The Oklahoman’s OSU writer John Helsley took questions from readers in today’s Power Lunch Chat. The hoops team continues to struggle on the road. Recruiting is winding down. Spring football will be upon us before we know it. And the baseball team, under new leadership, is practicing and gearing up for a February start. Here’s a look at today’s Q&A:
ON OSU FOOTBALL AND RECRUITING:
Let's talk offensive coordinator at OSU. Don't your sources already know who it's going to be?
Mike Gundy is very tight-lipped with such hirings. There have been a lot of rumors about Atlanta Falcons QB coach Glenn Thomas, who has some Air Raid roots from days at Texas Tech. So it's easy to connect the dots. But connecting the dots hasn't always worked with Gundy hirings.
What is the rationale for taking so long in filling coaching vacancies?
There's just no need to hurry. Recruiting is the front burner issue, with Gundy making many of his in-home visits with recruits right now. And if you're looking at NFL guys (Thomas), you have to wait until their season is complete. Gundy has assured commits that the Cowboys will run the same offense they've been running, so there's little selling to do in that regard. Patience.
If you had to guess now, who would you say lines up at WR opposite Tracy Moore next year? Charlie Moore? Where might Michael Harrison fit in if he is coming back?
The WR position is going to look a LOT different in 2013. A lot of competition and a major upgrade in overall talent at the position.
On talent alone, I'd say Harrison, although he's got a long way to go to prove his commitment to Cowboys coaches. Jhajuan Seales is a guy who has impressed, and at 6-2, has the size coaches like on the outside. C.J. Curry and Brandon Shepherd are factors, too. Moore, of course. Then there's the wild cards, the incoming freshmen, who are believed to be the real deal. Will be very interesting.
Do you expect Spencer’s football defense to be more aggressive than Bill Young's? Do you think they will run more 3-4?
I do expect a more aggressive defense under Spencer. I know Gundy wants that. Wouldn't expect a lot of 3-4 in the beginning, with Barnett and Castleman inside, although it could be a look on passing downs, if they think Castleman can slide outside. Hard to take either one of those guys off the field.
Any idea which surprise recruits OSU might come up with? If everything holds this class looks pretty solid. Any chance Pokes could get some more OLs — maybe the Tulsa commits?
If I knew, it wouldn't be a surprise ... I think the OSU coaches are in on a few guys, trying to flip them down the stretch. So a couple of surprises wouldn't be out of the question at all. Keep an eye on Richard Dillon's kid, can't remember his first name, but he's a small-school stud at Ringling.
Do you buy into the "star" hype when it comes to recruiting? Does the OSU staff use recruiting services at all? What is their real purpose, for fans?
Yes and no. People will point to the guys that Alabama gets, all being high-star recruits. But you can point to Texas, too, and what they haven't done with their collection of 5-star players. I think it's more important to evaluate and develop.
How come OSU does not have one in-state kid committed? Not a one Oklahoma kid.
Not a great year in the state. If your running back was in better shape academically, he might be on the list. I know the coaches would love to get the best in Oklahoma. Some years, it just doesn't materialize.
Is the recruiting class about solidified? Any new possible commits or de-commits that you see?
Pretty close. Keep an eye on Dontre Wilson, an Oregon commit who will visit on Feb. 2. He's big-time RB, although a long shot to switch. The Cowboys could a few pieces, maybe DE Tyus Bowser, who visited last week.
ON OSU BASKETBALL:
The OSU basketball team looked like a bunch of junior high kids playing high school kids with all blocked shots on Monday. Will this OSU team improve? I had high hopes early on in the season. Those hopes are dwindling.
Good visual. Guess it did look a bit like that. Going into the game, Baylor's size and skill inside made it a difficult matchup for the Cowboys. Still, they had to attack the interior. And they actually outscored the Bears in the paint for the game, thanks mostly to Nash's drives. The thing that was missing for OSU: outside shooting. Brown and Forte had off nights, on the same night. And that killed the Cowboys' shot at a road win. I do think the Cowboys will improve; still see them as a top-four or five team in the league. Some of their toughest road games have come at the front end of the Big 12 schedule.
Hoping OSU basketball can get to 10-11 wins in the Big 12. Do you see Marcus Smart and co. getting it done and making the NCAA tourney?
First, they need to own their home court. KU will be tough to beat anywhere, but on a good night, it's winnable. Then OSU needs to find three or four road wins. While that sounds crazy, considering their struggles, getting the first one should get them over the hump. They'll be favored at Texas, TCU and Texas Tech, probably WVU, too. And Iowa State is winnable. So, yeah, 11 wins is manageable. I do think they make the tourney
Who are some candidates for a new basketball coach? I think Doug Gottlieb would be a good choice, a la Mark Jackson.
Currently, the Cowboys don't have a job opening for basketball coach, so there are no candidates. I'm not a big "Fire The Coach" guy. Of OSU's five losses this season, I'd say they were underdogs in three with the two others tossups.
Things to consider: Ford is currently working short-handed, with Olukemi and B Williams out with injuries. Both have been starters and Williams would have been a starter with this squad. Soucek has been injured, robbing depth. All this has forced enhanced roles on young players like Forte, Murphy, and Gardner that is sooner than expected. I'd say check back when more of the season is complete and see where the team stands.
What excites you about the basketball team? I think they still have a chance to be good this season. On the football front, with all of the WR's OSU has, plus what’s coming in, there’s definitely going to be a big log jam. Do you think OSU will have transfers?
Well, Marcus Smart to begin with. He's worth the price of admission by himself. I don't think this team has fully come together yet. And I think there's a good chance it will. The return of Brian Williams should help, if the injury doesn't hold him back. His energy and defensive ability to take away a team's best scorer is much needed. A lot of these Cowboys are playing for the first time. It takes time for chemistry.
Transfers are always possible. In this offense, the Cowboys can use 7 or 8 quality receivers and get them work. And the Moores, Jackson, and Harrison will all be seniors.