Connelly: It was, and I actually moved there after my sophomore year (in high school), and I had grown up in The Woodlands, just north of Houston. After my sophomore year, (we) moved up from Houston, and as you said, went to Newman Smith High School my junior and senior year. Then I ended up going out to East Texas State (for college), which is 65 miles northeast of Dallas. I'm very familiar with the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and I enjoyed my time there, and as you said, great great football. Going back to when I was there it was Plano, Plano East, Lewisville, and the Carrollton and Farmer's Branch schools that were very competitive. The Richardson Berkners which was great football at that time.
There's your home run for Mike Gundy that we didn't know about, The Woodlands and the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a background and you should be familiar and able to draw back on experiences and recruit both areas well.
Connelly: Absolutely, and over my 17 years of college coaching experience I have had both the Dallas and the Houston metroplex areas for primary and/or secondary recruiting areas. I have great, great ties throughout the state of Texas in both administrative and coaches. It has been very, very good to me and I've had a lot of great coaches that I know, and I look forward to have the opportunity to go out and represent the Cowboys and bring some great players from there.
A good friend and somebody we respect as a tremendous coach is Dave Rader, who speaks highly of you. Coach Rader can really coach and has been a thorn in the side of Oklahoma State when he was coaching at Tulsa. We know you coached together at Alabama, and he calls you a great technician that can teach the fundamentals of offensive line play, but also an innovator in designing and teaching protections and an old fashioned coach when it comes to run blocking.
Connelly: Dave Rader, I'll tell you is the salt of the earth, great coach and an even greater person. At Alabama, he was the offensive coordinator and I was his offensive line coach for four years there at Alabama and I really enjoyed my time there and working with him. I will tell you as I was driving up here to take the job, I was able to stop off and see Dave and Janet, his wife. Again, great people and they have a son and Dave's wife are both graduates of Oklahoma State and they have an allegiance here and they were excited that I was coming. Again, a great man and a fine football coach and I really loved my time with him there at Alabama.
Those things that Coach Rader said about you, being a technician, good on protections, and old-fashioned in run blocking, those are things that very much fit what Mike Gundy wants up front on offense.
Connelly: He's right and it was an experience for both Dave and I at Alabama, and Mike Shula was the head football coach there and he had some NFL experience as both a coordinator and a quarterback's coach. We had a multitude of protections and he was very multiple in his run game and personnel groups, so it's funny you said about the protections because that is what we've been doing with Coach (Mike) Yurcich and the offensive staff is going over protections going into our spring install. We were just trying, and I was trying to present some ideas and put some stuff up there and see what we want to try to include this spring and going forward. It was a challenge back at Alabama because Coach Shula wanted to be so multiple and include a lot of different concepts scheme-wise. I'm extremely excited to be here and really looking forward to it and we're trying to hash some of those things out and talking about it in putting together our spring installations.
You really did hitch your wagon to Mike Price. It seems you've been with him the most. Why and what was it like working with him?
Connelly: I'll tell you what, second to none. I consider him like a father to me. He is a very good football coach and he had a lot of success at a place in the Pac-10 at the time (Washington State) that obviously was middle of the pack or lower in most people's eyes. In my two years I was there with him we had exceptional football teams and we won 20 games and I had an opportunity to learn a lot of football. Multiple in our sets, but we were more in line of a spread offense and we're a 10- and 11-base personnel football team. Again, we won 10 games my first year there and ended up winning the Pac-10 Championship and playing Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl that year. He is an incredible person that helped me out immensely. In fact, a little story on that is that after Coach (Karl) Dorrell was let go at UCLA I had an opportunity to go to the University of Tennessee with Phil Fulmer as offensive line coach and I bypassed that to jump back in with Coach Price at Texas-El Paso. He had helped me out throughout my career and gave me my first opportunity to coach at a BCS school and I chose to go back with him at El Paso over going to Tennessee. He is a great football coach and I have nothing but respect for him. I turned down going to the SEC and coaching at Tennessee, and he provided me with the assistant head coaching duties and coordinating the offense. I love him and I owe him the world. He is a great man and a heckuva football coach.
Your situation here at OSU is interesting as you have Daniel Koenig back as a full-time starter and Chris Grisbhy as a part-time starter. You have two injured players in Devin Davis and Brandon Garrett that will sit out spring and then you have pups, a lot of them that have little or no experience.
Connelly: Right, right, not much experience in that (offensive line) room as you said. You know moving forward and looking at the big picture and what you hope to come by after spring is with Garrett and Davis both being out is you have an opportunity to get the (Michael) Wilsons and the (Zach) Crabtrees, (Jesse) Robinsons, (Zac) Veatchs an opportunity to get out there and compete, get them that extra time that they might not have gotten with those guys in there. All the time you want to develop depth and the game of football as we know is a collision sport and injuries happen. My goal is to get those guys as season ready as you can.
The biggest thing for me, moving forward, as you said with the youth is not only the scheme of the offense but we have to become as fundamentally sound as we can. That is something that spring allows you to do without having to go through the preparation of trying to win a football game, whether it is Texas Tech or Texas or Oklahoma. It is an opportunity to develop these kids fundamentally and make sure that technically they're sound in not only who to block but more importantly how to get those blocks accomplished.
I'm really looking forward to it, as you said they are young and inexperienced. They seem to be a very close group and they seem to be eager to learn and be ready for the opportunity. I've only had the opportunity to see them on Tuesday and then we have another opportunity to go out and see them compete a little bit today. I'm trying, as they are, to soak it all in and see who can do what, how they work out, and how we want to piece this all together. I'm sure there'll be some flexibility this spring moving some guys around and seeing who can do what. It is about trying to develop depth and get them some game ready experience.
Obviously, our defense is really good and an experienced group and we will have our work cut out for us trying to block those guys. Everyday is a learning experience for me in both learning our offense here and our personnel. I'm excited and I'm going to learn as much as I can.
Also, it's no big deal in that the first game is only against the defending national champions in Florida State.
Connelly: I'll tell you what, the last Big 12 Championship that Texas A&M won I was a part of and we opened up in the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands against Florida State. So I told my guys the first time I had the opportunity to meet them that if we're not motivated to go out and bust our butt with the opportunity to open up with the defending national champion, if that's not motivation enough, then you're in the wrong room and I'm coaching the wrong guys.
So hopefully that will be a nice carrot to dangle out in front of them and keep them focused and keep their attention to detail working extremely hard, and obviously I think we have a good group of guys being young. We do have a tremendous challenge in front of us. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I'll be feeling better after the 15 practices in the spring than I do today. That's for sure.