Have you noticed the players are a little more excited because it is Iowa State [this week]?
If they're not, they're not human. I would have to think the only exception might be the first year guys. But with all due respect to them, not that they're bad guys, but they really don't know much about what's going on any level right now academically, football wise, hopefully socially they have some clue what they're doing. But outside of that group, everybody that's been here for a while, they understand that.
The series has been very close the last two years, why do you think that is?
I think it's just the nature of the series. It's just been that way for a long time, at least since I've returned. It's just kind of the nature of the series. It's going to be, like I said, it doesn't seem to matter where you play the game, it doesn't seem to be a big factor. It really comes down to which team plays the best on Saturday, and that is the challenge that's in front of both of us.
Coach, for a long time it was sort of big brother, little brother, is it still that way? If not, when did it grow out of that?
I'm not sure I'd agree with that description, but I can tell you this, since 1998, maybe it was little brother, big brother, and the point spread was 20-plus points. It ended up pretty different. I got here a year later, and it's been a dogfight every year. That is the only way I know it. [The] 80s are ancient history to me. I used to have black hair and all my kids were in elementary school then. So that's a long time ago.
What do you think of Iowa State's defense? It looks like they've had two [different ones] each week?
They're probably like us, trying to figure some things out and improve. Not to be oversimplistic, but I think if you look at their two games, they had a lot of transition, new coaches on staff, and a lot has been written about that.
I mean, we all know firsthand it's a bigger mountain to climb than you let on to be sometimes. So I thought to me the first week it looked like the team [was] in transition a little bit. I saw a team last week that played a nationally ranked team basically out of the park. I'm not saying Kansas State was fortunate to win. I'm not saying that at all. They deserved to win. But if you compare the two games, it was night and day different.
If you look back a year ago, they started out a little bumpy and week three they went down to Tulsa, played extremely well and came back and played Texas off their feet. So I think that's what we're looking at here.
Can you talk about the game plan for a guy like Jarvis West?
He's extremely explosive and talented. He's a very good football player and it's in a couple different areas. Although we saw another dimension Saturday that we hadn't seen, and that was a credit to them. That [pass] was a really well conceived play called at a great time and paid big dividends. He's an excellent football player. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's an excellent return guy. Obviously, a good receiver and that other dimension, too. So he's just a really good player.
Is it more difficult recruiting in-state kids since Coach Rhoads took over over there?
The answer is no. When I got here it was tougher. Dan McCarney did a wonderful job, and Paul was on that staff. Dan's a bulldog recruiter, always has been. Worked with him for nine years. So it's been difficult for a long time, quite frankly, 15 years, 15-plus years.