Dallas Colleges: Joe DeForest

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Every coach wants to be in a similar position. Yet, at the same time, it creates a problem that can be difficult to overcome.

Mike Gundy’s success at Oklahoma State has made his job harder.

Since 2009, the Cowboys have won 50 games, recording a 76.9 winning percentage and winning one Big 12 championship. During the same span, nine assistant coaches have left the program including West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and Southern Mississippi head coach Todd Monken. Only Gundy and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer remain from the 2009 staff, which coached a squad which finished 9-4 and earned a Cotton Bowl berth.

Time and time again Gundy has watched as guys who helped build the program into a Big 12 championship contender have walked out of the football offices at Boone Pickens Stadium, never to return. Former coaches like West Virginia’s Joe DeForest and Texas’ Joe Wickline were core contributors as OSU created the foundation in Stillwater, Okla.

“[You build a program] then you win and you lose them all, people come in and take them,” Gundy said. “It’s kind of double-edged sword, if you don’t win, you’re not going to be here anyway, if you do win, then people are going to take your coaches. So, hopefully you can find quality people to come in here and take over. That’s what we’ve had to do.”

[+] EnlargeMike Gundy
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesMike Gundy has become used to rebuilding his coaching staff.
The offensive coaching staff has taken the biggest hits with Holgorsen and Monken leaving for head coaching jobs after record-setting seasons in Stillwater. Wickline had been the lone constant throughout Gundy’s tenure before leaving to join Charlie Strong’s Texas staff after nine seasons at OSU.

Fans have watched as historic rivalries have disappeared during conference realignment as schools searched to expand their budgets. Gundy believes the infusion of money into college football has played a major role in the instability of his staff, or any staff that has enjoyed similar success.

“Money has changed the way that staffs are [maintained] in our game,” he said. “Money has changed everything. Guys can stay at one place for a year or two then double their money, just like that, so they move. What I’ve learned to do over a number of years is to learn to not take it personal.”

For the most part, Gundy and the Cowboys have weathered the storm. OSU has had at least one coach leave the program after every season for the past five years. They’ve won double-digit games the following season three times during that period as Gundy has brought in new blood like running backs coach Jemal Singleton and cornerbacks coach Van Malone.

Yet it can’t help but feel like the lack of continuity will catch up with the program at some point.

“We always worry about the continuity of the staff,” Gundy said. “A guy has an opportunity to better his career, his family and move on. We’ve had guys leave, Doug Meacham left, now he’s a coordinator in the Big 12.”

Which brings up yet another problem facing the Pokes. Gundy has watched several of the branches from his coaching tree land in his own backyard.

In the fall of 2010, Holgorsen, Wickline and Meacham sat in the same meeting room as offensive coaches for the Cowboys. This fall, all three coaches will be at other Big 12 schools, with Meacham as the offensive coordinator at TCU, Wickline as offensive coordinator at Texas and Holgorsen running the offense at WVU. And all three will be looking to expose the Cowboys’ young defense in 2014 with a measure of familiarity with OSU’s offense that will be uncommon for a conference rival.

“That’s a bit of an issue in itself,” Gundy said.

Nonetheless, the Cowboys just keep trucking forward.

With Wickline as the latest departure, Gundy has been happy with his decision to hire Bob Connelly to replace him as OSU’s offensive line coach. Connelly is an 18-year veteran with coaching stops at Alabama, UCLA and Arizona State.

“I like his demeanor,” Gundy said. “I like his ability to teach and coach, he’s very experienced. Believe it or not, when you hire a coach you never know what you’re getting until you get him. We do the best we can to try to get people who fit into our style and mix with the personality of our coaching staff. I’m interested in bringing in coaches who want to teach and coach the game, not want to scream and yell. I think he’s done a nice job mixing in with our staff.”

With OSU’s sustained success, replacing assistant coaches has become an annual post-signing day tradition in Stillwater. Gundy fully expects that tradition to continue.

“I don’t think it’s ever going to change with the direction our profession is going,” Gundy said. “The dollar changed everything and people can move in a heartbeat.”

Catching up to the Big 12 coaching carousel

December, 19, 2012
The silly season can get dizzying at times. We'll update this if necessary, but here's where the Big 12 coaching carousel has currently landed after a few big spins.

  • No changes.
  • Head coach Art Briles was reportedly contacted by Arkansas and Texas Tech, but signed a new extension with Baylor and hasn't expressed interest in any jobs or admitted to any interviews.
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Paul Rhoads reportedly drew interest from Wisconsin, but Rhoads went on the record this week to say he has no interest in replacing Bret Bielema in Madison.
  • No changes.
  • No changes.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was a candidate for the Louisiana Tech opening last week, but reportedly turned down the job. The Bulldogs eventually hired Skip Holtz to replace Sonny Dykes.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell has also reportedly drawn interest from other schools, but it sounds like he's staying at Oklahoma.
  • Offensive coordinator Todd Monken left to become the head coach at Southern Miss.
  • Head coach Mike Gundy reportedly interviewed with both Tennessee and Arkansas and some local reports even indicated that he had accepted the Arkansas job, but they ultimately proved to be false. Gundy has since gone on record saying there's "no question" he'll be the Cowboys' head coach in 2013.
  • Defensive coordinator Bill Young on if he'll return next season or retire: "I don’t know, I don’t know," Young told The Oklahoman. "I’m going to think about it."
  • Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left to become the head coach at Arkansas State.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite replaces Harsin as the playcaller and will coach quarterbacks now. Texas plans to replace him as running backs coach after the season ends.
  • Receivers coach Darrell Wyatt was promoted to co-offensive coordinator.
  • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz reportedly interviewed with Florida International, but removed himself from consideration and will stay at Texas.
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Gary Patterson was reportedly a leading candidate to replace John L. Smith at Arkansas, but there were no reports of interviews or significant contact between the two parties.
  • Head coach Tommy Tuberville left to become the head coach at Cincinnati.
  • Offensive coordinator Neal Brown left to become the offensive coordinator at Kentucky on Mark Stoops' staff.
  • Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury accepted an offer to replace Tuberville as Tech's head coach.
  • Ex-Red Raiders Kevin Curtis and Eric Morris will join Kingsbury's staff. Curtis told reporters he will likely coach the cornerbacks. Morris' role on the staff is still undetermined. He previously coached inside receivers for Mike Leach at Washington State.
  • Dana Holgorsen relieved cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts of his duties and moved co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to defensive playcaller, replacing co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest as playcaller. DeForest is still on staff.
  • Graduate assistant Andrew McGee (who led the Big 12 in interceptions at Oklahoma State in 2010, with five) will coach cornerbacks heading into the bowl game, but WVU will find a permanent replacement after the season.

Defensive struggles catch up to WVU

October, 13, 2012

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Facing a fourth-and-6 on his own 29-yard line, Dana Holgorsen didn't look to do much contemplating about whether or not he'd send out his punting unit.

With more than eight minutes to play in the third quarter, 95 percent of coaches would have thought about the same amount of time ... and sent out the punter.

The West Virginia coach elected to take the risk and lost, when his Heisman front-runner quarterback missed on a throw to Tavon Austin along the right sideline. That wasn't much different than the way the rest of Saturday went for the Mountaineers, who suffered a humbling 49-14 loss to Texas Tech and surely will drop from the top five in falling to 5-1.

It was a move that smelled of desperation because it was born from it. Down 35-7, West Virginia's defense hadn't given Holgorsen much of a choice.

"They played better than we did on all three sides of the ball, they played harder than we did, the effort was harder, they outcoached us," Holgorsen said. "We let the situation get to us."

Defensive coordinator Joe DeForest admitted he saw a lack of energy even in warm-ups, and once the game began, West Virginia still looked like it was warming up. Thing is, WVU never got hot, or anything close to it.

Tech needed just six plays to score the game's first touchdown on a 39-yard pass from Seth Doege to Jace Amaro, and the Red Raiders left no doubt as to which team was superior.

Doege finished with a career-high 504 yards with six touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing.

"It's not like they were outscheming us; they just played harder than we did, which is disappointing," Holgorsen said. "You only have 12 games to play. Anytime you leave the game and say, 'They played harder than us,' is something that's very disturbing to me."

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireMountaineers QB Geno Smith completed just 29 of 55 passes, for 295 yards and one score.
Holgorsen admitted that perhaps the whipping West Texas wind affected star quarterback Geno Smith's head more than his passes, although Smith rejected that notion later. Holgorsen also emphasized that no amount of weather or injury -- WVU played the second half without receiver Stedman Bailey (ankle) and the whole game without top defensive lineman Will Clarke, who didn't practice this week -- is an excuse for playing the way the Mountaineers played Saturday.

The "blame" is rather obvious. West Virginia had given up 35 points in a half before, just two weeks ago in a 70-63 win over Baylor. When the offense scores 35, too, it's a little easier to shrug off the defensive failures.

Saturday, though, was a bad day for the "You don't need defense to win it all!" crowd. West Virginia's defense is still waiting for a performance to write home about, and with one forgettable day from the offense ("Everything just seemed a little off," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said), a perfect season came to a rather spectacular end.

"There's no excuses for what happened today. I was off. I wasn't hitting my targets, wasn't hitting my reads. There's a number of things I did wrong," Smith said.

He finished 29-of-55 for 275 yards and a touchdown, keeping his interception-free streak alive but leaving with a head-scratching loss. Texas Tech didn't blitz more than he thought it would. Smith said he wasn't confused and felt well-prepared.

The plays just didn't work. The running game that was dominant against Texas the previous weekend never materialized to take pressure off Smith, and the entire offense suffered, although Smith's struggles were the clearest Saturday.

"There's no explanation for it; it's just the way the game goes," Smith said. "Everyone has a bad game. That's all there is to it. I don't think I played terribly bad, I just didn't do enough to win the game, and that's the way I measure myself, by wins and losses, rather than all that other stuff that people like to build up in the media world."

If Saturday's loss wasn't enough of a reminder that the Big 12 will be a bumpy road -- this same Texas Tech team lost by three touchdowns to Oklahoma last week -- next week will offer yet another. The Big 12's lone undefeated team -- Kansas State, a 27-21 winner over Iowa State on Saturday -- already has its sights set on a West Virginia offense that looked vulnerable for the first time Saturday and a defense that hasn't stopped much of anyone all season. There's no time to waste for Holgorsen.

"They were the better team today. They outplayed us, they outcoached us and they were better on all three sides of the ball. It happens in football," Holgorsen said. "I told them to hurry up, get dressed, get on the bus, we'll get on the plane, fly back, we'll watch the tape tonight and tomorrow, meet with them tomorrow, get the game over with, and we'll move on to Kansas State."

Big 12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big 12 power rankings are heavily influenced by what each team did in the previous week, and aren't necessarily a reflection of the Big 12 standings.

Think of it this way: As of right now, this is how well each Big 12 team is playing. Here's how I slot it to begin the season:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have an awkward opener, kicking things off on the road out in the desert against UTEP at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Still, we'll get a first look at a revamped offensive line and the new, young receivers Landry Jones will be throwing to all season. Look out for a coming out party from Trey Metoyer, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

2. West Virginia: West Virginia plays Saturday's first game, kicking off against in-state rival Marshall at noon. The Big 12 newcomers have all the offense they need, but what will the pass rush look like with new defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson?

3. Kansas State: K-State opens with Missouri State on Saturday night, with Collin Klein's revamped arm on display after an offseason of development. Everyone's watching that. What they should be watching? How does the offensive line look after replacing three starters?

4. Texas: The Longhorns settled on David Ash at quarterback, but the season opener Saturday night against Wyoming on the Longhorn Network. The defense will be fiendishly fun to watch this year, but how much better is Ash? We'll get somewhat of a feel in this one.

5. TCU: Oh, you poor Frogs. TCU is officially a Big 12 member, but has to sit and watch all Saturday as the rest of the Big 12 opens their respective seasons. It gives Amon G. Carter Stadium one more week to prepare for the debut of its facelift, but by the time it does next week against Grambling, 13 Big 12 games will have been completed.

6. Oklahoma State: The defending Big 12 champs are the sixth team in the mix for a Big 12 title in 2012, but their hopes rest on the 18-year-old shoulders of Wes Lunt, a true freshman we haven't heard much out of all summer or fall camp. The Pokes don't know who his top target will be just yet, but the defense that supports the offense should be improved from 2011. We'll see them open up against the poor saps at Savannah State (yuck) on Saturday night.

7. Baylor: The post-RG3 era doesn't officially kick off until Sunday, when Nick Florence takes a snap against Baylor's old Southwest Conference rival, SMU. Last year's opener against TCU proved to be one of the most memorable games of the season. Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese have the firepower to outgun the Mustangs in a shootout. Hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk will make his long-awaited debut after coming back home from Oregon.

8. Texas Tech: Tech opens against Northwestern State on Saturday night. That's no big challenge. Staying healthy could be after two injury-riddled years to start the Tommy Tuberville Era. Keep an eye on how running back Eric Stephens looks after returning from a catastrophic knee injury last season.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones should be challenged in their 3:30 p.m. visit fron Tulsa. Steele Jantz quarterbacked ISU to three fourth-quarter comebacks to open last season, and he may need another one. Paul Rhoads' Cyclones are a slight underdog in this windy weather showdown.

10. Kansas: Kansas' last coach, Turner Gill, opened with a disastrous 6-3 loss against FCS outfit North Dakota State two years ago. This time, Charlie Weis takes on South Dakota State. He's got a better team. Expect a better result Saturday for the former Notre Dame coach and a former Irish quarterback, Dayne Crist.

Checking the title odds for Big 12 teams

May, 10, 2012
Colleague Travis Haney kept an eye on the ever-changing national championship odds, and three Big 12 teams made big moves during the spring.

Oklahoma and West Virginia made big moves up the scale.

Oklahoma began the spring at 18-1 and has since moved to 10-1.
Those wondering whether OU would locate playmakers likely noted the spring emergence of receiver Trey Metoyer, a vertical threat from Texas who spent last fall at a Virginia prep school. He could make junior Kenny Stills' life much easier as the No. 1 receiver.

Mike Stoops' imprint has already been seen on a pass defense that was woeful in the losses to Texas Tech and Baylor. For one, all-conference-level talent Tony Jefferson moved from linebacker to free safety, a more natural position.

I could see it for Oklahoma. Last year, there was so much pressure on the preseason No. 1 Sooners. This year, they're still supremely talented, but the expectations aren't as high. OU will kick off the season around the top five, which makes a run to the title still a possibility with one loss. Even coach Bob Stoops admitted to me this spring that there's less pressure this time around, but still a very talented team. The big question for me is can Landry Jones play well for 13 games. He hasn't done it yet in his career, but the time is now. He can look otherworldly at times, but very average at others.

Meanwhile, West Virginia has moved from a 50-1 to 30-1.
What's will be interesting is seeing how West Virginia -- and TCU, in a similar-but-different sense -- adjust to the week-in, week-out challenges of the new league. In the Mountaineers' case, travel will be part of that game. At least one Big 12 peer thought those variables would preclude either of the newcomers from winning the league in year one.

Additionally, no one's really talking all that much about defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel leaving to rejoin Rich Rodriguez in Arizona. There's a sense that the 3-4 installed this spring by new coordinator Joe DeForest will work well in the Big 12. DeForest should know, since he was previously at Oklahoma State (where he coached with Dana Holgorsen).

I could see WVU winning the Big 12, but the national championship? Not happening, and that defense is the reason why. It's not ready yet. You win in the Big 12 with offense, yes. But you win big in the Big 12 with a great offense and a defense to match. That's how Oklahoma and Texas have done it over the years, and even last year, Oklahoma State took advantage with turnovers and nearly reached the title game.

WVU's floor is very, very high. I'd be very, very surprised if they won fewer than nine games, but in a new league, it's hard to imagine them going 12-0.

Kansas State, however, has taken a big step back this spring, according to oddsmakers. They've dropped from 25-1 to 150-1.
Perhaps the correct means of approaching this is to question who would ever see K-State as a 25-1 in the first place. Maybe Vegas realized what many already knew: The Wildcats, grinding out seemingly every game, were extremely fortunate to win 10 in 2011. Take out blowouts of lowly Kent State and Kansas, and the remaining eight victories were all by single digits, by an average of 4.5 points a game.

For me, the troubling sign from 2011 wasn't so much the close wins. Coach Bill Snyder does what he need to in order to win games. The playbook was limited in the first few games.

What makes me worry most about K-State? Losing to Oklahoma at home by 41 points. How many championship teams do something like that?

Spring camp breakdown: Oklahoma State

March, 12, 2012
Oklahoma State (aka the Big 12 champs) opens up spring practice later today. Here's a look at what to expect.

Schedule: Oklahoma State kicks off the first of its NCAA-allowed 15 practices Monday, leading up to the spring game on April 21. Practices are closed to fans and media.

What's new: The major characters in the story of the Cowboys' 2011 Big 12 title run (and subsequent Fiesta Bowl win) are gone. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon hooked up for 232 completions and 38 touchdowns the past two seasons, carrying Oklahoma State to 23 wins in consecutive years that were each the best in school history. Replacing both is the primary issue in the spring.

New faces: Special teams coordinator Joe DeForest left after 12 years in Stillwater and leaves a big void of his own. New assistant Van Malone will coach OSU's safeties, but coach Mike Gundy won't decide who fills the special teams role until after the spring. Malone comes to OSU via Tulsa. Oklahoma State also welcomes four early enrollees: QB Wes Lunt, TE Blake Jackson, DT Calvin Barnett and LB Jeremiah Tshimanga.

Big shoes to fill: OSU's receiving corps. Blackmon is gone, but the search goes a lot deeper than just for OSU's No. 1. No. 2 receiver Josh Cooper graduated, as did No. 4 receiver Hubert Anyiam. The team's receiver with perhaps the most potential, Michael Harrison, also left the team after being suspended by the NCAA for the 2012 season. Last year, nine OSU players caught at least 19 passes for 200 yards. There's a lot of receptions to go around. Receivers have to step up this spring. Tracy Moore, Josh Stewart and Isaiah Anderson are the most likely candidates to grab 80-100 balls next year.

All eyes on: The quarterback battle, obviously. Gundy says junior Clint Chelf hasn't done enough to make the job his to lose. Freshman J.W. Walsh has a full year in the system under his belt, but can the dual-threat prove his mettle as a passer? Lunt enters this spring with what's likely the biggest arm of the three, but can he pick the system up fast enough to earn the job? Gundy says he wants to know his starter at the end of the spring, but all three will receive equal reps to begin practice today.

Breaking out: Jackson. We mentioned him earlier, and the early-enrolling tight end is already making a splash. He opens the spring at the top of OSU's depth chart at inside receiver. You don't see that every day. The 6-foot-3 juco transfer was an All-American last year and is already up to 238 pounds from 220 earlier this year. Don't be surprised if he makes major waves in the coming weeks.

Question mark: Markelle Martin wasn't the fastest safety in the league, but he provided valuable leadership, had tons of experience and was arguably the Big 12's biggest hitter. Lavocheya Cooper gets the first crack at replacing him, but will he be good enough? In the pass-happy Big 12, there's no overstating the importance of safeties that get in receivers' heads and prevent the big play.