Talk to Joe Bob Clements about his days at Kansas State and different forms of the word “appreciate” will enter the conversation.
“I always wanted to play at the highest level and I’m so appreciative that coach (Bill) Snyder and K-State gave me that opportunity,” said Clements, a native of Emporia, and son of former Emporia State coach Bob Clements. “As a kid I got caught up in the excitement of what K-State had going.”
Then, Clements became a part of what K-State had going on playing for teams that went a collective 41-8 from 1995-1998.
Coming to K-State as a walk-on, it was prior to the 1996 season that Snyder awarded Clements a scholarship after he had earned a starting defensive end spot.
“I had such appreciation for that because I’m not sure if I could have afforded to always be a walk-on. Getting that scholarship allowed me to stay here and to keep playing football,” said Clements.
“I knew coach (Jim) Leavitt had recommended that I get one, and I knew that I had the support of coach (Bob) Stoops, but recommendations don’t guarantee you anything. I just knew that if it didn’t work, I would probably transfer back to Emporia State.”
Between then and today, Clements had other reasons to be appreciative of the Wildcat program and its leader.
It was Snyder who allowed Clements to be a student assistant in 1999 and 2000, a graduate assistant in 2001 and 2002, and then a fulltime assistant from 2003 to 2005.
When Snyder retired, and then re-entered the picture, again Clements was awarded with the opportunity to return to his alma mater to coach football.
“Everything I’ve done in football I owe to coach Snyder,” said Clements, who has either played or coached in 12 bowl games with the Wildcats under Snyder.
And that includes his most recent promotion to running game defensive coordinator for the 2012 K-State football season, his 11th on the Wildcat coaching staff.
“I’m so appreciative of this opportunity, but it’s not going to change who I am,” said Clements. “I’d like to think it’s a token of his appreciation for the work I’ve done through the years.
“But change who I am? No,” said Clements. “I’ve coached each and every day for the last three or four years like I was the coordinator, but also understanding my role. I hope this latest move is just his appreciation that I’ve done some things okay.”
With Mo Latimore coaching the interior linemen, Mike Cox the linebackers and Tom Hayes the secondary, plus being coordinator against the pass, Clements said, “Under coach Snyder we’ve never coached as individuals. Everything has been, and will continue to be, a collective effort. We all sit in the same room and discus things that are best for the defense. It’s hard to invent anything new.”
As a defensive coach, Clements says, “I believe in a balanced defense and one that must be sound in all areas. We want to provide an offense a variety of looks, yet keeping your plan simple for your players. You don’t want to get too complicated. A complicated defense leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to touchdowns. You always want to stop the run first and make the offense one-dimensional.”
For certain, Clements has an appreciation for the 5-Star talents like linebacker Arthur Brown, but also a special appreciation – there’s that word again – for the unheralded walk-on, which was the path he traveled.
Saying that the Wildcats give on average five scholarships to walk-ons each season, Clements said, “If you don’t come here wanting to get a scholarship, you’re not approaching it the right way. We want you to come in here to play, and then the scholarship will take care of itself. You need to put things in order. Prove that you can play … contribute and be a factor, and there’s a good chance the scholarship will come.”