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How Should We Feel About Mike Gundy and Bedlam?



Our Slack chat since Saturday night has been an amalgamation of sadness and sports depression. We, like you, don’t know how to feel. We all absorbed the Bedlam beating differently, but when we asked some of our writers how they felt about Mike Gundy and Bedlam, this is what they said.

Let’s all grieve this thing together.

Justin Southwell (Chief Uniform Officer)

I’ve loved Oklahoma State for as long as I can remember. When I was really young, my dad and I would play catch with a child-size OSU football. I’ve been told that my first word was “football.”

I grew up about 20 minutes north of Norman, so the majority of kids identified as OU fans. I took the ribbing year after year hearing that OSU was “little brother” when it came to football. I despised OU.

Through all of this my dad took me to games at Lewis Field and I envisioned playing for the Cowboys. Early in high school, I got to go down on the field and meet players after the spring game. D’Juan Woods accepted my challenge of competing in a 20-yard dash and barely won by 10 yards. I shook Gundy’s hand and got his autograph on an OSU signature ball. I told him that it was my dream to play for Oklahoma State and that I’d love to play for him.

By God’s grace, I got that chance as a walk-on receiver in 2009. The guys I once looked up to became my brothers. I wasn’t talented enough to ever get in a game, so I did the next best thing and embraced my role as a scout team player. My lackluster job was to make the starters and backups better every day. I believe I accomplished that in my three years there.

I have always admired Gundy. I locked in when he spoke in team meetings and I made an effort to be front and center as often as I could when he spoke to the team after practice or games. I bought in 100 percent, did my best to have a positive attitude every day, and impacted my teammates by bringing the energy that came with living out a childhood dream.

I sensed the overall shift in the program around 2008. In 2010, I believed we were good enough to beat OU. Their “Sooner Magic” prevailed in what may have been the most important loss in OSU history that year. In 2011, Weeden and Blackmon returned with a vengeance and played with a chip on their shoulder. Coaches pushed us to greatness and everyone’s game was elevated. We expected excellence from each other. It seemed like things would be different from then on.

The next three years would be a coin toss for Bedlam. OU won in 2012 and 2013, and OSU won in 2014, which was completely backwards of what it should have been in my opinion. The last two Bedlams have been sheer disappointment to our recent standards.

I’ll always be loyal and true to my alma mater. This includes telling some harsh truths. One being that the coaches need to take more risks to defeat OU. The conservative play calling can beat a lot of teams in the Big 12, and we’ve experienced a lot of nail-biters this year because of it, but it will not do the job against OU.

Players get jazzed up when the head man calls a timeout with 13 seconds left before the half and tells them, “Screw it. We’re not ok with going into half tied at 17. Let’s get some points and send them into the locker room knowing that when they come back in the second half, they’re going to get more of the same.” Even if we don’t score, at least take the chance. This is an example of one play, but it’s a theme throughout the game last Saturday and throughout previous Bedlam games.

I’m not calling for Gundy’s job. That’s ludicrous. He has the tools to win. Still, he saw what it took to beat OU by watching the Houston and Ohio State film this year. He saw what Tech’s offense did to their defense.

So how should we feel about Gundy and Bedlam? We should love Gundy for honorably developing the program to be able to compete with OU. We should appreciate his work of elevating us from a subpar program to a program that consistently goes to bowl games. We don’t have the advantage of flying under the radar anymore.

When it comes to Bedlam, believe that all the coaches will loosen up enough to think clearly and work together to develop an approach that will win the big game. Believe that Gundy’s attitude toward the other sideline will shift from respectful to relentless for a few hours on game day.

Believe that the players will be confident in their abilities and empowered to be able to execute a bold game plan because of the leadership from the coaches in the two weeks leading up to the game. If OU beats us, then at least we know they beat us after we did everything we could to win.

Caleb Deck (Intern)

Woof. Rough day Saturday. I’m not sure if I do feel the way I should, but I think that is a part of fandom. I would say my feeling after the game was less sadness and more disappointment. I felt frustrated for the team and the players who work so hard.

True, there were several guys who performed at a lower level than usual this weekend, but I believe this is truly a very good football team. I’m disappointed because I think this OSU team could win that game six or seven times out of 10 if given the proper opportunity and game plan. I’m a bit frustrated with the coaching staff and most of all with Gundy.

At the end of the first half, Barry J. had his return and the offense trotted onto the field. My father-in-law was sitting next to me and I muttered, “Well too bad we’re going to burn this and head to the locker room.”

He insisted they would take a shot because, who wouldn’t in that situation? What do you possibly have to lose? I’m disappointed that Gundy played so conservative, but it’s been so engrained in my opinion of him the past 12 years that I expect nothing less.

I think that’s a bit of a sad position to be in, to expect to play not to lose and to just try to maintain and float by, and it’s more sad that it’s something that is expected of the staff by a majority if not all of the fanbase at this point.

I don’t know for sure what the solution to the problem is with OSU or Gundy’s play calling, but I do know that in other sports, I like to watch teams that take risks and play with passion because that’s what sports is all about and I hope to enjoy that feeling with OSU football again, whenever and however that may come about. Go Pokes.

Kyle Cox (Staff Writer)

I think that we got a pretty good confirmation of what has been said about Gundy for years. He plays too conservatively against Oklahoma. I don’t think it’s a strictly OU issue. He’s become more and more “Kansas-State-like” the longer he’s coached.

Unfortunately, I don’t see it changing. So unless they are a three-touchdown underdog and he has to swing for the fences or they just have a better team than OU, this is likely going to be the result.

Does this mean OSU should find a new coach? Absolutely not. That’s a ridiculous notion. Who would have done better or would do better moving forward than Mike Gundy?

Unless you have that up-and-comer who is guaranteed to win more games than Gundy and is guaranteed not to view OSU as a stepping-stone job, you keep the Mullet and be happy about it. By the way, there are no guarantees.

Steven Mandeville (Staff Writer)

So Bedlam… where your head told you a Big 12 title was in play but your (my) heart never really did.

The sting is certainly real and it still feels early in the wallowing process to search for moral victories (like losing with players that you can be proud of) or lean on cheap platitudes (there’s more to life, it’s just a game, etc.). But maybe solace can be found in the long game.

A quote often shared by my in-laws is that “education is expensive” and while OSU is an incredible value buy, education has never felt more expensive for our football program. Les taught us to “let ‘er rip”, maybe his successor needs to watch that interview for some wisdom.

Josh Fields talked about being “locked in” and genuine intensity, hopefully Mason will take that in. Lord willing, Gundy will far outlast Stoops and became the grandfather of all Bedlams and maybe, just maybe we’ll have some more 2002s and 2011s. In true Cowboy fashion, we’ll get back up, band together and get ready for the next round. Loyal and True.

Kyle Porter (Publisher)

I’m honestly not sure how to feel. I basically handcuffed myself to Gundy’s ship when I wrote that OSU will never do better than him earlier this season. If this thing goes down in flames, I’m likely going with it.

It’s not that I think Gundy is a bad coach all of a sudden — I don’t. Like the other guys have said, he’s an incredible coach who has done a great job. For some reason, though, and maybe this is simply my own naivety, I thought this year was going to be different. I thought Gundy and Rudolph would go into Baker’s house and punish a broken-down Sooners team on its own turf.

The bigger-picture issue is that Oklahoma State does not recruit as well as OU. It plays to its recruiting level (about third or fourth in the Big 12) on average. Recruiting is everything in college football, and OSU isn’t as good at it as I would like for them to be.

But this big picture issue affects individual games. When they have dudes and you don’t have dudes, you have to use sleight of hand to nab an advantage. This is Running a Business 101. Gundy fancies himself a well-paid CEO (and he is!), but he seems askew when it comes to the economics of a lesser entity trying to defeat a greater entity.

I’m curious about the reason behind the aversion to risk. Where is that rooted? Why is it rooted there? If Gundy empties the clip on Saturday and OSU comes up short, you know who’s singing his praises? Me and everyone else who watched that game (including his players).

I get that Gundy doesn’t coach so Berry Tramel will write flowery things about him, but he coached that game like he was a 11-point favorite instead of a 11-point dog. Why? I’d like to know the answer to that question.

Also, where’s the fire? Where’s the fight on Saturday when you’re 30 minutes from a conference title? I’m not saying you have to go full Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines, but at least act like you’re playing for Oklahoma State’s second-ever conference championship!

Gundy prides himself on being steady in big moments and big games, but this is different. The situation asks for you to perform differently than you perform the rest of the year because … well … you’re the 10-point dog, right? Your players need to know that. Be the aggressor. Pull off a fake in the right situation. Get your dudes rallied.

I’m not real sure where we go from here. Is 2017 going to be any different? I’d like to believe it will be. Of course, I believed 2016 would be, too. I thought the monkey had been shed (RIP Harambe). I thought 2015 was the outlier after a long stretch of big-time Bedlam games. I thought these games were now 50-50 wars to decide crowns and define programs.

Now, though, after what I watched in Norman on Saturday … I’m not sure that’s the case at all.

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