We all know Mike Gundy is the most important coach for the Oklahoma State football team and that his system is the reason for the team’s success over the last seven or eight years. It all runs through him.
However, there have been some very important assistant coaches involved in the development of OSU, most of which have moved on: Joe Wickline, Dana Holgerson, Larry Fedora, Bill Young, and Todd Monken just to name a few.
Assistant coaches come and go; some for better jobs, some not. A great head coach is the most important piece of a team’s success, but no leader can succeed without talent around him.
With all the talk of coaches potentially leaving (including Gundy), I thought it was time to decide which one Gundy and OSU should be most focused on keeping.
Side note: I debated including Yurcich, but Gundy has a habit of finding successful offensive coordinators (see: Monken after Holgerson, Yurcich after Monken, himself after Fedora). That doesn’t mean I don’t like Yurcich, I actually do. I just think Gundy could find another successful OC if Yurcich left.
The CRFF staff got into a pretty good debate about this in our Slack group, and after much discussion I have whittled the list down to four coaches:
Running Backs Coach Marcus Arroyo
Despite early rumors, it looks like Arroyo will be staying with Oklahoma State after this season. He came on in February 2015 and has helped to rebuild the running back position at OSU. He is considered one of the best recruiters on the staff, and was the lead recruiter for guys like Chris Carson, Justice Hill, and incoming back Chuba Hubbard. He can also be credited for helping coach Hill to the first 1,000 yard season for an Oklahoma State Freshman running back.
I realize that some credit for the improving run game is due to the improving offensive line. However, the proof of Arroyo’s coaching ability is there. The year before he arrived, OSU averaged 3.5 Yards Per Carry. In 2015, that only went up to 3.6 ypc. This year however, OSU is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. That’s AFTER it started the year averaging 2.9 YPC after the first three games of the season.
Personally, I think Arroyo should be held onto to become the next offensive coordinator when Yurcich eventually leaves. He’s previously served as an offensive coordinator at Wyoming, Prairie View A&M, Southern Miss, and for a brief stint with the Buccaneers when then OC Jeff Tedford had to a take a brief medical leave.
Defensive Coordinator Glen Spencer
There was a lot of debate on the CRFF Slack about whether or not Spencer should be on this list. I decided he should.
Spencer took over as defensive coordinator in 2013. I think we can all agree that the 2013 defense might have been the best of the Mike Gundy era. His defense’s have consistently been one of the best in the Big 12 at takeaways. Plus his twitter account is one of the best follows with his "warrior quotes"
While he’s been in the coaches box for a few games, who doesn’t love his sideline celebrations with players.
Players seem to love to play for him, and he seems to love his job. Granted, I think we can all admit the defense has yet to reach that 2013-level again. However, the philosophy did improve this year, with players being better prepared physically for the end of the season. It also seemed to improve AFTER Spencer moved into the box. Playing defense in the Big 12 is always going to be hard. If you’re not recruiting 5-star guys, it’s going to be harder. With what he’s had, and the players he’s helped to develop, Spencer has been a good defensive coordinator while wearing the orange and black.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Rob Glass
Glass is the only remaining assistant coach from when Gundy took over the program in 2005. That’s amazing.
We’ve all seen the results of "Body by Glass" on the field. Players who come into the program in shape, and leave absolute beasts. I haven’t seen an article about the physical changes to an OSU football player since 2005 that didn’t acknowledge the influence of Glass.
Don’t let me convince you. Read what Safety Tre Flowers had to say In an interview with the O’Colly last year, about working out with Glass.
"There’s been times working out with coach Glass that I couldn’t touch my shoulders, couldn’t squeeze my elbows together," he said. "Before and after, you’re a complete different person. People go in there and leave looking completely different. It’s just a different feeling."
This is just one of many interviews with players who describe the exhaustion and benefit of Rob Glass’s program.
Wide Receivers Coach Kasey Dunn
There was a lot of debate on Slack about who the last pick should be. It came down to Offensive Line Coach Greg Adkins and Wide Receivers Coach Kasey Dunn.
I chose Dunn for a few reasons. He’s been with 2011 and has helped to make the position the deepest it’s probably ever been. Oklahoma State has turned into something of a Wide Receiver U and Dunn has played a huge part in that. Think about the guys we could have catching the ball next season: James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner, Chris Lacy, Tyron Johnson, Tylan Wallace, and Tyrell Alexander. That is a STACKED list, and Dunn’s recruiting is a HUGE reason why.
Since he got here, he’s coached three receivers to 1,000 yard seasons: Justin Blackmon (2011), Josh Stewart (2012), and James Washington (2015 and 2016).
What’s most impressive to me is this: In four of the five seasons he’s been with OSU, the Cowboys have ranked among the top eight in school history in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense and passing touchdowns.
So, who do you think is Gundy’s most important assistant right now? Make your choice in the poll. Or if you have another suggestion, make it in the comments section!