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OSU football: Cowboys have top offensive coordinator candidate already on campus

Oklahoma State wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn should be at the top of the list of candidates to be the Cowboys' next offensive coordinator. In addition to his track record developing receivers, he has more experience in OSU's offensive system than anyone other than Mike Gundy. [OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Oklahoma State wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn should be at the top of the list of candidates to be the Cowboys' next offensive coordinator. In addition to his track record developing receivers, he has more experience in OSU's offensive system than anyone other than Mike Gundy. [OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

If history tells us anything, Oklahoma State is still a couple weeks away from naming a new offensive coordinator.

Cowboy coach Mike Gundy waited until the first week of February before choosing Mike Yurcich the last time the job was vacant. The trail boss was in no rush then, and with the new Early Signing Day having already locked down the next class of Cowboys, you'd think the urgency would be even less now.

But if Gundy wants to make a hire, he could do it today. Could even hand deliver the contract to the new coordinator's house if he wanted.

The best candidate already lives in Stillwater.

Kasey Dunn should be the top option.

And I say that as a huge fan of Josh Henson. The OSU offensive line coach is a born-and-bred Oklahoman, a Cowboy alum and a former offensive coordinator who spent three seasons in that role at Missouri.

He is bright. He is talented. He would be fantastic.

But the exact same things could be said of Dunn.

And he has something no other candidate does — eight years in this system.

Dunn has been at OSU since 2011, making him the longest tenured Cowboy assistant currently on staff. Arriving the season after Dana Holgorsen rolled through Stillwater and installed the Air Raid, Dunn learned alongside Todd Monken, also hired in 2011 to coordinate the offense.

A couple years later when Monken left to be the head coach at Southern Miss, Dunn was one of the people who helped teach the offense to Yurcich.

Dunn knows this offense as well as anyone.

If Gundy wants consistency — and he's indicated he does — no one would offer more than Dunn.

"It's not like we're searching for answers," he once told me when talking about the success of this offensive scheme. "There's a couple ups and downs and hiccups here and there, but for the most part, we've been consistent."

Frankly, one of the biggest components of that consistency has been Dunn's receivers. He has become wide receiver whisperer, though James Washington joked a year or so ago that Dunn did it with lots of yelling.

Whatever the methodology, Dunn has turned wideout into this program's most consistent yet most dynamic position. We've seen amazing things from the likes of Justin Blackmon and and James Washington and Tylan Wallace, but we've also seen a group that often runs deeper than an oil patch in Oklahoma.

Think about this past season. OSU lost one receiver to transfer and four others to injuries that kept them out all season or for an extended period. That's five receivers who would've contributed, but the Cowboy catchers didn't miss a beat.

That goes back to how Dunn recruits, then develops players.

Sure would be fascinating to see how those skills might percolate around the entire offense if Dunn was the coordinator.

Moving a receivers coach into that role would be somewhat unorthodox. Quarterback coaches most often get promoted to offensive coordinator because of how central the quarterback is to every offense.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Neither team in the national championship game this past season, for example, had offensive coordinators who coached their quarterbacks. Not Clemson. Not Alabama.

Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott shared coordinator duties at Clemson while Scott oversaw receivers and Elliott oversaw running backs. Near as anyone could tell, neither the Tiger offense nor quarterback phenom Trevor Lawrence were hampered by the set-up.

Elliott won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant in 2017.

The winner in 2018?

Mike Locksley, the offensive coordination at Alabama. He was the Crimson Tide's wide receiver's coach, too, and he had an offense that was second only to Oklahoma's prolific and historic offense.

Locksley is now the head coach at Maryland.

These days, first-time head coaches are most often hired from coordinator jobs. Offensive or defensive, doesn't matter, but if a program hires a rookie head coach, he will likely have been a coordinator.

Dunn wants to be a head coach. He said as much almost two decades ago when he was promoted to assistant head coach at Washington state.

"This will help me to be a head coach down the road," he said at the time. "Being a head coach is a goal for the future."

Dunn, who will turn 50 later this year, could take a step toward that goal by becoming OSU's offensive coordinator.

Not that Mike Gundy should be swayed by that. Sure, it'd be nice to give a longtime assistant a boost toward a longtime dream. And even though Dunn is happy in his current gig, he might look to leave if he believes he'll never get a shot at advancing. But still, benevolence and fear shouldn't be guiding principles in hiring the next offensive coordinator.

Continuity should be.

Ditto for excellence and smarts, expertise and skill, adaptability and creativity.

Kasey Dunn checks every box.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›