It went about as well as you could hope for as a fan. At least as well as one can “do” Big 12 Media Days.
Chris Klieman was clear, articulate, didn’t need a notebook, and handled questions well in his first appearance at Big 12 Media Days as head coach at Kansas State.
Klieman’s first question was about going from an uber-successful program to a K-State program that’s being picked 9th in the league this season. Klieman answered that he doesn’t put a lot in preseason polls, like he did even at North Dakota State, but he thinks this team has more in them than they showed last year. “I know our guys are hungry. There are a bunch of guys returning from last year who felt like they left something on the field last year,” Kleiman said about the team. “I’m excited to see what those guys do, not what the rankings say.”
Of course he was asked about replacing Bill Snyder, and Klieman didn’t shy away: “What coach [Snyder] did at Kansas State was nothing short of remarkable. I’m going to feed off of that. We have great facilities, a great culture, all those things because of what he did.” And while it’s clear things are going to happen the Klieman-way going forward, he’s not going to ignore things Snyder left behind, including leaning on people left behind like Collin Klein.
He also spoke several times about the offensive line, noting that it’s mostly about development when building and recruiting for the line, getting the right guys with the right build who want to compete and work. And he thinks that the guys who are returning will be a great asset in shifting the offensive game-plan from what Bill Snyder wanted to do, to want Klieman and his staff are looking to do — which really isn’t all that different at the basic level: “establish the ground game and get the ball to play makers.” Of course, that all comes down to Skylar Thompson, who Klieman mentioned several times during the day.
The final question of the session was about the trio of defensive lineman, including Preseason All-Big 12 DE Reggie Walker, in the K-State contingent, and Klieman agreed that the d-line was “definitely one of the strengths” of the team. “All of those guys have played an awful lot of football at Kansas State,” Klieman said, “ and I think their best football is in front of them.”
Before Klieman got on stage, he had a one-on-one interview with Fox Sports, and talked about how important it is to “give kids ownership” of the program. Adding that it’s the former and current players’ team, not his, and through that approach, you get total investment from the guys on the team. He also mentioned a “double-rep” system for practice, that apparently the players enjoyed, so that no one was standing around waiting for reps at practice, and helped make the most out of the limited practice time this spring.