He always had a special way of speaking and often avoiding real answers, so it was important to give our readers a clearer picture of what the legendary football coach was trying to say. We’d like to think we provided a valuable service.
Obviously, that’s no longer necessary, since Chris Klieman speaks in a much more straightforward manner, offering more praise for and information about his players, which is generally a welcome development. However, we figured that perhaps some of you miss hearing Snyder’s answers, or maybe you’re just as bored as us while we wait for football season to begin.
Either way, we present to you a look at the questions and answers for Coach Klieman, along with a translation of how Bill Snyder might have answered. For the most part, we tried to consider how Coach Snyder would have phrased Klieman’s answers, rather than how Coach Snyder himself would have answered the questions, but that’s not always an easy distinction to make.
Some of Coach Klieman’s answers have been edited for clarity, and you can find his full opening press conference on the Big 12’s YouTube page. Remember, this does not include any additional interviews Klieman may have done following his time at the podium.
CHRIS KLIEMAN: It’s great to be back here at AT&T Stadium. Last year was a different experience for us because we came down here and checked out the facilities.
We were playing on September 2 of that year and it’s fun to be back here. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Commissioner Bowlsby for his service in the Big 12 for so long and his friendship with myself and my family.
Excited in welcoming Mr. Yormark into the Big 12 and looking forward to many more years of great football to come.
As far as Kansas State, we’re excited. We have very optimistic, high expectations as everybody does this time of year but we’ve got a lot of work to do.
We have a number of guys back on both sides of the ball but as the landscape of college football is right now it’s going to be the new players that you’ve got to mesh with those returning players that are going to be the key to your success and we’re going to have a lot of new faces out there and some were here in the spring.
Many of them were not here in the spring and so for us to get together with those guys in August and have a great fall camp and put the work in so that come September we can start the fall with a good season.
BILL SNYDER TRANSLATION: It’s nice to come back here to a place where we fortunate to have a little bit of success last season. Our players and staff enjoyed checking out the facilities, but obviously that’s not something we need to worry about this year.
The conference went through some leadership changes during the offseason, and we’re grateful for Commissioner Bowlsby’s service and look forward to working with Mr. Yormark.
As far as our team, we feel like this group of young men has a chance to do some good things. Of course, we’re not where we need to be right now and it’s going to take some work. It’s always nice to have some experienced players who know our system and can help the young guys along, because we recognize this is a family and we need everyone to contribute for us to be successful. We won’t really know what we have until we see the team on the field this fall.
SHEHAN JEYARAJAH, CBS SPORTS: What really drew you to Adrian when he entered the transfer portal and what have you kind of seen from him that’s allowed you to already bring him to Media Days as a leader?
HCCK: Well, the first thing that drew us to him was obviously the amount of games that he has played at Nebraska.
But if you get around Adrian or you visit with Adrian the first thing that jumps out at me is his maturity and what a grounded individual he is.
I’ve been so impressed with him as a person, as a man of faith, as somebody that came in and missed all the spring because of an injury he had.
He practiced the last two practices but just watching him bond with the players, watching him build relationships when he couldn’t be out front leading after a workout or after a practice and now to see him going through the summer where he is cleared and healthy and watching him just kind of command the room, he’s a tremendously mature individual that brings out the best in everybody and that’s what excites me about him.
LHCBS TRANSLATION : Well, you’ve all seen what he did at Nebraska, so that’s valuable knowing what he’s been able to accomplish at this level.
The other thing about Adrian is he’s a young man with tremendous character who’s shown a great deal of maturity, so those are the kinds of leaders we want in our program. My level of impression, regardless of football, is always based on the kind of person a player is, and Adrian’s really impressed me with his value system and how he carries himself.
We’ve already seen that here, even though he only participated in a couple practices with us this spring. Obviously, he brings a lot for us on the football field, but it’s been great to see him connecting with other players and really becoming part of the family.
TIM EVERSON, MANHATTAN MERCURY: Felix….has had kind of a whirlwind last 12 months. He came into last season as kind of unheralded, is now going into this season as the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. What have you seen out of his growth and what makes him so special?
HCCK: Felix, a couple things. One, he’s as good a practice player as he is a game player in the fact of he goes and goes hard.
He watched Wyatt Hubert do the same thing and so he learned from Wyatt, especially during that Covid year of how to train and how to work your body and how to play so dang hard play after play and he’s got a lot of confidence now and I’m excited because I think Felix had a breakout season last year and I think if you’d ask him I think he can be better and he thinks he can be better as well, especially when you put the surrounding pieces around him because we have most of our defensive line back that it’s hard to just double somebody but Felix is so smart and understands the game.
I give a lot of credit to Coach White and Coach Tui for putting him in positions and then Felix in making sure that he’s watching enough filjm and seeing tendencies.
But I’m excited. Felix is a terrific football player and one of our better leaders as well.
LHCBS TRANSLATION: With Felix, what you all see in games is what we get to see every day in practice, so he sets a strong example for other players.
Of course, a lot of that comes from being a part of the program and learning from other players like Wyatt Hubert, who was another youngster who did some good things here at the defensive end position. Felix made some good plays for us last year but we know he can be even better, and he’s eager to keep taking those steps forward.
He also understands the defensive line functions as a unit, so if we’re going to reach our goals all of them need to play well. There’s still a lot of room for improvement there and a lot of work for the coaching staff to do, so we’ll just have to wait and see where we end up.
COLE THOMPSON, FANNATION.COM: Collin becomes the offensive coordinator once again and we remember what his success was in Manhattan as a quarterback and when you look at him and Adrian and how they both are utilizing their legs, how important is it for them to work together and more specifically, how have you seen them develop throughout the summer going into the year.
HCCK: Well, for starters, I’m so excited for Collin Klein. He’s earned the opportunity during our 3 weeks leading up to the bowl game and then playing as well as we did in the bowl game and just watching him lead and command the room and have the respect of the players.
And then, as far as he and Adrian, I get to sit in on a lot of the quarterback meetings and just seeing the dialogue between all the quarterbacks and coach Klein but in particular Will and Adrian always having great dialogue with CK and just continuing to put Collin’s own spin on the offense.
We’re going to make some adjustments. We’re probably going to keep some things the same as some of our terminology that we’d had when Mess was here but we’re still going to try to find a way to get 22 the football.
Everybody wants to make sure that Deuce gets his touches, but I’m excited to see Collin and Adrian because they are very similar type of players, type of people and they both are very driven and so I’m looking forward to seeing how those two mesh together.
I’m excited because I know they’ll mesh together very well.
LHCBS TRANSLATION: Collin has been a big part of this program for a long time, so he’s earned this opportunity to take on a larger role. He does things the right way and the players respect that.
Adrian shares a lot of the same values and brings some of the same attributes to our offense, so we can continue to do what we’ve always done here. That’s valuable and maybe we’ll add some new wrinkles here with a few new faces, but you’ll just have to wait and see.
Of course, we have some other talented players who will play key roles on our offense, so hopefully Adrian will provide a good fit.
JACKSON SCHNEIDER, KSAL: You talk about Deuce and he’s going to get his touches, obviously, rightfully so but I’m curious if you can go into detail about his development as a leader and what he’s done to develop the rest of the running back room and how you’ve seen that kind of progress?
Yeah, as a junior now he’s had to take on some leadership role.
It’s easy to ask a sophomore to do that but when we had kids like Noah Johnson and Skylar Thompson he really didn’t need to.
Well, he’s an older guy now and I’ve been really proud of the way that he has kind of commanded the running back room and done some things with those new running backs whether it’s a freshman that we have or a transfer that we have coming in that he’s taken them into the film room and showed them kind of how to watch film and things to look for as well as taken them out on the field and doing some of their own drills and just kind of explaining to them some of his craft.
And it’s the work ethic that you see with Deuce Vaughn that I think everybody feeds off of his work ethic, whether its’ on the field, it’s in the classroom, it’s in the film room, it’s in the weight room.
That kid works so hard and to see your younger players watch arguably your best football player put the work in on a daily basis in all these areas as well as doing community service to say you can do all these things and be successful and so Deuce is becoming a tremendous leader for our football team.
LCHBS TRANSLATION: Deuce is another guy who is just a tremendous young man and really embodies what we try to instill in our players.
He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s a young guy that right now — tomorrow’s another day, but right now I’m so proud of his attitude, his value system, and part of that guides him to do anything and everything that he can to get himself a little bit better every day.
He’s one of those guys that you leave the practice field, you go in your office, you look out the window and you’ve got the equipment managers out there twiddling their thumbs wanting to get the lights turned off and
Tyler Deuce won’t let them because he’s out there catching balls off the machine and improving his footwork or keeping quarterbacks out to throw to him.
LANDON REINHARDT, KSNT-26: What do you make of leading the conference in preseason All-Big 12 picks?
HCCK: A couple things: 1, guys did some really good things last year that garnered that recognition.
I look at it and applaud our staff, coaches, support staff, recruiting staff, for continuing to set the standard in recruiting and continuing to recruit quality student-athletes here and developing them and then take that development stage, whether it’s Scott Strauss in nutrition to Drew Carroll in strength and conditioning to Mindy Hoffman in athletic training.
So many people are going to have an impact on your career and taking all these people seriously and learning from all those people so that you can becomes the best version of yourself and to have six guys that are receiving accolades is pretty neat and I’d think of the handful that I would have said ‘boy, that one would have deserved it as well,’ so I’m excited because I think every team probably has those unheralded 4 or 5 guys that you think, ‘well, that kid’s going to really surprise some people because of how talented they are.’ But I was excited for those 6 guys.
I didn’t pay attention to who was first, who was second, as far as leading the conference, just the fact that those guys got the recognition they deserve.
LHCBS TRANSLATION: I don’t really pay much attention to all of that stuff, but I’m proud of our young men for earning that recognition and setting a high standard here at Kansas State. Those players also understand they didn’t get here on their own, they had a lot of help from everyone on our staff, and they know it doesn’t mean much if they can’t go out and produce on the field.
How do you come up with these stats?
ARNE GREEN, TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL: Now that you’re in the second year with a new defense, has it changed maybe the way you’re recruiting to those positions, and what might have changed and what are you looking for now that maybe you weren’t before?
HCCK: It was interesting, I had a conversation with somebody else earlier today. Last year when we went into fall camp we were still unsure if we were going to wholesale 3 down or still play four down and so we practiced both of them because we’d recruited mostly to 4 down and so we had them both working all through four down and then it was kind of our players that said they felt more comfortable with the 3 down and that’s how we started the game against Stanford in here and the kids just fell in love with it.
From the recruiting standpoint we’re still looking for long athletes that can play in space or put their hand down from a linebacker defensive end standpoint and then we’re looking for that big defensive lineman like an Eli Huggins, like a Jaylen Pickle, that can hold point at the nose and still trying to recruit guys that can run and hit in the secondary but this’ll be our first full season with not wavering to think are we going to go with a four down but we’re staying with the 3 down and so it gave us the opportunity in the offsesason to do some professional development with our staff to go to different places that are running some 3 down that we were pretty vanilla we thought with our 3 down last year and we need to probably be a little bit more aggressive and add a few more wrinkles.
LHCBS TRANSLATION: Well, last year you saw us make some changes to what we were doing on defense, and those seemed to work out well for us.
I think the players responded well enough to what we were trying to do, and we had some of these young guys playing a bit out of their natural positions but they responded well. But our coaches also need to do a better job this year of being more consistent with what they are expecting of these young guys every down. We all need, from the coaches on down, to be better this year at what we want to do on the defensive side of the ball.
LANDON REINHARDT, KSNT-26: How exciting has it been to keep those in-state recruits?
HCCK: Yeah, we really can’t talk about recruiting per se right now with the NCAA rules but it’s just important for us to do well in the state of Kansas. I’ve said that since I was here in 2019. It’s important for us to do well in the state.
LHCBS TRANSLATION: You’re trying to get me in trouble, aren’t you? Next question.
WYATT THOMPSON: You had so much success last year with those plug and play guys in the secondary, with Stubblefield, Yeast, those types of guys. How are you feeling going into camp about specifically the safety positions?
HCCK: Probably our biggest question mark to be honest with you as we head into fall camp. We had a couple of guys that were here in the spring in Colby Savage and then we had TJ Smith back and Cincere Mason, who was coming off an injury.
But we’ve really plugged and added three or four guys this summer that we haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time with, but I’m excited to get into fall camp so that myself, Van Malone, Joe Klanderman, we’ve got three secondary coaches that are going to have to coach these guys nonstop.
We were so fortunate to hit home runs with Reggie Stubblefield, Russ Yeast, Julius Brents, that had an immediate impact.
Cincere had an immediate impact until he was hurt but that’s gonna be what we have to expect out of these guys is to have an immediate impact and so we’re going to have to all coach the heck out of these guys because the standard’s high, they know the standard’s high, that’s why they came to K-State but they also know there’s an opportunity to play early and so we’re excited about the challenge we have in the secondary.
LHCBS TRANSLATION: That’s certainly something we will address in fall camp, and we’ll be looking for players who can step into those roles. Last year we were able to find some youngsters who did an adequate job at times, and other times we would have liked to see a little more from those players. There are some new faces and then you know most of the players who could fit into those positions, so there’s really not much else to say about that right now.