When OSU announced it would not stage a spring football game this year, someone suggested this was another Mike Gundy PR nightmare and asked me what I thought.
I didn’t disagree that it was a public relations hit, but I said Gundy might have a good reason for not playing a spring game. I didn’t happen to know what the reason might be, but maybe Gundy had a solid thought behind the decision.
Now, it turns out, some other coaches have joined him in the decision. Texas A&M, which is undergoing stadium renovations, and TCU already had announced it wouldn’t have a spring game, and the University of Pittsburgh just made the same decision. And the reasons given by Pitt coach Paul Chryst might closely align with Gundy’s thinking.
Chryst said he wanted to give more practice time to a full roster. The Panthers will stage multiple intrasquad scrimmages, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but they won’t be open to the public.
“The thought behind (the decision), honestly, is to get one more good workday out of them,” Chryst told the Post-Gazette. “Most, if not every spring game I’ve been a part of, you really end up sacrificing a lot. It sounds crazy, but just being locked into a place, bad weather. … You’re kind of locked into that day. These days are really valuable for us.”
I can see that. Former OSU coach Pat Jones has talked of how spring games are not nearly as valuable as a regular practice day. OSU, which will have a rebuilt defense (the Cowboys started seven seniors on defense last season) and a quarterback derby with the loss of Clint Chelf, can use all the spring workout time it can get.
The spring game was good for fans and stoked the excitement to some degree. Frankly, that might be a good enough reason to stage a spring game. But from a strictly football perspective, its benefits have their limits.
OSU announced a fan outreach day, April 5, in which a practice will be open to the public, followed by interaction with fans and players. Pitt said it plans to do something similar.
“It’s a little bit selfish doing what’s best for the program,” Chryst told the Post-Gazette. “You appreciate (fans). You don’t want it to come off as not being appreciative. It’s not the intent. But there is real conviction that for this group of guys, the guys in the building … you feel really good that this is the right thing. You hope the people appreciate that.”
I can see Gundy believing the same thing.