1. Stanford is used to stealing headlines with its band, but the Kansas State band caused a stir last season (which I thought was hysterical). Is that a typical performance from the Wildcats' band, or are they usually more sedate?
Well, yeah. Controversy has never been a staple of the Pride of Wildcat Land, and even last year's fiasco was either a completely unintentional first-outing foul-up or just a poor formation design. We leave the really crazy stuff to you guys and Rice. That said, I think a lot of us wouldn't mind if the band were a little more... subversive.
2. The media picked Kansas State to finish 8th in the Big 12 this season - is that expectation too low for a program that is generally pretty darn competitive? What does success look like for the Wildcats this year?
Oh, they pick K-State to finish in the lower middle of the conference every damned year. K-State can go 11-2 and return most of its key starters and they'll pick K-State fifth. It's a meme at this point, and you can generally count on the Cats to finish at least two places higher than where the media picks them.
But coming off last year, with so much uncertainty at the skill positions, most folks in Manhattan would happily take 8-4 this season and call it good.
3. What's the strength of this team on offense and how will they attack Stanford's defense?
We have no idea.
No, seriously, we're without a clue. After last season's debacle, we're entering this year with the quarterback who was supposed to take over last year once again gearing up for his first real crack at the job. We have no idea whether the receiving corps will be any good; they were bad last year, but some portion of that badness has to be assigned to walk-on quarterbacks not throwing great balls. And the running game was questionable, but again: how good can your running game be when the passing game is in chaos?
Now, if you asked me to *guess*, I'd say that the Jesse Ertz-to-Byron Pringle connection will make or break the season.
4. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how afraid of you of Christian McCaffrey?
(I wanted to be extra-cute and use his uniform number as the answer, but since he wears five I had to spike that plan.)
Seriously, C-Mac is just a tremendous ballplayer. We have hopes that our maligned defense can keep him in check --
Lemme talk about that for a second, because the media is going to give you a bad impression. K-State returns eight starters from last year, but whenever anyone says that they then turn around and add "from a unit which really sucked, so that may not be a good thing".
The missing starters are DL Travis Britz, who was a beast and will be missed but actually has multiple adequate replacement options; CB Morgan Burns, who was a great kick returner but a merely average pass defender; and S Kaleb Prewett, who wasn't that great and transferred. But Dante Barnett is back after going down with an injury in the first game last season, and Kendall Adams -- who replaced him at safety -- was actually pretty good.
So basically, what K-State lost on defense was the worst parts of said defense, and they're getting an all-conference stud who missed the year *back*. This may be the best defense in the Big 12, although I guess fairness requires me to offer the disclaimer that I've just damned them with faint praise.
Long story short, McCaffrey is either going to wreck shop, or the Wildcat defense is going to start the season off with a statement. We'll see.
5. It appears that there's some rumblings that this year or next year is going to be Bill Snyder's last year - do you think he hangs up the whistle soon?
He'll leave when he's ready to leave, which is actually sort of a problem at BotC World Headquarters. It's not that we're concerned he's going to overstay his welcome. Snyder can coach, and he's still perfectly sharp in between his ears.
The problem is the "when's he going to leave" question gets used against K-State in recruiting, and in that respect we'd really like it if there was a clear succession plan in place that didn't involve his son.
6. You've been named Big 12 commissioner and you're put in charge of conference expansion. Which schools do you want to add, and why? Which schools would you leave on the chopping block?
I am already
Okay, that article was tongue-in-cheek, but if I were commissioner I'd actually take a serious swing at it before having to choose among the remaining options. If we're talking two teams, then the best options on the field are obviously two from among BYU, Houston, and Cincinnati. Two of those schools have major issues, though; Cincy is the only team I wholeheartedly support inviting.
If we're going with four, then go ahead and add all three of those and then I guess my fourth choice would be either Memphis, UConn, or one of the two Florida AAC schools. You know, depending on which one offered the best bribe.
7. Should we expect a lot of Kansas State fans to make the trip out to California for the game?
I don't know about "making the trip", but what a lot of folks don't realize is that there's a reason K-State fans have always shown up in droves for bowl games in Phoenix and San Diego: there's a lot of them out there already. I won't suggest the stadium will be half purple, but the last really big road game for the Cats was at Miami, and the Purple Presence was pretty strong.
8. Finally, what's your prediction for this game?
I have no idea. Either Stanford is going to completely humiliate the Wildcats, or it's going to be one of the best football games of 2016. I don't really see a middle ground, because it's all going to depend on factors which we just can't measure yet. But K-State has performed well in the admittedly rare occasions when they've gone on the road against a non-conference Power 5 opponent, and they've historically played very well against the Pac-12 under Snyder -- 6-2 over the last 20 years.