OSU football coach Mike Gundy: 'It means a lot to Oklahoma State' to be picked to win the Big 12

by John Helsley Published: July 22, 2013

Mike Gundy's response to being picked as the preseason favorite in the Big 12?

He'll take it, and he figures anyone associated with the program will as well.

“It won't have anything to do with our season, but I think it means a lot to Oklahoma State, that people feel comfortable in saying that we're good enough to have the opportunity to win a conference championship,” said Gundy, addressing reporters gathered for Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

For the first time in league history, the Cowboys emerged from the preseason media poll at No. 1 in the Big 12. While the voting was close, with six schools receiving first-place votes, OSU was the choice to win on 15 ballots. No other team received double-digit nods.

The Cowboys finished 8-5 a year ago, yet return 18 players with at least five games of starting experience. So the favorite's tag is something suggests a continued rise in respect for the program, which claimed its first Big 12 title in 2011.

“I think there's been some growth in the program at Oklahoma State,” Gundy said. “I think it's a tribute to the players that have been before this group, the young men that are on our team now, and the ones in the future. They've got a lot to look forward to.”

And Gundy said outside expectations, while no different than what is expected inside the program, will warrant some conversation with his players.

“I think it's certainly something that we'll address and make comments the same way that I have here today,” Gundy said, “in that it's a tribute to a lot of players that have come before these guys that have worked hard.

“There's been a number of situations that gave us the opportunity to have success at Oklahoma State, and they've taken advantage of it. And the young men that are on this team right now worked extremely hard. We all know -- I don't know what the exact number of years to go back, but being picked No. 1 certainly doesn't guarantee you the conference championship, we all know that.

“We'll mention that to our players and be very vanilla, they've still got a lot of work ahead of them, but we're very proud of how far they've come and that they have the opportunity. They've got to go out and play well.”

The complete transcript from Gundy's question and answer session with the media:

Q. Mike, got any desire to tell us who's going to start at quarterback?

GUNDY: I think that we'll continue to work like we have. We've got two young men that we feel very comfortable with, and they've worked, and they're extremely dedicated to our program. They're great team players. They'll get equal reps.

The one advantage we have in our offense is in practice and even in games we get a number of reps because of our tempo. We expect to play very fast this year. So we'll work both guys. We feel very comfortable with them.

Won't say much until after the first game. We play a very quality opponent the first game. So we'll need to use every advantage we have to give ourselves the best opportunity to win that game.

Q. With an offensive coordinator who doesn't have any D-I experience, how much do you have a hand in the offense this year?

GUNDY: Not very much. It's been a number of years since I've really been involved in play calling. I have an opinion each week on what I think gives us the best chance to move the ball and score points, and then usually by Monday I'm out of that room.

I have a lot of confidence in the coaches on our staff and the decisions they make, and at the end of the day, they're the ones that have to instill it in the players in meetings and get it across to them on the practice field. They have to get them to perform on Saturday.

So very little. I have a lot of faith in the guys that are in that room.

Q. Mike, can you just talk about the balance that you've had on offense the last seven years, averaging five yards a carry most of those years and scoring a ton, throwing it well. And now it seems, from what I've read, that you're just bringing in coaches who will continue to operate the offense that you've established there. You don't have any interest in bringing in guys who are going to try to bring their offense to Oklahoma State. Just talk about what exactly your philosophy is.

GUNDY: We've been very fortunate that we've had good players. We hit on quarterbacks, a couple of them that weren't very highly recruited who had come in our system and had success. We believe in our work ethic. We believe in the way we handle our players once they walk on campus as freshmen, and we develop them into -- put them in a position to have success on Saturdays in all three phases.

You had asked about offense. We have approximately 35, 45 players or so that have played for our offense each year, each season, and when we've lost a coordinator to become a head coach, I felt like it was an advantage to continue to run the offense and keep our terminology. So we would bring in one new coach or two new coaches, and they would learn our system instead of 35 or 40 players trying to learn a new terminology or a new system from the outside.

For that reason, we've had success. So we don't see any reason to change. Our players have also been recruited there, and we told them that this was the offense we were going to run. We would be up tempo. We would throw the ball. We'd run play action. We'd run the football. We want to be consistent in our recruiting.

So the players that are currently on our team will continue to recruit. They've always been the best for us, and I know that's somewhat broad,

but those are reasons for staying with the system. It's difficult to bring a young man in that's made a commitment to our program for certain reasons, and then a couple years later things change. It can certainly affect him. So we try to stay as consistent as possible in that area.

It's never perfect, but by bringing a coach in and having him adjust to Oklahoma State, we've had success. So we'll continue to move in that direction.

Q. Your name has come up for a bunch of jobs over the last few years. Curious what your level of happiness, contentment is at Stillwater, and is that a destination job?

GUNDY: I'm very happy in Stillwater. To a certain extent, at times you wish that -- or I wish that my name wouldn't have come up or I wish that it wouldn't have been as much smoke or fire. At times I'm to blame for that.

But I'm very happy, always been very happy in Stillwater. And the honest answer is is that from day one when we took this over, our coaching staff going into nine years now, we felt like the most important thing that we could do for the players on our team is make a commitment to them, if they would buy in, that we would have a chance to have success.

For me personally, I have to feel comfortable knowing there's a commitment to the young men on our team to give them the best opportunity for success in the classroom and on the football field, and if there's not, then it's hard for me to sell.

So at times, whether we all like to admit it or not, there's a business aspect to this profession, probably more so than we would like to think. But I have to feel comfortable myself personally -- and I don't use "I" myself very often when we talk about Oklahoma State football -- that there's a commitment in all different areas for our young men to have success.

So when we go in those homes, the very most important thing we do is recruit young men who want to get a degree from Oklahoma State and be a part of that team, and that commitment has to be from both sides.

So I'm comfortable with that. It doesn't mean I always agree with the decisions that are made, none of us do, but I do understand a chain of command, and at the end of the day, I say, yes, sir, and move forward.

Q. Coach, allegedly you want to go faster on offense than ever before. Can you talk about the value of going faster.

GUNDY: We feel like we can stretch a defense. Rob Glass, our strength and conditioning coach, in my opinion, is the best in the country, getting our players in great cardiovascular shape, and we just feel like it's an advantage.

I'm sure that other coaching staffs have a method of ways that they train and develop and schemes that they use to give them an advantage. We think speed is an advantage on offense.


by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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