The Offensive Coordinator Search Begins

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy will likely take his time in naming a new offensive coordinator or coordinators but trust us the process is under way. Gundy is already giving careful consideration as to how he will go about filling the position vacated this week by Dana Holgorsen when he accepted the job at West Virginia of offensive coordinator for 2011 and head coach in waiting for 2012.

Holgorsen will coach Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl game Dec. 29 against Arizona and then depart for Morgantown, W.Va.

First, Gundy needs to narrow down what he wants on offense and how he wants to go about getting it. After a season where he took full reins of the program in a new way as head coach, free of play calling and game planning responsibility, Gundy would like to maintain his role as the CEO of the program.

The head coach, who is finishing up his sixth season in that position, knows he wants this same offense with 10 starters and several key back-ups returning. He wants to keep the continuity of the Air Raid (Mike Leach) passing attack with the tradition of an Oklahoma State running attack. Holgorsen was open to that mix having used the run more often in his first role of calling plays and heading up the Cougars offense in Houston.

Gundy also needs to decided if he wants to put the offense in the hands of one man as it was this past season with Holgorsen or bring two coaches together as co-coordinators. Our belief is that Gundy is weighing that option very carefully as that would allow for promotion from within for a current offensive assistant and then go outside to find the passing expertise from the Leach coaching family.

This may also be a good time to restore the co-offensive coordinator title for offensive line coach Joe Wickline. Wickline is not going to call plays but his value to the offensive product in constructing and coaching up the offensive line is immeasureable.

One direct option is to go to the source, Mike Leach. This is easier said than done as Leach is a former successful head coach. At the same time, Leach comes with the baggage of a scandal at Texas Tech, where it was hard to read with all the muck as to who was more guilty, the coach or the administration.

His recent lawsuit against ESPN is not a pretty tag along either as the sports cable network is one of the most powerful players in the collegiate sports landscape. Our sources say Gundy and Leach have been or will be in contact. However, it may not be for a potential job interview,but more along the lines of seeking a recommendation.

Most of the candidates Gundy will be interested in will have played or worked, or both, for Mike Leach at some point.

If it comes down to one person, Leach would be as good of a choice as any. He would need to be receptive to all that is being an offensive coordinator on a staff again. I almost think it would need to be Leach coming to Gundy with the idea rather than vice versa.

East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is young (27), some think too young, but his offense played well and his numbers were good this year in his first year of calling plays at East Carolina.

If it comes down to a co-coordinator situation, here are are thoughts on both the internal and external candidates.

Doug Meacham: Completing his 23rd year in coaching and his sixth at Oklahoma State... he had served as offensive coordinator at four schools ranging from Georgia Military J.C. to Samford... he knows the offense having studied it from Hal Mumme and Mike Leach when they were at Valdosta State.

Robert Gillespie: Completing his sixth season in coaching and his second at Oklahoma State... as a player at Florida and in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, he understands blending a strong passing attack with the run... he also understands the importance of the running back in the passing game as a protector and receiver... he is recognized as one of the up and comers in the coaching profession.

External (besides Mike Leach and Lincoln Riley)
Jason Phillips: Completing his eighth season at Houston as a coach... has also coached as an intern with the Minnesota Vikings, Texas State, and in 2007 was coaching at Baylor... a consensus All-American wide receiver at Houston in 1988... he played eight years in the NFL, most with Detroit and two years in the CFL... was co-coordinator for the past two years, one with Holgorsen, and called plays this season at Houston.

Kliff Kingsbury: After serving as a graduate assistant working with quarterbacks, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator after Holgorsen left Houston and to insure he wouldn't go with Holgorsen to Oklahoma State... he knows the offense very well and proved it by passing for more than 12,000 yards at Texas Tech under Leach and Holgorsen... he won the Sammy Baugh Award while breaking 39 school records, 16 Big 12 marks, and 17 NCAA records... he played four years in the NFL with New England, New Orleans, Denver, and New York Jets before playing two seasons in Canada.

Sonny Cumbie: Another former Texas Tech quarterback that walked on and beat out the scholarship guys... he served as a graduate assistant two years under Leach and was made a full-time assistant as inside receivers coach after Tommy Tuberville was hired... following a strong season as the starter at Tech he spent time with Indianapolis and Baltimore in the NFL and then played for the Los Angeles Avengers of the AFL arena league.

Jake Spavital: He came to Oklahoma State with Holgorsen after serving as a graduate assistant under him at Houston and will have the option of going with Holgorsen to West Virginia... he worked with the OSU quarterbacks and understands the offense and especially the passing phase of it... he would not get a coordinator title but would be thrilled with the promotion to being a fulltime assistant... Spavital played at Missouri State, but has relatives in Stillwater... he comes from a coaching family with a father that is head coach at Broken Arrow High School, brother that is an assistant at Houston, and a grandfather that was a player (1944-47) and assistant coach (1955-62) at Oklahoma State.

Those are some names, inside and out, that may be getting consideration from Gundy as he works toward a solution to his new problem of replacing Holgorsen and looking to make sure the offense stays as explosive heading toward the 2011 season.

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