Klieman embracing Snyder legacy, new challenge at K-State

(WIBW) - Everywhere he turns at Kansas State, Chris Klieman will see some semblance of Bill Snyder.

On Wednesday at his introductory news conference, all the new Wildcat football coach had to do was turn to his right.

"You are Kansas State football," Klieman said to the KSU legend sitting in the front row, to the right of the podium.

As Snyder watched his successor speak, Klieman made sure the former K-State head coach knew he understands what he's entering.

"I know the shoes that I have to fill, Coach," Klieman said. "You are a legend and an icon. I look up to you. I am so excited to continue on in your legacy and I am going to make you proud, Coach. I promise you that."

"That was my first question I asked every candidate," Kansas State athletics director Gene Taylor said. "You're driving down Bill Snyder Family Highway. You're walking past his statue and every time you look up at the press box, it says Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Do you understand what you're walking into?"

Klieman doesn't see trying to carry on what Snyder built as a burden.

"No, not when you have great people like they are," Klieman said. "I know they're going to help me."

While it doesn't quite match in stature, this isn't the first time he's had to meet high expectations in a new head coaching job. When Taylor promoted Klieman to head coach at North Dakota State, he replaced a three-time FCS national champion in Craig Bohl.

All the new guy did was win three more national titles. And he's now two wins away from a fourth.

"We are 67-6 in the last five years," Klieman said. "Winning football games is a hard, guys. People don't realize how hard it is to win a football game."

Some of those people question if it'll be harder at the FBS level. The new KSU head coach said it's been his dream to coach at a Power Five institution. He believes his success can translate levels, particularly in recruiting.

"If you look at what we have done over the last eight years that I have been there and beating some Power 5 schools, you do not need the five-star kid all the time," Klieman said. "You need kids that buy in. You need kids that can be developed.

"What we will do here at Kansas State is pound the pavement. Get out there, get around recruits, be in our footprint and continue to contact those guys. You have to build relationships."

When it comes to the ones with his new players, they sound like they're off to a good start. Some Wildcats said they enjoyed the enthusiasm their new coach displayed in their first team meeting on Tuesday night, which was a bit different from Snyder.

"Just his energy and that's probably just the age difference," defensive back Denzel Goolsby said. "He came in fired up."

"I think our guys are so excited because he carries so many characteristics that Coach Snyder does, but from a younger perspective," quarterback Skylar Thompson said. "You could just feel the energy walking out of the meeting room after we were done."

Maybe it's an injection of needed life into program. Only time will tell.

But as he did sitting down to the right Klieman as his successor spoke, you know Bill Snyder will be watching.