DeRuyter understands Spencers pain
Last Saturday night, Oklahoma State's game with Tulsa was postponed several hours due to severe weather. When the Cowboys took the field around midnight, linebackers coach Glenn Spencer was not with the team. He had been called back to Oklahoma City to be with his wife, Angela.
During the first quarter of the game, in what was then Sunday morning 46-year-old Angela Spencer, who had endured numerous health problems and a heart transplant, passed away.
"She was having a tough time and then when she passed away, it was difficult. There's no question about it. His family's here and they're doing as good as could be expected at this point. We move forward and everybody's thoughts and prayers are with their family," OSU coach Mike Gundy said after the game.
A day and a half later, Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter bounded into the media room at the Bright Building with his usual ebullient "Howdy!", ready to talk about the 8th-ranked Aggies' showdown with No. 7 OSU this upcoming Saturday.
"I fully anticipate this is going to be one of those (great games)," he said. "I've got goosebumps just thinking about it."
When he received a question about Spencer's situation, however, the nearly ever-present smile vanished from his face. He looked down at the podium and rapped the sides with his thumbs.
"Our thoughts and prayers absolutely go out to coach Spencer and his family," he said after a moment."
DeRuyter said he has yet to meet Spencer personally and found out the sad news of his wife's passing online.
"I got a Facebook message from one of my Air Force Academy classmates who knew him growing up," he said. "I read that and it was like a gutshot."
The sense of loss is something DeRuyter knows very well, as he lost his older brother, John, suddenly when he was an assistant at the University of Nevada in 2005.
"I lost my brother during the season. It was unexpected; he died of a heart attack in the middle of the night," he said. "You get the call the next morning and it's tough."
DeRuyter looked straight ahead for a moment to regain control of his emotions before continuing. A loss like the one Spencer had endured, he said, puts things back in perspective.
"It's tough. It's real tough. You get in these games and the games are fun and you compete, but then you realize it's not the most important thing," he said. "Coach Spencer, he has two high school-aged sons, I believe, and I just can't imagine (what they're going through)."