During nearly two decades coaching college football, Van Malone has worked at nine different schools. Kansas State is No. 9; Mississippi State, which K-State bet on the road earlier this month, was No. 8.
Malone will face another former school, Oklahoma State, at 6 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He spent three seasons with the Cowboys (2012-14), a period in which they experienced immense success, winning 25 games and going to bowls every year.
So when the Wildcats arrive at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday, Malone admits the memories likely will come flooding back.
"I have great friendships there throughout their staff," said Malone, who is in his first season as K-State's cornerbacks coach. "My kids have great friendships in Stillwater. It'll be cool to be back there and to be on the opposing sideline. Fortunately, I've been on the opposing sideline before and played the Cowboys. So that'll be a cool part of it, but once the game starts, it's like any other game. You play the game, and afterward, you say hello and goodbye to the people you've known over the years and you keep it moving."
Prior to kickoff, Malone said he likely would look around the stadium, pointing out specific things he grew fond of during three seasons as a Cowboy. But as soon as the ball is in the air on the opening kickoff, that goes away. It just won't come as quickly, or as easily, as it did two weeks ago in Starkville, Mississippi.
"At Mississippi State, I was only there for four months. I was at Oklahoma State for years," he said. "I watched my kids grow up, in some ways, there. So there's a little bit more emotion involved. But just like we tell (our players), 'It's a business trip. You're going to accomplish a task. Everything else that comes along with that is an afterthought.'"
Despite not having worked at Oklahoma State in nearly five years, Malone said he still keeps in touch with head coach Mike Gundy frequently, particularly during the offseason. Though Gundy, a former OSU quarterback, is known more for his offenses, Malone said he learned a lot from the Cowboys' head man.
"He's a good coach to huddle up with over years throughout my career," Malone said. "So to have that relationship with him, I wouldn't trade it (for the world). But we still want to go there and get a victory. We'll talk to him about other things after."
Malone hopes he'll get a chance to speak with Gundy before game time, though noted Gundy isn't the type who normally fraternizes with the other side beforehand. Malone's insistence on meeting before the coin toss is part of a master plan.
"I would like to see if Coach Gundy would give me some of their passing signals, see if I can trick him out of that before the game," Malone said with a laugh. "Probably not."
Acquiring some of the flowing locks from Gundy's signature mullet, Malone said, might come easier. It just might be an exercise in futility for the short-haired Malone.
"I don't know what I'd do with it, you know what I mean?" Malone said. "My guys normally make me pull mine out. So I don't know if it'd work too well."