SAN DIEGO — Pat Jones spent 40 years as a football coach. Next year, Mike Gundy will reach half that total. You could combine their careers and multiply it by two, or even three, and what both men experienced while coaching at Oklahoma State is truly unique.
In 1988, Jones coached Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, first-team consensus All-American wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes and Gundy, an excellent quarterback in his own right. In 2008, Gundy coached consensus All-American wide receiver Dez Bryant, first-team FWAA All-American running back Kendall Hunter and Zac Robinson, an excellent quarterback in his own right. "You could coach two lifetimes, maybe three, and you could still maybe never have two first-team All-Americans as skill players, and then add the all-time leading passer in Big Eight history,” said Jones, who coached the Cowboys from 1979-1994, the last 11 seasons as head coach. Gundy nodded in agreement when told Jones’ thoughts. "It makes it a lot easier to draw up plays, I know that,” Gundy said with a smile. Gundy knows he was lucky to have Sanders and Dykes as teammates. Gundy also knows his good fortune in being able to coach Bryant, Hunter, Robinson and also Brandon Pettigrew, who is slated by some to be the first tight end selected in next April’s NFL Draft. "It’s a pretty amazing group,” Gundy said of the foursome that’s been dubbed The Four Aces. "It’s neat to work with them.” Next Tuesday, Oregon will see if it has a good enough hand to beat four aces as the Cowboys prepare to face the Ducks in a Holiday Bowl slated to be perhaps the highest-scoring postseason game among 34 bowls. "We’ve definitely got a lot of weapons,” Robinson said. "It’s great to be a quarterback and play with these guys as well as the guys up front. They kind of get the party started.” OSU enters the game ranked fourth in passing efficiency (174.68), seventh in rushing (256.00) and total offense (489.25), and eighth in scoring offense (41.58). Bryant is third nationally in receiving yards per game (109.42), Robinson is fourth in passing efficiency (178.01) and Hunter is sixth in rushing (126.50). "I had high expectations for all those guys,” Robinson said.