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Gundy’s Big Speech

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If you haven’t seen it yet, ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben wrote a story on Mike Gundy’s session at the AFCA convention in Dallas last week. Since Ubben pumps out about 38 posts a day (seriously, he must have gnomes working for him) you might have missed it. If so, read it here before we get to my thoughts.

First of all, Ubben calls Gundy’s spiel “self-deprecating humor” when, in reality, I think it’s just Gundy being Gundy. He seems like the kind of guy who is hard on himself to the point that I wouldn’t even bat an eye if a YouTube video entitled “Gundy runs 100 suicides on Boone Pickens Stadium night of Nebraska game chanting ‘I hate our special teams, I hate our special teams!!'” surfaced at some point this off-season.

He tells the convention that the best way to handle the media is to “tell them what they want to know because, nowadays, they’re going to find out what they want” and yet the Oklahoma media has to borderline send Kissinger in to find out the injury report for the week. Seriously, I found out about Blackmon’s ankle 3 hours before the OU game when he was doing “the walk.” So either Gundy isn’t practicing what he’s preaching or NewsOK and Tulsa World aren’t trying hard enough.

Isn’t it weird that OSU has 121 players? That struck me as such an odd thing, especially when NFL teams suit up 53 every weekend. What do colleges need the other 58 for? And while we’re here, OSU didn’t have a backup punter amongst those other 120?

It’s funny that teams can erect billboards 100 yards from a recruit’s house that scream “we spent $5,000 on this baby, PLEASE tell us you’re going to return kicks for us for four years or we’re going to have to pay another $2,000 to leave it up another month”…and there’s a text message limit. It’s not funny that Gundy and his staff used to wear “NASCAR-looking shirts” when visiting recruits. It’d be one thing if they were trying to get Brad Miller and Kevin Love to come play hoops, I don’t know if that’s going to work on the Myron Rolles and Wayne Lyons’ of the world.

I love the “we don’t work as long as we used to but we work smarter” theory. So many coaches are missing the boat (and probably the entire ocean) on that one. There was a feature in the New York Times earlier this year about how Chip Kelly throws some Wiz Khalifa (whoever that is) on the radio and blasts 2-hour practices. Two hours! I’ve had batting practices that lasted longer than the entire football practices for the second best team in the country. Gundy’s nailing this one because he’s creating balance for his staff and keeping his players hungry. Nothing makes me crazier than coaches who are so insecure in their own methods and procedures that they think throwing a 5-hour practice blanket over them will make everything turn out fine. Rich Rodriguez anyone? There’s a formula to producing a quality product and time is not it’s most expansive function.

It seems like Gundy does a great job with his coaches. According to this USA Today article OSUs assistants are the 9th highest paid staff in the country, snuggled in nicely between Georgia and Clemson. It means something when you have a tier 2 program like OSU paying tier 1 money. Coaches aren’t coming to Stillwater for the cheese fries. Obviously you have Fedora and Holgorsen moving on to decent and really good head coaching jobs respectively. But as Gundy mentioned in yesterday’s NewsOK, “Because we’ve had success here, we haven’t had any issues with getting applicants. It’s much different from when I got the job. I had to go peddle guys. Now I weed through what is there, and I have in my mind what I think is right.”

When he told the story about a “a small group of current students” who deterred recruits from coming to OSU, is it bad that my first thought was “freaking Bobby Reid and XLK trying to ruin the program more than they already have”? I’ll go yes.

The story about his reaction to finding out Perrish Cox missed curfew was hilarious. “Uhh yeahh, I think we’re going to have to re-think that miss the entire game policy since this is my all Big-12 corner and not my back-up deep snapper.” I think Perrish Cox’s entire career — from the billboard to the suspension at the Cotton Bowl — could be an in-depth sociology study.

The story about being on the phone with the NCAA the night before the Georgia game was weird. I have so many questions. How close was he to benching Dez for that game? How close was he to (we’ll call it) pulling a Chizik and riding his star until Jim Isch (interim NCAA president at the time) personally drove to Boone Pickens and physically removed Dez from the field? Is this breaking news that he was on the phone with them the night before the 2009 opener, did we know that already or not?

Ubben did a great job covering a speech I wish I could have attended. Gundy came off as humble, unobtrusive, and not particularly certain how all this success came about. He’s done a great job though, there’s no denying that, and his trajectory right now is (dare I even say it?) pointing right at the Mt. Rushmore of OSU coaches: Mr. Iba, Gary Ward, Coach Sutton, and John Smith.

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