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Oklahoma State football: Debunking Mike Gundy's scheduling philosophy

COMMENTARY — Mike Gundy thinks playing one decent non-conference football game a season damages OSU's recruiting and national title hopes, which would be interesting if only it were true.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 9, 2013

Mississippi State has nothing decent on the horizon after its 2013 opener. Minnesota and Texas Tech don't either.

But any school with serious national championship hopes is not scheduling down. It is scheduling up.

“I see it going both ways,” Gundy said. “I talked to some people at big programs that are going the other way. Then you talk to some that feel like they need to schedule what some would call up to par.

“I have a philosophy what I feel is best for Oklahoma State. That philosophy may not be best for OU or Texas or Michigan or Notre Dame or Florida or whoever.

“I just know what I think are the ingredients for success here. And I've made that very clear. That doesn't mean somebody has to agree with me.”

Gundy has some valid points on scheduling. He still recoils at the 2007 and 2009 openers against Georgia. Says those games made the Cowboys practice physically the entire month of August, else the Bulldogs would have run roughshod over the Cowboys, which they did anyway in '07 but not in '09. Says that kind of scheduling didn't allow OSU to ease into its season and go into Big 12 play fresh and healthy.

Maybe so. Maybe a solution is play a marquee non-conference game later in September. Don't open with the likes of Florida State.

However, don't make the argument that an easy schedule is a sign of commitment to a national title. The opposite is true.

In fact, in the 17-year history of the conference, no Big 12 team ever has been denied a spot in the national title game by a non-conference defeat. Conference losses? Sure. Big 12 title game defeats? Yep. But non-conference losses? Nope.

And of the historic losses within the conference – Kansas State at Baylor 2012, OSU at Iowa State 2011, OU at Texas Tech 2007, Texas to Colorado in the 2001 title game, Kansas State to A&M in the 1998 title game – none can be blamed on a team being beat up. They just got beat.

“If we schedule to where we go into league play and we're healthy and we're fresh and we win the league, then from a financial standpoint, this place will be fine forever,” Gundy said. “If we win in league play, we'll sell so many season tickets and so many seats, we'll have as much money as we've ever had at this school.”

Can't argue. He's right about that. OSU fans seem to be no respecter of opponents. State has done a solid job building up its fan base, regardless of the attraction.

Savannah State attendance on Sept. 1: 55,784.

Texas attendance four weeks later: 56,709.

Just don't make the national championship/recruiting argument to justify a soft non-conference schedule. It doesn't hold up. Not anymore.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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