When Oklahoma State defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements looks across the field Saturday against Kansas State, he’ll see plenty of familiar faces.
But for once, those faces won’t be friendly on gameday.
Clements spent a combined 16 years as a player, graduate assistant and coach in two different stints under head coach Bill Snyder at K-State before making the move to Stillwater in January.
The 37-year-old Clements said he took the job at OSU to further his career — being a defensive line coach at OSU was a promotion of sorts from coaching defensive ends at KSU.
“In this profession, sometimes you have to make a move that’s going to better yourself in the long haul,” Clements said. “I’m still fairly young when it comes to (coaching).
“I thought the opportunity to come here and work for Coach Gundy and Oklahoma State was just too good to pass up.”
But that doesn’t mean the decision was easy.
“Outside of family, I think (Snyder) has had more influence on my life than any other person,” Clements said. “It was difficult to tell him that I thought it was best for me to come to Oklahoma State. I thought it was best for me and my family, but it was still tough to do."
It also doesn’t mean Manhattan, Kan., isn’t still a special place for Clements.
“(K-State) is my alma mater,” Clements said. “It's where I met my wife and where three of our children were born. At this point in my life, when you talk about home, that's still home."
So far, Clements has been a welcomed addition to Mike Gundy’s staff at OSU as the man behind a defensive line that has helped limit opponents to 108 rushing yards per game — good for 23rd in the nation.
And for Gundy, the experience at Kansas State played a big part in hiring Clements.
“When we try to hire coaches, we try to bring in people who are smarter, who can give us information we don’t have and make us better,” Gundy said.
“Coaches that have worked for other head coaches that have been successful … have always drawn my attention. Kansas State earns everything they get in my opinion.”
Since coming to Stillwater, Clements has earned a reputation as a high-energy coach who demands maximum effort from his players.
“He’s definitely a fiery guy,” defensive tackle James Castleman said in August. “I really enjoy him as a coach and as a person.”
As for Clements, the adjustment to OSU has been equally well received.
“I had heard nothing but positive things about Stillwater, and that held true once I got here,” he said.
“The communities, the universities and the people are very similar. That's why it's been a comfortable adjustment for my family and me. It's tough to point out extreme differences because I don't think there are any. There are a lot of positive similarities."
As for playing in Boone Pickens Stadium, Clements may find it nice to be on the home team this time.
“From the other side, I remember Stillwater always being a hostile environment,” Clements said. “The way the fans get into it and the stadium being on top of you is always a factor. It was always a hostile environment.”
And although Clements values his relationships with Snyder and other K-State players and coaches, the top priority in his mind Saturday will be something similar to that of OSU’s raucous fans.
“I obviously care about the players and coaches over there, and I think it's going to be fun,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard-fought game, and I want us to come out on top. That's what we're preparing for — to win.”