”

Snyder said a Thursday night game can cost a player three days worth of classes, Wednesday through Friday, counting travel time.

“We don’t think anything about that because it brings in money,” he said.

“Then we spend countless millions and millions and millions of dollars on so many things. I mean, we all have nice facilities, and we’re all grateful for the people who invest the money, but to me, it kind of sends a little different message.

“It’s a message that says the dollars and cents are more important than anything else, more important than the value system you’re trying to impart on young people in your program.”

Sudden impact: Because of injuries to its running backs, West Virginia decided to pull the redshirt off freshman Martell Pettaway last Saturday at Iowa State. The three-star recruit from Detroit made the move pay off by rushing for 181 yards on 30 carries in a 49-19 blowout win.

“That was tough to do in the 11th game of the season,” said coach Dana Holgorsen, whose Mountaineers will be gunning for their 10th win Saturday, against Baylor. “Martell was unselfish about it, which sets quite an example for our team.”

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