When coaches talk about one another to the media, you often hear the same compliments tossed around.
"Coach A has done a great job building a program at school A."
"I've been very impressed with the job Coach B has done with his team."
It's almost like coaches have a list of answers they pull from every time they're asked about another coach or his team.
That's not the case with Bob Stoops and Kansas State head man Bill Snyder. When Stoops talks about his mentor, you can hear the genuine respect in his voice, respect built up over 16 years of being under Snyder as a player and assistant coach.
When Stoops was a player at Iowa from 1979-82, Snyder was the offensive coordinator. After graduation, Stoops stayed as a graduate assistant and volunteer coach, until becoming defensive ends coach at Kent State in 1988. Snyder was hired at KSU in 1989 and brought Stoops with him to Manhattan.
When Stoops and Snyder came to Kansas State, one of the worst football programs in the country at the time, Stoops never doubted Snyder would turn things around.
"I never thought for a minute we wouldn't win," Stoops said. "I was naïve, and probably good that I was. I didn't know how bad it was until I got there."
When Snyder retired after the 2005 season, Stoops said he was partially surprised, but knowing Snyder, he knew it made sense in his old coach's mind.
"I know Coach Snyder, so when he retired I know he had his reason," Stoops said. "He doesn't do anything without a lot of thought, but then again, I know how much he enjoys the game and preparation and coaching, that when he was back, that part didn't surprise me."
Stoops said it's hard to pinpoint the differences between Snyder's program and the program run by Ron Prince, who coached the Wildcats to three unsuccessful seasons while Snyder was retired from 2006-2008, without being within the KSU program itself.
"I just see the end product, and I see a lot of good football," Stoops said. "Just being demanding in disciplines, in how you play and your technique. I think they're very bright in the schemes and what they put on the field."
Stoops said defeating his mentor, or even impressing him, is not a focus of his going into this weekend's matchup with the Wildcats. He'd be most satisfied with simply a Sooners win.
"You're sort of distant from it because you're doing your job," Stoops said. "More than anything, you're focusing on your team and their team. It's not about individuals, not in this game."
As for the biggest lesson Stoops learned during his time under Snyder? Stoops said there were too many to count.
"It's hard to say one thing when you're around a guy for 10 years playing and coaching and then seven years as a coach for him," Stoops admitted. "I think attention to detail, all the little things matter; evaluation and developing your team and being methodical and constant about it."
Stoops has said before his program most closely resembles Steve Spurrier's at Florida, where Stoops was defensive coordinator for three years before coming to Norman. However, there is no doubt Snyder has had the biggest impact on him as a coach and individual.
Saturday, a mentor will be on the opposite sideline from Stoops, a mentor Stoops still respectfully refers to as, "Coach."