MANHATTAN, Kan. – A few years ago, Clint Bowen walked into Bill Snyder's office at Kansas State looking for a job. Things didn't pan out back then and, after a few twists and turns, he's interim coach at Kansas, getting his team ready to face the Wildcats on Saturday.
And wouldn't you know it? Bowen once again is pursuing a job.
The Lawrence native, Kansas alum and longtime Jayhawks assistant could prove he deserves the head-coaching position on a full-time basis with a victory over the Wildcats, who are still in the thick of the Big 12 title race with only a trip to Baylor left after Saturday.
Not that Bowen is thinking about his future beyond this weekend.
"I guess the big thing to me is that it's always about the team," he said. "It's about our players and our program and the people that support us. That's why I buy into it. That's what I believe. That's what I was taught from my high school coach through Glen Mason and beyond.
"It's about the team," Bowen said, "and that's the way it'll always be."
Bowen has said all the right things since taking over for the fired Charlie Weis two months ago. He's done a lot of good things on the field, too, unearthing a capable quarterback in Michael Cummings and appointing wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau to be co-offensive coordinator.
The results have been at times impressive. The Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7) beat Iowa State for a rare conference win, and had sixth-ranked TCU in trouble in a 34-30 defeat.
"If you get the right guys, recruit the right guys, you can have a productive, positive football program (at Kansas)," Kiesau said. "I truly believe that."
Kiesau said he hopes the majority of the current staff stays in place, pointing to progress in recent weeks. A victory over the Wildcats (8-2, 6-1), who are tied atop the Big 12, would go a long way toward accomplishing that.
The Wildcats are coming off a hard-fought win in West Virginia and have had a few extra days to prepare after that Thursday night matchup. Throw in the fact that Snyder has won all five games against Kansas since returning from retirement, and the Jayhawks face a tall task.
"You can beat anybody on any given day if they prepare as well as they can and play well," Snyder said. "That has always been our approach no matter who the opponent is."
Snyder recalled that day a few years ago when Bowen interviewed for a job with him. Snyder was impressed by him but ultimately offered the defensive assistant job to someone else.
Now, he's been impressed by what Bowen has accomplished this season.
"I've known Clint for some time," Snyder said. "I talked to him about the possibility of coming to Kansas State at one time. He's just a young coach that I admire. He tries to do it the right way and I always have a great appreciation for that."
HOME FINALE: The game will be the last at Bill Snyder Family Stadium for a senior class that includes quarterback Jake Waters and record-setting wide receiver Tyler Lockett. "It's a special brotherhood," Waters said. "We hang out all the time. We talk about everything on and off the field. I think that helps us on the field knowing each other so well."
MORE ON LOCKETT: The senior needs five receptions to pass his father Kevin Lockett (217) for most in school history. He has already broken his record for yards receiving. "You want to have fun and enjoy the moment," Lockett said. "You want to go out with a win."
RUSHING IT: After the Jayhawks allowed Oklahoma's Samaje Perine to run for a record 427 yards last week, they'll be facing a Kansas State offense held to a single yard on the ground by West Virginia. Of course, Waters also threw for 400 yards in that win.
ONE-SIDED SERIES: Kansas State has won five straight and 18 of the past 23 meetings. With Snyder on the sideline, the Wildcats are 10-1 at home against the Jayhawks.
BIDDING FAREWELL: Twenty-one seniors will play their final game for Kansas. "This is the week of lasts. The last Monday we'll have together, the last Tuesday," Kiesau told them this week. "At the end of the week, this is the last time you may put a helmet on. Don't let it slip away."