Curious reporters were asking Sean Gleeson about his move from Princeton and the Ivy League to Oklahoma State and Power 5 football last month, when Gleeson said: “To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of transition questions. It’s time to coach football. That’s what I was hired here for.”
I have been thinking about that assertion since then, as OSU’s quarterback race between Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown has moved from preseason camp right into game week. The two have been inseparable, Cowboys coaches and players insist.
At any rate, one or both will play Friday night at Oregon State. It will be either’s first OSU experience, unless you count Brown’s single Liberty Bowl snap in December while Taylor Cornelius reattached his helmet.
That turns the focus back on Gleeson, the quarterback coach and play-caller. You heard him at the top of the column. It is his job to prepare the position. That magnifies when he is still busy preparing two.
We all thought Gleeson would be focused on one by now. Apparently not. Now OSU fans hear the old saying, “When you say you’ve got two quarterbacks, you really don’t have any,” and they worry.
They don’t have to. Instead, they can rely on Gleeson to, again, do his job.
That’s what Mike Gundy has chosen to do.
Asked the other day about Gleeson’s role in all of this, the Cowboys’ stable boss said: “It’s pretty clear-cut. All of that was (determined) during the summer. The reps and scripts were done before June.”
Gleeson has been at this longer than the four weeks of camp, in other words. He got a pretty good jump on the situation.
Also encouraging: He got a pretty good jump on his new job, it sounds like.
“It looks like to me he’s a little further ahead than Mike (Yurcich, Gleeson’s predecessor) just from an adjustment standpoint,” Gundy said at the beginning of camp. “Princeton is a little bit more of a step up than Shippensburg (Yurcich’s school prior to OSU), so I would say that maybe it’s a little easier. He’s a pretty outgoing, highly intelligent guy and he’s a great communicator. I see him kind of fitting in. And he’s confident in his abilities. He’s going to do what he wants to do. I don’t mess with him.”
If Gundy, who knows a thing or two about offensive football, professes faith in Gleeson, perhaps we all should. Perhaps we should refer back to the fact that Gleeson played more than one quarterback at Princeton, and that he didn’t do it to be, in his word, “gimmicky.”
“It wasn’t something where we were trying to fool people,” he said last month. “It was because we had quarterbacks who were talented and worked their tail off and deserved an opportunity to get on the field, just as if we were playing two tight ends at the same time.”
I know, I know. It’s one thing to pull this off against Harvard and another to do so against Texas. It’s one thing to divide practice snaps and tinker with game plans on the basis of multiple quarterbacks in the Ivy, and another to do so in the Big 12.
It’s also worth pointing out that Gleeson doesn’t seem particularly concerned about where he has been, same as he doesn’t sweat the line of OSU coordinators before him.
“I’m not too worried about the guys that had the job, the pressure and things like that,” he said earlier this summer. “I’ve got enough internal motivation to want to make this thing great. That’s what really motivates me, trying to get some of these guys with one year left to maximize their opportunity here and have some success.”
Brown has one year left. Gleeson wants it to be memorable if he’s the guy. It’s no different if Sanders, the redshirt freshman, starts.
Fans anxious about the quarterback want to know who or even how many. The coach is more interested in what.
Something else Gleeson said: “The quarterback thing, which everyone’s asking about — I want this to be the place where the best quarterback in the country sits. We won games at Princeton with that model. There’s a guy at New England right now who’s a pretty darn good quarterback, who wins a lot of games because his play is better than everyone else’s. That’s where we want to go.”
In this case, the quarterback coach has as big a role in getting the team there as the quarterback(s).