The players from the early years of Bill Snyder's first coaching tenure at K-State are known as The Foundation. They were the basis for the later success most thought impossible in Manhattan.
If those players are The Foundation, then Collin Klein and his contemporaries may some day go down as The Renovation, or the players who fixed up the crumbling remains of Snyder's legacy. With The Legend's help, of course.
Klein is still around Manhattan, working out and doing some part-time work with the athletic department. He will be making an appearance at the grand opening of the new DICK's Sporting Goods at Midstate Plaza in Salina, Kan., tomorrow, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. With K-State off this weekend, go meet the Wildcat legend if you have a free afternoon.
Being in and around Manhattan has allowed Klein to closely follow K-State this year. While Klein was known for protecting the ball like it was an object more valuable than pink diamonds, turnovers have hurt K-State this year. When asked what advice he might give K-State quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams to help prevent turnovers, he mostly demurred.
"I don't know exactly what I'd say. I'm not in the meeting rooms every day and in the game-planning process as far as knowing exactly what they're trying to accomplish on those plays and that type of a thing," Klein said. "You have to be careful because you can over-correct that kind of thing and all of a sudden be too tentative and cautious and then have a whole batch of new problems. It's a fine line between being aggressive and being smart and I think they're just trying to find that line. And they'll find it. And hopefully soon."
From his first start against Texas in 2010 -- which we've dubbed The Great Kleining of 2010 here at BOTC -- to the entire Cardiac Cats season of 2011 and the Big 12 championship year in 2012, Klein played in a lot of memorable games at K-State. So many, in fact, that he couldn't choose just one as the most memorable.
"Wow. I have so many good memories, and we played so many close games that were decided in the fourth quarter or the last possession, it's such a toss-up. I'm not sure I could even pick one," Klein said.
When prompted, Klein agreed that the 2011 win over Texas in Austin was one of the more memorable contests.
"I was a hurtin' unit. I remember them being really tough," Klein said. "I remember we converted on 3rd and 12 and Sheldon Smith made a real nice highlight catch. And then to come right back with the back shoulder to Harp (Chris Harper). That was a big series, I think, before the half to get a touchdown there."
"It was a tough, gut-check game, for sure."
This year, BOTC has participated in Bill Connelly's advanced-stats charting project. One of the benefits of this for me is it shows just how diverse K-State is with its offensive scheme. Snyder has a notoriously complex scheme, and Klein gave some idea of what it takes to learn it.
"There's definitely a lot. It's the type of thing where you have to memorize concepts, and the format, rather than each and every detail of each and every play. There's probably thousands of plays, but a much smaller number than that as far as, you kind of have to figure out the code, to crack the code, instead of just memorizing a bunch of plays.
I was fortunate to be around long enough that it just becomes part of you. It's just a different language, it just starts happening. Until that point, it's a struggle."
While some consider K-State's system vastly different from spread passing attacks, specifically the Air Raid, Klein said the difference isn't as great as you may think.
"You look at the handful of concepts that are used in those different systems, and we have them all," Klein said. "And we use them all. We just use them differently.
Good football is good football. You go to any good program in the country, and there's going to be a lot of overlap as far as the type of plays, the type of schemes, run and pass that they use," he continued. "How they're applied, timing and all that stuff, is individualized. It's just a different philosophy and a different way of doing things. But you're doing a lot of the same stuff. It's not as different as people think."
Klein is a multi-talented person. He has a finance degree from K-State, the talent to have a chance to play football in the NFL, and he's one of the most beloved players in K-State history. He didn't offer any specifics, but he's kind of waiting to see what's next for him.
"That's a great question. I don't know. It's going to be whatever the Lord has for me at that time. We're just kind of taking it as it goes right now. We'll find out," Klein said.