Offensive coordinator moves up to replace Miles

Updated: January 4, 2005, 2:24 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Mike Gundy
APMike Gundy, a former Cowboys quarterback, holds several school records.

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.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press