Nearly every Big 12 coach, with the exception of Art Briles and on occasion Paul Rhoads, tend to fall back on Coachspeak frequently when talking to the media, especially the insatiable, raging hordes that gather every year in Dallas for Big 12 Media Days. But perhaps no one does it better, or at least more uniquely, than K-State's ancient master, Bill Snyder.
He's been around for a while and isn't exactly known for his openness with, well, anyone outside the program, so merely reading over the transcript of his interview and trying to learn something can be like trying to figure out the meaning of abstract art. I'm by no means an expert, but I'd like to think I've been around K-State football and seen Coach Snyder interviews for long enough to give a helpful interpretation of his responses.
What follows is some of the real questions and answers from the press conference, along with my translation of what HCBS was really thinking. Answers have been edited for length, because he does tend to ramble and occasionally repeat himself, probably for strategic purposes.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Coach Bill Snyder from Kansas State. Coach, welcome. He has said he'd like to go straight to questions from the floor.
HCBS: .....(waiting for first question)......
TRANSLATION: What? You think I'm just going to give you unsolicited information? I have nothing to say to you people. Let's get this over with.
Q: Bill, we picked you eighth two years ago, and you finished second. We picked you sixth last year, and you won it. This year we picked you sixth again. Are you going to at some point say "I told you so"?
HCBS: No is the simple answer, Barry. I think I said last year that, if I were given the opportunity, I would have picked us 99th.
As I look at it this year right now where we stand, I'd probably echo the same thought ......
I know it has to be done, but it's an awful difficult task to make those kinds of decisions. I certainly couldn't do it. I've declined so many times to be on the coaches polls in regards to selecting the top 25 in the country, et cetera, because I just -- it is so difficult to do. Even during the course of the season, it becomes difficult to pick winners and loser. That's why people make so much money in Las Vegas, I guess.
TRANSLATION: No, it's plenty satisfying for me to see all of you guys slowly correct yourselves each week while finding creative ways to avoid admitting you were wrong and then telling everyone else why they should have seen this coming. Just like last year, I'd like to see my team ranked 99th so all of you could be so absurdly wrong you'd have to own up to it and expose the sham of all the preseason predictions you guys waste so much time on every year.
I understand you're just feeding the machine and all the hungry, hungry college football fans with nothing else to do but overanalyze everything and keep alive 100-comment streaks on these newfangled blogs. Still, I'd much rather do meaningful things, like watching the same game tapes over and over or making sure my players are staying out of trouble and memorizing our playbook.
Q: Coach, you're replacing Collin Klein, your front seven on defense. Can you go through your top concerns going into this football season?
HCBS: Most of them are probably intrinsic things again. I would always have the concern about young people and older people like myself and some of our coaches as well, not taking anything for granted, not taking our performance level for granted, based on whatever the program has done up to this point in time.
As I said before, dynamics of each year are truly different. I think, as far as personnel is concerned, we still don't have a starting quarterback yet. We did lose, depending on whose count, nine, probably nine returning -- or lost nine defensive starters. In addition to Collin, even though we returned a substantial number of starters on offense, we still lost some extremely talented young guys, Chris Harper, a big-play wide receiver, and Braden Wilson, we miss his toughness tremendously.
And those are some of my concerns, not all of them.
TRANSLATION: I'd rather keep my concerns to myself, but I'll give you a few things. The defense could be an issue, but we're used to replacing people and would rather all of you guys and our opponents just think we're starting a bunch of two and three-star caliber players who shouldn't be considered threats. At quarterback, I have a pretty good idea of what we're going to try to do, but I'm sure as hell not going to tell any of you what that is. I'm offended you talked about what we lost and didn't mention Chris Harper and Braden Wilson. We don't have anyone good enough to totally replace either of those two guys. Show some respect, young man.
If I were really to give you all of my concerns, we'd be here all day. We're not close to perfect yet, and the season's coming soon. I haven't slept in two weeks.
Q: With Missouri being out of the league and now that you've had some time to kind of digest that, has it affected your recruiting in the Kansas City area and up there in that area for good or for worse?
HCBS: I think to a certain degree, yes, it has. I think there's a -- and I say the Kansas City area, but I would say more than just the Kansas City area. I think it's had an impact throughout the Midwest because of some of the programs from our previous conference going to --going north and some of them going south. It certainly has impacted, not just our recruiting, but everybody's recruiting, including our own in a number of areas in the Midwest, and I'm sure it's had impact in other places as well.
TRANSLATION: We're still talking about Missouri? Really? I thought we all agreed they went to the SEC so they could return to irrelevancy, other than when people talk about their famous "alums" who didn't even gradutate, like me and Brad Pitt. To provide a vague, not all that informative response to your question, KC kids now look at Missouri and other schools in a different way because they're in different conferences and that affects their decisions.
Q: This is kind of off topic. I'm doing a story about assistant coaches and their responsibilities in today's times. Can you think back to your first job as assistant coach, how much you made, what was your first paycheck, and what you did then, and now, what coaches have to do now, all the changes.
HCBS: Well, my first position as an assistant coach was in Gallatin, Missouri. This was a high school position. I was an assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach and assistant women's basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year.
..........(three more paragraphs of this)
I don't know, but I think my highest salary when I left Iowa was probably $60,000.
man lady, you just made my day. I don't really want to talk with you guys about my team, so get comfortable and feel free to even close your eyes as I tell you the story of what I did before you were even born.
My days as an assistant began at the high school's power generator where I ran 10 miles on a treadmill to give us enough power to keep the lights on for a couple hours, then I filled up all the water bottles by hand from the river and washed our jerseys at the same time. They made me do some teaching so in the classroom I rambled absentmindedly about God knows what, then during practice I kept detailed notes on every single thing that happened because we were still years away from videocameras. They paid me in moonshine and cornbread, which actually made me healthier than I'd been in years.
Q: Going back to what I asked you about Missouri leaving, has it been good or bad for you guys recruiting-wise? You didn't really get into that.
HCBS: It's just been different. I can't tell you that it's better or it's worse. If I had to say maybe there's some young guys at the University of Missouri would be attractive to because they're in the Southeastern Conference where maybe it would have been a little bit more competitive had that not been the case.
I'm not sure that I can really answer the question is it better or worse for us.
TRANSLATION: Seriously, who the hell are you? Some punk Missouri journalism kid bored for the summer who got credentials by emailing David Ubben? I've never understood why so many of you come from the Dallas area. If I tell you recruits from KC are more interested in Missouri because SEC football is the best football will it make you go away?
Q: Bill, in winning the championship last year, has it transformed the program in any way, open any recruiting doors? Did you get any big job offers after that?
HCBS: My days are pretty much the same, always have been, and, God willing, always will be.
I don't know that anything has changed. We went through a period of time in my first go around at Kansas State University, and we won 11 games last year, we won 10 this year. We went through a period of time where we won 11 six out of seven years or something like that. So it's not abnormal. I thought it was a very, very fine year, and I was pleased with it.
But by the same token, it's not as though --we've had our bad years too. Don't misunderstand me. But I don't think we've responded to it any differently than we would.
That's why I was saying earlier that, when you go through and you have to make those selections, who's 1, who's 2, who's 3, that's not an easy task. That's guesswork at best.
TRANSLATION: In case you forgot, I've coached a lot of really, really good football teams. For some reason, you guys only seem to remember the crappy ones and are still stunned when we win 10 or 11 games in a season because it hurts the credibility of your recruiting rankings. Please go back to your worthless predictions and stop bothering me.
Also, your second question is so dumb I'm not even going to dignify it with a response.
Q: You've been around this conference for a long time, like a bunch of us have. Is this potentially as balanced as this conference has been considering there have been six different programs that got first place votes in the media poll for a potential winner?
HCBS: I think our conference has maintained a good balance over the years. I think maybe there are some years where it might be a little -- might be a little bit more balance or more teams that are prominent than other years, but, by and large, I think year in and year out it's a very consistent conference.
Will this year be more so? I don't know that I could say that. It may prove to be -- again, that's like picking who's going to be 1, who's going to be 2, et cetera, and I'm just not smart enough to do that. So I don't really know whether it will maintain that kind of balance or not.
If I had to make a projection, I would say yes, it's a well-balanced conference. Is it the most balanced this year than it has been at any time? I couldn't answer that either way. Don't know.
TRANSLATION: I'm not sure how many times I have to tell you young people that I don't give a hoot about your predictions. All I know is conference games are going to be tough until we play KU, and you can be damn sure my team will be as ready as I can make them every week, or they're going to hear about it from me.
As for how the balance in the league stacks up historically, it's hard enough for me to remember my own team from three or four years ago. Surely you don't expect me to recall what the other teams in the conference were like, too. What am I, a wizard? You won't find any pensieves in my office, not that any of you will ever be allowed to look.