Wildcats remain grounded despite climb
Published on -10/29/2012, 10:05 AM
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
MANHATTAN -- There is something to be said for humble beginnings.
Just ask the Kansas State Wildcats, who as they continue climbing to new heights while competitors stumble all around them, still seem firmly grounded in the here and now.
A jump to No. 3 in both national polls and the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings are pretty heady stuff for a team that two years ago was relieved just to be bowl eligible.
"We stay focused and remember what got us here -- the hard work that we put in and the focus and determination and discipline and doing things the K-State way," sophomore center B.J. Finney said Saturday after the Wildcats improved to 8-0 with a convincing 55-24 victory against No. 15 Texas Tech. "We just remember that and know that if we don't do the things that we have been, we're not going to have the success we have been."
It all begins of course with Bill Snyder, who meticulously raised K-State from the depths of college football once, then after a three-year retirement returned for the 2009 season. Three years later, at age 73, he again has the Wildcats riding high while doing his best to deflect the media attention that grows exponentially with each passing week.
"(We) just remember where we came from," junior safety Ty Zimmerman said. "I'm not going to lie and say we don't look at that stuff.
"I watch ESPN every day and we're finally getting that recognition. But you take that to heart, you're just going to fall as quickly as they put you up on that podium, so for us it's been easy."
Part of it is the consistency of Snyder's message, the same mantra he recited in the late 1990s and early 2000s, during K-State's first time in the limelight.
"We've got a great coach who keeps us humbled each and every week, and it's just a matter of trying to get better each and every week and taking care of opponents as they come," Zimmerman said.
That's not always easy, Snyder conceded.
"You look around the country and they make more of college football than they do of the presidential elections," he said. "All that shuts down on Saturday, and all it is, is football.1
"The world is caught off in it and it is so easy just to lose sight of things."
Senior quarterback Collin Klein agreed with Zimmerman that unless you live in a bubble it is hard to escape.
"Especially in this day and age with social media and smart phones and stuff coming at you," he said. "You can't not know.
"But it's how you respond to that information."
So far, so good, Snyder said.
"I'm proud of our young guys up to this point in time, because you don't know about tomorrow," he said. "Up to this point in time, they've handled it well.
"They go back to work, to work."
Even senior wide receiver Chris Harper, who has been as vocal as any of the Wildcats about their perceived lack of respect nationally, is starting to sound like his coach.
"I feel like I'm clichÃ©-sounding about getting better every day and stuff like that, but it's really that you've got to go out there and think about getting better," Harper said. "I think we take that to heart and I don't think the success is getting to the guys' heads.
"It comes from the seniors -- a lot of seniors that have played and been here for a while. We keep everybody level-headed and hungry and humble."
Besides, Klein said, winning is fun.
"I'm having a blast and I think our team's having a blast," he said. "But I think that shows the character of our group and what we want to show is, 'OK, what are we really having fun at?'
"Of course winning is fun and that's part of it, but I think the root of that and where that comes from is coming together and enjoying each other's company and enjoy pushing each other."
If nothing else, it keeps them grounded as they prepare for a visit Saturday from Oklahoma State.
"It's human nature to be complacent and look ahead and take the easy way out of things," Klein said. "That's one thing I and we want to fight daily.
"We've just got to deal with Oklahoma State next week."
Time set for 'Cats, Cowboys
The Big 12 announced Sunday that K-State's home game Saturday against Oklahoma State will be televised nationally by ABC (Salina cable channel 10) with a 7 p.m. kickoff at Snyder Family Stadium.
Fox Sports Net will show Kansas' game at Baylor at 2:30 p.m.