OSU football: Sean Gleeson has blue bloods on his resume, blue collar in his background
STILLWATER — Sean Gleeson is a self-proclaimed New Jersey boy.
He was born there. Raised there. He lived nearly his entire life there, the exception being his college years spent in nearby Massachusetts. Never has he lived outside the Eastern Seaboard.
Needless to say, moving to Stillwater has been a bit of an adjustment.
“I don’t have a pair of cowboy boots yet,” he said Monday with a chuckle.
On the day Oklahoma State opened spring practice — and Gleeson met with the media for the first time since being hired from Princeton to be the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator — there were reminders about how different the new guy is. His voice is different, both in dialect and verbiage. His background is different, more suit-and-tie than rough-and-tumble.
But don’t let the prep schools on Gleeson’s resume fool you.
His experience is blue blood.
His background is blue collar.
- Related to this story
- Article: OSU football journal: Mike Gundy offers pizza, beer to media after first spring practice
- Video: OSU Football - Sean Gleeson
- Video: OSU Football - Mike Gundy
- Video: OSU Football - Jim Knowles
“Hard worker,” Cowboy offensive lineman Marcus Keyes said when I asked him what stands out about Gleeson. “I’ll keep saying that until my breath goes away — he’s a hard worker.”
Gleeson comes by it honestly.
He comes from a big family, and after his mom died, his dad had to provide for all the kids. Even though Gleeson's dad is now a teacher and coach, he worked as a chef at Holiday Inn for 20 years.
“Talk about hard work,” Gleeson said as he stood inside OSU’s indoor facility. “Waking up, making eggs for people, then staying through wedding banquets late at night.”
Gleeson saw the way his dad worked, the way he did what had to be done each and every day. Gleeson took the same approach to work as he got older.
“I was a janitor for seven years between high school and college,” he said, adding that his high school football coaches found him work, even if it was a job no one else really wanted.
No job was beneath him. If his dad worked a blue-collar job, why couldn't Gleeson?
That mentality has followed him everywhere he’s been. From his first job out of college, teaching at a Catholic prep school and coaching football, baseball and bowling — yes, bowling — to his current gig taking over one of the most high-powered offenses in all of college football.
“How it manifests itself here is you get up in the morning,” he said, “and the job’s not done until all the work’s off your desk.”
Gleeson admits he’s got tons of work to do this spring. Truth be told, he might be the Cowboy who has the most to learn in these next few weeks. Cowboy coach Mike Gundy has long made it clear he intends to keep running the Air Raid until further notice. New coaches have to learn the OSU system, not the other way around.
That might turn off some hopefuls.
Why become an offensive coordinator if you can’t do your own thing?
But Gleeson didn’t shy from this opportunity.
“There’s a lot of learning going on, but it’s invited,” he said. “Why you would take a job like this framed the way it is is because you’re going to get a chance to learn.
“Coach Gundy obviously knows what the stencil is for successful football here.”
Gleeson says this spring he’s going back to a mantra he hatched when he started teaching and coaching right out of college, when everything was coming at him fast, when he was fighting to keep his head above water.
Just stay one day ahead of the kids.
Sean Gleeson learned how to do that from his dad, and it comes back to working hard, to putting in long hours, to pulling himself up by his own bootstraps.
He doesn’t need a pair of cowboy boots to understand that.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.