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We sit down with Ahearn Alley of the very purple and very excellent Kansas State SB Nation community Bring On The Cats for some questions about the Wildcats.
As usual, I returned the favor by answering some questions for BOTC, and it can be found here.
Collin Klein's stats were arguably better than those of Eric Crouch's in 2001 when he won the Heisman. Why was he not even considered for an invitation to New York? What does he need to do to get that invitation this year?
AA: For me and (as far as I could tell) and for most of the fanbase, this actually didn't cause quite as much consternation as you might think just because we're so used to being disrespected and ignored by most of college football (see: 1998 Alamo Bowl, 2003 pre-Big 12 championship, 2011 BCS bowl selections, etc.). Plus, Kansas State didn't do a whole lot to promote Klein as a Heisman candidate, so it didn't really cross our minds that much.
But to answer your question, I think there were two big factors at play. First of all, Crouch was on a team that started the year at or near the top of the rankings and made the national championship back when Nebraska was a powerhouse (I can't tell you how much I love using the past tense in that phrase) so that put him on everyone's radar. Klein was a first-year starter for an unranked team that really didn't start getting any national attention until he got to about 6-0, and even then, a lot of that disappeared after the Oklahoma disaster.
How does Snyder succeed with a converted quarterback at LB (Justin Tuggle)?
AA: Snyder has always had a knack for getting players to convert to other positions -- after all, Collin Klein was originally a wide receiver. I think a big part of it is just players buying into the system and understanding the selflessness required for the team to be successful. I know in some circles that all may sound a little cheesy or cliched, but that's how we roll in Manhattan.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Justin Tuggle was no ordinary quarterback. He was always a freak athlete in the mold of Michael Bishop and Cam Newton (all three went to Blinn College) though he never put up the kind of passing numbers those two had. It probably didn't hurt that Justin's dad, Jessie, was an All-Pro linebacker who played in Atlanta for 14 seasons. All of that being said, I've honestly been pleasantly surprised at just how quickly Tuggle has become an impact player at linebacker for K-State.
What happens when Bill Snyder finally retires again? Is there a contingency plan involving EcoKat?
AA: I think K-State Mask is higher on the list for the moment, even though his girth makes him look a little more like a KU coach. In all seriousness, though, this is a fairly large concern on the rare occasions we stop basking in the glow of Snyder's success long enough to consider the possibilities.
We've learned the hard way Manhattan, Kan., is still not exactly an ideal destination for big name coaches, and there is no clear heir apparent like, maybe, Frank Beamer's son at Virginia Tech. Snyder's sons, Sean, is in the mix right now and currently serves as the special teams coach, but he hasn't really done much to impress anyone yet. Plus, athletic director John Currie seems like the type of guy to go for a big splash hire, even if it's not the right fit, which is what we should be most worried about.
Kansas State has committed a D1-low NINE penalties in 5 games. Is it all "Wizardry" or is there something more than just coaching here?
AA: Certainly the day-to-day coaching has a lot to do with it, but I think what a lot of people don't realize is how far back that goes. It starts with recruiting disciplined (not necessarily smart, Snyder does get a lot of JUCO players) guys who are willing to play within the system. Of course, it's sometimes impossible to accurately predict how guys are going to react on Saturdays, so to have a whole team doing it this well probably takes some luck, too. But consider that in 2009, a Bill Snyder-coached team with Ron Prince recruits was fifth in the Big 12 in penalty yards, and I think you can see the impact of smart recruiting.
The Wildcats have gone 4-0 since they've last played a game at Jack Trice in 2007 (insert obligatory losing to Chizik reference here) with an average margin of victory of less than 6 points . Not a single player on the roster has ever had to play in Ames. Will this present an additional challenge?
AA: Considering this team has a ton of experience and won at Norman three weeks ago, I wouldn't think so. But with that being said, I think the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium is overrated, and it seems like it's going to be pretty crazy in Ames this weekend. If anyone takes this game lightly (another thing we're told Bill Snyder teams don't do) then it could end up having an impact. Either way, I really don't want to see K-State in a position where they have to go down the field and score in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to Ahearn Alley for his time, and may the best crop (corn) win.