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Greater Tulsa Reporter

Tom Ososkie’s Amazing Career Continues

Editor at Large

YESTERYEAR WITH THE HURRICANE: Tom Ososkie poses with TU football players in this 1977 photo. Upper left, number 10 is former TU head coach Dave Rader. On the front row, number 11, is former Union High School and TU and now Owasso High School head coach Bill Blankenship. The head coach of the 1977 team, front row center, was John Cooper.

For Tom Ososkie, his is a life of numbers. A life divided by two. One part of Ososkie is defined by his standing as a higher-education math instructor. The other, more public annotation of Ososkie’s being is that of football coach. In the world of Tom Ososkie, football and math are the sum of two primes.

In the classroom, he deals with the abstract. On the field, he deals with full contact. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. As an adjunct instructor, he teaches algebra at the University of Tulsa. In three stints at TU, he has served in various assistant roles under eight head football coaches since 1969. His manner and demeanor suggest a professorial predisposition. He is soft-spoken. Precise in his delivery. He is not a big man. He could be lost in a huddle of linebackers. He is conversational. Engaging. Accessible. The product of a suburban Detroit parochial school, a young Ososkie saw education as the key to a fulfilling life. He played football at the University of Detroit, when its Missouri Valley Conference alignment placed the school alongside the University of Tulsa. It was during his senior year, after spending summers working in the realm of engineering, that Ososkie answered an advertisement for a high-school freshman football coach in Detroit. He had found a new calling. He had found a new passion. Accepting the new job, he threw himself into the role of teacher-coach. “I couldn’t wait to get back (to the job) the next day,” he said recently from his office in the TU coaches’ complex. He quickly worked his way up to the head-coaching level. He was coaching in Louisville when his Michigan roots helped lead him to Tulsa. Vince Carillot, who had played and coached at Michigan State, was tabbed to succeed Glenn Dobbs as the leader of the TU football program in 1969. Through his association with a couple of Carillot’s staff members, Ososkie was invited into the Golden Hurricane family. Ososkie made an enduring impression on the program. The city of Tulsa made an endearing impression on Ososkie. Following a 1-9 season, Carillot was relieved of his duties, yet Ososkie remained as part of the staff of new coach Claude “Hoot” Gibson in 1970. When F.A. Dry replaced Gibson in 1972, Ososkie again withstood the change and continued to aid in TU’s turnaround. Under Dry, TU won four straight Missouri Valley Conference championships. Dry left TU for TCU in 1977, yielding the program to incoming coach John Cooper. Ososkie remained in place through 1984. He left the field that year for a position in the oil and gas industry. Ososkie returned in 1991 under head coach David Rader. That stay lasted one season. In year two of Todd Graham’s tenure at TU, 2008, Ososkie rejoined the staff. He has been in place during the ensuing changes, from Bill Blankenship to Philip Montgomery. Ososkie’s role has changed through the years, from defensive position coach to offensive coordinator to recruiting coordinator to director of scouting. Just as his roles have changed since his arrival in 1969, so, too, has the University of Tulsa campus and its football environment. Skelly Stadium, in 1969, had recently been renovated and seating capacity had been increased to 40,385. The head coach and four assistants were crammed into small offices across the street. Today, an extensive makeover has turned Chapman Stadium into a 30,000-seat gem in the shadows of the grand Case Athletic Complex. Montgomery’s staff now includes nine full-time assistants, plus a roster of support divisions. “I walk out to practice and look around. It’s beautiful,” Ososkie said. “There’s a lot of pride around the whole campus. “The school has a rich tradition,” he said as he walked among the photographs of TU’s halcyon days that line the halls of the coaches’ complex. One of those athletes from Dry’s championship run, Mark Wojciehowski, was recruited to Tulsa in 1971 by Ososkie. Now a successful businessman in Tulsa, Wojciehowski elected to remain in the city following his graduation. He joined Cooper’s staff as an assistant in 1977. Soon, Wojciehowski and Ososkie were recruiting together in Chicago. “Coach Ososkie was instrumental in me getting on as a college coach, without question,” Wojciehowski said. “We developed a fabulous relationship,” he said. “He was kind of a second dad. “I am very thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to come to Tulsa with his guidance. “TU is blessed to have him.” The evolvement of the university and its campus has mirrored that of Ososkie. He has changed with the times. Rather than breaking down 16mm film of opponents, and charting statistics with pencil and paper, now he has all facets of a game on an iPad. Statistics now fall under the category of “analytics.” Ososkie credits Dry with being the first to encourage the expansion of scouting opponents, replacing X’s and O’s with “calculations” and “data.” Ososkie began to explore personnel and performance. “What do they run? Who do we have to stop? Who can we attack?,” were the questions he answered for Dry. Eventually, Ososkie was analyzing and organizing the data he collected. Measurements, he called them. “It’s how tall, how fast, how strong, and so on,” he said. “I’ll set up a standard and now I’ve got something to measure our kids against, and supply that information to the staff.” Ososkie became so adept at analyzing data, during the early years of the tech revolution, that he caught the eyes of the National Football League. While working at TU, and in the span away from the college campus, Ososkie spent 12 seasons on scouting staffs of the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and New York Jets. He honed his skills in the field of football analytics. Charting. Measuring. Watching. Evaluating. He worked preseason camps. Scouted regular-season games. Became a sideline staple at the NFL Scouting Combine. Became a trusted, coveted personnel analyst. All the while, he retained his base in Tulsa, providing a comfortable lifestyle and home in south Tulsa. He even obtained a master’s degree from TU in education administration. He had two high-school coaching stints, combined with teaching assignments, at Cascia Hall before returning to TU in 2008. At the high-school level or at the collegiate level, Ososkie smiles when he says, “coaching is still coaching.” With a cup of coffee in his hands, he said: “You’re going to coach more at the lower level than you are at the upper level. You will drill more, I think, at the upper level, but you may not tutor as much as you do at the lower level.” During TU practice sessions and scrimmages, Ososkie attends to his duties of recording and compiling massive amounts of data on quarterbacks and receivers. Detailed numbers that include such categories as completions, bad throws, dropped passes. He is on the field with iPad in hand, but he yearns for the days when he was coaching position players with whistle in hand. Still, as he said, coaching is coaching. And teaching is teaching. The game might have changed. From three yards and a cloud of dust to the hurry-up offense of Philip Montgomery. But it’s still football. And Tom Ososkie is still involved. Those numbers never change.

Updated 04-24-2017

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