August 4, 2006

New song and dance

Everything is different. Even before Kansas State coach Ron Prince spoke before his first fall camp Friday, you sensed as much. First, Prince held his news conference in the academic learning center at Vanier Football Complex. That's fitting for a program looking to learn more about itself during fall camp, which starts with an open practice at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Another change? The attire. Black silk shirt with short sleeves. That's what Prince wore. Then he opened a spiral notebook and waved an open purple ballpoint pen and sounded like a CEO while clearing up various housekeeping issues before taking questions.

And yes, there were smiles. They were everywhere. That was a change. Players smiled. The assistant coaches, once in deep hibernation from the media, smiled. Asked whether the fact K-State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 Conference North division would provide motivation for the 2006 season, Prince smiled, too. Yes, this, too, was different. The Wildcats had never been picked to finish last in the history of the Big 12. Still, Prince smiled. He said nobody would set the Wildcats' agenda. Then, the first-year head coach reverted back to part of his NFL pedigree. He quoted Herm Edwards.

"There's a coach up the road, who I think says, 'You play to win the game,' and he's been very famous for his quote in that regard," Prince said. "I'm not minimizing by any stretch all of your abilities (in the media) to pick who is good and who is not, but we're pretty confident that we're here this season to compete for the Big 12 North title.

"That's our goal. That's what we're going to do."

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