Baylor TCU Football

TCU interim head coach Jerry Kill instructs players from the sideline in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Baylor in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Mike Gundy has long become accustomed to running into former assistant coaches on opposing sidelines as his 17th season at his alma mater winds to a close.

But Saturday will present something new. And very different for the Oklahoma State football coach.

With TCU mutually parting ways with longtime head coach Gary Patterson two weeks ago, when Gundy holds court with the head coach on the field prior to the game – as he does every game – he will be staring into his past.

TCU gave the interim head coach title to Patterson’s assistant, Jerry Kill – who was building a budding program as head coach at Minnesota before health issues forced him away from the game in 2015.

Prior to Kill’s rise through the coaching ranks with successful head coaching stops at Emporia State in Kansas, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois before landing in Minnesota, he was an assistant coaching high school football at Midwest City. And one of the young players on the roster during Kill’s time at the prep level – before getting the defensive coordinator job at Pittsburg State in 1985 – was none other than a future Oklahoma State starting quarterback who would become the most successful head football coach at Oklahoma State.

“Well, he was my high school biology teacher, junior biology,” Gundy said this week. “… I wasn’t as good a student as I should have been. So, I was just waiting to get to 2:30 to get to football or baseball.”

However, Kill isn’t so sure about Gundy’s memory.

“I guess Mike said I taught him biology,” Kill said to the TCU media this week. “I don’t remember that, but that’s how old I am. And he shouldn’t remember it because he’s old, too. ...

“In biology, maybe I tutored him, I don’t know.”

But Kill does remember Gundy all the same.

Even though TCU’s interim head coach was in charge of the linebackers on the Midwest City squad, he remembers how hot a commodity the young gunslinger was coming out of high school.

“Of course everybody was recruiting him,” Kill said. “A lot of people don’t know how good a baseball player he was. He was a great baseball player, could’ve played baseball, but chose football, had an outstanding career at Oklahoma State and has done an outstanding job there.

“Not very many people can stay at their alma mater and do what he’s done. My hat’s off to him. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him. Great high school player.”

Kill had five head coaching positions prior to stepping away from the sport, starting at Saginaw Valley State – leaving Pittsburg State after a second stint, this time as offensive coordinator, at the FCS program in southeastern Kansas.

After he he walked away from football in the middle of the 2015 season, he returned as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers for just one year. He then stepped away for another year before returning as an assistant to the head coach at Virginia Tech in 2019 for Justin Fuente – who attended Union High School in Tulsa and played at Oklahoma.

“So, he and I had been able to stay in touch over the years, and, you know, he’s done a lot in his career, been a lot of places,” Gundy said of Kill. “But, he’s an old-school tough guy that I’ve always had a lot of respect for and what he’s been able to accomplish.

“It’s been fun to watch him bounce around in the things that he’s done, partly because of some health conditions that he’s had to change careers for a little bit. But, he’s been around a lot. Very well-respected in our profession and certainly by me, and I’m glad that good things are still happening to him.”

Kill grew up in the Wichita area, playing linebacker at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas – not far from the Oklahoma border just off of I-35. After graduating in 1982, he eventually traveled down the highway to the Oklahoma City metro area to teach and coach football.

Even as an assistant at the high school level, Gundy recalls Kill being a little different than other coaches.

“(He was a) motivator, no excuses, you know, I don’t want to hear about that, just figure out a way to get it done,” Gundy recalled. “Very traditional, old-school mentality.”

That may have been what led to the shock from the Horned Frogs on the heels of losing their head coach.

With Kill taking over for Patterson last week, TCU surprised top 15-ranked Baylor – behind freshman quarterback Chandler Morris, a transfer from Oklahoma who made his first start for the Horned Frogs and accounted for 531 yards of total offense and a trio of touchdowns against a Bears defense that was giving up less than 20 points per game this season.

“Well, he made a bunch of plays. He made athletic plays, he’d run the ball, scramble around, find guys open, throw it down the field,” Gundy said of Morris. “I mean, I thought he played very athletic for his position and he had a bunch of success.”

And the offensive coordinator calling the shots with Morris under center, is one of those many former assistants from the Gundy tree – former Oklahoma State inside receivers and tight end coach Doug Meacham, who was in Stillwater from 2005-12 where he most notably coached future NFL tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Gundy said this week he believes “90 percent” of the offense TCU ran against Baylor came from Meacham.

Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State athletics.

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