- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2011

STILLWATER, OKLA. (AP) - Throughout perhaps the most difficult ordeal of his life, Oklahoma State co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer remained dedicated to his craft.

It wasn’t a secret within the Oklahoma State football program that Spencer’s wife, Angela, had been struggling with her health. The Cowboys knew Spencer often would leave after practice, make the 60-mile drive to Oklahoma City to see Angela in the hospital, then be back in time the next morning for coaches’ meetings.

But even knowing something was wrong didn’t brace the Cowboys for the news they received after beating Tulsa 59-33 early Sunday morning: Angela had died.

The cause of death hasn’t been publicly revealed, but in a testimony Angela Spencer wrote for an American Heart Association website, she acknowledged a history of heart problems and said she underwent heart-transplant surgery last year.

“We knew it was really severe, but we didn’t know it was this severe,” defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “A shock to us all. Just really a sad, sad deal.”

As No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0) prepares to visit No. 8 Texas A&M (2-0) on Saturday, Young and coach Mike Gundy have praised Spencer’s professionalism and work ethic, saying they’ve been amazed he was able to work as hard as he has while dealing with his wife’s health situation. They also talked about Spencer’s teenage sons, Luke and Abraham, and how they’ve matured.

“He has such a wonderful family, two young boys who have just unbelievable character,” Young said. “You can’t describe it. And Glenn is such a wonderful person. Not only is he a great football coach, he’s a great man. We all have so much respect and admiration for him. For him to have to go through all this is so sad.”

Players like cornerback Devin Hedgepeth and safety Daytawion Lowe noted that through it all, Spencer kept working with them and refused to let his personal life be a distraction. Hedgepeth said players have been texting Spencer and praying for him.

“He’ll tell you straight up what’s right and what’s wrong,” Hedgepeth said. “That’s what I like about him. He’s not a hypocrite. He’ll do what he says is right.

“It’s been tough on him. I can only imagine. But that shows you what kind of guy he is. He’s been pushing through that, and when he comes out to practice, you can’t even tell his outside situation because he’s so focused on the game. He’ll still get on you.”

The offensive players took the news of Angela Spencer’s death hard, too.

“She was a sweet lady,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow. He’s a heck of a dude. I would think our defense would come out and have a chip on his shoulder. It would be a great deal to win one for him.”

Glenn Spencer has been away from the team since leaving in the hours before the Tulsa game and hasn’t publicly commented about his wife’s death. Gundy told him to take as much time as he needed to deal with the situation.

In the interim, Gundy said Andrew Thacker, the Cowboys’ quality control staff member, has been working with the linebackers and participating with other defensive coaches in developing the game plan for the Aggies.

“The other coaches have to make up for that particular part of the game plan that (Spencer) is responsible for,” Gundy said. “The last bit falls on the players, on the linebackers. They have to make up for it. They have to be willing to overcome circumstances and prepare and stay focused.”

Angela Spencer’s funeral was scheduled for Thursday in Georgia, where both she and her husband had roots. Gundy said he isn’t expecting Spencer to be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game with the Aggies, but he wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.

“He has expressed a strong interest in at least wanting to be with the team,” Gundy said. ” I think once (the services) are complete, I think he wants to try to get back into a routine to keep his mind kind of off it, best that he can.”

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