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Fans have no shortage of opinions on OSU coach

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State student Mark Humphrey looked up from his heaping plate of cheese fries at campus favorite Eskimo Joe's and was glad to see OSU coach Bob Simmons announcing he would leave the football program at the end of the season.

``I think it's time he left,'' Humphrey, a sophomore from Midwest City, said Monday. ``He's not going to get any more recruits and everyone's been wanting him to go. It's probably best he leaves now before he drags it (football program) down any further.''

While players were kept away from the media in the hours surrounding Simmons' announcement, fans and students had no shortage of opinions about the embattled head coach.

Among the complaints: Simmons didn't give his players the proper discipline. He attracted talent, but couldn't develop it. His offense was unimaginative and stagnant. He started his son, Nathan, at running back last season when he should have been playing others.

But most felt Simmons' undoing was his failure to deliver in the all-important ``win'' column.

``I think his record speaks for itself,'' said OSU student Ryan Williams, citing what will be three straight losing seasons under Simmons. ``If you're not a winner, there needs to be a change.''

Williams said Simmons' departure has been the talk of campus since he came to the school a year ago.

Many on campus said the magic never materialized in a program that showed a glint of promise in 1997 when OSU was 8-4 and went to the Alamo Bowl. The Cowboys have lost their past six games to guarantee another losing record this season.

``The (football) season's pretty much over now,'' said student Brian Gaddis, shuffling by an empty Lewis Field on a gray Monday afternoon. ``Everybody's looking forward to basketball season.''

OSU sophomore Pete Coser said the team needs to find a seasoned coach who can bring a winning attitude to the OSU football program, just as Eddie Sutton did to the school's basketball program a decade ago.

While many fans said they expected big changes at OSU to be several seasons off, others were more optimistic.

``Most people on this campus are getting restless with these losing seasons,'' Coser said. ``We'll be excited to see what happens next season.''

Half an hour before Simmons' announcement, OSU football players clad in sweatsuits and orange-and-black workout clothes filed into the team's offices.

``I'm just guessing it's a normal team meeting,'' kicker Seth Condley said before entering a hallway filled with teammates.

Minutes later, Simmons apparently told the players about his decision.

Players weren't allowed to speak to the media about the development until Monday evening, but it was the talk of Stillwater from the time the unusual afternoon press conference was announced Monday morning.

Greg James, a waiter at Eskimo Joe's and OSU graduate, said Simmons should have been dismissed at the end of last year's 5-6 season. Nonetheless, he said Simmons was a classy representative for the school.

Others described him as a moral leader and a coach who brought the team off its nadir when the Cowboys won just 10 games from 1991-1994.

Despite the imminent end of Simmons' reign, some students said it was not too late for him to make a positive lasting mark at OSU. They said a win in the Cowboys' last game of the season against No. 1 Oklahoma on Nov. 25 would give the coach a proper sendoff.

``If we beat OU, it's all forgiven,'' said Oklahoma State senior Gordon Gray. ``I'm glad we'll get to take a shot against them. If we could spoil their season that would be fantastic.''

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