Oklahoma State dealing with uncertainty


Oklahoma State dealing with uncertainty

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) The departure of Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator and buzz about the Cowboys' defensive coordinator and head coach haven't distracted the team from its preparations to play Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1.

The Cowboys (7-5) will be without Todd Monken, who left as offensive coordinator to become the head coach at Southern Mississippi. But Monken might not be the only coordinator coach Mike Gundy will have to replace. Defensive coordinator Bill Young - a coaching veteran of 45 years - has said he doesn't know how much longer he plans to coach, although he talked Thursday about recruiting and next season as if he will be back.

Gundy also was mentioned in connection with openings at Tennessee and Arkansas before opting to remain at his alma mater.

``We understand that coaches have to do what is best,'' starting quarterback Clint Chelf said. ``When you win games that can happen. People come talk to your coaches. We all know we have another game left. For us, as players, you have to go out and keep practicing, keep performing and hope the team wins.''

Replacing coordinators has become commonplace during Gundy's eight seasons. Three of them - Larry Fedora and Dana Holgorsen on offense and Tim Beckman on defense - went on to head coaching jobs before Monken did so.

Gundy and his other offensive assistants - a group that includes wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn, inside receivers coach Doug Meacham, running backs coach Jemal Singleton and offensive line coach Joe Wickline - will call plays against Purdue (6-6), although Gundy didn't specify Thursday who will have the final say.

Gundy did say he's been involved more in offensive coaching meetings this month than he's been since giving up play-calling duties with Holgorsen's arrival before the 2010 season.

``We've got a plan that we'll have completed by Sunday,'' Gundy said. ``We'll have it broken down based on position on the field. We'll make a play call. There will be conversations that go on between coaches on the headphones. The quarterback has to make that determination when we give him the play.''

Gundy also said he hasn't started the process of replacing Monken, because it would be unfair to the Cowboys' seniors for him to not devote his full attention to bowl preparations.

The buzz around the coaching staff doesn't seem to faze the players much.

``It's not too big of a distraction,'' defensive lineman Cooper Bassett said. ``We know it's a business. We came here, I came here to Oklahoma State and I signed my letter of intent for Oklahoma State University, not to coach Gundy.

``Since I've been here, we've started out with a different defensive coordinator. Coach Young is our second defensive coordinator. Since I've been here, we've had three offensive coordinators. It's part of it. It's part of the business of college football and the reason that happens is because we've had success.''

Young missed the first two games of the season because of medical treatment for an aneurysm between his eyes. He has said that the health issue made him rethink his future, although he sounded Thursday like someone ready for another season of coaching.

``All I'm thinking about is this next ball game,'' Young said. ``I really am. Retirement is not in the picture for me right now.

``I certainly haven't been talking about it. People have asked me the question and I've answered it the best I could. I don't want to be a distraction. I love these players. I want to get out here and coach this ball game and do the best we can and then get on to recruiting.''

Gundy said he has ``had very little conversation'' with Young about the issue.

``I think he's at a point in his life that he's probably is going to make a decision on what path you take,'' Gundy said. ``At some point, you get to where you want to think about what you want to do for the next 10 or 20 years of your life. I think it's really that simple.''

The Cowboys' opponent in the Heart of Dallas Bowl also is dealing with coaching issues. Purdue fired Danny Hope earlier this month and appointed receivers coach Patrick Higgins as the interim head coach for the bowl game. Purdue already has named Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell as the Boilermakers' new head coach.

Gundy said preparing to play a team going through a head coaching change can be difficult.

``I'm not so sure who has the advantage,'' Gundy said. ``When you lose a coordinator like we have, I lost a quarterback coach, an organizer on offense and a play-caller. I don't know what their situation is. I don't know how many of their coaches are still coaching or how many have gotten jobs. I haven't kept up with that. I'm not a fan of either situation.''

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.


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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.