STILLWATER – Mike Gundy didn't show off his golf game Tuesday, passing on playing in the 100-plus-degree heat, even though it was his golf day at Karsten Creek.
So there was no chance of examining his swing.
“It's good, as long as you don't watch the flight of the ball,” the Cowboys coach said. “It looks good, but it still kind of fades off to the right.
“I call it a slight fade. Coach (Mike) Holder calls it a slice.”
Gundy did, however, drive the news, announcing that left tackle Michael Bowie was no longer with the team, due to a violation of team rules.
Gundy answered questions about Bowie and other topics, before heading to Tulsa for that stop on the Cowboy Caravan.
Is your line depth good enough that you can overcome this OK?
“Oh, I think so. It's much better than it was four years ago. But as a coach, you can never have enough players and you never feel comfortable with your depth. But I feel more comfortable now than I have in the past. Things go on. One thing I think is very important, Oklahoma State football is bigger than any one coach – including myself – or one particular player. It's a group. We have to continue to move forward and the team will be fine.”
Does it help that offensive line coach Joe Wickline moves his guys around, cross-trains them into different positions?
“He'll have a few options. The one thing you miss is experience; game experience playing on the road. Again, this is what we do. It's a team. We have guys who have worked hard. They may not have as much experience, but we'll expect them to play.”
There's a lot of talk about quarterback Wes Lunt's impact, but how good can this Cowboys team be overall?
“I think we're a good football team. I don't think it's realistic to expect things to look offensively like we did last year, especially early, just because you lose two first-round picks. But we have a mature offensive line for the most part. We have good running backs who have played, are experienced. We have a number of receivers. We may be better, from top to bottom, at the receiver spot than we've been in years. Justin Blackmon's not here, who played a huge role. Josh Cooper's not here, who played a huge rule. But we have other young players. Defensively, I think we'll be better than we have been in the past.”
Coming off such a successful season, do you notice any difference in expectations for this year?
“There's always going to be pressure. We've talked about that from Day 1. There's pressure if you're not performing, to perform. And if you're performing at a high level, there's pressure to keep it. Our players understand that. And I think our coaches do a good job of instilling in our players that we want them to give us every chance to win on Saturdays by preparing mentally and physically and going out and playing hard and having some fun. And that's all we can ask them to do. There's a lot of questions about Wes, that's all he can do. He's not going to step in and play like Brandon Weeden. We just want him to give us all we've got and the rest of the guys have to step in around him.”
Do you notice changes in perception, whether around the country or even in the state?
“In recruiting, there's a big group of schools, say 40 of them, then above them there's 10 or 12 schools, then above them there's five or six schools who would be just national, tradition-rich schools who can throw their hat in and get involved with a young man at any point in time. We used to be in that group of 40. In my opinion, we've moved up into the next echelon. We're not in that top five or six schools yet; we don't have the same name as some school who's been out there and doing well for 40 or 50 years. But I think people see Oklahoma State differently, not only in this state, but in the regional area. You can wear a shirt or hat with our logo on the east or west coast now and people recognize who it is. And it's based on the success that we've had as a team over the past two or three years.”
It looks like, again, you're going to be dealing with extreme heat in camp. Any special plans?
“It's hot, no question. And it's been hot for 20 or so days now, so everything feels hotter. So we'll take ultimate precautions. We'll cut things back. We don't practice for an extended time already. But for the next few days, with temperatures as hot as they are, we'll even cut it back more. And we'll take every precaution to keep everyone healthy, players and coaches. And we'll need to make sure to not exhaust them to where they're no good in October and November.”
What happens when you get the question, “Are you going to repeat as Big 12 champions this year?”
“Well, we're sure going to try. It's been interesting, up until last year, the question has been, ‘Are you ever going to be able to beat Oklahoma and Texas and win the Big 12?' My answer to that was, ‘Yes, but I don't know when.' Well, fortunately that worked out. At least they believe half of what I say. But for the most part, we believe in preparation. We believe in the overall continuity of our organization. I think we've evolved. Our coaches aren't going to settle for second best and our players feel the same way. I've seen older players pass that down to the freshmen. You've got a chance to win 14 games here in a couple of years. You may lose some games. But we're certainly going to try and put ourselves in position to win them all. We want our fans and the tailgaters and the 60,000 people who show up to watch us play to know that we have a chance to win. And I think that's the direction we keep going to build tradition and win at a high level.”