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Emptying the notebook: More from Oklahoma State offensive line coach Joe Wickline

by Gina Mizell Modified: August 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: August 6, 2013

I wrote about Joe Wickline, the last remaining member of Mike Gundy’s first coaching staff, for Sunday’s Oklahoman. You can read that story here.

But there were plenty of portions of the interview that got left on the cutting room floor. Enjoy.

On his reputation of being one of the best offensive line coaches in the country:

“You read things and you hear things about other people, this guy’s the best in the business and that guy’s the best in the business. I don’t know. I know a lot guys in this business and I have a great deal of respect for other guys, whether it’s Art Kehoe at Miami or Rick Trickett at Florida State, now I’m going to leave somebody out here, all the guys that are out there that do what I do. What do I think about it? I think it’s where you’re at. If you’re at the right place at the right time with the right people, if I have enough players, our system will allow us to have a lot of success and then we all gain from it. I may be looked as a pretty competent O-Line coach, I don’t know what the best is. There’s a bunch of good ones out there.”

On the assumption that the offensive line is always going to be solid, no matter which players the Cowboys lose each season:

“I think that’s everybody’s job, whether I’m coaching the kickers or the linebackers or the deep snappers. To me, as a football coach, you’re responsible for three things. No. 1 is to be loyal, to work hard and to do your very best at what you’re doing. The other thing is obviously to recruit the best players that fit your program. You’ve got to go out and recruit and fit those needs. The third thing is if you’re assigned to a position, any position — whether it be coaching or off the field, any leader — you’ve got to take pride in yourself (and say), ‘Look, you don’t have to worry about my group. You may have to worry about somebody’s else’s group.’ That’s more of a personal pride. So I think everybody aims for that. That really should be your goal, that he may worry about a lot of people, but my group’s not one of them. So I try to keep that intact.”

On becoming an attractive candidate for other jobs because of his success at OSU:

“A lot of that, to be frank, anywhere I’ve been — whether it be Larry Fedora or Todd Monken on Dana (Holgorsen) or whoever — if the program has success, everybody has a part in it. And it’s kind of a glowing program where it’s doing really well (and) where you’re a byproduct, and obviously people want that. So is it your skills or is it the program? I think it’s got a lot to do with the program.”

On Texas and other job opportunities that have come up during his time at OSU:

“(Texas’) first 27 candidates must have not accepted the job and I may have been their last resort. It’s a personal deal where you look at something and you say, ‘Is this going to better my family? Is it better for my career? Am I going to learn from it and am I going to prosper from it? Or is it just a nicer job or is it just a sexier place? Or is it best for me?’”

On leaving Illinois after such a short time and his first season at OSU:

“It didn’t go over real well with our head coach (at Illinois), Ron Zook. But we look back on it now, Ron Zook is a good friend of ours. We love him and he does a nice job.”

“Once we set our feet down, we’re kind of going, ‘(Uh-oh).’ But you know what? We were all in it together. That was our first staff. We got there for a reason and we just kept our nose to the grindstone and rolled our sleeves up and just kept going. I think (we got through it) with the help of the OSU people and the people who wanted to keep this thing going this way, and still do. It’s just amazing. With that, I think it all worked out.”

On his coaching philosophy:

“To me, it was more of a competition deal. If I have a second-team right tackle and he’s better than the first-team left guard, but he hasn’t played left guard, (the original left guard) just goes the rest of the year. The left guard may kind of be not very good. No, no, no, somebody’s got to move. Somebody has to move for competition. Because if that second-team right tackle knows he can beat out that first-team left guard, it makes somebody move.”

“You demand all the players to learn everybody’s position. And that’s not to say all of them can do it. That’s to say you demand that, and then ultimately you have a Parker Graham, you have a Lane Taylor that can flip, Levy (Adcock) could have flipped, (Daniel) Koenig can go left or right tackle.”

“It’s not that hard … I mean, gee-whiz, just get in front of somebody.”

“The best of all scenarios is to put them there and leave them, if you have the five you want and the five behind them.”

On what he’s learned at OSU:

“You don’t always have to have the stars. Before, I came from Florida and everybody spent so much tripping over each other and reaching through the supposed (stars). And you need those guys. I’m not suggesting you don’t. But you can still round up a bunch of people that like the game, that have a big-time passion. With (strength and conditioning coach Rob) Glass and his program, you can develop people that have a lot of a lot of passion for the game, and you’re going to be hard to beat. And I’ve seen that happen here. I know we’ve had some stars here, but if you really look back on it, there have been a bunch of people who were like two stars (in recruiting) or just normal walk-ons and they join in together and say, ‘Hey, by George, let’s get this thing done.’ That’s really neat to me. That’s really neat when someone says, ‘Eh, you’re not going to do it with that,’ and you say, ‘Wait a minute now. We did it against whoever you’ve got to do it against.’”

On being a part of the scheme changes on offense:

“There’s different ways to skin a cat. But it really gets back down to you really need to do what Zac Robinson can do best, you need to do what (Brandon) Weeden can do best. You need to really develop your program on who you are, recruit to it. By the end of the day, you take your personnel and (figure out) how do we get the next first down and how we do get in the end zone and how to we score points or how do we stop them (on defense)? You just kind of stay with that, and we’ve kind of evolved and it’s worked out well.”

On Mike Gundy’s tenure as offensive coordinator:

“He had his own twist and he did a nice job. Nobody talks about that. Gee-whiz, you can say what you want to, we did a nice job (the years Gundy was OC). Game plans were sound. I’s were dotted, T’s were crossed.”

On the other offensive coordinators he’s worked with:

“I love Dana. He’s nothing like Larry or Mike. He’s a good football coach and good friend. I like Dana. But, like I said, his style is different. And his style has been good. And then Todd put his twist on it. And Mike (Yurcich) will have a twist. But it really, in my opinion, goes back to a foundation set of plays, formations. Everybody’s kind of emulating with each other, and you put your twist on what you can be most effective in. And usually when you say that, that goes back to personnel. Can you throw vertical? Can you throw (play-action) pass? Well, I don’t know. Let’s do what we can do best and let’s take advantage of what they’re giving us. I think it’s always going to be evolving. I do think spread, shotgun, tempo, that’s going to be around for a while.”

On his role in the day-to-day operation of the program:

“It’s a staff deal. Coach (Jemal) Singleton will have some angles that he understands and what he likes and things from a running back standpoint. Coach (Kasey) Dunn or Coach (Jason) Ray, they’ll think some things on maybe some kind of screen or building routes and whatnot. And I’ll see some things … We don’t do the same things back when I worked with Mike. (Those) runs don’t fit now. But (I think), ‘These are some of the runs that I’ve seen and that we can do that I think, from a running game standpoint, will allow us to play pass.’ It’s all intermingled. It’s a staff deal. Personally, my job is to keep people off the quarterback and run the football and be physical and aggressive and handle the trenches up front, and then recruit people that do it. That’s every O-Line coach’s job.”

“I would be a guy that oversees the running game with Coach Singleton … and then I lend into the game plan based on what we’ve done and what we’ve looked good (at), but at the end of the day, Mike Yurcich makes the decisions that these are some calls that make the most sense to him based on the other information he’s gathered.”

On Mike Yurcich’s adjustment so far:

“He’s doing a great job, I’m not saying he was ready to call a game the first day he got here. He has to learn the players, the numbers. It would kill me. You use these words, we use these words, these are numbers, these are systems, tempos. There’s so many checks and balances that you just can’t come in there (and call the game). Now, with that in mind, he’s doing great. He’s way ahead of schedule. Secondly, some things he’s kind of tweaking with, some things that he sees that may be a little bit different—like Todd did, like Mike did, like everybody else has done—that he sees could benefit what we’re already doing is starting to show up. As a whole, he’s doing a great job. I hope he’s around for a long time, and I hope I’m around to help him for a long time.”

On the perception that a Division II coach can’t coach in Division I:

“I’m totally against that. That’s like guys saying you have to play to coach. There are too many guys out there who are really good coaches who never played a down of football. Offensively, if you ran the wishbone and coached it, (does that mean) well, then you can’t coach the spread? Maybe I’m wrong, but a ballcoach is a teacher. A coach is a coach. It’s all about getting your guys to do the right thing and I believe, to a degree, he’s a good coach and a good teacher, he can do it. Now, I don’t know about the NFL, but I’ve seen a bunch of D-II coaches. At some point in time, you’re going to go up. A lot of those guys are much clearer and they take care of their business in a better way because they’ve had to, versus maybe a guy that’s coming from (a school) with three big playmakers and (they)  just make up for (the coach). No, (D-II coaches) can’t make mistakes. They’re much more thorough in what they do and they work hard. They may be out there cutting fields and they may be doing stuff going above and beyond. So I’m not into that. I don’t think that. That’s like saying (former Cowboy) Brady Bond played (eight)-man football and now he can’t play (in college). That doesn’t do anything for me. It’s the individual, it’s his goals, it’s his qualities, it’s his skills. OK, fine, they’re bigger (in Division I), they’re faster, there’s more focus there. But it’s still 11-on-11.”

On how Mike Gundy has changed in his nine years as a head coach:

“He’s Mike Gundy. He hasn’t changed much. He’s the same guy. He’s a stickler on organization and being on time and doing things right. Players love him. He’s very, very sharp. He’ll see something on offense and (say), ‘You can do this, you can’t do that,’ and he’ll come in and explain why and he helps us out. He’s the same guy. You cannot sit there and suggest that when he’s actually in (the office), he’s in there every waking hour of the day and watching tape and grinding. He’s kind of over (the whole program) now. He’s over there with special teams and he’s working with the other guy in the hallway and he’s talking to the defense and he’s in our room and recruiting’s room. He’s the same guy.”


by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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