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Mike Gundy Hiring a Young, Unproven FCS Offensive Coordinator is Incredibly On Brand

And I kind of love it.



I don’t know why I got duped … again. From the night of the Liberty Bowl onward I was convinced either Josh Henson or Kasey Dunn was going to be calling plays for Oklahoma State in 2019.

Silly me. When you’re dealing with a man who hunts rattlesnakes for fun and Bing-ed his last OC hire, nothing is ever that straightforward.

From an outsider looking in, it appears to me that Mike Gundy values two parts of his job as CEO of Oklahoma State football above all else: Continuity and and control. One is sort of a sub-characteristic of the other, and who could blame him for either? He’s been hollering for years about how his kids don’t think he does anything at practices and with the team, but it’s become clear that those are two things that are still very near to his ethos.

With Sean Gleeson, he presumably gets both. It’s Mike Yurcich 2.0 in some ways. Look at it this way: If Gundy had hired Josh Henson to be his OC and he’d killed for two straight years, he gone after that ✌️. Some bigger school would have talked themselves into his final years as Missouri’s OC being an outlier, a mistake. And OSU would have once again been a launching pad for Southern Miss’ or Florida Atlantic’s new head coach.

But with Gleeson — even if Gundy has done this before with Yurcich — there is still curiosity, if not obscurity. Even if he succeeds for three or four years, nationally folks will still be like, Who?

This sounds extreme, but Gundy essentially admitted as much at the Liberty Bowl, even if he didn’t know Gleeson was going to get the job.

“We went and got (Yurcich) because I felt like if we had gone and gotten a name guy, in two years, he would’ve left again because that is what was happening to us,” Gundy told reporters. “We bring a guy in, we average 50 points a game and the guy leaves.

“I was tired of dealing with that, so I said, ‘Surely they won’t want a guy from Shippensburg for a few years.’ Maybe he’s here with us next year and maybe he’s not, but either way, we’ll go get another one and keep going.”

Surely they won’t want a guy from Princeton. Rinse, repeat. Score another 45 a game. Like, what else did we think he was going to do? And can we stop for a minute and appreciate the, uh, guts it takes to do something like this. I know it’s easy to mock and bemoan and and roll your eyes at — and I do plenty of that with Gundy — but to have the stones to roll the dice on Yurcich and do it again with Gleeson is an approach to business I’m not sure everyone fully appreciates.

By nature, coaches are risk averse. They punt when they should. They play by the book. Maybe the great irony here is that as Gundy has become more conservative on the field — sorry, Kirk, there’s no riverboat gambler within a 100-mile radius of Boone Pickens Stadium — he’s gotten more liberal off of it. That hiring a mid-30s OC from Princeton was the least obscure OC hire of the last two you’ve made kinda says it all. We laugh at it, but in the face of mediocre recruiting and a conference that’s constantly copycatting each other, this might be what’s keeping OSU distinct.

I’m not saying this is the only reason Gleeson got the job, but I do think the ability to have control without having the appearance of having control is big for Gundy. Throw those two things together with the reality that Gleeson is innovative, outside the box and loves football, and the entire thing is a case study in Gundy’s Human Resources 101.

“Once you’ve gone to Shippensburg, Princeton doesn’t really seem like that much of a reach,” said Bill Connelly of SB Nation on our podcast on Tuesday. “If you would have asked me a list of 10 head coaches at the FBS level who would be most willing to make a move like this, he’d definitely be on that list.

“Because he’s done it, because he’s already made a move reasonably similar to this, he gets maybe a little more cachet in that regard. He either knows how to make it work or the people around him know that it can work and therefore are more fully bought into it. Nobody’s doubting the situation very much.”

“If Gleeson had gone to Alabama or something, there might have been a lot more doubt in whether that transition could happen. But we’ve seen that transition in Stillwater — or at least a pretty similar one — so I think there will be a little more confidence and that’s probably not going to hurt the odds of it working out.”

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m excited about this hire. Thrilled even. I think this is hiring Mike Yurcich if he’d been a little further along in his career. I think the transition will be smoother from the jump and have similar or maybe even better results.

Life with a head coach who is equal parts unpredictable and low-key controlling is never boring, and only time will tell whether this was the right hire at the right time for Gundy. But he’s earned all the benefit of all the doubt with the run of OCs he’s pumped out of Stillwater, USA.

If you want to talk about the other side of the ball, fine, but when it comes to scoring points, putting up numbers and cranking out a ridiculously high level of offensive play for an incredibly long period of time, few coaches have constructed it better over the last decade plus.

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