By the end of this season, the Oklahoma State football team will have played on Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday and early Sunday morning, but the program's most exposure to date came on a weekend when the Cowboys didn't even play.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy spent Saturday at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., where he shared his insight during numerous game breaks and halftime shows.
The opportunity for face time on the cable television monster network was simply too good to pass up.
"I don't think we really could have done anything to get that much exposure," Gundy said during Monday morning's Big 12 coaches weekly teleconference. "To be fortunate enough to be in the studio with those guys and be off and on the air for seven hours, I couldn't put a number on what that would be worth from a dollar standpoint in marketing, not only for the football program but for Oklahoma State University."
Asked if he might have a future in the business after coaching, Gundy said, "Oh, no. I don't think so. When I watched them, I have a greater respect – just like we all do when we walk in somebody else's shoes and we see what other people do. It's not easy to do what those guys do. John Anderson, Jessie Palmer and Rece Davis – who are kind of the guys that captain the ship and then they throw everything out to the guys that are helping them – those guys are really good now. I don't know that I have a lot of interest in that, but it was a great experience."
When not on the air, Gundy spent the day watching games throughout the country alongside Anderson, Davis, Palmer, former coach Lou Holtz, Mark May, Robert Smith, Todd McShay and others.
Gundy said he didn't take any notes on future opponents.
"There were so many games going on at once, you couldn't really focus on one," Gundy said. "Being in an environment with those guys for seven hours and listening to them comment on things that happened across the country, I thought it was fun to hear how they perceived certain players and certain teams compared to the way we see it as coaches. They obviously are very up to date on what's going on and have their thoughts on how things will pan out. They feel pretty strongly about the top 7 or 8 teams in the country."
How did the ESPN crew feel about the Cowboys (4-0), who are ranked No. 6 this week in The Associated Press poll heading into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game against Kansas (2-2) at Boone Pickens Stadium?
"We were all in the same room so there were comments going on in between takes," Gundy said. "Everybody's very well-aware of who's in the room. They have respect for us. I think they feel like we're deserving of a top-10 team in their opinion. Either that, or they were just trying to be nice to me because I was there."
Gundy said the most difficult aspect of going to ESPN was not spending time with his family during a rare open date.
Other Gundy comments from the teleconference:
After facing Kansas, OSU's last seven games will be against teams that appear to be headed to a bowl.
"Each one of them is important. The great thing about college football is they all count. Other sports, you can have ups and downs, and then at the end of the year you can make a run in a championship bracket. Football's not that way. I think that's why the television ratings have gone through the roof now because everybody knows that you have to prepare and play well each week."
The Big 12 finished non-conference play with its best record ever at 27-3, with every loss at a neutral site or on the road against ranked teams.
"I think we all agree our conference has competed across the country for a number of years now. It can be debated all the time. Obviously the SEC has won five (national titles) in a row so right now, yeah, they probably have the upper hand. When you look at the teams that are in our league, could they compete on any given Saturday with those teams? My answer would be 'yes.' "
Recap last year's game at Kansas, where the Jayhawks jumped out to a 14-10 lead after the first quarter in what wound up being a 48-14 loss.
"They had a good plan. They were moving the ball effectively on offense. They were using play(-action) pass and boot and the quarterback was getting on the perimeter and they were running the ball. Offensively, we didn't start at a good pace and because of that gave them an opportunity to jump up on us and that's kind of what we talked about as coaches. You have to start fast and be prepared each week. With the ability that teams have to throw the ball, if they can get a good start on you, or you just look across the country, you can kind of realize people have the ability to come back on you at a quicker rate than what it used to be in the past."
KU averaged 296.4 yards per game offensively last season. This year, it is averaging 455.3 to date.
"They've improved as much as an offense from a production standpoint in this season compared to last year as any of the top 5, top 10 teams in the country. They've gotten better. They've improved. They went out to Atlanta and have a tough go with Georgia Tech (a 66-24 loss), who has just gashed everybody running that option. You have to kind of take that game out and they had a chance to win Saturday (a 45-34 loss at home to Texas Tech), so they've improved. There's no question about it."