With Blackmon, Weeden In the Fold, OC Is Next

Oklahoma State fans enjoyed watching their team notch a school-record 11 wins after Mike Gundy hired Dana Holgorsen, and the Mike Leach protege was a huge part of the reason the Cowboys averaged 44.2 points, 520.2 total yards and 345.8 passing yards per game. The offense succeeded in part due to All-Big 12 quarterback Brandon Weeden and Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

The prolific passing pair set records together and individually and put themselves on the fast track to having the opportunity to play in the NFL.

Both players took time to think about it after the Cowboys 36-10 win in the Alamo Bowl over Arizona last month, but after careful consideration opted to return for more fun throwing the ball around in Stillwater and throughout the Big 12.

It's hard to fake it when somebody really feels good about a decision. While the NFL reports sent to the two players projected Blackmon as a likely first-round selection and Weeden as a pick somewhere between the second and fourth rounds, the look on the faces of the two players did not lie Wednesday as they announced their decision to stay at Oklahoma State for one more season.

These guys really want to go out and do it again, run the offense and pass the ball even more prodigiously in the 2011 season. That's great news for Cowboys fans. Not such good news for the Big 12 and Cowboys non-conference opponents.

"Break the records we broke last year," said Weeden when addressing goals for next season. "You won 11 games this year and if we had won 12 then we would have played in the Big 12 Championship.

"Our ultimate goal is to win the Big 12 and we came so close last year and that is the main thing. We were so close and you could almost taste it. That OU game, the feeling, I don't want to feel that again. I want to get another shot and try to get that Big 12 South title."

"It really wasn't that tough," said Blackmon of the decision. "It wasn't like the money was in my hand. I think that I can come back and get better."

"Playing at Oklahoma State is a privilege and you only get one opportunity to play here," added Weeden. "Plus, I get to play with this guy sitting next to me. When I knew he was coming back it was kind of a lock for me."

Okay, now the question begs, with Weeden and Blackmon back, what did Mike Gundy tell them about finding the other piece to the puzzle? Who will step in and fill the role of the crazy play caller and offensive coordinator, the wild-haired, wildman Dana Holgorsen?

Fans had written on the internet during the last week or two that Gundy needed to find that new OC and that Weeden's and Blackmon's decision rested on it. Well, those folks were wrong.

It seems Gundy told the two players the same things he told the media. That his priority was the two players and Blackmon's and Weeden's decisions would impact the offensive coordinator hire. If they returned he promised to keep the offense as close to what it was last season as possible, and make a hiring decision that would make that happen. It gave him time to talk to his staff, to talk to people outside, and to begin preparing a list of candidates.

Weeden said he was okay with that.

"I trust he'll make the right decision. He's done it all along," said Weeden of Gundy's decision on the offensive coordinator. "Every coach he has brought in has been a good coach and has fit exactly what we do and has done well. Coming from the style of offense we had last season, we had a lot of success and had a lot of fun, just a shot in the dark he would try to stay along the same style. As far as guys, I don't have any idea."

Now, with Weeden and Blackmon on board, with a 4,277 yard passer with a ratio of 34 touchdowns-to-13 interceptions and with a receiver that went 12 games in a row with more than 100 yards and a touchdown receiving (becoming the first in the history of the game to do so), Gundy can march on and hire just about any bright mind in football outside of Division I and NFL head coaches and NFL offensive coordinators that he wants.

"We want to stay as close to what we've done," said Gundy. "I don't think anybody would question that with Brandon Weeden, if he departed early we would have looked considerably different on offense. You can call the plays the same but it would have not looked anywhere the same if you had gone into the season with a first-year starter. This clears some things up and lets us precede.

"I don't think you have to be real intelligent to know the old phrase, 'if it's not broken then you don't have to fix it.' I was real happy with the way we performed last season," continued Gundy.

"I think there are some areas that we need to improve on. Much like with coach (Larry) Fedora's offense after the first year he was here and he stayed the next two years and we made some adjustments in areas we thought could improve it based on the personnel that we have. I feel the same way about the style of play we have right now. I think it fits us and who we are but I think we can improve on some things in spring ball that will potentially give us a chance to win those games we didn't win last season."

Gundy is not letting on which way he favors. Our sources have said that of the Mumme/Leach proteges and similar spread attack directors are possibilities.

East Carolina's Lincoln Riley, a former Leach assistant and now the Pirates offensive coordinator, and Troy Trojans offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield might be the front runners.

Gundy also has hinted that this could go internal. He told several members of the media after the news conference Wednesday that while offensive line coach Joe Wickline is not interested in becoming an offensive coordinator that he certainly could be a good one. Gundy added that both Doug Meacham and Gunter Brewer could do it, and that he felt Brewer would be an offensive coordinator soon, if not at Oklahoma State then somewhere else.

That opens up another scenario, and it is one that has been whispered around the athletic department and Boone Pickens Stadium football offices, in which Wickline and likely Meacham are promoted to co-coordinators and a quarterback coach is brought in that has direct experience with the Mumme/Leach strain of the spread. There are several candidates out there, including Kliff Kingsbury and Sonny Cumbie.

Gundy said he had talked to some of his offensive staff members, and now with everybody back from the coaches convention and in the office that he would talk some more with them about the offense. He believes that Wickline, Meacham and Brewer all had a good grasp of the offense.

Don't expect the offensive coordinator to be named tomorrow or even by the end of the week, but Gundy hinted it won't take long. He wants to get it done and get everybody moving off the coaching carousel and back toward making progress on fulfilling the return and the wishes of what the return means of Weeden and Blackmon.

It's a great day for Cowboy football, but if everybody doesn't work to make the most of having back that record-setting duo then it will not end up being the glorious 2011 season everybody will dream about between now and next September.

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