Let me preface all of this by saying that I try to remain as objective and as smart as possible while still giving you what I believe to be an Oklahoma State fan’s view of how all of this is playing out and what all of it means.
I know That bothers some of you because you think it means I secretly like OU or am a bandwagon fan, both of which (based on my limited knowledge of the laws of physics and literary criticism) could not physically be further from the truth.
Others of you appreciate it and see things for what they really are. And realize that OSU is not going to win every game in every sport they ever play for the rest of time (crazy, I know!).
All that to say, I thought Thayer Evans’ piece on Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State (I refuse to link to it again, Google it or check the bullets from this morning if you don’t know what I’m referencing) was one of the most irresponsible, abhorrent pieces of journalism (are we even calling it that?) I’ve ever come across.
You want to see how to be critical of a team and its coach and still be fair? Try this beautifully-written piece by Brian Phillips. Or even this mostly fair, well-founded story from Ivan Maisel after the Texas game.
The way Thayer did it is not only a crash course in “how to suck at fact-checking” 101 but also a complete indictment on his lack of ability to tell a story the way it actually happened as opposed to the way he thought it should have happened.
This isn’t some “oh he said our offense wasn’t as good as Oregon’s” column, this is him personally going after a coach who has done nothing but build a top 5 program from basically nothing and a team that has gone 17-2 over the last two seasons.
Let’s look at a few of his quotes.
…a meltdown by seventh-year Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is coming just like usual, as evidenced by his sixth-ranked team’s sloppy 38-26 victory Saturday against incompetent No. 22 Texas.
What is “just like usual”? Here are the games OSU was favored to win and didn’t since Gundy took over (how much OSU was favored by in parentheses):
2005: None (only favored in 2 though)
2006: Kansas State (-2) and A&M (-3)
2007: Troy (-10)
2008: Oregon (-2)
2009: Houston (-16)
2010: OU (-2)
The Troy game was a low point for the program and right in the middle of a QB change. The only other “meltdown” was the Houston game. So basically one game in six years. Okay.
Even the rest of the college football world knows Gundy is bound for a debacle. It’s the unspoken reason no one is worried about the Cowboys winning the Big 12 championship, let alone the national title, this season.
Does he vacation with Stoops who tells him off-the-record he’s not worried about OSU competing for the Big 12 and national title. I mean, has anyone thought about the lengths you would have to go to to get a behind-the-scenes off-the-record factual quote from another national-title-contending coach to make this a viable paragraph?
Everyone is just waiting for Chokie State to once again live up to its nickname under Gundy.
No, you’re the only one waiting for that so this paper mache column might cross the border from “I’m only writing columns to get pageviews” to “if you read it 40 times you might glean one good point from it.”
When Gundy’s Cowboys were ranked No. 5 in 2009 and considered a national championship contender, they lost their second game of the season to unranked Houston. Later that season, the Cowboys needed just to win at Oklahoma to make a BCS bowl game, but lost.
The Houston shot is fair but to say “the Cowboys needed just to win at Oklahoma to make a BCS bowl” might be the most asinine and short-sighted part of this article. Two teams have won in Norman since Stoops took over in 1999. TWO. They’re 75-2 in the last thirteen years and one of those losses was to OSU. So to say all a wounded team whose quarterback’s right arm may or may not have been attached to his chest needed to do was win in Norman is absurd.
Last season, Oklahoma State was in the same situation entering its game against Oklahoma, but again choked.
Because losing a 6-point game that came down to the final minute to a 12-2 team when you’re a 2-point favorite is choking.
Of course, Gundy’s biggest meltdown wasn’t even on a football field. It was four years ago, when he infamously yelled, “I’m a man! I’m 40!” while berating a female newspaper columnist for what she had written.
Yet despite his knack for meltdowns, a solemn Gundy managed to avoid one Saturday when asked whether he was haunted by his past failures.
“No,” Gundy said. “It’s a new season.”
But it’s still the same Gundy, always on the verge of a disaster.
He’s 17-2 since last season. He’s won 40 of his last 54. And he did all this in seven years with a team that was fighting Baylor for the rights to the bottom rung in the Big 12. What do you want?
Gundy’s players insist he is more relaxed this season than ever, but are well aware of his past meltdowns. They are used to being asked, “Are you guys actually going to win it this year?”
Again, show me all these meltdowns. I’ve got the last seven years of schedules pulled up and I see one.
And if this season is going to be any different for Gundy, even one of his best players can’t tell you why. When asked why people should believe that Oklahoma State won’t disappoint, Weeden was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know,” Weeden said. “We’re not worried about it.”
Weeden actually makes a good point. You can’t worry about what’s inevitable.
How big of an imbecile do you have to be to ask a quarterback who is 17-2 in his career and never lost on the road “why people should believe that Oklahoma State won’t disappoint”?
Again, I don’t have a problem with people objectively questioning OSU’s historically average defense or whether or not they can beat OU (because they haven’t in 8 years). But to fling mud all over a coach who’s building one of the nation’s most outstanding programs and to not-so-discreetly throw one of the winningest college quarterbacks of all time under the bus with a pointed question like that…well, how can I not think you have an agenda?
And Thayer, if by some off chance you stumbled across this post, you have an open invitation to join me on our podcast this week to explain yourself.
One thing to keep in mind: last year Thayer went after Auburn, and he went after them hard. I believe that ended rather well for them. Here’s to hoping that this evisceration of the best football team Oklahoma State has ever had is nothing but another foreshadowing of what January could hold.
I hope I see him in New Orleans.