It's hard to discount the similarities, really. Oklahoma runs an offense not completely unlike K-State, although the option wrinkle is a bit displaced by a west coast offense flair. The defenses are vastly similar, too, although that would be expected. After all, most of Oklahoma's coaching staff has a connection to Kansas State in some respect. That leads one to wonder, which team will have an advantage when it comes to familiarity?
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, a 43-year old fifth-year head coach, is arguably among the best in the nation. That figures, though, considering his entire career has been spent behind coaching legends. From 1983 to 1987, Stoops was an assistant under Hayden Fry, helping the Iowa Hawkeyes to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth -- in addition to a No. 1 ranking.
After a brief stint at Kent State, Stoops got on as defensive backs coach and later co-defensive coordinator under Bill Snyder at Kansas State, where he helped the Wildcats rebuild -- or perhaps more accurately, build -- into a program that would eventually win 11 games perennially. Then it was off to Florida, where Stoops joined hot-headed hotshot Steve Spurrier for three seasons, directing one of the nation's top defenses. Two BCS bowls in three seasons resulted.
But Stoops isn't the only coach at Oklahoma to have ties to Snyder -- first at Iowa in the 1980s and later as a direct assistant in the 1990s. His younger brother, Mike, followed a virtually identical path. He, too, played at Iowa in the early 1980s before joining Fry and Snyder as a volunteer assistant for the Hawkeyes. In 1992 he followed Bob to K-State, taking over as co-defensive coordinator when his brother left from 1996-98. When Bob was hired at Oklahoma in 1999, it was off to the Soooner state for Mike, too.
Brent Venables is not a reviled name in Kansas for the particularly offensive way he left the K-State program. From 1993-98, Venables coached the linebackers and defensive running game before following Mike and Bob to OU. Unlike the Stooops brothers, though, Mike also played at K-State. The Salina, Kan. native is a Snyder-coach born and bred.
Then there's Chuck Long, whom Snyder coached as a quarterback at Iowa from 1982-86. The Heisman Trophy runner-up spent eight years in the NFL before coaching at Iowa and joining Oklahoma in 1999. The trigger-man for Snyder's potent Hawkeye offense, it was Long who led the Hawkeyes in that prolific 1985 season.
Even administrative coordinator Matt McMillen has ties to Kansas State. He spent 10 years as an associate athletics director before moving to Oklhaoma in 1999. He, too, is a native of Salina, Kan. Mike Ekeler, Oklahoma's lone graduate assistant coach, was a linebacker and team captain at Kansas State, graduating in 1995 as a four-year letterwinner.
While relationships with Mark Mangino at Kansas and other coaches in the Big 12 get plenty of publicity, the relationships to Oklahoma and its staff are undeniable to the K-State staff.
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