Coach Prince talks to the Big 12 Media

Football is in the air and that means the annual Spring Big 12 teleconference where Head Coach Ron Prince fielded questions from members of the media about the Wildcats and what he expects this year from his squad. Coach Prince addressed his approach to taking over the Kansas State program, what he expects from his players and how he can draw from experiences elsewhere to make K-State a better program.

Welcome in Coach Ron Prince from Kansas State

Coach Prince's Opening statement:

Thanks Fellas. Yea we've, you know we have had a nice time here with the players here. We've really tried to start from scratch, really trying to implement our systems by evaluating the off-season conditioning programs and really just trying to assess the talent of the individual players and where they might fit best within our systems. We really haven't taken too much time to go back at all and evaluate at all where they have played in years past. We've really tried to start fresh and make sure we have a competitive tension and a competitive environment among the players returning. We want every player to feel like he can compete for playing time. We feel like that will give us the best opportunity to put together the kind of team in the fall we are going to need to play here on our schedule. So, it's been exciting. Obviously when there's a coaching change there's always that type of atmosphere, but really, all the things that it takes to put a team together by a spring game is a tremendous amount of effort on everyone's part and I'm really pleased. <

When you take over a new job, how much of the whole process initially is getting the guys to buy into what you want? Is that a process that continued into the spring?

Well, I think one of the things that's really significant about coaching is most people think coaching is demanding performance and like you said having the players buy in and I think the first part of that is making a connection with the player. I think the player has to understand very clearly what's important to you, what your values are, where you're coming from, so to speak and then the coach has to be able to understand what's important to that player and what his goals and objectives are as well. Then after that I think you can teach very specifically what you're looking for, how to play within the system, how to conduct yourself as a student-athlete at that particular institution. And then give the player room to really practice and make his mistakes and go from there, so to speak, and really his lab, if you will, in our subject that we're teaching, which is football. And then you can demand performance and then you can evaluate whether a particular player has bought in. So I think there's a process you go through. Obviously it's not in 90 days, it's not in 100 days. It takes longer than that and I think we are well on our way through that process.

This whole buying-in process, is this patterned after somebody? Where did you learn this from?

Well I don't know. I think that I come from a school of coaches where we have a specific plan on how we like to put teams together. I've been heavily influenced by coach Groh there at Virginia and many of the people who have influenced him over time. And most of the folks I've worked for over the last 10 years have been associated with the New York Giants in some way, but Coach Coughlin was the first person I had an opportunity to learn the Pro game from and I've had a lot of experiences with people from that school of thought. But I think that really less about buying in and really more about teaching and making a connection. I think that's where you start at this time, in the infancy of a program when a coach first comes in. And then we're getting to a point here where we're going to start demanding performance shortly.

When you became Offensive Coordinator at Virginia did that seem like it was a time when there was a large increase in coordinator's salaries? A trend that had gone that way and I just wondered why you think there was a sudden re-evaluation of coordinators and also if you think the bigger salaries will make coordinators think twice or be more highly selective in Head Coaching opportunities, and obviously you have roots in Kansas, but that maybe those salaries will make coordinators more selective before leaving for a head coaching job?

Well, I can tell you that on our staff that was never really the thought. The thought was that when coach Groh put his staff together in 2001, he wanted coaches of tremendous ambition. We had five coaches go onto the NFL at their position, four or five coaches we had, we had coaches advance their careers as offense and defense coordinators and then three of us got Head Coaching jobs this past year - at a variety of places. And I don't think salary was ever a factor in any of those issues. I think in this business, if you get together folks who are really ambitious and want to be at the top of their game, whether it's at the highest level, the National Football League, or rganizationally the highest level being a head coach, I think that's what the experience I've come out of those are really the desires of those individuals and therefore you have a group of people that see themselves almost as partners in an organization. And then therefore when the organization does well everybody benefits and obviously on the other side if the organization does poorly but I really don't think salary has ever really played a factor in any kind of decision on how to advance or where your goals might take you. My goal was to be a Head Coach. I didn't think that it would come at this particular time. I was optimistic. I was preparing for it. But I don't think any type of salary at any other institution would have been a factor in my wanting to be a head coach.

With this change in offense, how is the quarterback situation looking? Have you been able to get a decent feel over the spring of kind of who is segwaying into this offense better and who might have the lead right now?

You don't become a quarterback at this level unless you have talent. There's no question that all of these young people are talented. It's a matter of degrees in some cases. But really we feel like the quarterback who has the best chance to lead us is one that just seems to get his team in the end zone more than the other and will play well, if he can. But obviously quarterbacks are judged by the number of wins and pelts that they bring home. And so that's really what we're trying to evaluate and assess this weekend with our Spring Game. Really how do these quarterbacks perform under some competitive tension and pressure, if you will, and really want to see that with the crowd there and see how they perform. It's one thing to do it in practice, but we think it's THE most challenging of all the positions in all of sports. I don't think anyone other than maybe a pro golfer would really understand the type of scrutiny and pressure that a quarterback plays under and he has so many other people who are looking to him to lead the team and o all of those things go into our evaluation of a quarterback.

Just from a system standpoint, are there any quarterbacks, considering their prep backgrounds that have maybe a leg up on the other guys just because they might be able to transition into it a little more smoothly because they know how to make the reads and check downs?

I think all of the quarterbacks here, like I said, are talented. They can throw the ball. They have mobility. Each one of them is functionally mobile within the pocket and outside the pocket. They can make the throws whether they're short, intermediate or across the middle. I think that each of the quarterbacks can make those throws. It's a level of degrees, however, in each of those categories. And really, I think the offense has all of those components and therefore I think any of the quarterbacks would be successful in it. We're just going to see which one can lead his team the best.

Ron, you have a high number of Junior College kids coming in this season. Can you talk about who might be making an impact on the depth charts through spring ball?

Well I think one of the things that Kansas State really has been known for and I don't know of any other program in the country that has done a great job or a better job over time with Junior College players than coach Snyder did at K-State, so some of those players have been very open to coming here and interested in our program. But I think across the board, where we are right now is that every single player who's coming onto our roster is going to have a chance to compete for playing time. I don't really see this as a situation where we're going to try and hold very many players and we're going to really try and see when the player is ready, we're ready, so to speak. So I think as soon as the player can demonstrate that he has a sense of how to play and how to conduct himself within the scheme, we're going to try and get him in the game.

So generally speaking, some of these guys are going to factor in pretty significantly?

That would be my hope.

Is this Saturday going to be your color commentary debut, radio-wise?

Well, obviously, since I've coached in a system which we have been unable to speak to the media, yeah, I haven't done too much color commentary. I guess if I stay at a Holiday Inn Express I'll have a chance. It's really one of those things where I want to give our coordinators an opportunity that was given to me, to really be in these moments here and to draft a team. And we're going to have each of the head coaches, they're going to draft a team and put a team together. I'll be the commissioner of such draft. Then, obviously, I had a heavy hand and a big part in everything that's happened so far this spring. I think it'll be a good opportunity for maybe me to step back from it and let the players and coaches do their thing and maybe provide some insight to the fans who are listening on what they may be hearing and seeing.

What are you going to look for? I know you're going to be doing that, but at the same time what are some things that you're anxious to see from up there, like you said, to take some stuff away?

I'm really anxious to see if we can really complete some passes against this secondary. Raheem has done a terrific job with them. They've really given us quite a bit of a challenge. This defensive front has been difficult for us to handle. I'll be interested to see if we can block it and protect the quarterback with him dropping back. I'll be very interested to see if we can put some scoring and some sustained drives together and really how opportunistic are we on defense. I'd really like to see us be very ball disruptive on defense and be very ball aware, and understand where the ball is how to get the ball out at any given time.

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