Bill Snyder should have stopped talking Thursday night.
Snyder, understandably disappointed after wide receiver Corey Sutton went public with the news that Snyder was blocking his transfer to over 30 other schools, said Thursday night that Sutton had failed two drug tests at Kansas State.
“This man’s been in trouble twice, tested positive twice — I’ve never kept a player in our program who’s tested positive two times … but we have some rules in the athletic department that allowed that to happen this time,” Snyder said.
Corey Sutton tells me today that “what [Kansas State coach Bill] Snyder said about the drug test is false.” Sutton is the K-State receiver whose request for a scholarship release was blocked by Snyder. The coach said Thursday that Sutton failed two drug tests during his one year at the school. Sutton said he would have no additional comment at this time.
Sutton was still free to transfer if Kansas State didn’t grant him his release. But he can’t sign a financial-aid agreement with another school for a year. And he said he couldn’t afford to go that route.
A player — allegedly — failing drug tests while a member of a college football team shouldn’t be surprising. Young adults don’t always make the best decisions and sometimes have to suffer the consequences.
But the consequences shouldn’t be having the (allegedly failed) drug tests revealed to the public via your coach because he’s unhappy with your decision to transfer.
Sutton played in 10 games as a true freshman in 2016 and had four catches. He said earlier this week that he’s transferring from the school in part because he feels the KSU coaching staff wasn’t forthright with him regarding his role with the team.
“I don’t mind competition, but I told the coaches I only wanted to burn my redshirt if I was going to be involved with half the plays. They said that wouldn’t be a problem,” Sutton told the Wichita Eagle. “They told me I was going to start and used me as a starter in practice. They promised me all this playing time. Then the game would start and my position coach would grab me and tell me to stay on the sidelines and that I’m not starting because coach Snyder doesn’t want to play a freshman. I felt lied to.”
Differing expectations over playing time is nothing new in college football too. Sutton is just one of many players who switch schools after finding out the original school isn’t the best fit. While the NCAA and many of those who make money off college sports would love to convince you that academics are a priority, they aren’t the priority for many athletes.
Doesn’t it make sense that a player would want to find the best athletic fit if that’s what a school is willing to give him a scholarship for? Snyder is missing that point in his power trip and used a slippery-slope argument to defend his decision to prevent Sutton’s release.
“If you’re [second-string] you probably want to be [first string] and if you have the option to leave and you’ve got 22 No. 2s on your team leaving, you haven’t got much of a team left,” Snyder said. “So it doesn’t make sense to not try to prevent that from happening.”
It also doesn’t make sense to reveal that a player has failed drug tests, no matter how unhappy a coach is.
Football programs tend to cling to privacy laws and claims whenever possible. There’s a reason that many statements regarding player discipline simply say a player was found in violation of team rules without further extrapolation. Coaches don’t like having their program’s dirty laundry aired in front of the public. Unless, in Snyder’s case, it’s on his terms.
If Sutton really failed two drug tests and only was a part of the team only because of new Kansas State athletic department rules as Snyder alleges, the decision to release him from his scholarship should be a no-brainer. If Snyder has truly “never kept a player in our program who’s tested positive two times,” why should the standard change with a player that clearly doesn’t want to be at Kansas State?
Snyder, 77, is the man most responsible for Kansas State’s relevancy in college football. He’s won nearly 66 percent of his games in 26 seasons at Kansas State and yet the program is still 100 games under .500 all-time. Yes, he’s meant that much to Kansas State football.
He’s going to be Kansas State’s coach for as long as he wants, and, health willing, the end date of his tenure with the school hasn’t been determined. His sustained success at the school is proof of his ability to adapt to a college football landscape that has changed massively since he took over at KSU in the 1980s.
But his comments regarding Sutton and his transfer show pettiness and unwillingness to adapt. His status at the school doesn’t give him a free pass in smearing a player who wants to leave and it’s great fodder for fellow Big 12 coaching staffs to use against Kansas State on the recruiting trail. Hey kid, if you go to Kansas State and decide to transfer, the coach may speak out against you could be one heck of an effective pitch.
In a situation like this, the adult in charge should be the one who either realizes the mistake of the original decision and changes course or works to find an amicable solution with the player. It would have been incredibly easy for Snyder to be diplomatic and tell the assembled media he spoke to that he wished the best for his soon-to-be former wide receiver and would work to find an outcome that worked out for both parties.
He didn’t. And it’s a damn shame, especially coming from such a respected college football figure.
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