Why it's so hard to hire an assistant coach in late February

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Scout.com

Scout.com

As the calendar barrels rapidly toward March, Oklahoma State - and more than a dozen of its ilk - find themselves in the unenviable position of having one (or more) positions to fill on its coaching staff. While the Cowboys are far from the only program to find themselves stuck between this particular rock and hard place, they provide an interesting example to study.

Bob Connelly was named USC's offensive line coach on Feb. 11, meaning Oklahoma State is approaching its second week without a line coach of its own. Spring ball is approaching, upping the Pokes' urgency to find a replacement. Problem is, spring ball is also approaching - or already underway on some campuses, which means Mike Gundy's determination to find a replacement is match or exceeded by an opposing head coach's determination to not have to find his own replacement.

The coaching cycle is a series of chain reactions, and no head coach wants an explosion on his staff roster this late in the game.

The Cowboys have reached out to a number of sitting offensive line coaches formally and informally, and have yet to secure a hire despite receiving favorable initial interest. Hypothetically, the process often plays out like this: Gundy approaches an offensive line coach with an offer to raise his salary from $200,000 to $300,000. The offensive line coach relays the offer to his head coach, conveying a desire to take the job. The head coach, realizing what a sudden opening five days before spring ball would do to his own staff, pressures his assistant to say and works with the athletics director to secure a modest but still sizable raise to $240,000. The offensive line coach remains at his current post, and Oklahoma State is no closer to hiring an offensive line coach of its own.

Oklahoma State will eventually hire an offensive line coach, just like Wisconsin and Arkansas will find running backs coach and the glut of other open positions will be filled. Considering Gundy's track record of hiring assistants, it'll likely be a good one. But it's still an uncomfortable spot to be in, and Gundy's hire will inevitably leave another unsuspecting in an even more difficult position. It's unfortunate, but that's the cost of doing business at the highest level of college football.