Glenn Spencer is officially out as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. The Georgia native had been with Oklahoma State since 2008, and served as the DC since 2013, but was let go yesterday after a rough 2017 season that saw Oklahoma State finish with the 70th defense in the S&P+ rankings, and contributed greatly to a relatively disappointing season, as many felt that OSU had a playoff caliber offense that was held back by their defense. Apparently Mike Gundy agreed, and now the Cowboys are in need of a new coach. While the Cowboys have been fairly quiet about who their targeting, the list likely contains quite a few of these names, for better or worse.
This was the big name yesterday after the initial report dropped, and seems to be the leader at this point for the job. One of the most experienced coaches on this list, VanGorder last coached defense at Notre Dame, before being fired halfway through the 2016 season. He served as an analyst for the Cowboys this season, and is very close with Mike Gundy. VanGorder isn’t a very inspiring candidate, and he struggled greatly against up-tempo teams at Notre Dame, but his connection to the program and recruiting ability may carry him to the job.
Joe Bob Clements/Tim Duffie
The defensive line and defensive backfield coaches at Oklahoma State, respectively. If they want to hire from within, it’ll likely be one of these two, but much like VanGorder, neither is super inspiring. Clements is a better bet than Duffie, but hiring from within when your defense struggled as much as they did seems like a recipe for similar results in the future, and it comes off as lazy.
While Hazelton doesn’t have a direct connection to the program, he’s an extremely talented defensive mind, and could help turn the unit around. The Craig Bohl disciple spent the past season at Wyoming, and led the Cowboys’ defense to a top ten S&P+ ranking. His resume isn’t super impressive, but Hazelton is a young (44), smart defensive mind, and might be exactly what the Pokes need.
USF defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary would not be a new face to the Big 12. He served as the linebackers coach under Charlie Strong at Texas, and played a huge part in recruiting the players that helped make Texas so strong defensively this season. Jean-Mary is relatively unproven, but his recruiting skill, and aggressive coaching style could work at OSU if they want to take a risk.
The Iowa native is likely a familiar name to many college football fans, and if you don’t know him yet, you will soon. Klieman has been the head coach at North Dakota State since 2014, and in his four seasons, the Bison have gone 54-6, and won three national titles, thanks in large part to their dominant defense. Klieman is familiar with the Big 12 (coached DBs at Kansas in 1997), and while he would be pretty pricey to hire, he’s the best option on the board.
Another option if you want to go with the FCS head coach route (which I always do), Houston has been outstanding in his time at James Madison, and has led the Dukes to an incredible 28-2 record and two national title appearances in as many years during his time at JMU. One of the fastest risers in FCS coaching, Houston doesn’t have FBS coaching experience, but he’d bring a ton of defensive coaching knowledge to Oklahoma State, and he’d be easier to get than Klieman. The only issue with Houston (or Klieman) would be the likelihood of a short tenure, with both looking to climb the coaching ladder and move on to a G5 or P5 head coaching job.