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Mike Gundy Talks to Jim Rome About Defense, Recruiting and Having Fun



Mike Gundy went on the Jim Rome Show recently to discuss a variety of topics including his defense, how much longer he’s going to coach and what it’s like to recruit 18-year-olds. You can listen to the clip here, but we pulled some of the highlights.

On the OSU Defense

“We have a number of guys on defense — not anybody that everybody’s saying ‘Hey, this guy’s gonna be an all-american’ but I think overall we’ve got a better defense than we’ve had. We’re really fast. We have to stay healthy at key positions like every other team in the country. And we should be good on offense. I like the kicking game. We arguably have as good wide receivers as anybody in the country. We have a [former] freshman running back that rushed for 1,200 yards. We have a lot of things going for us.”

On Becoming a national powerhouse

“The one thing that I’m most proud of is we’re starting to elevate Oklahoma State University into being a national football school. And it takes years … That has been our goal day one.”

We’d like to pause here and talk about how this is a lot of the same stuff Gundy told Ryan McGee in his excellent ESPN piece on Gundy turning 50 (which you should definitely read).

Here are two quotes from that piece on reaching Everest.

“When you walk around here and you see what’s happened to this place and this program, and you saw where it was — you lived it like I have, like my teammates did, like my staff has, like my players did just a few years ago,” Gundy told ESPN. “Getting over that hump, man, that ain’t a hump. It’s a damn mountain.

“It’s not easy and never has been easy. But I can tell you this, when you finally have some success, when you win those battles and look into the eyes of the folks who have stuck with it through some really bad times — man, that’s a feeling like nothing else.”

McGee chatted with SportsCenter about the interview recently and just about what Gundy is like, and we thought that was pretty fascinating. Here it is.

Ok, back to Rome …

On how long he’s going to coach

“I think [that I can coach for 10 more years]. I just turned 50, I feel 35, I act 25, I’ve been fortunate with my health. I really enjoy being around the players. Every day I get up, I don’t have a feeling that comes over me like ‘Oh, man.’ I’m excited about getting work.

“When we have issues I’m excited about solving the problems. When we’re not playing as well, I’m excited about getting in the room and finding what the answers are and improving in the areas that we can. So as long as that’s good. I talked to Bob Stoops when he decided to get out of it. And, you know, he said ‘I think it was time. I just didn’t have that drive anymore’ and they say that’s what happens. I don’t see that coming on, but I do agree with what Bob said.

“When it does come on, this is too much to do this, it’s full-time, it’s 24-7, the phone’s ringing all the time recruiting. And if you’re not into it 100 percent, I would think it’s extremely difficult to be successful.”

On Recruiting

“I have to relate to young men that are in their 20s. Now I don’t pretend at any time to think that I can go hang out with them at night and relate to them. I don’t listen to the music you listen to, I don’t speak their language essentially, but I can relate to them on the important aspects of what it takes to lead these young men in this program.

“And in my opinion, you can do it different ways … For me, at Oklahoma State, and who I am, I can’t be anybody else other than myself, and I’ve always been more comfortable trying to stay up and stay with the times and relate to them the best I can and also remind them at times ‘I’ve already lived your life, I’ve done the things that you’re thinking about doing, make good decisions because I made a lot of terrible decisions when I was in college.’ And that gives them both sides of it from their head coach. So I think that’s helped me kind of stay up with the crowd …”

Here is one more quote from that original ESPN piece that stood out (again, go read it). It’s about recruiting.

“I go in, and somebody would say, ‘Coach, I want him to play for you because I saw what you did,'” Gundy told ESPN about the rant. “And most of the time it was a minority home, where we all know in America they still feel like they’re getting cheated. That’s life. We can all try to act like that’s not true, but it’s true. Which, I could give a s— if they’re white, black, whatever. I want good kids. But if they think there’s a head coach that’s white who comes in there, and they really believe he’s really going to fight for their son, that’s to their advantage. That’s powerful. I don’t ever want to let that family down.”

Back to Rome …

On the future

“I’m having a blast … I’m very comfortable now with what we’re doing here. I’m comfortable with the players, and so I’m going to enjoy my life. I’m going to enjoy the team, and that was part of the message that I gave them when we came back at the end of July, was ‘You guys are a good team. We have to have fun. This is a tough game. This is a gladiator sport.’

“If you’re not having fun doing this at times it’s not worth it. And so I want them to cut loose, I want them to take chances, I want them to have a little fun. And if we make a mistake and we screw something up, I don’t care. I want them to look back after four years here and say ‘I would do it again.”

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