Oklahoma State's post-Signing Day press conference Thursday was also coach Mike Gundy's first media availability since the Cotton Bowl.
Which means it was the first time he could be asked about the departure of former offensive line coach Joe Wickline, who left OSU after nine seasons to take the offensive coordinator job at Texas.
“Joe and I had a great relationship here … very instrumental in what we accomplished here,” Gundy said. “Joe has to speak for himself, but he made a decision based on his career and where he was at in his age and his life.
“Sometimes when you're at a place as long as he (was) — 10 years, give or take — guys move on. We had a great relationship, and I'm very thankful for what he did for us the time he was here.”
When asked if Gundy ever considered Wickline for the Cowboys' offensive coordinator post when it came open multiple times during Wickline's tenure, Gundy did not directly answer the question.
Instead, he used that as a chance to describe the “delicate issue” of managing a staff, even admitting that many coaches have “big egos.”
“There's guys now on our staff that could be coordinators,” Gundy said. “But I have to determine what I think is best for Oklahoma State football, for whatever reasons. It's not as easy as just moving a guy into that spot …
“The management of a staff of men who are all good enough and they're all qualified and they all have personal goals, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult things to do as a head coach. To keep the right people, the quality of people and the chain of command in order to have success (is a challenge). And it's never perfect.”
Gundy noted that Wickline's Stillwater home is near Gundy's. So Gundy hopes they can have a discussion soon, now that Signing Day has passed.
“For the most part, it's all water under the bridge, anyway,” Gundy said. “But I will take time to thank him for what he's accomplished here. We came in, just, with not a whole lot and have grown to a lot now. And he's been a part of that.”
Gundy said he hopes to hire a new offensive line coach in the next few days, noting that he spent part of Signing Day on that search process.
GUNDY ADMITS TO BEING ‘OUT-COACHED' DOWN STRETCH
Almost in passing, Gundy made a key admission Thursday.
While addressing the talent the Cowboys have built up in past recruiting classes, he added that his staff got “out-coached” down the stretch of a 2013 season that ended with two heartbreaking losses to Oklahoma and Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.
“The teams here have been able to compete for a conference championship basically every year,” Gundy said. “This year we failed to do a good job of coaching. We got out-coached at the end of the year …
“This class, (combined) with the last class, should keep us on track to be talented enough, if we do our job as coaches, to compete for a conference championship each year.”
TIGHT END FRAZIER GIVES COWBOYS ‘EXTRA OPTION'
Gundy is trying to stay ahead in the offense-defense chess match.
He feels Big 12 defenses have improved against the spread offenses they see practically on a week-to-week basis in the conference.
To counter, Gundy hopes the Cowboys can reintroduce the tight end as a true threat in the passing game, as evidenced by the signing of Jordan Frazier from Springfield (Mo.) Lighthouse Christian Academy.