Dawson Well Versed on Wildcats

Editor's Note: The following story appeared in Thursday's edition of the Kansas State Official Sports Report and is written by OSR's Mark Janssen.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Chris Dawson knew Kansas State before arriving on campus as the Wildcats' strength and conditioning coach for football earlier this year.

He knew it through the voices and experiences of ex-Wildcats Bob Stoops, Mark Mangino, Mike Stoops and Brent Venables, who all ended up on the Oklahoma Sooner football staff where Dawson played from 1992-94, and served on the Sooners', and later headed the Kansas Jayhawks' strength and conditioning staff for the last seven years.

"It's been interesting to hear their stories about K-State through the years," said the 37-year-old Dawson. "They came through K-State and went on to other things, and now I'm taking the reverse route of being with those guys, and then coming here."

What Dawson has found in individuals like Stoops and Mangino, and now working for Bill Snyder, is a common thread: "Discipline, structure, holding kids accountable and attention to detail. That's what coach Stoops established his program on, what he told me that coach Snyder was all about, and what I have found coach Snyder to be about."

Dawson added, "Every coach has a different view of what my job should be in terms of strength and conditioning, but the point of emphasis with all of these coaches is structure, accountability and discipline."

With each team there is a different training cycle where specific needs are prioritized. At K-State, or with any new program, Dawson says that starts with giving definition of himself to the players.

"I walk in the door and they are immediately putting out feelers on, 'What's he like?' and, 'What are his expectations?' " Dawson said. "More than anything, the first thing I want those guys to understand is that every day is an opportunity to get better. There's an opportunity to be better today than we were yesterday."

Dawson says that the line, "You're here to get better," sounds so simple, but he adds, "You really do have to remind the kids of the opportunity that faces them each and every day."

He adds, "Our workouts in the weight room are like a practice plan. The content is important, but what's more important is how you coach it. A well coached program will beat a well written program. You can hand a kid a playbook, but if he can't carry out what's in that book, what good is it? I'm not saying content isn't important, but how you implement it is much more important."

It was at Kansas from 2003-2008 that Dawson was a part of four bowl teams, and where he was named the National Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.

Dawson has also worked at the University of Minnesota, plus professionally with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL and two months with the Dallas Cowboys as an intern to their strength and conditioning program.

While playing for Oklahoma, and later assisting with the Sooners' strength staff, Dawson has been under the guidance of the likes of Gary Gibbs, Howard Schnellenberger, John Blake and Bob Stoops.

"To have that opportunity to see a variety of styles has been invaluable to my career," Dawson said. "Especially with a young coach like myself, it's invaluable to have an exposure of so many situations."