Gleeson at Oklahoma State another Williams College football branch on coaching tree


Williams College is considered by many to be the best Liberal Arts college in the United States. It's not, however, considered a cradle of football coaches.

But if you ask former Williams quarterback Sean Gleeson about it, the newest assistant coach on the staff at Division I Oklahoma State said that it was his time at Williams — and not just on the grass at Weston Field — that helped prepare him for college coaching.

"I think there's something in being taught really well," Gleeson said. "I know that people, after Williams, don't all go into teaching. But the idea that they can teach you to read, write and think, and that you model the behavior of your great professors and coaches at Williams, I'm a teacher of football. ... I think some of that ability to teach people comes from Williams. It just happens that when you combine a background in being able to communicate and teach people with a love for football, it marries itself very well with coaching.

"I owe so much to the coaches I had: coach [Dick] Farley, coach [Mike] Whalen ... coach [James] Perry and all the guys who coached me up there," Gleeson said. "I'm just trying to pay it forward a little bit."

Gleeson, who graduated from Williams in 2007 and helped quarterback the Ephs to a perfect 8-0 season in 2006, is at Oklahoma State's training camp, as he and head coach Mike Gundy help prepare the Cowboys for the fall season.

Gleeson arrived in Stillwater after spending the previous six years at Divison I-FCS Princeton. He was the running backs coach and special teams coordinator from 2013-16 and was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Perry, who was Gleeson's offensive coordinator at Williams, left the OC post at Princeton to become the head coach at Bryant. Perry is now at Brown, his alma mater.

"He comes with expertise in quarterback play," Gundy said in a release when Gleeson was hired. "Both his offenses the last two years have dominated the Ivy League and have produced two different quarterbacks who were named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year."

At Princeton, Gleeson led an offense that averaged 47 points per game in Division I-FCS, and ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense, averaging nearly 537 yards per game.

"We went 10-0 at Princeton last year, won the Ivy League title, were the first undefeated team since 1964," he said. "When you have that on your resume, whether it's 1-AA schools or FCS schools, at least it's a little intriguing to find out what was behind it."

Prior to that, Gleeson was the offensive coordinator at Fairleigh Dickinson and was a teacher and coach at the Delbarton School in New Jersey. Coincidentally, that school was where current Boston College offensive coordinator, and former Williams quarterback, Mike Bajakian got his start.

"We had two really good years, and a lot of that is a credit to Bob Surace and James Perry, who built the foundation that I was a part of at Princeton," said Gleeson. "I had the great benefit of having their mentorship and using some of the resources that James left behind at quarterback to kind of flower some production in '17 and '18."

Gleeson replaced Mike Yurcich on the Oklahoma State staff. Yurcich was hired by Gundy in 2013 out of Division II Shippensburg (Pa.) University, where in two years, he helped guide Shippensburg to rewrite the offensive record books at the school.

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Gleeson said that while it might be a little unusual to go from the Ivy League to the Big 12, he said that Gundy isn't the least bit afraid to go a little bit off the beaten path to find assistant coaches.

"We went 10-0 at Princeton last year, won the Ivy League title, were the first undefeated team since 1964," he said. "When you have that on your resume, whether it's 1-AA schools or FCS schools, at least it's a little intriguing to find out what was behind it."

Oklahoma State opens its 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 30, when it plays at Oregon State in a nationally televised game (FS1). The Cowboys return home a week later to host Division I-FCS McNeese State.

"Dick Farley always used to say that when you're a player, you actually get a chance to do something about the nerves, but when you're a coach, it's like the stuff that usually settles in the middle of your esophagus," Gleeson said if he'll be nervous come Aug. 30. "I think that you're not really worth a lick as a coach if you don't get all of those great game-day feelings. I welcome those actually. I think it's a part of the whole thing, keeps you on your toes and makes you accountable for your actions on game day.

"I'm not nervous at all, but I have some sort of anticipation and excitement for that. I've been looking forward to it for a long time."

Gundy and, by extension, Gleeson, have been busy this summer trying to figure out who will replace Taylor Cornelius at quarterback. Cornelius signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers.

There are four quarterbacks in the room with Gleeson, and the battle for the starting position has seemingly fallen to redshirt senior Dru Brown or redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders. Brown came to OSU from the University of Hawaii. That's the same Dru Brown who, in the 2017 season opener, was 25 of 38 for 391 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-35 comeback win over Massachusetts in Amherst.

"Sean is an interesting person. He's a really nice guy and all that, but he's got a little bit of a dog fight in him," Gundy said of his new offensive coordinator, and the job of picking a quarterback. "He wants those guys to really compete, and I was unaware of that. I just listen to him when he's coaching. It's his job. It's his position. He has to do whatever he thinks is best to get the most out of those two guys."

It has been a bit of an adjustment to Oklahoma for Gleeson, wife Lauren and sons Eamon and Patrick. Gleeson grew up and play high school sports in Glen Ridge, N.J., spent a post-graduate year at Trinity-Pawling in New York and then four years at Williams, where he played football and baseball. The first 11 years of his career were spent coaching football in New Jersey. So it would be fair to say that Stillwater has been quite a change for him and his family.

"It's actually a little reminiscent of Williamstown. I remember being a young kid at Trinity-Pawling School which was somewhat rural and just over the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. There was some farmland that surrounded that school," Gleeson. "I remember taking a ride up Route 22 with my dad to see Williams, Coach Farley taking us around in his car. We had a tremendous tour. But the thing I noticed was the country, the cows and the mountains. It's that way in Stillwater as well.

"There's Oklahoma City and Tulsa sandwiching us a little bit from the south and the northeast. But there's not too much around here other than really, really nice people and a tremendous countryside."

Howard Herman can be reached at, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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