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Chatting with Pat Jones

Gina Mizell Published: August 26, 2011

OSU head coach Mike Gundy, right, talks to former OSU head coach Pat Jones before Oklahoma State University college football practice in Stillwater, Okla., August 7, 2006. The Oklahoman file photo.

One of the most important, yet sometimes very challenging, parts of walking into a brand new beat assignment is building relationships with sources right away. You’re not usually going to share your life story or your complete thoughts on every issue with someone you barely know, whether it’s a reporter or someone you meet on the street. It’s all about gaining trust and showing people they can be comfortable opening up to you.

I called Pat Jones last night for the story I wrote about Mike Gundy’s decision for the second year in a row to not have any full-on scrimmaging before the season-opener. Gundy made a joke during the press conference that his former coach wouldn’t be too happy about it, so I decided to get Jones’ thoughts. I included one quote from Jones in the story, but here’s a little bit more of what he said:

“That’s a universal discussion for everybody. It feels like we have this discussion with some of these guys every year. I’m not saying there’s a right and a wrong, because I think there’s different situations. Personal experience has been, and we did it both collegiately and in the NFL…we were gonna hit.”

And…

“(OSU’s) practices are up-tempo and they’re pretty physical, they just didn’t have a whole lot of scrimmaging. They’re still pretty physical about what they’re doing. Somebody doesn’t need to think that they’re not being physical, because they are. It’s just a matter of how physical.”

But what impressed me, and truthfully caught me off guard a bit, was after I had gotten the information I was looking for and was ready to hang up, he offered to help me with anything I needed from now on. Then he started asking me about my background and it kind of turned into a six degrees of separation game. His first game as the OSU head coach was at Arizona State, my alma mater, in 1984. And Beaumont, my last stop, used to be his recruiting area. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he heavily recruited Southeast Texas, because Jimmy Johnson is from Port Arthur, which is just south of Beaumont.

In short, I really enjoyed the conversation. Jones sure has a lively personality. And people like him will help me create good stories now and in the future.

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