Let the speculation begin. Now that Glenn Spencer is officially out as defensive coordinator in Stillwater, the question is now: who’s next?
Gundy is certainly not afraid to think outside the box, as he did with the hiring of his offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich from Division II Shippensburg in 2013. But does he have the audacity to make that move on the other side of the ball? To be clear, we don’t know what Mike Gundy is going to do, but here are a few thoughts on who he should consider.
Joe Bob Clements, Oklahoma State defensive line coach
Clements has done a great job as the defensive line coach and on the recruiting trail. He’s a fan favorite as well and has ties to Bill Snyder. Clements has been on the staff since 2013 and each of Clements’ first four seasons in Stillwater have produced a team tackles for loss total that ranks among the top 10 single-season marks in school history. That being said, is this splashy? And what exactly would change under Clements compared to how things were under Spencer? Plus, he’s never been a coordinator at any level.
Kevin Kane, Northern Illinois defensive coordinator
The Huskies finished the season just outside the Top 10 in the country in yards per play allowed this past season. Kane is a young guy with Big 12 ties. He played at Kansas from 2002 to 2005 and is a Kansas City native. He spent time coaching at KU, Wisconsin, NIU and then Kansas again, before returning to NIU to be the defensive coordinator in 2016. Kane’s defense got plenty of recognition after the Huskies upset Nebraska this season 21-17. In this interesting piece in the Chicago Tribune, Kane talks about how he got one of their best defenders to move from running back to linebacker. That’s the kind of outside the box thinking Mike Gundy likes. Also, Kane just turned 34 years old. At some point, this guy will be coaching at the Power 5 level.
Vic Koenning, Troy defensive coordinator
Koenning has quietly built the Trojans into one of the better defenses in the country, which also helped lead to one of the bigger upsets this season when Troy beat LSU 24-21. Koenning also has Big 12 ties, but he’s no spring chicken, having graduated Kansas State in 1983. In 2016, the Trojans defense finished second nationally in passes intercepted and fourth in turnovers forced. For what it’s worth, Troy went up against a Big 12-style offense of Seth Litrell’s at North Texas in their bowl game and won 50-30. Troy was missing two starters in the secondary and Koenning’s defense still held the Mean Green, an offense that had scored at least 40 points six times this season, to 30 points.
Karl Dunbar, Alabama defensive line coach
Why not pluck off the Nick Saban coaching tree? Especially as this team has produced some of the best defensive linemen in the country in recent years. Dunbar is mostly an SEC (and NFL) guy for the majority of his career, but he did spent time at Oklahoma State from 2002-2003, when Gundy was the team’s associate head coach/offensive coordinator. Plus, having a guy who could go into SEC country and try and recruit some of the big boys on the defensive line to come to Stillwater, which Oklahoma State has never really had, would be a nice perk. He’s currently making about $300,000 (based on the latest numbers I could find), so this would still be a nice promotion and raise.
Mark Maciejewski, Shippensburg head coach
Tongue-in-cheek? Who the hell knows with Mike Gundy. He’s already gone to Shippensburg for his offensive coordinator, so why not look there for his defensive coordinator? Shippensburg has had one of the best defenses in the country at the Division II level and Maciejewski is a defensive guy who also coaches the defensive backs. SU has totaled 182 sacks over the last six years under Maciejewski, an average of 30.3 sacks per season. But he is coaching at his alma mater, so maybe he will be too hard to pry away? I have no idea.
Once again, please take all of these with a grain of salt, but after some research, these are some of the best names out there that Gundy might want to take a closer look at. But knowing Gundy, he will shock us all with this hire.