Gundy says Fedora's departure won't hurt Bowl Preparations

Monday, December 24th 2007, 9:58 am
By: News 9

Associated Press

STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahoma State's preparations for the Insight Bowl have not significantly been affected by the recent departure of offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, head coach Mike Gundy said on Wednesday.

A week earlier, Fedora was named the head coach at Southern Mississippi. But before Fedora left Oklahoma State, he assisted Gundy in developing much of the Cowboys' game plan for the December 31st bowl game against Indiana (7-5).

"Larry and I were off the (recruiting) road for a week, so we were able to get a lot of work done,'' Gundy said during a news conference.

Gundy said he has assumed the duties of scripting offensive plays for the Cowboys' practice sessions, but that it otherwise would be difficult to notice much change within the program since Fedora left.

"The practice organization was done way before Larry left,'' Gundy said. "The offensive meetings go the exact same as they have gone. When you've done it as long as we've done it, it just continues. Our practices look the same. They're structured the same.''

Oklahoma State (6-6) has averaged 33.4 points and 484.1 yards per game this season using Fedora's single-back, no-huddle offense. Gundy said the Cowboys are familiar enough with the system now that they should have no trouble running the offense in the bowl game.

Still, someone will have to replace Fedora as the primary play-caller. Gundy said it hasn't yet been determined if that responsibility will fall to one person or a committee of coaches. He acknowledged toying with the idea of handling it himself, at least for the bowl game.

Before becoming Oklahoma State's head coach in 2005, Gundy spent the previous four seasons as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and has said how much he enjoyed the play-calling aspect of that position.

He said staff discussions about play-calling "are going to take place in the next couple of days. ... One luxury we have in our offense is a lot of what we do, we call at the line. We would like to be able to make some of those decisions at the line and do it as a group, but ultimately, somebody will have to come up with an original play call to start the system.

"I'm not trying to tell you we're going to make group play calls. I'm just trying to tell you we're not sure yet exactly how we're going to do it. ... Up until Sunday, nobody has been in the room together. We've all been gone recruiting. We're just now getting in there and trying to kind of figure out what we want to do.''

Starting quarterback Zac Robinson said the transition from Fedora to whomever calls the plays in the bowl game should be relatively seamless.

"Coach Gundy is just running through like coach Fedora would,'' Robinson said. "There have been a few things that we've had to talk about ... but pretty much everything has been the exact same.''

For players, "it doesn't matter who is calling the plays or who is doing what,'' he said. "We're going to go out and play, regardless. We know that the coaches are going to put us in the right position to make plays, so we just have to go out and execute.''

What happens to the Cowboys' staff after the bowl game also remains a question. Gundy said he's received hundreds of inquiries about the opening created by Fedora's departure, but that his primary focus in recent days has been on recruiting and now will shift to game-day preparation, which leaves him with little time now to consider potential staff hirings.

"You get a lot of phone messages,'' Gundy said. "Even though you try to stay focused on game preparation and coaching and all that, you don't have a choice. Everywhere you go, somebody is handing you a phone message, and I don't know how some people get your cell phone numbers. It's not like I can just not think about it, but I just haven't gotten to where I can think about it and work on it.''

Gundy could do as some coaches, most notably Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, and call his own plays. He could also promote an assistant to offensive coordinator and then hire another coach elsewhere on his staff, perhaps even on the defensive side of the football.

Plus, the possibility remains there could be more than one staff opening. Fedora asked Oklahoma State for permission to speak with three of Gundy's assistants about also making the move to Southern Mississippi. Those three are thought to be receivers coach Gunter Brewer, offensive line coach Joe Wickline and linebackers coach Todd Bradford.

Brewer said earlier this week he plans to remain at Oklahoma State.

"I am very pleased with the guys that we have in that meeting room. I have complete confidence in those guys that are in that meeting room,'' Gundy said. "They all bring something different to the table. That's why we've had success.''

Gundy said that after Saturday's practice, Oklahoma State players will be given three days off, including Christmas Day, before they are to meet in Arizona on December 26th to resume bowl preparations.