STILLWATER, OKLA. Patience may be a virtue, but it's not one of Pat Jones' virtues.
"If I want something, I want it yesterday," Oklahoma State's football coach told the Big Eight Skywriters on Tuesday. "I tend to be kind of a grab-it-and-shake-it guy. If it ain't working, I'm going to grab it and shake it."
After back-to-back 4-7 seasons, OSU went 0-10-1 in 1991, and by golly if Jones didn't pick that sucker up and rattle the livin' tar out of it.
First he put beneath him the NCAA sanctions that had dogged the Cowboys for three seasons.
No, not put behind, put beneath. Two days after finishing last season with a loss to Kansas State, he held a burial service for the 1989, '90 and '91 seasons.
"OUR GROUNDS crew, they made us a casket," he said. "It was a nice little casket. We had the print shop make up the three years, and they dug us a grave site out back. We put `Rest in Peace 1989, '90 and '91' in there and had everybody come by and throw a handful of dirt on it."
Then he got busy building for the 'Pokes' first season outside the NCAA stockade by recruiting a corral full of junior college players.
"I really haven't tried to count them," he said, although it was reported to be anywhere from 16 to 18. "This is probably what we consider the college version of Plan B."
If recruiting two-year transfers is like the NFL's free agency system, it stands to reason the pro draft is likened to recruiting true freshmen. For a couple of reasons, Jones went to the older talent pool.
"I guess 'cause I'm real tired of this damn stuff," he said, meaning losing. "I ain't here to coach summer campers. For what we've got to do, I think it would be unrealistic for us to try to do it with classic high school recruits."
ONE POSITION where OSU didn't need help was tailback, where Rafael Denson showed himself to be in the classic Cowboy mold. Denson gained 617 yards on 150 carries as a freshman last season despite a nagging ankle injury.
"He compares favorably to what (Thurman) Thomas and (Barry) Sanders did as freshmen, and they had better supporting casts," Jones said.
Quarterback is an inexperienced spot, consisting of two juco transfers and two freshmen. Andy Loveland, a transfer from Palomar, Calif., Junior College has the edge right now.
And on defense, the Cowboys strength is at linebacker, where they will start three experienced players. Jones said he'd been most impressed by Keith Burns, a transfer from Navarro CC in Texas.
"There's not a lot of depth," Jones said, "but I thought at times last yar we didn't play too badly. If we do make a jump, it will be because of quality and a few numbers at the linebacker position."
IF OKLAHOMA State manages to rise from the pit of NCAA probation, it will be because Jones has managed to meld a team of young returnees and two-year transfers.
"It'll be interesting to see what personality this football team will take on," he said. "It's an interesting adventure. I made the remark that this reminded me of the foreign legion because we've got them from everywhere. It did feel good to be able to tell a squad, 'If we're good enough, we can go (to a bowl game)."