STILLWATER — Joe Bob Clements considers Manhattan, Kan., home.
It's the place he's lived longer than anywhere else. Where he went from a walk-on to a scholarship utility player for Kansas State. Where he coached under legend Bill Snyder during both of his stints leading the Wildcats.
So what prompted Clements to make a career move within the conference and join Oklahoma State's staff? To break away from the Snyder clan? To help fill the void in Stillwater left by former defensive coordinator Bill Young?
A promotion, for starters, from defensive ends coach to defensive line coach. And sometimes leaving familiar surroundings is necessary to continue to develop professionally.
“(OSU is) not a program on the rise, it's a program that kind of has arrived,” Clements said. “They're playing at a very high level and putting themselves in position to compete for championships. It was just intriguing to come be a part of it.
“It's an energetic staff, Mike (Gundy) is a very good coach and it just gives me an opportunity to learn the way he does things.”
Clements realized he wanted to be a coach as he went through his college career in the late 1990s. By the end of it, he had played linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle and tight end for the Wildcats.
“I kind of got an overview of a lot of different positions,” Clements said, “which was good educationally, because I learned how a lot of aspects of team defense worked. Toward the end of college, I felt like (coaching) was something I wanted to do.”
Some of his early influences are prominent college football names, particularly in this state. Bob Stoops. Brent Venables. Mike Stoops.
And, of course, Snyder.
Clements saw Snyder's 16 Goals for Success — which include simple-yet-effective character traits like toughness, self-discipline and leadership — in action every day.
“People often look from the outside and they ask, ‘How does he do it? What's his secret?'” Clements said. “The reality of it is it's not especially complicated ...
“He doesn't waver. And he won't waver. From that, I just think the consistency with how he does things is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.”
Clements was offered a student assistant job at K-State after his playing career in 1999. Then he was elevated to a graduate assistant for two seasons. Then to the defensive ends coach and recruiting coordinator for three more.
When Snyder retired, Clements coached the defensive line at San Diego State (2006-07) and Kansas (2008). And when Snyder returned to Manhattan, so did Clements.
During that second stint with the Wildcats, Clements also noticed what was building in Stillwater.
He often popped in the OSU tape to see how an explosive spread offense — the most common system in the Big 12 — could attack his defense. He came away impressed with how the Cowboys won eight games in 2012 despite losing stars Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and sustaining numerous injuries, particularly at quarterback.
He personally saw how the Cowboys handled a jarring quarterback switch, when former third-stringer Clint Chelf was thrust into duty in Manhattan after Wes Lunt left the game with a concussion.
To Clements, that showed the foundation Gundy and Co. had built. And made the job opportunity attractive.
“To have to play three different quarterbacks, no one does that and has success,” Clements said.
Clements admits he's only met about half of the members of his position group — which returns a stout defensive tackle duo of Calvin Barnett and James Castleman but will feature plenty of new faces at defensive end — during his first two weeks on the job. That's because he's spent more time on the road than in Stillwater trying to quickly establish relationships with recruits as Signing Day looms.
“It's been hectic,” Clements said. “Because it's hard to build trust immediately. I'm just trying to get to know these young guys, get to know their families and just make them comfortable that I can help them become great players.”
There's been plenty of comfort in Clements' initial conversations with Glenn Spencer, who's also in a new role after being elevated to defensive coordinator following Young's departure. They've talked about bringing enthusiasm to the staff and aggressiveness to the field.
“My personal opinion is there's not a tackle on the field that they cannot make,” Clements said of his defensive linemen. “And I'm going to demand that they put themselves in that position to make that tackle.
“Our job is to ultimately control the line of scrimmage, stop the run, and then when the opportunity presents itself, we're going to affect the quarterback.”
When asked about his long-term goals at OSU, Clements cannot nail those down. He throws out the clichés about worrying about today, and being better tomorrow.
Perhaps that's the influence of his old home, and Snyder, seeping into his coaching philosophy.
But now Clements is ready for a new venture.
“Just learning,” Clements said of what he's most looking forward to at OSU. “Any time I can learn a new way to do things, or maybe a way I hadn't seen before, it's just going to make me that much better.”