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Gundy, OSU Winning Preseason Because They’re Having Fun



Mike Gundy dancing on First Take and riffing on his mullet during his ESPN car wash on Thursday and Friday was a reminder of what we learned earlier in the week: Oklahoma State is winning the preseason lead-up to the 2017 Big 12 season.

They won Media Days, Gundy is winning everything and spirits are high east of I-35.

This guarantees nothing, of course. OSU might suffer injuries, lose to teams they shouldn’t lose to and be watching OU and Texas play at Jerryworld for the Big 12 title in December. But in the final days leading into the 2017 season, one Big 12 team (and coach) stands above the rest.

Part of the reason for this is that Bob Stoops retired, and there is a “face of the Big 12” void to be filled. The other part? Gundy actually knows how to fill it.

You guys saw it on social media during Big 12 Media Days. From the Zach Sinor Heisman campaign to Gundy saying his mullet has been worth millions, the Cowboys have struck the exact right tone all week.

“It’s an exciting time for all of us,” said Gundy in his opening press conference on Tuesday afternoon in Dallas. “I was thinking flying down this morning just how we evolved at Oklahoma State and the culture that we’ve created with the young men and how fun it is for myself and our staff, the guys that were on the plane. They’ve been such great leaders for us. We’ve evolved into something really special at Oklahoma State.”

Contrast Gundy’s “I’m telling the jokes and I’m in on them, too” *wink*wink* with Tom Herman’s uber-serious “we’ve always been Texas, and that’s who we’re going to be” schtick. Then there was Matt Rhule’s “I might know what I’m doing, but I’m going to read a prepared statement and reference Joe Paterno” performance.

I think you can start to see why Gundy has won the week (and beyond).

This isn’t difficult, either. Or it shouldn’t be. This is not the time of year for coaches to be breaking down 3-3-5 defenses and talking third-string right tackles. That stuff is fine for the middle of the season, but it doesn’t play well to fans and recruits who just want to consume a little middle-of-the-summer #content.

Teams and coaches who take themselves too seriously are either insecure about the future or don’t have a culture that allows folks to, um, let their hair down. As Carson and I discussed on our post-Media Days show, those pressers and interviews are what you make them. They can be monotonous and boring and full of cliches. Or you can have some fun without getting too silly.

“We’ve got a great group of guys who understand our culture and are fun to be around,” said Gundy at Big 12 Media Days. “I tell them all the time, ‘I don’t know how many games we’re going to win this year. We’re going to try to win every game. We’re going to try and prepare you to win every game.’

“But you guys are just fun to be around and fun to watch grow. Fun to watch develop. Kids from all different backgrounds. City kids, country kids, white kids, black kids, rich kids, poor kids. And all come together and they work their ass off. And they get better. And I just enjoy watching that. That’s fun for me. I’m confident about their ability to work together as a team. And I enjoy that.”

It’s clear that Gundy is enjoying life as the winningest coach currently manning a Big 12 team. We watched him talk about how he embarrasses his kids by wearing a ponytail and trade stories off camera with Dana Holgorsen.

OSU might not win the Big 12 this year, but they’ve won every everything put in front of them thus far. Yes, it’s just the preseason and it doesn’t mean much if the next four months go sideways, but at the moment it’s undeniable: Mike Gundy and Co. are undefeated heading into fall camp.

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