DALLAS — When the punishment dropped in May, it seemed catastrophic. How could it not be?
An Oklahoma State football team with serious depth issues at a number of position groups lost a day of practice each week for the 2014 season — sanctions handed down by the NCAA because the Cowboys failed to meet Academic Progress Rate standards.
But amid a gallery of reporters Monday afternoon inside a hotel ballroom at Big 12 Media Days, coach Mike Gundy cleared the air. Yes, losing that practice time hurts. But not for the same reasons you might think.
“I’m going to have to change what I do and I don’t like that more than anything,” Gundy said. “Honestly, we can figure out a way to do it, but now I’ve got to restructure everything we do.”
Prior to this season, the Cowboys were allotted 19 hours and 15 minutes of practice each week. Now, that number has dropped to 18 hours.
The 2014 practice plan hasn’t been finalized, but the change will likely eliminate Sunday activities, Gundy said, as they generally consist of walk-throughs and film study of next week’s opponent.
It’s a shakeup that won’t crush the program, but is still a cause for concern, especially for the defense. Gundy said his linebacker corps is the youngest he’s had in his 10 years as head coach.
“We definitely need the preparation,” said Ryan Simmons, projected starting middle linebacker. “We need that day … we just have to make sure we hold ourselves accountable and learn as much as we can each and every week.”
Simmons is the only returning starter in the position group. Demarcus Sherrod is expected to join him, but sat out all of 2013 after a season-ending injury in fall camp. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.
It won’t be Dominic Ramacher, who quit football to pursue other career interests, or Kris Catlin, who remains on the team but will not play in 2014, Gundy said. That leaves of slew of untested freshmen and transfers to fill the gaps.