Bill Snyder greased the skids of Kansas State's rise to national football prominence thanks, in no small part, to a notoriously easy early-season schedule.
This year, the Wildcats will open with -- gasp -- Texas Tech, one of the top teams in the old Southwest Conference just lurking outside the national rankings.
"It is difficult for us," Snyder, K-State's eighth-year coach, said Monday on the first-ever Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "I read somewhere this morning that, in 101 years of football at Kansas State, we've never opened up with a conference game. In the past, we've been able to stair-step our way into the conference season. Now we're trying to leap a mountain."
The 21st-ranked 'Cats will play the first-ever intraconference game in the fledgling Big 12 on Saturday. KSU-Tech will kick off at 2:30 p.m. at KSU Stadium. The game will be televised live on channels 9 and 49.
Originally, KSU was to kick off the Big 12 against Texas A&M, but Snyder balked. He agreed to play Tech, the second choice.
"They wanted A&M-Kansas State, as I understand it," coach Spike Dykes said. "Kansas State wouldn't go for that. They said, 'Texas Tech?' and they said, 'Yeah, we'll go for that.' I can understand that. We took the straw."
And Dykes took the prize for best self-deprecation by a coach. The Red Raiders went 9-3 last fall, beat A&M and won the Copper Bowl.
But to hear Dykes tell it, Tech doesn't belong on the same field as the 'Cats.
"Man, what a way to start," he said. "We had a pretty good ol' team last year, but it doesn't compare to what Kansas State did. (Chris) Canty is as good a cornerback I've seen since I don't know when. (Kevin) Lockett is one of the best wide receivers I've seen. Bill Snyder has done a great job.
"They're 299 pounds from tackle to tackle on offense. They've got everything you could ask for. And (Brian) Kavanagh ... when you watch that bowl game, for that boy to be a second-team quarterback is hard to believe."
Big Eight ... err ... um: Kansas' Glen Mason was among the coaches making his first-ever appearance on a Big 12 teleconference, and darned if he didn't slip on the league's name.
"I am starting my ninth year, and I have Big Eight on my mind -- Big Eight, Big Eight, Big Eight," Mason said. "I sometimes slip up in front of my team. So if I slip and refer to it as the Big Eight, you'll have to excuse me."
Dispatch from the Sooner Nation: New Oklahoma coach John Blake said it, when asked if the OU fans were impatient for the Sooners' return to glory: "I think when Oklahoma fans haven't been patient, they haven't been patient with one who wasn't one of their own. They know how important it is to win, but they also want to be part of the building process. ... I'm excited what's taking place with this football team, the direction we're headed. But we understand we have a lot of ground we have to make up as far as talent."
OU will open its season against Texas Christian on Sept. 7.
Tone the starter: Erratic but experienced quarterback Tone Jones will start for Oklahoma State, when the Cowboys play host to Southwest Missouri State on Saturday.
"Tone Jones emerged at the last practice," OSU coach Bob Simmons said. "We decided to go with experience. ... What I'm looking for is for our offense to carry us until our defense comes along."
Big 12 debut II: Missouri and Texas will play the second-ever intraconference Big 12 game on Saturday in Austin. Kickoff is 7:15 p.m., and it will be televised on cable channel 45.
"Obviously, the advantages are the exposure you get on television," MU coach Larry Smith said. "That's something we've been working for in our program. In the future we hope there's a lot of that. From that standpoint, it's an advantage. And I think it helps your team play a little better. ... The disadvantage of it is what you make of it. If you play lousy and look like a bad football team, that's a negative, because that's what will come out of it in recruiting."
Davis&Davis update: Darren Davis, the ballyhooed brother of Iowa State running back Troy Davis -- the nation's leading rusher last fall -- already has ascended to No. 2 on the depth chart at tailback and unseated last year's punt returner.
"He's had an excellent camp. There's no question he'll play," ISU coach Dan McCarney said. "He's shown no signs of having any ill-effects from the broken leg he suffered in high school. He'll play a lot of football for Iowa State this year. ... We're going to do everything we can to get him in our offense. He can play a number of different positions. He has tremendous hands."
Oh, the weather outside ...: Texas coach John Mackovic said it: "We've had a real wet week, and it looks like we'll have another wet weak. Hurricane Dolly really affected our weather."