STILLWATER — Mike Gundy told a group of reporters on Thursday that if given a choice on the golf course, he’d play from the ladies’ tee boxes.
That’s the metaphor the Oklahoma State coach chose when asked if his opinion on early season nonconference games has changed, as the Cowboys are little more than a week away from facing returning national champion Florida State in the Aug. 30 opener.
“What if they said you could tee off from the ladies tees, but score the same? Come on now…” Gundy questioned reporters. “They put us on the (back tee boxes), just so you know.”
Gundy’s preference on scheduling has been well documented. He would rather front-load the season with winnable games against opponents who want the cash payout that comes with an August or September trip to Boone Pickens Stadium.
But before ghosts of the reported beef Gundy shared with athletic director Mike Holder over the topic reappeared at the press conference, Gundy stopped another question to make a direct statement.
“I do want to clear one thing up, OK?” Gundy asked. “We’ve embraced this game. I’ve offered an opinion. Coach Holder and I, we’ve had this discussion. This has gone on forever. He and I see eye-to-eye on things. Ultimately, they make the last decision and that doesn’t mean there’s an issue.
“We’ve embraced this since the spring and from the fall — that we’re playing the best team in the country with the best player in the country in a lot of people’s opinion. This will give us a good idea of where we’re at. And we’ve not looked back from that. Our team has been told that this is the game plan in all three phases. You go out and you work your tail off, and we expect you to play and play hard.”
That philosophy lines up with everything said by coaches and players throughout fall camp about the matchup. The national spotlight for week one has been a motivational tool, another reason for young Cowboys to learn on the fly and to jell with a handful of veterans with high expectations.
But the road map for how a mostly rebuilding OSU team ended up scheduling the defending national champions as its season opener is worth revisiting. And it starts with the “Gundy-to-the-SEC” rumor mill of December 2012.
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