Oregon State filled its defensive coordinator void with Kevin Clune, a coach who has known Gary Andersen for nearly two decades. ESPN.com caught up with the new coordinator last week to discuss his transition from Utah State to the Pac-12.
Your first coaching job ever was a high school job; you coached the defensive line and the wide receivers -- that’s a pretty interesting combination. What was that like?
Clune: It was 100 years ago. Back then, you played both ways and so we had offensive time and defensive time. There were only three coaches on that staff. It was interesting. Nowadays, you only play offense or you only play defense, but back then we had those guys going both ways. It just worked out that way. The O-line coach worked with the linebackers. It all just worked out. … It was just three of us out there.
You’ve known Gary for nearly two decades. What about him has stayed the same? What about him is the most different?
Clune: The thing that has changed the least is that he has always been a real guy. There’s no weird bulls---. He’s just a normal guy. What has changed the most is probably that he’s more relaxed than he was before. He's allowing the process to take place and knowing that it’s not going to be an overnight rebuild, that there’s going to be a process. He knows what process he wants to do. He’s allowing it to happen. Right now we’re learning, we’re working, we’re trying. He’s just letting it happen.
Gary will be coaching the defensive line. Have you ever had a head coach working 'for' you?
Clune: I’m happy to have him because he was such a great D-line coach for so many years and it allows us to kind of spread out a little bit more as defensive coaches so we can get more one-on-one teaching because we have five full-time guys who can be with the defense when normally it’s four. That’s a huge bonus. Him and the other coaches know these kids better than I do. … Him being with the D-line, he understands the limits of the D-line and the capabilities of the D-line so I know how far we can go with it.
You were with him at Southern Utah and Utah State, which were both rebuilding efforts. What do you take from those experiences coming into Oregon State?
Clune: Pretty much everywhere I’ve been has been a rebuild, so that’s not something that’s scary. It just takes time. You’ve got to recruit and you’ve got to keep working and keep developing. Over the years I’ve feel as though I’ve been able to be more flexible with my vision and allow it to evolve to what the players are whereas early on when I first was a coordinator I was just trying to run my stuff and cram it into the kids. Learning from it, how it evolves, how each player’s strength will shape the defense in a different way so instead of just sticking to the plan, allowing it to evolve to the players we have.
How much film have you watched on the 2015 Oregon State defense?
Clune: I’m purposefully trying to not watch too much. I’m trying to give them a clean slate and trying to teach them the ways I want things done. … This is a different version. It’s not last year’s defense. This will be the 2016 version. And then, the 2015 version, that’s over with so it’s time to move on. So anything positive or negative, you’ve got to build upon it. I’m not one of those guys that’s going to go back and critique all those little things or make judgments. I’d rather make those judgments during spring ball.
Without watching any film, is there anything you’ve seen so far that seems really promising about the Oregon State defense this upcoming season?
Clune: There’s a lot of hope and there are some guys who are stepping up here and there during our workouts. We’ll see. Ask me that same question at the end of March or the beginning of April and I’ll have a better idea because that’s when we’re really playing football.