Q. Bill, we picked you eighth two years ago, and you finished second. We picked you sixth last year, and you won it. This year we picked you sixth again. Are you going to at some point say "I told you so"?
COACH SNYDER: No is the simple answer, Barry. I think I said last year that, if I were given the opportunity, I would have picked us 99th.
As I look at it this year right now where we stand, I'd probably echo the same thought. It's precarious trying to make those kinds of decisions as the season gets started. Our program is no different than any other in that the dynamics of the program change year in and year out regardless of how many you do or do not have returning. It's just a different environment, and I would suggest that it's just a difficult task.
I know it has to be done, but it's an awful difficult task to make those kinds of decisions. I certainly couldn't do it. I've declined so many times to be on the coaches polls in regards to selecting the top 25 in the country, et cetera, because I just -- it is so difficult to do. Even during the course of the season, it becomes difficult to pick winners and loser. That's why people make so much money in Las Vegas, I guess.
Q. Coach, you're replacing Collin Klein, your front seven on defense. Can you go through your top concerns going into this football season?
COACH SNYDER: Most of them are probably intrinsic things again. I would always have the concern about young people and older people like myself and some of our coaches as well, not taking anything for granted, not taking our performance level for granted, based on whatever the program has done up to this point in time.
As I said before, dynamics of each year are truly different. I think, as far as personnel is concerned, we still don't have a starting quarterback yet. We did lose, depending on whose count, nine, probably nine returning -- or lost nine defensive starters. In addition to Collin, even though we returned a substantial number of starters on offense, we still lost some extremely talented young guys, Chris Harper, a big-play wide receiver, and Braden Wilson, we miss his toughness tremendously.
A lot of quality young guys. And when you lose as many as we did on defense as well, that can have an impact on your special teams because so many of your defensive players play on special teams. We've been fortunate to have pretty good special teams units. We were -- a combination of all, they ranked us No. 1 at the end of the season in special teams last year, but an awful lot of the personnel on those units, those six units, were defensive players as well. So it will certainly alter thing.
And those are some of my concerns, not all of them.
Q. With Missouri being out of the league and now that you've had some time to kind of digest that, has it affected your recruiting in the Kansas City area and up there in that area for good or for worse?
COACH SNYDER: I think to a certain degree, yes, it has. I think there's a -- and I say the Kansas City area, but I would say more than just the Kansas City area. I think it's had an impact throughout the Midwest because of some of the programs from our previous conference going to -- going north and some of them going south. It certainly has impacted, not just our recruiting, but everybody's recruiting, including our own in a number of areas in the Midwest, and I'm sure it's had impact in other places as well.
Q. This is kind of off topic. I'm doing a story about assistant coaches and their responsibilities in today's times. Can you think back to your first job as assistant coach, how much you made, what was your first paycheck, and what you did then, and now, what coaches have to do now, all the changes.
COACH SNYDER: Well, my first position as an assistant coach was in Gallatin, Missouri. This was a high school position. I was an assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach and assistant women's basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year. And I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, in all honesty, because I'd never had a paycheck worth very much prior to that.
But just my experiences over the years, probably the first college position that I had as an assistant coach was at Austin College, not too far from here, up in Sherman, Texas. Bob Mason was the athletic director at the time. The head coach was Larry Kramer, and I made some relationships and friendships there that were forever lasting. I don't think my salary went up hardly any at all, but, nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience.
I do think I made $19,000 there, but it was just -- I was around wonderful, wonderful people, which I've been fortunate all my life in that regard.
I went from there to North Texas State University and then to University of Iowa, both who had Hayden Fry, and I was with Hayden for a total of 13 years. In fact, on the way in here, we were just visiting about Hayden, who had a big impact on the Metroplex area here in his time at SMU and North Texas State, and I certainly admired him a great deal and still do and enjoyed my time with him.
I don't know, but I think my highest salary when I left Iowa was probably $60,000.
Q. Going back to what I asked you about Missouri leaving, has it been good or bad for you guys recruiting-wise? You didn't really get into that.
COACH SNYDER: It's just been different. I can't tell you that it's better or it's worse. If I had to say maybe there's some young guys at the University of Missouri would be attractive to because they're in the Southeastern Conference where maybe it would have been a little bit more competitive had that not been the case.
I think the move to the conference, I think, in some eyes -- every young person, get back into that again, but every young person makes a decision because of different reasons, some because of academic interests, some because of the personal environment, some because of grand facilities, et cetera. Everybody has a different reason. Some of them perhaps because of the conference that you play in.
All I can tell you, I guess, really, is that it's kind of a different -- it's a different environment, and I'm not sure that I can really answer the question is it better or worse for us.
Q. We've talked a whole bunch of times about how ball control offense that you guys have been able to do helps slow down opposing offenses. I'm wondering this season if you guys can manage that, how much it might help in the development of this young defense.
COACH SNYDER: Well, no matter what we do on offense, it's not going to slow the opponent's offenses down. Our defenses will have a tremendous challenge because of the speed or the tempo of so many football teams in the Big 12 Conference. Everybody moves so rapidly.
You hear the numbers, and everybody keeps track of the amount of time it takes from one snap to the next, and a lot of teams have averaged 18, 19 seconds between snaps, and I'm watching the University of Texas in their spring game, and they're going every nine or ten seconds in some of the series that they ran.
So the game's just getting faster and faster and faster, and defensively, it takes more than just conditioning. So many people say -- and I would be one of them -- that you have to be a well-conditioned defensive football team in order to stay up or maintain the pace of the game, but there are so many other things that come into play as well, and part of it is just the ability to have the discipline to stay focused on what your assignment and alignment and recognizing tendencies, et cetera, happen to be in that short period of time that you have to get lined up.
What we do offensively, we're just -- yes, we've been a slow football team offensively by comparison for a variety of different reasons. Some of them just not having the capacity to get plays called as quickly as we would like to sometimes.
But by and large, it's by design. You can say you take up more time, and therefore the defense is not on the field as long. Well, that might be true in terms of 30 minutes per ball game for offense or defense. I think we held the ball 32 minutes or something like that last year. That means that the opponent's offense is on the field for 28 minutes plus.
But it's how fast they go during that period of time. Now, if somebody is going so fast and they're getting in 90 plays a ball game, then your defense is going to have some -- obviously has some issues, and that's -- that can happen. We've been fortunate, and we were fortunate last year, that we didn't have any that had, I think, 90 snaps, but got awful close. And when they did, we struggled a little bit on offense -- or on defense. I don't know if that answers your question.
Q. Bill, throughout the league's history, it's been boosted by its great quarterback play. When you look at the overall quarterback situation this year with so many teams breaking in new starters, how does it compare to past years from your perspective?
COACH SNYDER: That's a good question. I'm not sure I have the answer for that. I'm more focused on our situation than I am our opponent's. I think probably every program in the conference is going to put the best young guys that they have on the field as number one.
Young guys have come into our program and come into other programs and been there first year and done extremely well. Some do, some don't. I've got a young guy down here in College Station that came on the scene, and nobody had a clue that he was going to get himself on the field, and ended up winning a Heisman. You just never really know.
And I understand it's a major topic at that position where, if you ask about your right guard on offense -- anyway, none of you are going to ask that question.
So for coaches, those two situations probably share some commonality, but for the common readers, that's probably not the case.
I don't know what kind of impact it will have over the course of the season, whether it's with our program or somebody else's.
Q. Bill, in winning the championship last year, has it transformed the program in any way, open any recruiting doors? Did you get any big job offers after that?
COACH SNYDER: My days are pretty much the same, always have been, and, God willing, always will be.
I don't know that anything has changed. We went through a period of time in my first go around at Kansas State University, and we won 11 games last year, we won 10 this year. We went through a period of time where we won 11 six out of seven years or something like that. So it's not abnormal. I thought it was a very, very fine year, and I was pleased with it.
But by the same token, it's not as though -- we've had our bad years too. Don't misunderstand me. But I don't think we've responded to it any differently than we would.
What I said a moment ago, I think every year the dynamics of any football program in the country is dramatically different, and I think you see that as a sports columnist year in and year out and week in and week out, and I think as coaches we all recognize that as well.
That's why I was saying earlier that, when you go through and you have to make those selections, who's 1, who's 2, who's 3, that's not an easy task. That's guesswork at best.
Q. You've been around this conference for a long time, like a bunch of us have. Is this potentially as balanced as this conference has been considering there have been six different programs that got first place votes in the media poll for a potential winner?
COACH SNYDER: I think our conference has maintained a good balance over the years. I think maybe there are some years where it might be a little -- might be a little bit more balance or more teams that are prominent than other years, but, by and large, I think year in and year out it's a very consistent conference.
Will this year be more so? I don't know that I could say that. It may prove to be -- again, that's like picking who's going to be 1, who's going to be 2, et cetera, and I'm just not smart enough to do that. So I don't really know whether it will maintain that kind of balance or not.
If I had to make a projection, I would say yes, it's a well-balanced conference. Is it the most balanced this year than it has been at any time? I couldn't answer that either way. Don't know.
Q. Bill, can you just talk about the value of returning your offensive line intact, especially with a new quarterback in place.
COACH SNYDER: Well, if I'm the quarterback, I'm awful happy about it for sure. It's a double-edged sword, I think.
Number one, given the options, you'd rather have all of them coming back, but you'd want to have them all coming back in an environment in which they are going to improve and continue to become better.
Sometimes it's just like you're able to say just what you said. You have all five of your offensive line starters coming back. They're aware of that as well. Now, whether or not they take some things for granted because of that, that would put us in dire jeopardy, I believe. If they don't take anything for granted and they commit themselves to becoming better, then it's a very, very positive thing.
So it can work both ways for you. I'd rather have it the way it is than the other, though. And especially with the young people that we have, because I think we've got good young people in those positions who are very team oriented, very unselfish, and that means an awful lot at that position, or those positions.
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