Back by overwhelming demand, FootballScoop will once again examine the assistant coaching hires that will have the biggest impact on the college football season and the coaching job market in the 2019 season and beyond.
No. 19: Bryan Brown, Louisville
No. 18: Phil Longo, North Carolina
No. 17: Les Koenning, Kansas
No. 16: Andy Avalos, Oregon
No. 15: Joe Cauthen, Houston
No. 14: Bodie Reeder, North Texas
No. 13: Mike MacIntyre, Ole Miss
No. 12: Andy Ludwig, Utah
No. 11: Kenny Dillingham, Auburn
No. 10: Jim Chaney, Tennessee
Who: Sean Gleeson, Oklahoma State
Title: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Previous stop: Princeton running backs coach (2013-16), offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2017-18)
Why he’s important: Mike Gundy has employed five offensive coordinators in his 14 seasons as Oklahoma State’s head coach. Three — Larry Fedora, Dana Holgorsen (albeit with some help) and Todd Monken — left Stillwater and walked directly into head coaching positions. The fourth and most recent was to date the peak of The Mullet Man’s king-making abilities, plucking Mike Yurcich out of Division II obscurity and, six seasons later, turning him into Ohio State’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Gundy’s next project is without a doubt his most interesting. To replace Yurcich, Gundy hired Sean Gleeson, a 34-year-old Princeton offensive coordinator who was coaching football, baseball and bowling at a New Jersey high school as recently as 2011. Don’t take my word for it. Heed the words of college football’s resident analytics nerd, Bill Connelly:
Princeton leverages your assumptions against you. They know how the typical spread offense acts, they operate the basics well, and then they devastate you by going against tendency.
But don’t take his word for it, either. Behold the assorted clips assembled by one of Football Twitter’s preeminent curators.
Make no mistake, the Princeton offense is more than jet sweeps and pop passes. That’s the uppercut to the chin Gleeson hit you with when you were beaten bloody by the run game.
The 2018 Tigers, a perfect 10-0, led FCS in scoring (47 points per game) while ranking sixth in rushing (295.5 yards per game), seventh in passing efficiency (161.26) and second in total offense (536.8 yards per game). They converted 53.4 percent of their third downs, averaged 26.7 first downs per game and scored touchdowns on 43 of 59 red zone trips. Princeton has run the Ivy League for years under head coach Bob Surace, but no team in Ivy League history has scored more points than the 470 Princeton did last season.
No wonder Gundy was intrigued.
“We’re going to run the same system,” Gundy said at Big 12 media days last month. “He’s had success, pure drop-back quarterbacks, guys that could run around a little bit, he’s been in 10-personnel, 11-personnel, 12-personnel. He’s played with speed at times. He’s young. He’s a good technician with quarterbacks. He’s got a bright personality. He’s good in homes at recruiting quarterbacks.”
Adaptability is an important muscle Gleeson will get to flex, both in terms of players, scheme and staff. He moves into a staff room that returns running backs coach John Wozniak, associate head coach and wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn, tight ends coach Jason McEndoo and brings in offensive line coach Charlie Dickey, whom Gundy said he’d been trying to hire for years but only became available upon Bill Snyder’s retirement.
“They have a great foundation here offensively, and I’m doing my best to learn right now what we’ve had in place here has been tremendously successful,” Gleeson told Pistols Firing in the spring. “It’s just a matter of soaking it all up and pointing in the right direction and getting organized. I’m going to take the best from everybody.”
“We’ve got guys on our staff who can do the same job,” Gundy said during a Signing Day interview on 247Sports.com. “I just felt in this case, we needed a guy to come in from the outside with a few new ideas.”
The quarterback job is open (Hawaii transfer Dru Brown and redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders are the front runners), but whoever wins the job will hand off to Chuba Hubbard, who carried 79 times for 425 yards (5.38 a pop) and five touchdowns over Oklahoma State’s four final games, and throw to a receiving corps that returns all but one receiver of consequence from last season. Most important among that group: All-America candidate Tylan Wallace, who caught 86 passes for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018.
Given that all that returns, the renewed energy Gundy is bringing to the job and Gleeson’s fresh set of eyes, Oklahoma State seems like a prime candidate to be one of those “Why didn’t we see this team taking a leap this year?” teams for 2019.