I’ve been enjoying these Monday look-back columns. Gives me a little time to digest the weekend and formulate a take that isn’t so reactionary immediately following the game.
One thing we don’t talk about enough when delving into statistics and discussing route trees and cloud coverage: The consistency it takes from week to week to win 10-12 games.
Mike Gundy talks about this a lot. We probably don’t discuss it enough.
Here’s the reality: Consistency matters. Probably more so than greatness. You can average 75 points a game for the year, but if you get there by putting up 90 points in 10 games and 0 in two others, you’re still going to go 10-2 and not play for the national championship. On the flip side, you can score half that number of points but do it a 35-a-game pace and as long as you win every game by one point, you’ll be given a trophy at the end of the season.
This is why wins like the one Oklahoma State had at Iowa State on Saturday are impressive to me. I noted this after the game, but those are culture wins. Those are “I’m sort of sick of this season, but I love this group of guys and I don’t want to let coach down” wins.
“I sensed it during the week in practice,” said Gundy of OSU’s post-Bedlam lethargy. “The best illustration would be when you get sick and your doctor gives you antibiotics and you’re on them for a couple days. You don’t have any energy. That’s what I saw on Tuesday and Wednesday at practice. Their attitude was great. I just saw not as much energy so that was a concern of mine.
“That was the first time I’ve seen that this year.”
I got an email from OKC Dave earlier this year and we discussed the continuity of certain statistics. On paper, your season-long numbers should tell a story, but you guys watched the offense against Texas and then watched it against OU. And you watched the defense against West Virginia and then watched it against Iowa State. “College kids gonna college kids” was a phrase I believe he used, and it’s true.
Nick Saban is universally considered the best coach in CFB and still might not get enough credit for getting his team to show up every week.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 5, 2017
One of the more underrated aspects of the Gundy tenure is how he’s baked the understanding of seasonal rhythms into the OSU formula. I think some CFB coaches are just trying to get from one week to the next, but he sees the bigger picture, and he’s been rewarded for it with a ton of Ws.
And the ISU win on Saturday is a win that Oklahoma State has consistently corralled in the Gundy era. Criticize the Cardiac Cowboys moniker because they should be housing teams that they’re better than — this is a fair criticism — but give them credit for winning pretty much every one of these games since Mason Rudolph took the helm.
In fact, of the nine losses in the Rudolph era (eight with him as starter), only one came to a team that wasn’t ranked in the top 16 nationally (Central Michigan). They win nearly every game they should, even if they make them closer than they should be.
One of my frustrations with fans and bystanders is how flippantly they toss around 10- and 11-win seasons. Like, they’re just expected year after year after year. I think that most folks don’t fully understand the difficult of winning 10-plus games, and now Oklahoma State is on the verge of doing so for just the ninth time ever.
I don’t just mean for Oklahoma State compared to its past, either. I mean the difficulty of winning 10 games for any team in the country. Clemson, Auburn, Ohio State, anybody. It’s difficult to get that many things go correctly over the course of 13-14 weeks.
|2011||Big 12||12||1||Mike Gundy (12-1)||Fiesta Bowl-W|
|2010||Big 12||11||2||Mike Gundy (11-2)||Alamo Bowl-W|
|2016||Big 12||10||3||Mike Gundy (10-3)||Alamo Bowl-W|
|2015||Big 12||10||3||Mike Gundy (10-3)||Sugar Bowl-L|
|2013||Big 12||10||3||Mike Gundy (10-3)||Cotton Bowl-L|
|1988||Big 8||10||2||Pat Jones (10-2)||Holiday Bowl-W|
|1987||Big 8||10||2||Pat Jones (10-2)||Sun Bowl-W|
|1984||Big 8||10||2||Pat Jones (10-2)||Gator Bowl-W|
Can this season still be a disappointment if you don’t play for the Big 12 title and simultaneously a success for bagging another 10-win year? Sure it can. And guess what? That Big 12 title might not be out of reach quite yet.