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Cowboys can attract quality coach, Phillips says

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ The next football coach at Oklahoma State may or may not have ties to the university, but ideally will be someone who has already been a head coach.

Athletic director Terry Don Phillips, speaking generally about his choice, said Monday he is confident the Cowboys can attract a quality coach to follow Bob Simmons, who is being replaced effective at the end of this season.

``I do believe that we will have strong interest in this job,'' Phillips said.

He said improved facilities, competitive salaries and a solid group of returning players should make the job attractive.

``The question is, can we attract a coach? We've got tangible evidence that we are mighty serious about this program and we intend to compete,'' Phillips said.

Work is scheduled to be completed in the coming months on a $54 million athletic center that includes new coaches offices, a 30,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility and an academic center.

The process of choosing a new coach will begin immediately. Phillips said he hoped to be able to make an announcement shortly after the Cowboys' final game, which is Nov. 25 against Oklahoma.

The university has hired consultant Chuck Neinas, former commissioner of the Big Eight Conference, to help with the selection process.

Phillips said that because of the job Simmons has done, and given the improvements Oklahoma State has made in its facilities, ``I believe we're going to be extremely competitive for people out there that may be willing to make a move.''

The list of potential candidates speculated upon in the media includes Les Miles, who was offensive coordinator during the Cowboys' 8-4 season of 1997; Western Michigan coach Gary Darnell, an Oklahoma State alum; East Carolina coach Steve Logan and former OSU quarterback Mike Gundy, now an assistant at Maryland.

Phillips said it would be nice, but not a prerequisite, if the new coach had ties to the school and therefore understood the history and ``culture'' of the program.

He said he will look for a proven and successful coach who will be able to get Oklahoma State fans excited about the direction of the program.

``I believe with every fiber of my being that we can have a program that we can be very, very proud of and that can be a consistent winner,'' he said.
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