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November 25, 2014

Clint Bowen

CLINT BOWEN:  Welcome, everyone.  Obviously just recap of some of the things in the OU game from the rep, put that behind us officially.  Obviously we needed to play with great effort, probably above‑the‑top effort to compete in that game, and we played with effort, but we didn't play with over‑the‑top type effort.  We needed to be great in the kicking game.  We weren't great there.  We had a turnover in the kicking game, allowed a kickoff to the 50.
Needed to play perfect gap control defense.  Obviously we did not do that.  A lot of times you've got to give OU credit for a lot of those.  They're very well‑coached and very talented on the offensive line at tailback and they made some of those gap issues happen.  Several times we didn't play very smart reading our keys and playing defense, and that was not ‑‑ obviously we weren't ready to stop some of the things that they had out there, and then the weather obviously was a factor in the game for what we were able to do offensively and what they were ‑‑ forced them in to do running.
That game is behind us.  We've moved on.  We've got a good start to this week early Monday morning with practice, and the players have bounced back, and was very proud of the way they showed up at 5:30 in the morning on Monday ready to work.  They put in a great Monday morning and got us off to a great start for the Sunflower Showdown, which obviously is a big game for everyone in the state of Kansas, a rivalry game between KU and K‑State that is always a fun one to be a part of.
111 times this game has taken place when you look back, so obviously a lot of history between the two schools.  For this year's match‑up obviously I have tremendous respect for what Coach Snyder and his staff have been able to do in Manhattan and with the way that that program has success.
It's a challenging offense to defend.  The quarterback is one of those gamer type players and can throw the ball, can run the ball, has a knack for making plays, and then the wide receiver Lockett I think is one of the best in college football, a fun guy to watch when you're not playing against him.  I really like the way that that kid plays, like the way he carries himself, like his skill set.  We're all pretty fortunate to be able to see him play.
And then on defense Tom Hayes has done a nice job with that defense of being able to keep those‑‑ keep the game in control.  They don't give you a lot of big plays.  They play sound, solid defense, so tremendous challenge this week as always in the Big 12, and we look forward to the rivalry game.

Q.  What is it about their offense that is so challenging?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, you know, it's a few things.  They've truly adapted the quarterback run game into their offense in a very creative manner.  They do it in a lot of ways.  There's different ways to run the QB.  There's a typical zone read, there's options or stuff like that.  They use it in a way where it's designed quarterback run game, so instead of just taking the power play or the counter play or a zone play, they all have the option of the QB carrying the ball with all those blockings, which as you know, when they put 48 in the backfield it creates‑‑ the tailback actually becomes another blocker creating more one gap in the line to create issues in the QB run game.
Off of that they have the run‑pass conflict combined with it, so any time he's running one of his QB run plays, which are already difficult to defend, they have an option to throw a pass off of it, whether it be a tight end pop, a fullback chute route, or just a pass out to the wide receiver, so they've incorporated a lot of things in their offense that create gap issues for defenses, and then also run‑pass conflicts for defenses.
And then to top it off, you've got No.16 out on the edge who's a very dangerous guy.

Q.  Last year did it seem like that tight end kept slipping behind you guys, part of that conflict you were talking about as a result of that?
CLINT BOWEN:  Absolutely, yeah.  The tight end caught one and the fullback caught one, yeah.  They get them‑‑ I think every game you see the guys there.  I think West Virginia, they didn't get it to them, they hit the QB before he could throw it, but it's a well‑designed play, it's tough to defend, and obviously a lot of people have had problems with it.

Q.  Why is this rivalry so important to the team and this university?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, you know, in the state of Kansas you're on one side or the other for the most part, and you grow up with that mentality.  You grow up with your friends who are KU fans and you have the people in the room that aren't KU fans that are K‑State fans.  Throughout the years you take shots at each other and you develop those type of situations with the people you know that cheer for the other side.
As people say, it's the bragging rights for it.  But for our program it's a game to where in state we kind of fight for all the same recruits, we all look for the same things, so it gives us a leg up in many different areas.

Q.  Do you have any special memories from when you were playing?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, I do.  There's been a few of them.  The '92 game was such a great game for us.  That's the game that playing DB we might as well have not even been there because Gilbert and Chris Maumalanga and Kyle Moore and those guys were sacking the quarterback at an alarming rate.  Being in the back end of that game was pretty boring.

Q.  When you're recruiting a Kansas kid, do you ask right off the bat, ask the high school coach, did this kid grow up in a K‑State family or KU family?
CLINT BOWEN:  Actually you do.  I think you kind of do that with any kid.  Always when you are identifying players, identify where their loyalties may land, may stand.  It's not always the case.  I'll never forget pulling into Jake Sharp's house, a big Nebraska flag hanging in the garage and looking like I might be wasting my time here a little bit.  But fortunately he was able to overcome his childhood liking of the Cornhuskers and come here.
Yeah, you do ask, but I don't think that it always makes the final difference.  I think every kid's situation is different.

Q.  Was your family like that growing up?  Was K‑State ever an option for you or your brothers or was it always KU?
CLINT BOWEN:  No, our family is pretty much all KU.  My family is a large group, so it was‑‑ it was always KU and it was definitely never Missouri and not much K‑State.

Q.  Can you talk about the great season JaCorey has had and where he is in the program?
CLINT BOWEN:  He is.  You know, you talk about that, and it's kind of his whole character.  He came here and had success as a young player, as a wide receiver.  We made the switch to move him to corner, and he could have probably taken that a few different ways, a guy that's played wide out his whole life and done well as a freshman here.  He moved over, jumped right in, started learning the techniques, learning the ins and outs of how to play corner.  He obviously has physical skills, but there's a lot beyond that that he had to learn and master his craft, and he's taken pride in it, he's worked hard in it, and he's developed himself into a nice, solid corner playing in the Big 12, and then you're right, off the field, he's a tremendous young man involved in many outside activities, Big Brothers and different deals that he's always giving his time to help others.
Truly a special young man.

Q.  Going back to K‑State for a second, I don't know if you saw but Bill Snyder mentioned yesterday that once upon a time he talked to you about a job.  Do you remember that conversation?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, it took place when I needed a job.  It was after we were let go with Coach Mangino's staff.  At that time just you're‑‑ it's Christmastime and kids want presents, so you've got to have a job.
In all seriousness, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to go over and visit with Coach Snyder about a position on their staff, and I spent some time over there and had a great talk with him, great interview, so to speak.  You know, his attention to detail and everything he does was evident in that interview process.  I learned a lot just even going through the interview.  I've always been appreciative of what Coach Snyder has done and the way he operates his program in the state of Kansas.  That job situation didn't work out, but yeah, we did have a visit.

Q.  Did he offer it to you?
CLINT BOWEN:  No, he didn't.

Q.  So you didn't have to say no?

Q.  Does it help‑‑ a couple weeks ago you had senior day here and the emotions that were involved with all that for a lot of these guys.  Does that help that that's kind of out of the way?  This is the end; this is their last game, so does that all come back again, or is that kind of we already did that, now you can actually not worry about those distractions and just focus on this game?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, I think the senior day does play out a little bit more when it's your final home game.  I think walking out on to your home field for the last time has some special meaning.  Obviously this is going to be their last game total, so there still is a senior element to that.  Obviously K‑State, they've got their seniors heading out, as well, so the same things will apply to their group of guys, but yeah, I think it's always a little bit of a motivating factor for players to look and say, this is it, this is the last time I'm putting this helmet on for sure, so our seniors will be ready.  They've been a tremendous group and been leaders throughout, so I'd expect the same from them for this game.

Q.  Anything difference this week how you treat it?  Obviously a bowl is not in their future, so does this become that, a bowl game or anything like that?
CLINT BOWEN:  We're not talking like that, but we do have a point today in our meeting we are going to educate our players about the history of this rivalry.  I do want our players in this program to understand what's happened before in this rivalry, why it is a rivalry, and we have about a two‑page sheet that we're going to teach them about it because I think it's important that our players understand and know the history of Kansas football, and in particular this rivalry.

Q.  You've been around it so long.  Why do you think it's so streaky?  One team will win three, four in a row, and then the other team will come back and win five, six in a row.  Over time it seems like it's kind of been that way.  Is there any reason?  Can you pinpoint the theory behind that?
CLINT BOWEN:  I really don't.  I think some of it prior to like both programs, a lot of turnover in coaching.  I think prior to Coach Snyder getting there, K‑State was similar to us in that quite a few different guys had taken the helm.  I think any time you have stability in a program, that gives you a better chance of success, so I think if I had any reason why, it would probably be just a lack of stability at the head coaching position.

Q.  I know talent is always a big concern, but isn't it important having Kansas kids on the roster for this rivalry with State?
CLINT BOWEN:  I believe it is.  I think that Kansas kids are a little bit more in tune to the rivalry.  They grew up hearing the same things that I hear, that your buddies are K‑State fans and they've got their comments, so it builds in you a little bit more as a Kansas kid.  I think if you're a Kansas player on either one of these rosters and you have to go home to a town where there's going to be people that you're going to see that have their opinions on which side they like, I think it definitely does mean a little bit more to a Kansas kid.

Q.  You guys are losing quite a few seniors.  Those guys we haven't seen off scout team or red‑shirting, are there guys that have stood out to you this year or anybody in particular that's been really strong in that area?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, some of the young guys that have red‑shirted or haven't played a lot, we do have some guys who are I think going to be pretty good on the defensive side of the ball.  I believe the defensive lineman DJ Williams is going to be a really good player for us.  I think he'll be a standout kind of guy on that side.  There he will be on‑‑ I think Jacob Bragg on the offensive line on the other side of the ball has a chance to have a bright future; Kent Taylor, the transfer from Florida, is a talented young man who you guys haven't been able to see, but yeah, we've had a few guys like that stand out.

Q.  Does the mindset change as a player once the opponent gets inside the red zone, and why has Kansas been so good inside the red zone defensively?
CLINT BOWEN:  It does change.  It's a different mentality throughout the board.  You always talk about when the field shrinks, as DBs you're able to change the way you cover people.  You no longer have to defend from basically being on top of a person, being on the top working down.  As a DB you can challenge people a little bit more knowing there's a limited amount of space they can run away from you, so you end up changing your red zone technique in that way.  The whole field shrinks, so the over‑the‑top passes, those intermediate passes, become less of a factor because you can't get that little dead area right behind.
So we talk about it all the time.  It's one thing that we talk about, once we hit the red zone, we know that the game becomes in our advantage, and we believe that, that once a team enters the 15‑yard line that we've gained a tremendous advantage as a defense, and we take pride in that, and we've had some success this year forcing some field goals.

Q.  You were on the same staff as Tom Hayes who's a K‑State man.  What do you remember about being with him?
CLINT BOWEN:  Tom served the same role I did once upon a time here as interim head coach.  You guys remember he was our defensive coordinator here and coached our DBs.  At that point in time I was actually coaching tight ends.  I was on the other side of the ball here, but then Tom did inherit the interim head coaching role.  Tom is a veteran defensive coordinator.  He spent all those years at UCLA as a defensive coordinator, been around several places, very smart, detailed person.  Tom does a nice job, well‑respected coach in the business.

Q.  When the game is over Saturday, how soon do you hit the road recruiting?  And how odd is it at that point you don't know whether you're going to be the coach?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, we will.  We'll be out on the road recruiting next week.  We'll be visiting those young men who are committed to us, so we'll get out and about early next week at some point in time and continue to sell all the things that there are positive about Kansas to sell regardless of the head coaching situation.  There's still a tremendous amount of positives and reason that those young men chose to come to Kansas in the first place, and we'll just continue to build on those and work hard to keep those moments solid.

Q.  In September when you sat up there accepting the interim job, you said, hey, I'm ready for this.  You've obviously had a lot of work to do between then and now.  What have you gained the most to make you even more ready for it?
CLINT BOWEN:  It has been a tremendous experience.  It's one that truly is hard to understand how many things are going to come at you from different angles.  I've learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about dealing with people, learned mostly about the leadership part of what it takes.  This position is a leadership position.  You lead people in different areas, from the players, to coaches, to support staff, to fans.  It's a leadership spot, so that part has been good.  It's been rewarding because you realize that you can have an impact on people's lives.  You can impact a program and impact a lot of things.
But I learned a lot through it, learned a lot about ways to manage time, ways to do things more efficiently, ways to‑‑ you end up making decisions.  You make a lot of decisions every day, so you learn to‑‑ what to base them on and how to move on.  You use the people around you, the help that's provided.  You learn to lean on other people and get advice.
There's been countless things I've learned in the last eight weeks.

Q.  When you look at that, does it seem like eight weeks ago you said I'm ready because you've obviously learned a lot about it.  Is it hard to believe that you could feel that way now that you've learned all this stuff along the way?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, it does.  You know those things, you know how you're going to handle them, and then you get to put them in place, and it does.  There's a lot of rewarding things.  I believe we accomplished a lot through those eight weeks.  I think our players have been unbelievable, but yeah, eight weeks went by pretty fast.

Q.  What's one of the things that you learned that there's a reason that head coaches are generally usually head coaches, not head coach/defensive coordinator?
CLINT BOWEN:  That is probably the biggest lesson I learned.  That is in my opinion a virtual impossibility.  It's just too trying‑‑ there's just too much time commitment for both positions.
I know some guys have the head coach/coordinator role, and I believe that a lot of times in those situations there's a guy behind the scenes doing a lot of the work, and one guy standing there on game day calling it and appearing to be the guy that did all the work.  I personally don't know how you could survive in that dual capacity.  I did learn that that's tough.

Q.  A couple of games have been a lot longer lately.  Average games from around the country are almost three and a half hours, about six, seven, eight minutes longer than last year.  Do you notice that on the field at all or are you just caught up in the moment with the game?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, I don't really notice that they're going an extended period of time.  I think the style of football that's being played is obviously adding into that.  Teams are running a lot more plays, a lot more of those plays are passing plays which stop the clock a lot more often.  But the average number of plays is getting higher and higher.  You're getting up there in the 85s per game.
The style of play, as fast as it is, with as much passing I think has created some of those time deals.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
CLINT BOWEN:  I guess the big thing to me is that it's always about the team.  It's always about KU.  It's about KU football, and it's about our players and our program and the people that support us.  That's what I buy into.  That's what I believe.  That's what I was taught from my high school through Glen Mason and beyond.  It's about the team, and that's the way it'll always be.

Q.  Somebody touched on this a little earlier, talked about Kansas kids on the roster and that kind of thing, but do you give those kids, whether it's Michael Reynolds or Ben Heeney or whoever else, do they get a little more role this week because of this rivalry in terms of speaking to the team?
CLINT BOWEN:  We always keep it open.  Anytime one of our players wants to stand up and say something, it could be any one of them.  Doesn't have to be a Kansas guy.  But no, I always want them to take ownership in their team and feel that they have that role.
Without there being any other questions, I would like to address this final‑‑ what's going to be the final press conference as the interim deal here and make some comments about it.
The first thing I'd like to do is thank Chancellor Gray‑Little and Dr.Zenger for what has turned out to be just a truly amazing opportunity to represent Kansas and Kansas football in this capacity.  It's meant a lot to me.  It's been a very rewarding experience and one I'll never forget.
You know, special thanks to Dr.Zenger who never left me behind in this process one bit, was right behind me every decision I had to make, was here to support me throughout the whole thing.  Any time I needed anything, Dr.Zenger was right there to answer my call and help through the whole process along with several other people.
I'd like to thank our assistant coaches and our support staff, who through a very difficult time, and it is a difficult time for a lot of those people, continued to be professional and work hard and do what was right for Kansas and Kansas football and our players, and then I'd also like to mention our players.  You guys don't always get to know them as a personal level, but in this program we have some unbelievable character and some unbelievable young men who through this whole deal, which was difficult for them, as well, continued to fight and battle and do everything they could to represent this university, which they'll continue to do for one more week, but the players have been great.
On the head coaching search deal, I've been asked several times my thoughts on it and what I think and how it affects me and those deals, and I've never really made a comment about it.  I've never made it a secret or didn't let it be known that I would like to have this job, but like I mentioned earlier, the point of this whole thing, it isn't about me.  It's not ever going to be about me.  It's about this team, this university and this football program.
Dr.Zenger has a great plan and a process in place to find and hire the best person possible to lead this program forward.  When the selection is made, I truly believe this, it's time for everybody to put their full support behind that decision.
The last eight weeks, we referred to it earlier, the last eight weeks, we've worked hard to get our players and this program to understand that it's never about one individual, it's about the team, it's about this program, it's about this university, and they always need to learn to put their personal agendas aside and do what's best for the team at all times.
We all know that KU football is a program that should be successful and will be successful in a power conference, very capable of doing that, and the bottom line is it'll only be done when the KU alumni, the fans, the support staff, the administration, coaches, players, when we all start working together as a team with one goal, to make Kansas a successful program, and when this decision is made, that's what everyone needs to do.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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