STILLWATER — It was the day after Signing Day, and Bob Connelly had arrived at his newest coaching destination.
Or so he thought.
He had just finished the 2,000-mile drive from the Phoenix area to Statesboro, Ga., where he was set to become the offensive line coach at Georgia Southern.
About a week later, he got a phone call.
Mike Gundy was on the other line, offering him the same position at Oklahoma State.
“I was obviously on pins and needles waiting to hear back,” Connelly said. “… When the call did come, boy, it was a ton of bricks falling off my shoulders.”
So count that very brief stay in Georgia as a minor pit stop for Connelly, who replaces Joe Wickline at OSU and has a journeyman resume typical of many assistant coaches that he hopes will benefit him and the Cowboys on this new adventure.
“I think, through time, they're going to develop the respect,” Connelly said, “and the appreciation for the knowledge that I can provide them through fundamentals and technique, as well as through scheme, to put the players in the best position to be successful to be on the field on Saturdays and off the field in society.”
Connelly's got stops in Texas and on the West Coast and in the SEC. He was in the middle of the infamous Mike Price saga at Alabama in 2003. Price was fired after a long, expensive night at a Florida strip club, but Connelly stayed on staff when Mike Shula came aboard. He even spent last season coaching high school football in Arizona.
Originally, though, Connelly needed some convincing to get into coaching. That first opportunity came from Eddie Vowell, who offered Connelly a graduate assistant job at Texas A&M-Commerce (then East Texas State) after his playing career.
“Obviously haven't looked back,” Connelly said.
Short tenures at Cisco Junior College (offensive line and tight ends, 1996-97), Texas A&M (graduate assistant, 1998), Cal State Northridge (offensive line and tight ends, 1999) and San Jose State (offensive line, 2000) followed.
Then, Connelly linked up at Washington State with Price, whom Connelly considers the most influential man on his career. He spent two seasons on that staff and was invited to join Price's staff when he took the Alabama job.
“Very, very instrumental in my growth professionally,” Connelly said of Price. “He's provided avenues and opportunities for me to grow under him and then obviously has given me opportunities to go and visit with other coaches and other staffs …
“He's like a father to me. Just a great, great, great friend, great man, great football coach.”
Also on that Wazzu staff? Current OSU receivers coach Kasey Dunn. That relationship would come in handy for Connelly about a decade later.
Price's mishap led to his firing before ever coaching a game for Alabama. The entire offensive staff was let go, as well.
That is, everyone but Connelly.
Connelly spent four years on Shula's staff, where he learned the pro-style offense. The Crimson Tide ran a multitude of protections and run schemes, from formations with one running back and four wide receivers to looks with two running backs and two or three tight ends.
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