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Bob Simmons resigns as head coach at Oklahoma State

Updated:
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Bob Simmons has done plenty of things well during his six years at Oklahoma State. What he didn't do well enough, or consistently enough, was win games, and it cost him his job.

Simmons announced Monday that he is resigning effective after this season. He is 29-36 with three games to go, and the Cowboys are in the midst of their third straight losing season and fifth under Simmons.

``He has significantly improved this football program,'' said athletic director Terry Don Phillips. ``The issue really becomes one of confidence that people have in our program.''

That confidence soared in 1997, Simmons' third year, when the Cowboys went 8-4 and played in a bowl game for the first time since 1988. But it has waned since _ Oklahoma State will have to sweep its remaining games to equal the 5-6 records of the past two years.

``I do this so the university can go about rebuilding the program,'' Simmons said. ``Any time a coach leaves a program, it comes down to the `W' _ the wins and losses.''

Simmons' voice wavered during his opening remarks and his wife, Linda, then joined him at the podium and stayed there during the remainder of the news conference. It was in March 1998 that Linda Simmons donated a kidney to her husband, who has been in good health since then.

``This is a very difficult time,'' said Phillips, who also choked up a few times. ``Coach Simmons has brought a great deal of dignity, a great deal of class, a great amount of hope to Oklahoma State football.''

Simmons took over a team that hadn't won more than four games in the six years before he arrived. The Cowboys went 4-8 his first year, then 5-6, then broke through with the eight-win season in 1997, which included victories over Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State was within a couple of plays of a winning season in 1998, taking Nebraska and Texas to the wire. An early injury to quarterback Tony Lindsay hampered the Cowboys last year, and the same happened this year.

``Winning is one of those things that people who support the program expect us to do,'' Phillips said. ``I don't think any of us is ashamed to admit that's why we play and that's why we compete. Unfortunately, there's a bottom line you get to somewhere.''

Players made available for interviews after practice said they weren't surprised by the news, since speculation had been swirling in recent weeks.

``The thing about it is, you don't produce wins and somebody's got to take the fall, and usually the head man is the guy who has to take the fall,'' said senior defensive tackle Zac Akin. ``It's a little disheartening.''

Simmons said the Cowboys have shown during his tenure that they could win big games. ``What we need to be is consistent at that,'' he said.

He told his players of the decision prior to his afternoon news conference. ``That was tough,'' he said in a halting voice.

``I asked them to go forward and very much be a part of the future of this program, the successes that they are going to have,'' he said. ``I encouraged them to stick around. I encouraged them to recruit and to build.''

Simmons said he wanted to continue coaching.

``I think I've done it the right way, the way they wanted me to do it,'' he said of his time at Oklahoma State. ``I gave it my best shot.''

Oklahoma State, inconsistent all season, finally put together four good quarters in its 21-16 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday. Phillips said that performance showed that there is talent and potential within the program.

Phillips, who is pushing for an $80 million renovation of the football stadium, said he and Simmons talked before this season about the importance of winning and becoming more consistent. The decision to make a change was formalized during talks Sunday afternoon, he said.

``People have to have confidence in the program, and I don't think anyone would deny that that's been diminished over the last two to three seasons,'' Phillips said. ``That's unfortunate, but that's the lane that we run in. That's how society looks at things, and that's what we have to deal with.''

Phillips said he would like to have a new coach in place shortly after the end of the season. He said he believes the school can attract someone who is a proven coach.

Simmons has five years remaining on a contract that pays a base salary of $140,000 per year. Phillips said he would meet with Simmons and his attorney to work out a settlement.
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