STILLWATER — Ask Glenn Spencer what will be different about Oklahoma State’s defense under his direction, and he starts with a roundabout answer but ultimately arrives at a simple conclusion.
The new coordinator first rattles off the Cowboys’ immense playbook, which features a wide variety of defensive fronts and blitz packages and coverages.
It's a playbook that's still largely the same as last season. But if you alter the coach whose job is to mix and match those plays, change will inevitably come.
“To put one thing on it, this is going to change, I can't do that,” Spencer said. “It's gonna be different, because I'm a different guy. I plan different. I'm gonna have different answers when we're getting hurt or trying to stay ahead of those issues.
“It's naturally going to be a different defense.”
And Cowboy coach Mike Gundy is just fine with that. Actually, that's exactly what Gundy wants.
“If I felt like our defense was a disaster, then we wipe them all out,” Gundy said. “Sounds harsh, but that's the way our profession is.”
Instead, Bill Young was the man not retained for 2013. And there were reasons. The Cowboys struggled mightily against two potent offenses down the stretch, allowing more than 1,200 yards and 92 points over back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Baylor to end the regular season. The cornerbacks consistently gave opposing receivers a 10-yard cushion to make the catch. And OSU failed to generate the same level of turnovers that had become its calling card in previous seasons.
But that transition itself from Young to Spencer, at least from a formal announcement standpoint, was a bit messy.
Gundy notified Spencer shortly after the Heart of Dallas Bowl that he would be elevated from co-defensive coordinator to defensive coordinator. Word started to leak out shortly after that Young was looking for a new job and would not return to Stillwater. OSU then made the change official with a short release.
“When you make a change, it's never easy, it's never comfortable,” Gundy said. “But I had to make that decision. That didn't mean anybody is not a good football coach. And Bill Young is who we're talking about. Very good football coach. Tremendous for us.
“But we needed a change, we needed a spark.”