ARLINGTON, Texas — Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman made his Big 12 Media Days debut Tuesday at AT&T Stadium.
Check out all of his comments from his time on stage.
(Note: Quotes provided by ASAP Sports.)
"Thanks for having me. It's almost noon to everybody. Excited to be here with six great football players that are great representation of what Kansas State football is all about with their great leadership, serving leadership with great play on the field, what they do in the community as well. I'm excited to have those guys here and excited for you to get an opportunity to see those guys and meet with them as well.
"I'm tremendously excited to be here and start this next chapter of my career at Kansas State. Wouldn't be here without our athletic director, Gene Taylor, who gave me the opportunity at North Dakota State five years ago to be the head coach there, and after five great years gave me an opportunity to come to Kansas State and be the head football coach here with tremendous support, community, administratively, the alums, former players. It's been fun. I'm excited about the challenge. I know it's a big challenge this year. Learning our football team, we have only had 15 practices. So I'm trying to learn our football team as well as our coaches are and we're looking forward to getting started on August 1st to continue to build on what we started in March with our spring practices. We have obviously a daunting schedule like everybody else does, but we all look forward to the challenge and with the senior leadership that we have, we have 24 seniors and a number of guys on the offense and defense that we have, and I look toward to those guys leading us and winning for us in the trenches. Excited to be here and open it up for questions.
Q. Chris, congratulations on being here. You've had unbelievable success and now you're here, Kansas State, and K-State is picked ninth in the Big 12 Conference. What are your impressions of that preseason poll and your motivations as you get set to go with the Wildcats?
KLIEMAN: "I don't take a lot of stock in preseason polls. I never have. The previous school where we were ranked first I think it's about attacking on a daily basis and stacking good days upon good days throughout the month of August to start your campaign at the end of August. I know our guys are hungry. I know that a number of guys, there's a bunch of them that are returning from last year felt that they probably left a couple of games out there, maybe left a couple of plays out there. Having the hunger that those guys, I see in their eyes, I look forward to getting started and not really worrying about where the rankings are."
Q. At North Dakota State you were able to control the game up front against power teams like Iowa or sprint teams like Eastern Washington. How do you build a dominant line at Kansas State and how do you find the players that allowed you at North Dakota State to have the biggest, strongest guys on the field?
KLIEMAN: "There is no difference in development. It's getting big, long, lean guys and getting them into your program and getting them into a great strength program. Chris Dawson does a phenomenal job with our athletes and I think that's in general what the best programs do is they develop the current guys that they have on campus and you go out and try and find those guys that not only fit your scheme offensively and defensively, but fit your profile or culture as far as the work ethic, the character, the competitive fire.
"There's a lot of guys that have been four or five-star guys that haven't up and down out and there have been guys with no stars, but they made really great football players because they have a burning desire and are looking to compete. We have to find those guys."
Q. Chris, by all accounts you've really connected with the K-State people, fans and alums and that sort of thing. Have you done some things intentionally to try to do that? Why do you think that's been something that's started to happen in Manhattan?
KLIEMAN: "I believe, who I am (is), I'm a people person. I'm a relationship guy. I want to show our brand. We have an unbelievable brand at Kansas State, and Kenny Lannou and his crew have done a phenomenal job of getting our brand out there on social media.
"We have a great fan base and they want to know what's going on with the coaches. They want to know what's going on with the players. They want to know what's going on at a workout or at a paint ball that we went to or wherever it may be and those are the fun things that our fans really appreciate."
Q. With respect to recruiting at Kansas State, I understand some four and five-star guys don't pan out, but I do believe that those are the kind of guys that most would want to get. What is it that you try to tell those guys when they are looking in Kansas State's direction?
KLIEMAN: "It's pretty simple: Did you want to play in a style of offense where we're going to get the playmakers the football and you're going to have an opportunity to play at the next level and an opportunity to play early. I think that's the number one sell is a young man can play early.
"With the transfer portal, with the early entries in drafts and stuff you need a bunch of guys to play early. I think having the ability to offer that to a guy that you're good enough you're going to have an opportunity to play, you're not going to be guaranteed anything, but if you're good enough you're going to be able to play, I think will attract those guys. If you are a quarterback and you look at Carson Wentz or Easton Stick, two drafted guys, why wouldn't you want to come play in this system? So I'm excited about the direction that we're going recruiting with a bunch of great coaches that go out and bust their tails."
Q. Of the four new coaches you're the only one replacing the most synonymous name in the history of the program. What are the benefits and drawbacks of that?
KLIEMAN: "Well, it's one of the most synonymous names in college football history not just at Kansas State but anywhere. What Coach did at Kansas State was nothing short of remarkable and I'm going to feed off that. We have great facilities. We have a great infrastructure. We have a great culture because of what Coach did. I know I'm not going to fill his shoes. I'm just trying to continue in his legacy, but doing it our own way. We're going to lean on some of the former people. We've got Collin Klein on our staff that I have so much respect for Collin and I'm going to lean on him for some tradition things. But in the same respect I'm excited about the challenge that we all face in following Coach, and I just want him to make sure that he can be proud of the product that's out on the field.
Q. Coach Snyder ran a unique offense. How does the personnel he left match-up to what you want to do?
KLIEMAN: "Well, it helps that we have a bunch of O-linemen back because we want to establish the ground game and get the ball in the playmakers hands at wide receiver and stuff. Having tight ends and fullbacks, we have to continue to recruit the bigger bodies, the tight ends and full backs, because we want to be able to line up in multiple sets. You would say, I still want to have great balance. We need to be able to run the football as effectively as we throw it, but the most important thing we need to do is get the ball into the playmaker's hands and it starts for us with our quarterback.
"I'm excited to have Skylar Thompson who I recruited four years ago and offered him a scholarship at North Dakota State. So I was excited when I had the opportunity to meet him that I'm going to get a chance to be a part of his life and coach him.
"I think the talent level is very good and we need to continue to enhance is so that we continue to create competitive environments. That's the nature of sports is having a competitive environment so that everybody continues to improve.
Q. Coach, most of the guys you brought here today play on the D-line. What has most impressed you with that flop and is that fair to say it's one of the strength of your roster right now?
KLIEMAN: "It's definitely one of the strengths and all three of those guys on the defensive line I thought did a phenomenal job of leading throughout winter conditioning and spring football. I made an effort to try to have one-on-one conversations with those guys. I think if you're going to be successful, it's gotta start up front, whether that's the offensive line or defensive line it has to start up front so you have the opportunity not to get pushed off the football. All three of those guys have played an awful lot of football at Kansas State and I think their best football is still in front of them."