STILLWATER — Mike Gundy's coaching tree has grown another branch, with news surfacing Saturday that inside receivers coach Doug Meacham was departing Oklahoma State to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Houston.
He's just the latest assistant to use OSU as a step on the way up the coaching ladder.
Two years ago, Dana Holgorsen left Stillwater after one season as the offensive coordinator to become the head-coach-in-waiting — and quickly the head coach — at West Virginia.
Last year, longtime OSU assistant and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest took the defensive coordinator job on Holgorsen's staff in Morgantown. Additionally, former Cowboy coordinators Larry Fedora and Tim Beckman each made their next jump, becoming the head coach at North Carolina and Illinois, respectively.
And last month, Todd Monken became the latest Cowboy offensive coordinator to be hired as a head coach, taking that position at Southern Miss.
The common theme with OSU's staff is the same as the national trend — offensive coaches have much more opportunity to move up faster.
Become the OSU offensive coordinator, and a head coaching offer will come soon. Spend time as a position coach in this Air Raid spread system, and get a chance to coordinate an offense at a school that has been traditionally prolific on that side of the ball.
“(Defense) doesn't generate as much interest to where guys get fired up,” Gundy said earlier this season when talking about this subject. “Somebody's got to pay the bills. They want guys who are going to be flashy.”
Beckman is the exception. And, to a certain extent, so is DeForest, who has since been demoted to West Virginia's co-defensive coordinator after a rough first season in Morgantown, where the Mountaineers ranked near the bottom of the nation in total defense and scoring defense.
What does the Meacham move mean, specifically?
Clearly, Meacham wanted to be an offensive coordinator, and wasn't going to get that opportunity at OSU. His situation is much like that of DeForest, who was passed over twice for the Cowboys' defensive coordinator position when Gundy hired Beckman and Bill Young.
Gundy said on Tim Brando's show on Yahoo! Sports Radio last week that he would likely wait until the NFL coaching carousel slowed down before hiring a new offensive coordinator.
Maybe he'll find someone from the pro ranks, like Monken. Or maybe he'll go with a guy with college experience in the spread, perhaps a young gun like East Carolina's Lincoln Riley.
Maybe the new offensive coordinator will bring his own assistant — someone who already knows tendencies and coaching style — to fill Meacham's role. Or maybe those hires will be made independently.
Sure, Gundy wants staff continuity from year to year. But he also recognizes the additional coaching tree branches are a good thing. It's a sign he's built a successful, consistent program.
Especially one with a potent offense that continues to roll, and creates attractive coaching candidates.