Gundy Hires Offensive Staff

Here is what we do know as of late Thursday night. New head coach Mike Gundy has hired three assistant coaches and his director of football operations. While Gundy has hired these coaches, their hiring is not official because Oklahoma State has been closed for the past two days because of the weather. The paper work on the four individuals could not be processed which would make the hiring of the four official. Thus, they cannot go on the road recruiting until their hirings are made official.

Instead Gundy has sent some of the graduate assistants and strength staff, deputized them, given them a car and a map and had them visit some of the OSU commitments.

Jimmy Gonzales will be the director of football operations and Dale Patterson will continue in his current role as assistant director of football operations. Gonzales comes from Notre Dame where he served as director of player development for the Fighting Irish under Tyron Willingham.

Prior to being at Notre Dame, Gonzales was director of football operations at Army from 1999-2002. He was assistant director of football operations at Texas from 1996-1998. His tie to the OSU staff came from 1994-95 when he coached defensive backs and defensive ends at Duke on the same staff with current Cowboy associate head coach Joe DeForest. Gonzales was at Oklahoma from 1992-93 as an administrative assistant for recruiting. He has also coached at Northwestern, Wisconsin and Tulsa. He played and graduated from Texas Lutheran University.

Larry Fedora and Mike Gundy hit it off when they were at Baylor together in 1996. Gundy was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Fedora coached running backs. Fedora was also at Baylor with Chuck Reedy the previous three years coaching wide receivers from 1993-94 and also handling the running backs in 1995.

Fedora, who will be the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, has had record-setting offenses at Middle Tennessee State. He led the highly rated, nationally ranked offense at Florida last season in his first there as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Fedora was the passing game coordinator the previous season for the Gators and in 2002 was the run game coordinator and running backs coach.

From 1999-2001 he was the offensive coordinator for Andy McCollum, another former Baylor assistant, at Middle Tennessee State. He was the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach for Fisher DeBerry at the Air Force Academy from 1997-98. Fedora likes to run the spread offense, but has more of a run package included in his version of the spread than most coaches in college football.

Fedora has worked with offensive line coach Joe Wickline the past six seasons. The two first hooked up at Middle Tennessee State in 1999. Wickline was the o-line coach and recruiting coordinator his first two seasons at Middle Tennessee and then in 2001 added the title of run game coordinator. In 2002 Wickline was offensive line coach at Florida as he and Fedora moved to Gainesville at the same time. In 2003-04 Wickline was also the run game coordinator for the Gators.

Another common denominator, Wickline was at Baylor as offensive line coach from 1997-98, just after Gundy and Fedora left Waco. He has also worked at Ole Miss where he coached the offensive line for seven seasons from 1988-94. He was offensive coordinator at Pearl River Community College in 1995 and at Southwest Mississippi Community College in 1996. Wickline has the reputation as very good offensive line teacher and an excellent recruiter.

Doug Meacham returns to Oklahoma State to coach tight ends after playing for the Cowboys on the offensive line during the successful Gator Bowl and Sun Bowl seasons in the '80s. Meacham most recently served two years as offensive coordinator at Division I-AA power Samford. He was offensive line coach for the Bulldogs the two previous seasons. He has also coached at several other schools including Georgia Military College, Jacksonville State and Henderson State. His offense at Henderson State where he was the coordinator set two Division II passing and receiving records, as well as nine school bests.

Now in trying to decipher the remainder of the offensive staff we've come up with two prime candidates.

Gundy was in touch today with Trooper Taylor, another member of that Baylor staff under Chuck Reedy. Taylor, 34, was the secondary coach for the Bears in 1996. He hung around the next season and coached wide receivers on Dave Robert's Baylor staff before leaving for New Mexico to coach running backs in 1998. From there Taylor was the wide receivers coach at Tulane from 1999-2003.

This past season he coached standout 1,000-yard rushers Cedric Houston and Gerald Riggs Jr. at Tennessee. The native of Cuero, Texas, played at Baylor where he still holds the career kickoff return marks for attempts and yards. He was a graduate assistant at Baylor for two seasons before moving up to fulltime status in 1994. Taylor and Gundy have remained friends since coaching together at Baylor.

The offensive staff will need a quarterbacks coach and the prime candidate is Rob Ambrose. Gundy became acquainted with Ambrose when Mike served on the Maryland coaching staff. Ambrose played quarterback and wide receiver at then Towson State, now Towson University in Maryland.

Ambrose has become a hot coaching prospect the past three years tutoring the quarterbacks at Connecticut as they moved to Division I and the Big East. This season the Huskies went 8-4 and scored a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. Ambrose was the head coach at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in 2001 as the team went 3-7. He was at Towson as a coach from 1993-2000 starting out as wide receivers coach but adding titles as passing coordinator in 1994, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 1998, and was named assistant head coach in 2000.

Other possibilities mentioned on the offensive side include former OSU and current OU wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt; current Florida running backs coach Mike Locksley, who coached with Gundy at Maryland from 1997-2000; former Notre Dame running backs coach Al "Buzz" Preston; and current Georgia Tech assistant and former OSU running backs coach Tommie Robinson. One source said all three have either shown interest or there is some interest in them.

Now on defense, sources told me that Gundy had a phone conversation today with George Edwards, his No. 1 choice for defensive coordinator. Edwards was the linebacker coach for Butch Davis at Cleveland this season. He is former defensive coordinator for Steve Spurrier, succeeding Marvin Lewis at Washington in 2003. He coached linebackers and was the assistant defensive coordinator with the Redskins in 2002. He coached linebackers at Dallas from 1998-2001. He was defensive line coach at Georgia in 1997 and coached linebackers at Duke, his alma mater where he was a four-year letterman at linebacker, prior to that. It was there that he coached on the same staff with Joe DeForest.

Carey Bailey, who is heading to the AFCA Convention on Friday, knows he will have to interview with Edwards, or another individual, when the defensive coordinator is hired, and Bailey told me he was fine with that. He feels Gundy has to do it that way and give the coordinator a hand in the staff on that side of the ball. Bailey is confident that he can make the right impression and earn his way on the staff, again having no problem with doing that.

That would leave one position on defense to fill, likely a head secondary coach with DeForest continuing to help out at that position as he has on the previous staff. The other option is to split defensive tackles and ends. DeForest could coach ends and have one coach handle the entire secondary.

Either way, it would appear that Gundy has gained momentum in the hiring process and a complete staff could be assembled by early next week.

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