Monday, September 26, 2011
Cowboys try to adjust after tragedy
By David Ubben
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Oklahoma State earned what might be a season-defining, program-changing win on Saturday, going on the road to beat Texas A&M in a battle of unbeaten, top 10 teams.
Earlier in the week though, coach Mike Gundy wasn't sure about his team's ability to bounce back from tragedy last Saturday.
Linebackers coach Glenn Spencer had to leave the team during a three-hour delay prior to last week's win over Tulsa to tend to his wife. His wife, who had battled heart disease and underwent a heart transplant in February 2010, died later that night.
During the week, a pall fell over the coaching staff. Gundy said conversations were at a minimum in the offices as the staff and players dealt with their grief.
"It definitely affected them," Gundy said. "I was just concerned about all that."
Thursday, Gundy traveled to Atlanta for Angela Spencer's funeral and rain caused practice to be delayed. The lull was obvious.
"I said it to our staff, I said, 'We have to get our players going,'" Gundy said.
Late in the week, Gundy was approached by two players who had rubber wristbands made that read "One Heart, One Team, One Family." The team also wore an "AS" patch on the back of their helmets as a tribute.
"When coaches do something like that, it's one thing," Gundy said. "When kids do it, it's another."
What she meant to the team was obvious. At least one player dedicated the win to Spencer.
Two days after attending his wife's funeral, Glenn Spencer returned to coach his team. After the team left Stillwater for its trip to College Station, Gundy sensed a change.
"Their frame of mind Friday in walkthroughs and on the plane was better, and then chapel [Friday] night was really good," Gundy said.
He coached in what he called a "surreal" game, but it turned to a "satisfying" win.
"We were fortunate," Gundy said. "You’ve got to have strong leadership, you’ve got to have experience to win games and come through in situations like that."