Bob Stoops remembered that he didn’t remember.
When he played defensive back for Iowa, Stoops recalled a violent collision against Purdue. A couple of series later, he came up with an interception.
“I didn’t even remember that,” said Stoops, now the head coach at Oklahoma. “As long as you could count fingers … I’m sure I sounded OK.”
Dealing with head trauma has come a long way since then. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder didn’t confirm that his quarterback, Collin Klein, suffered a concussion during the second half of the third-ranked Wildcats’ victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night. But K-State’s football staff acted as if that was the case, packing away Klein’s helmet after he sat down with a trainer.
Snyder was asked about Klein on Monday during the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference.
“He seems fine to me,” Snyder said.
Would Klein play in Saturday’s game at TCU?
“I hope so,” Snyder said. “I hope they all play.”
Especially Klein, who remains the Heisman Trophy favorite based on straw polls and has led Kansas State to a 9-0 record and No. 2 spot in the BCS standings.
Klein left the game after his 1-yard touchdown run gave the Wildcats a 38-17 lead with 9:41 remaining. It appeared he was shaken up on the previous play, when Klein was tackled out of bounds short of the goal line.
Reserve quarterback Daniel Sams then saw his most extensive and significant playing time of the season. He didn’t get K-State into the end zone but engineered drives that ended with three field-goal attempts.
After coming out of the game, Klein never left for the locker room. He spent the fourth quarter on the sideline, chatting with teammates and cheering the Wildcats after big plays.
Klein did not speak to reporters after the game and it’s unknown what testing he underwent on the sideline, or later. But Kansas State is listed as a client for imPACT, a computerized concussion evaluation system that helps medical staff determine when it’s OK for an athlete to return to action.
On Monday, Snyder spoke of the pre-condition tests and comparisons that are made after an injury occurs.
“It’s supposed to tell you what kind of progress you’re making,” Snyder said, referring to the imPACT test, which establishes baseline information that is used for post-injury comparisons.
Head injuries in sports receive more attention than ever today. A study published last month suggested professional football players are three times more likely to have neurodegenerative diseases than the general population. More than 3,000 former NFL players are involved in concussion-related lawsuits against the league.
Earlier this season, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel missed one game and part of another because of concussion symptoms. Teammate Brady Quinn missed last week’s game, and could miss the Chiefs’ next one, after sustaining a head injury against Oakland.
According to a University of Pittsburgh study, some 34 percent of all college football players suffer a concussion — and 20 percent suffer multiple concussions.
Such numbers wouldn’t come as a surprise to coaches like Stoops, who remember the days of getting your bell rung and quickly returning to action.
“Things have totally changed,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “I can remember 20 years ago, a guy would get banged up, be woozy and three plays later would be back in there.
“The whole mentality has changed.”
Stoops said that his medical staff has the final say on whether a player can return to action.
“I don’t even ask,” Stoops said. “I don’t want to have any influence in that situation.”