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A Penalty-Plagued OSU Program is Suddenly One of the Most Disciplined in the Big 12

Only Iowa State is less penalized than the Pokes.



We heard it all offseason. Mike Gundy talked about how OSU needed to be more disciplined and less, well, dumb when it comes to penalties of all kids.

On one hand, I dismissed it. I tell my kids they need to be more disciplined, too, and it seems like the more I focus on it, the crazier they are. So maybe I need parenting advice from Gundy (who is definitely willing to give it!) because for OSU — at least this year — his mantra has worked.

OSU is currently second in the Big 12 in penalties per game and just inside the top 40 nationally. They’re just outside the top 50 in penalty yards per game (52 ypg), which is about 60 spots and 20 yards better than last year.

Team Pen./Game Yards/Game
Iowa State 4.6 38.6
Oklahoma State 5.7 52
Kansas State 5.8 53.4
Kansas 5.9 53.1
West Virginia 6.2 51.7
Texas Tech 6.3 57.1
TCU 6.4 64.2
Baylor 6.6 55.3
Texas 7.3 64.8
Oklahoma 7.3 78


“We said in August we needed to greatly reduce our non-combative 15-yard penalties,” said Gundy this week. “We have done a really good job of that. I will give the team credit. They had three chances, maybe four, in the last game to throw a blow to try to fight back.

“That happens with teams when you’re losing, you get discouraged and you get upset. We’re not in a position where we need to respond to any of that and we need to learn from last year’s mistakes which took us out of a couple games.”

I think penalties as an actual harbinger of success on the field are a little overstated. Of note: Alabama, OU and Oregon are all among the 15 most penalized teams in the country (and all right at or just over where OSU was last year in terms of yards per game penalized), and they’re all doing [checks CFP Rankings] yeah, they’re fine.

But for programs like OSU that have inferior talent, it’s important. It’s important because it’s a tell of how tight your organization is as a whole. If things are loose and trending toward out of control, then obviously that’s problematic at a place like OSU, which thrives because it does little things well (the only way it can thrive outside of having a first-round pick at QB).

So while the penalty situation may or may not have affected any wins or losses this year, it certainly has affected perception. OSU has gone from a team that was losing and undisciplined to one that has corrected its mistakes, is far more disciplined than before and [squints so hard, eyes almost close] could possibly win 10 games yet again under Gundy.*

*The Tech loss … how?

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