You expect a certain amount of misogyny from your college football head coach, a certain amount of bravado and grown-up-frat-boy BS and boosterism and bluster. You have to be an alpha dude with a puffed-out chest to run a big-time football program; the job attracts the type of men who would be prison wardens or drill sergeants in other lives. The one thing you don't expect a football coach to be is naive.
Yet that's how Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder looked during a press conference on Wednesday in which he lambasted the way college athletics have become "big time" and more concerned with money.
"It's changed. I mean, college athletics, football in particular, has changed dramatically over the years," Snyder said, a single tear no doubt rolling down his cheek. "I think we've sold out. We're all about dollars and cents. The concept of college football no longer has any bearing on the quality of the person, the quality of students. Universities are selling themselves out."
Surrounded by cameras and reporters for major media outlets, he went on to blame TV for broadcasting the games and ruining the spirit of college athletics. Snyder, 74, signed a five-year extension before the 2013 season worth $14.75 million dollars thanks to the TV money that has flowed from networks to the schools to the coaches—though not to the players—and his team opens the season with a game against Auburn that will be a television event.
Snyder also decried the lack of education athletes received, lamenting that athletic facilities were far too lavish—including, presumably, the stadium his Wildcats play in that was named after him and which cost tens of millions of dollars.
"Everybody is building Taj Mahals," Snyder said, "and I think it sends the message—and young people today I think are more susceptible to the downside of that message, and that it's not about education. We're saying it is, but it's really about the glitz and the glitter, and I think sometimes values get distorted that way. I hate to think a young guy would make a decision about where he's going to get an education based on what a building looks like."
Snyder also said that he was overpaid and coddled compared to the professors who teach students instead of encouraging them to play a violent sport that may leave them with brain damage. "Our professors—I have an office I could swim in. They're in a cubbyhole somewhere," he wailed, probably weeping, "yet they go out and teach and promote education every day, and I value that."
It's impossible to believe that Snyder, who has at least 18 former players in the NFL, doesn't know that 18-year-old football stars go to schools based on those horribly expensive training facilities and the opportunity to appear on television. It's equally hard to believe that he's truly objecting to the system that he's been a part of for nearly half a century—if he wanted to, he could quit at coach at a Division III university, or a high school, or quit football entirely and write books dedicated to the cause of wiping out TV money from college football. He could give his salary entirely to charity, or back to the school, or to those poor professors. He is not going to do any of that over this momentary pang of conscience, nor is the system going to change.
To believe otherwise would be dangerously naive.
David Matthews isn't usually this cynical. Follow him on Twitter.