The controversial firing of former defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was a hard decision for Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
But, he said that the move could end up helping Spencer in the long run.
“I really believe that this is gonna be somewhat of a blessing for Glenn,” Gundy told The Athletic’s Jason Kersey (pay wall, but well worth it.) “This league offensively can beat you up. You can get in this league and be a pretty good defensive coach, and every Sunday you’re sitting there thinking, ‘They just waxed me.’ The quarterback play in this league is terrific. The coaches aren’t scared to take tons of chances.
“He was in a tough situation. We’ve been very fortunate here that we’ve been very good on offense. Defense was always the red-headed stepchild. I think he needs a breath of fresh air. He’ll move his way back up. He finished second on three head coaching jobs over the last three years, and he’ll probably end up being a head coach again.”
Gundy described how hard it was to let Spencer go after 10 seasons on his staff.
“It is by far the most difficult thing to do, especially with hardworking, loyal guys who love Oklahoma State,” Gundy told Kersey. “You have families involved, moving, changing schools.
“Glenn and I were in Bible studies every Wednesday morning. We spent that time together. He’s a first-class guy. Loyal. Great family. Great kids. His wife died here. The kids were raised in this community. But Glenn understands that this is the way the business is. It’s just not easy. But my job is to do what’s best for the 200 people in this organization.”
Oklahoma State defensive numbers kept sliding
Gundy fired the 52-year-old Spencer after the Cowboys’ defense regressed in recent seasons. It bottomed out in 2017 when the Cowboys finished 79th in total defense, 116th in passing yards allowed, 85th in scoring defense and 68th in defensive third-down conversion percentage.
The Cowboys allowed at least 34 points in six games last season, including four consecutive games late in the season when they were blistered for an average of 47 points per game. Oklahoma State went 2-2 during that stretch, including losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State that ultimately cost them a shot at playing in the Big 12 title game.
Gundy hired Jim Knowles from David Cutcliffe’s staff at Duke to replace Spencer, who had been Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator for five seasons. Earlier, he served two seasons as a co-defensive coordinator.
Spencer was hired several weeks later at Conference USA team Charlotte.