<
>

Offensive coordinator moves up to replace Miles

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Mike Gundy will be facing some
challenges in the days ahead as Oklahoma State's new head coach.

Gundy, 37, was promoted from offensive coordinator and assistant
head coach on Monday, the same day Les Miles accepted Louisiana
State's offer to coach the Tigers.

Gundy was one of three coaches Oklahoma State considered for the
head coaching position in 2001 when Miles was hired. During Gundy's
four seasons as Miles' offensive coordinator, the Cowboys averaged
31.5 points per game.

"Since Les Miles has been here I have tried to stay close and
see how he handled things, watched and listened. But I also have my
own ideas," said Gundy.

But the days to come could be challenging for the first-time
head coach.

Only two assistants will stay with the program: running backs
coach Larry Porter and special teams coordinator and cornerbacks
coach Joe DeForest.

With recruiting already underway, Gundy said he wants to have
enough assistants hired so he can be out on the road recruiting in
a week.

Recruiting could be difficult this season since Miles took six
of his assistants with him to LSU.

Gundy said that he has several coaches in mind that he would
like to hire, plus he has fielded phone calls from coaches in both
the college and pro ranks.

"I have had several guys with an NFL background on both sides
of the ball contact me about a job," said Gundy. "The most
important thing is it has to be a good fit and they need to be
committed to being at Oklahoma State."

He also did not rule out hiring a high school football coach.

One of the positions Gundy is looking to full is offensive
coordinator.

"I don't want to be a play caller on game day," said Gundy.

He said that he is looking for a "gun slinger who can call
plays on both sides of the ball."

"In my situation in my contract, which I know will come up, I'm
not concerned about my contract," he said. "I want to make it
lucrative for the guys who come here and I want to make it
important and make them feel like it's the place for them and their
families to be."

As Gundy was being introduced as head coach, another challenge
was developing. Junior Vernand Morency, who led the Cowboys with
1,454 rushing yards last season, decided to enter the NFL draft
instead of returning to play for Gundy.

"I know that earlier in the year he had said that he would
stay, but I'm not surprised about him leaving because of his age … ," Gundy said. "There is only so much wear and tear that a
running back's body can take. Our goal is to keep the players who
are committed here to stay."

Morency would have been 25 by the time the Cowboys started play
next season.

Gundy will also have the challenge of winning over many of the
Cowboys' fans.

For Marcus Boyd, an Oklahoma State senior majoring in business
management, said he was most worried about recruiting top prospects
due to the coaching change.

"Hiring Gundy probably won't make the team any better, but it
won't get worse," he said. "It's almost going to be the same as
it was."

The bitter loss 33-7 to Ohio State University in the Alamo Bowl
was still tough for fan Robert Carter.

Carter said he was glad to see Miles go and he wondered why
Louisiana State wanted to hire him after the team's loss in the
Alamo Bowl.

"Gundy might do a better job, because that last game was really
sad," said Carter, a freshman electrical engineering student at
Oklahoma State.

Gundy set several passing records for Oklahoma State as starting
quarterback from 1986 to 1989. After graduation, he worked as a
receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at
Oklahoma State until 1996, when he became Baylor's quarterbacks
coach and passing game coordinator.

Gundy joined Maryland the following year and worked with the
Terrapins' receivers for three seasons before becoming the team's
passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2000
season.

Miles hired Gundy to become the assistant head coach and
offensive coordinator after Gundy was passed over for the head
coaching job.