Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has known since the middle of December that he would need to start looking for a new offensive coordinator after Dana Holgorsen announced he was leaving for Morgantown where he’ll become the head coach following the 2011 season.
It’s now the middle of January with national signing day just two weeks away and still no word out of Stillwater who will be calling the plays next season. There had been some outside speculation Gundy was taking his time because he was going to promote within. That seems less likely with Wednesday’s announcement that wide receivers coach, Gunter Brewer, was leaving to be the passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Ole Miss. He’ll also hold the title of associate head coach.
It’s tough to know what to read into Gunter’s decision, or whose decision it was, exactly. “Too good of an offer not to go,” Brewer said. “I’ve done about as much I could in the (receivers coach) position. I didn’t know how I was going to be in the mix there (for offensive coordinator).
To Brewer’s credit, he had done a ton with OSU’s receivers during his tenure. Adarius Bowman, Dez Bryant, and Justin Blackmon were all under Brewer’s tutelage in Stillwater. But to say you done about as much as you could in a position only to leave to take the same position at another school seems slightly unusual. “There’s potential for play-calling duties, and associate head coach kind of gets me a step towards becoming a head coach,” added Brewer. Well, that same potential existed in Stillwater, or maybe it didn’t.
It should be said, however, the Brewer’s father is Billy Brewer was the head coach at Ole Miss for 10 seasons. It could be nothing more than just wanting to be closer to family (Brewer’s mother passed away just before the Alamo Bowl). “It’s good to always be coming home,” Brewer said. “So I’m looking forward to the journey. Done some outstanding things at Oklahoma State, and I hope to carry that over to Ole Miss and just expand on that.”
The move leaves Gundy with three spots to fill on his offensive staff. When Holgorsen left, he took running backs coach, Robert Gillespie, with him to West Virginia. With quarterback Brandon Weeden and Blackmon announcing they were returning to Stillwater next season, Gundy has indicated he wanted to run a similar system to the one that was so successful under Holgorsen in 2010. Will he now go outside of the OSU football offices to find the next Holgorsen? Offensive line coach, Joe Wickline, and inside receivers coach, Doug Meacham, are still on Gundy’s staff and will no doubt ease the transition if he goes in that direction. And don’t count either one of those names out of the race for the coordinator’s position, either. Wickline had been rumored to be coveted by Mack Brown to be the offensive line coach at Texas, but he's still in Stillwater, which could mean nothing more than he's happy in Stillwater. Or is he adding some responsibilities to his offensive line duties?
Whatever Gundy decides, recruits are waiting and it’s getting down to nail-biting time with national signing day fast approaching on February 2nd. “It’s difficult,” Gundy said. “The point I continue to make with the student athletes we are recruiting and the parents is that Coach Gundy is going to be here. And I’m going to continue to hire the people we believe are best for the University, our football program and the players that are currently here.”
One recruit that is waiting is Top 100 running back, Herschel Sims. Sims is already committed to the Cowboys, but has said he would like to know who the running backs coach is before he makes his final decision. With his visit to Stillwater coming this weekend, the answers to all the above may be coming sooner than you think. There were already rumors that Gundy had targeted Southern Miss wide receiver coach, Kasey Dunn, for a spot on the staff although I’ve seen nothing definite to substantiate those rumors.
Gundy and the Cowboys are coming off three seasons in which OSU has won an impressive 29 games. With Weeden and Blackmon returning, you'd think candidates would be lining up outside Gundy's office door wanting to join in on the fun. And they probably are, he's just not ready to say quite yet.