'It's not been an easy time'
Coaching defections creating awkward times for K-State
Posted: Monday December 28, 1998 04:41 PM
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Sitting all by himself one night in a busy restaurant in San Antonio's fashionable Riverwalk district, Mike Stoops looked lonely.
Kansas State's young defensive coordinator looked like a castout. Where were his fellow members of the Wildcats staff dining?
Not with Stoops. And as soon as Tuesday night's Alamo Bowl game with Purdue is over, they won't be coaching with him anymore, either. It's a delicate and awkward situation that isn't helping the fourth-ranked Wildcats get ready for the Boilermakers.
"It's not been an easy time for any of us," conceded Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder.
Earlier this month, Stoops and linebackers coach Brent Venables dropped a bombshell on the program when they told Snyder they were leaving at this critical time to join Stoops' brother Bob, the new head coach at Oklahoma.
Nobody was sure if Stoops and Venables would even stay for the Alamo Bowl.
"You have to weigh a variety of things, and I certainly did that," Snyder said.
Stoops said he got word to his players right after their bitterly disappointing loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 title game on December 5.
"I wasn't even sure I'd be here in this capacity at this time," he said.
"But the way things unfolded, with the departure of two key staff members, it would have been tough on the kids to get prepared. That's not fair to [Snyder], the players or the program."
Stoops said Snyder left it up to the two defectors whether to stay for the bowl or leave right away.
"They would have gotten somebody else in here," Stoops said. "But the kids wanted this to take place. I'm happy they appreciated us enough that they wanted us to help them get prepared for this game."
But even though they continued coaching, Stoops and Venables were naturally excused from their assignments during this incredibly busy recruiting period. And so the other assistant coaches, already working long days recruiting, coaching and getting a game plan ready for Purdue, were given the added burden of taking over the recruiting duties of their two lame-duck associates.
Hasn't this detracted from the overall preparation for Purdue?
"It has taken away some sleep, I can assure you of that," Snyder said. "But I think the preparation has been as direct as it possibly could be."
Stoops and Venables had both been at Kansas State throughout the college careers of all the current players.
"It's tough," said linebacker Travis Ochs. "For me, it's a lot different. I feel bad for the other guys. But I feel good for [Stoops]. It's a business and he has to do what's best for him. The younger guys ... they're just going to have to get used to something new. They've got to keep open minds.
"So we've decided to be a team one last time and try to do this thing right."
When they first heard the coaches had taken new jobs before their bowl game, "It just kind of shocked us," said linebacker Mark Simoneau.
"You don't want to wish them the best, because they're going to be in the Big 12 with you," Simoneau said. "But I hope they do well in the future. I just try to approach it like I did all year ... just listen to what they have to say and play hard."
Leaving Kansas State, Stoops said, "will be extremely difficult."
"I'm kind of happy we don't have to play Kansas State next year. It would be hard to play against these kids that I've spent so much time with."
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