"It's never smooth when you lose a coach. I mentioned earlier on a radio show today that I get asked a question every year about why it takes me so long to choose a guy to fill a vacancy on our staff and there's two reasons for it," he said. "One, from about the 10th to the 12th of January until today, me and the assistant coaches have traveled all over the country. I'm in a car, I'm on an airplane, I'm in a home, I'm on the phone so I don't really have time to think about hiring a football coach and I don't think I could do a good job of it because it's the most important thing we do other than recruiting quality football players into this program. We need the right coaches in here who will lead them and develop them. I'm not good at focusing on that and taking those calls while I'm recruiting.
"The second thing is that the candidates who we may interview for this job are also coaching at other schools and trying to recruit for their head coach's. Out of respect for them, i would like for them to be able to finish their job and give them the best opportunity to get the class they need at that particular school.
"It's never smooth when you lose a guy like Joe. He's been tremendous for us over a long period of time but we were able to patch it up (in recruiting) and were able to cover some ground. You never really know the truth in recruiting sometimes, whether you might have lost a guy or were able to hold on to some because of coaching changes, but we certainly will miss coach DeForest and wish him the best."
Jerseys make a difference
As silly as it might seem, jerseys and various combinations do have an impact on recruiting and where some athletes sign.
There were mixed feelings about a lot of the combinations among fans this season but only one feeling was found on the recruiting trail — they were a big hit.
Gundy was asked if he'd seen any tangible evidence that the new jerseys had played a role in recruiting, the Cowboys' coach didn't entirely like the way he had to answer it.
"Sadly enough, yes," Gundy said, followed by roaring laughter from the crowd. "Truthfully, recruiting is very entertaining. As a coach, you go in and get everything lined up. I may talk 45 minutes in a home and never even mention football because their development and what they're doing 10 years from now, their education and things like that are what I'm going to be held responsible for moreso than anything else.
"You can have a speech ready and lay everything out in a way to give yourself the best shot. You can go into a home and fire it out for about 15 minutes and you'd be surprised because you can get stopped by a parent who asks, ‘Are you all going to change your uniforms at all next year or are you going with what you wore this year?' It gets brought up. Not only by the players but also the parents. There is no question that it's very attractive."
Gundy gives Jackson high praise
The signing of JUCO All-American tight end Blake Jackson seems to indicate a slight shift in the Cowboys' offensive approach if he is to play a true tight end role, which has been absent from the offense the past two seasons. Gundy said the offensive staff is aware that some adjustments need to be made and Jackson allows them some options on that front.
"We think, and I'm really, really tentative to use the comparison to (Brandon) Pettigrew because you're talking about a first-round pick and somebody really special, but Blake shows us some of those skills," Gundy said. "He has the ability to make a play in space but also, after he develops some in the weight room, he's a guy who will be 10-15 pounds heavier because of what our system will provide for him. If he pushes up to what would be 250-ish, he's a guy that should give us that (blocking).
"We need to get better, improve and expand our offense within limitations on short yardage and goal line, we all know that. How much we do that without tarnishing what we've been able to do in our system in our system now? Those decisions will have to be made. The offensive staff understands that and we feel like Blake allows us to be more versatile in those areas."
Recent success has earned credibility
There is no question OSU used to be on the short end of the stick in recruiting but, because of the team's recent success and increases exposure, Gundy said he has seen a noticeable shift in how recruits and high school coaches react to the OSU logo on the coaches shirts when they're out on the road.
"I would say the success that we've had and being ranked as high as high as we've been throughout the season, being on TV a lot, being in a BCS game where we're kind of the only show on gave us instant respect. We would walk in (on recruiting trips) and they would see the logo or Pistol Pete, over a period going back 10 years ago maybe people didn't even really know who you were, but I noticed this year — we had seen it a little the past couple years — but I noticed this year people recognized who we were and had instant respect."
"That respect is something you have to earn. Recruiting is about being persistent, up front and honest, and spending time. These kids want to be in a position where they can win it all and get a chance to play on TV. From a football standpoint, they want to be in the action. When they go home at night after playing their game they want to see themselves and their team on ESPN highlights and Fox highlights. Because of the success we've had it's made for a big difference in the way people see us."