STILLWATER (TNS) — Josh Henson knows more than anybody that there’s no place like home.
So when Mike Gundy called him a month after accepting the job as assistant head coach/offensive line and run game coordinator at Arizona State in January with offer to become Oklahoma State’s new offensive line coach, Henson — who served as an offensive analyst under Gundy in 2016 — made an about-face and accepted the role.
“Obviously I was very excited to get the opportunity to do this at my alma mater, get to come home and be around my family while doing this job,” Henson said Thursday at a media golf outing at Karsten Creek. “To do this job, you have to move state-to-state — it’s not like you’re moving across the city to do it — so to be able to home with my kids at the ages they are, and be a part of this program with Coach Gundy … I couldn’t be more blessed. I’m super happy to be back.”
It’s not Henson’s first time as a position coach for his alma mater.
He was on Les Miles’ staff in Stillwater as the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach before following Miles to LSU, where he was part of the 2008 national championship won by the Tigers. He also brought in a pair of recruiting classes that ranked in the top 10 nationally.
After a few short years at LSU, he signed on with Gary Pinkel at Missouri where he worked with offensive line from 2009-15 — with the final three years at Mizzou also including duties as offensive coordinator.
Henson, who is OSU’s fourth OL coach in five years, wasn’t retained by Pinkel’s successor at Missouri and landed back in Stillwater as the offensive analyst, a role that Henson said had it’s ups and downs.
“A pro to it was last spring, I got to basically sit there — while everybody else was out on the road — and watched two months of film,” said the Tuttle native. “You don’t really get the opportunity to do that when you’re coaching full-time at this level, because you are constantly going from coaching to recruiting. It seems like it never ends.
“But the negative to it is you are out there on the field, you are close to it, but you can’t touch it. Just be involved again in a position group and in the room every day (you miss that part).”
While he was working out of the football offices inside the West Endzone of Boone Pickens Stadium, the players weren’t familiar with him. According to NCAA rules, analysts aren’t allowed to communicate with players — only serving essentially in an assistant capacity for the coaching staff, breaking down film.
“They’d try to come up to you and maybe ask a question, and you had to be like, ‘No, sorry,’” Henson said.
Henson’s seen both extremes of the Oklahoma State football program.
Playing from 1994-97, he remembers the team’s training room being in Gallagher-Iba Arena — the same room now used by the Cowboy wrestling program for practices. And even more, he remembers when OSU was struggling just to make a bowl game — which the Cowboys accomplished only in Henson’s senior season.
“The placed has completely changed from when I’d been here before — not only the athletic facilities, but the whole campus,” Henson said. “… I think the school has had incredible vision in creating the ability for us to compete on an even playing field from a recruiting standpoint with the facilities.
“The other thing is the expectation to win — from the fans, to the players, to the coaching staff. There’s not that doom and gloom like when I was here. Winning creates an expectation to have success and it’s fun being a part of that.”
It’s not just coaching for his alma mater, which is now competitively in the top 25 every year, that has Henson with a constant smile on his face. There is also the added of perk of he and his wife living just 90 miles from their hometown of Tuttle.
“Nobody is more excited than our parents, because they get to see their grandkids,” Henson said. “I think that’s what everybody is most happy about.”
“There’s not that doom and gloom like when I was here. Winning creates an expectation to have success and it’s fun being a part of that.”