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Yurcich, Knowles Praised for Ability to Deliver Information to OSU Players

Jalen McCleskey and Mike Gundy talk about OSU’s coordinators.

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It’s easy to forget that we are learners. At so many stages in my own life I have (probably unconsciously) thought that I have already learned all I will ever know. I would never say this out loud, of course, but my actions and the way I handle bigger picture situations speak louder than my words anyway.

This is maybe especially true in sports. When we watch athletes we think that at any given moment they are fully formed. This is almost never true — unless we’re talking about somebody like Vince Carter who, God bless him, is definitely fully formed. But for 18 year olds or 25 year olds or even 30 year olds, the wisdom and tricks they pick up along the way can transform them from bad to passable, from passable to good, from stardom to superstardom.

Mike Gundy pointed this out last week at Big 12 Media Days, and I found his perspective interesting. He was asked about Jim Knowles, and for whatever reason it triggered a very philosophical response about what a coach’s role is to begin with.

“The only thing I know about Jim other than what I’ve been told and what I’ve studied is that he’s been a great teacher,” said Gundy. “Just me watching from afar. I’m not a defensive guy, I don’t claim to be, but I think I understand teaching and coaching.

“I’ve been impressed with how he’s worked alongside out defensive assistants and getting information to our players. Ultimately that’s what teaching and coaching is. To be able to get quality information to the players so they can … play on Saturdays.”

This is probably true, although I’ve never really thought of coaching in this particular way. We can argue until Gundy’s cows come home what percentage of team success is mental (information and playcalling) and which is just purely physical (Alabama and Clemson), but it’s undeniable that you don’t succeed when you’re middling at recruiting like OSU is without taking advantage of other areas like this one.

It didn’t stop there, though. Wideout Jalen McCleskey said that Mike Yurcich is a great offensive coordinator specifically because he’s a great teacher (thank God there wasn’t a comments section at Big 12 Media Days following McCleskey around).

“When he explains stuff to us, he explains it in an easy way that’s easy to remember,” said McCleskey. “Even if it’s something that’s funny or kind of weird, it’s easy to remember. So getting the plays down isn’t really that hard.”

I asked him what Yurcich does that’s weird that helps players remember plays because if there was ever a follow-up question that had my name on it, it was that one.

“I couldn’t really say anything because it’s our plays,” said McCleskey, “so I’m just not going to come in on that one.”

Fair!

There are so many different ingredients that go into creating a top-15 program in the country. We could write blog posts until November on all of them. Devote a week to theme each one out and go deep. This one of many dozen, but it’s an important one.

You can have 14 Rob Glasses directing the show and the smartest minds in the world coordinating information, but if you are unable to connect information and instruction directly into the mind of a 20 year old, you’re going to be Kansas. OK, maybe not Kansas, but it’s not going to be pretty. And thus not-yet-fully-formed players who enter Oklahoma State often become more than what they could have elsewhere. Again, many pieces make up that puzzle, but this definitely one of them.

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