NORMAN — There's an obvious link between Kansas State and Oklahoma's football programs, in the form of Sooners coach Bob Stoops.
Stoops was at Kansas State as an assistant under Bill Snyder from 1989-95.
“I had a great seven years there,” Stoops said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “I've always thought back on those fondly. I have a lot of great relationships and friends from being there.”
Snyder is back and winning at K-State the same way he did when he initially built the program. It's all about tough-nosed physicality and fundamentals for the Wildcats, who enter this week's game with OU 7-0 and eighth in the latest BCS standings.
“No. It doesn't surprise me at all,” Stoops said of KSU's resurgence under Snyder, the 72-year-old who returned to Manhattan in 2009. “And that's a compliment, because I know how Coach does it and works and has been part of it for a long time.”
Stoops had to laugh when talking about the conditions of the program when Snyder's staff first arrived. A Sports Illustrated story called K-State “Futility U.” just before Snyder's first season.
“I don't know that anybody can really look back, unless you were there at that time, and see how really poor and rotten it was,” Stoops said. “There's no describing it. There really isn't. It was horrendous. I hope no one there's mad at me (for saying that). It was. They know it. I can't say it any other way.”
So, why would Stoops leave Kent State to take a job there?
“I was young and naïve,” he said. “I never thought for a minute we wouldn't win. I had that much respect and faith in Coach Snyder, having worked with him all those years at Iowa. All we did at Iowa was win. … Sometimes, if you've been jaded by this profession and in it a little longer, you'd look at this situation and go, ‘Good luck with that.'”
Stoops said he didn't even ask Snyder what his salary would be.
“When Coach Snyder called and said he had the secondary job for me,” Stoops said, “I was squealing my tires, headed out of there.”
Fast-forward to this intriguing meeting.
The Sooners (6-1) are in rebound mode this week after a 41-38 loss to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders led 31-7 in the third quarter, on their way to ending OU's 39-game home win streak.
“They understand that (K-State will be up for this game),” Stoops said. “It's a big challenge. They understand they'll be chomping at the bit to play us. I don't have a magic trick to make them want to play. … It's about doing the work to be ready for that, to be ready to execute against that.
“This isn't their first game against a team that was dying to play them.”
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Here's a look at what else Stoops had to say during his weekly press conference:
… on K-State QB Collin Klein, who also leads the team in rushing (670 yards, 14 TDs):
“They run the ball with the quarterback and running back about any way that's ever been invented to run the football, which will be a lot of work to cancel gaps and be structurally sound against it. They do a good job executing their run game, and the quarterback is the focal part of it.”
… on running back Dominique Whaley missing the Tech game and how OU performed running the ball:
“Dom makes a difference. His strength and power is definitely different than some of the other guys. Some of it is just a lack of execution, guys not picking up the run game, the blocks and the structure of the defense the way they need to.”
… on linebacker Travis Lewis' comments, calling out teammates for not playing through injuries the way he has:
“He's frustrated. It's not a big deal. Our team is very close together and Travis is one of them. It's a good reason why I probably shouldn't let them go talk to you guys afterward, so we may do that, too. At the end of the day, not a big deal. I don't know what he meant by it. The bottom line is guys play or not play, depending on what the doctors allow them to do.”
… on West Virginia potentially joining the Big 12:
“I don't have anything to say about that. I've got enough to think about.”
… on the pass game and receivers' play against Texas Tech.
“Unprecise, I think, is the best way to say it. We have guys in spots that we're used to converting and picking up. We had some drops, some poor throws … all of it together was not very precise. It showed.”
… on the role of injuries in the loss to Tech.
“I said it's about time we win a championship. Around here, it is. I said you cannot forecast all the things that happen. That's part of it. No one's making excuses here. My point being … you guys ask me questions and then I'm not able to answer them, because they get turned around and that isn't what I said.
“(Injuries) are always significant, but it doesn't matter. It amounts to the same thing. I have to answer questions on what happens. Sometimes, maybe it's intensity. Sometimes maybe the guy getting beat, the other guy is better than him. Sometimes they coach better than we coach. So, all of it amounts to losing.
“So, all of that, injuries are part of it, too. Sure, it's fair to say it didn't help.”
… on if his defense is not intense enough at times? Or potentially overrated (something Stoops suggested during news conference)?
“Somebody always asks me after the first game or second game, ‘Is this the best you've ever had?' I always say, ‘It could be.' … I said they could be (overrated). I didn't say they were. At times, like the way we played the other night, wasn't real positive. At the end, is it intensity or they just got beat at the other guy's better at route-running or covering? It all amounts to the same thing. Too much of the time, too much is made early in the season about what a team is and isn't.”