As a contribution to our 50 things we love about Mike Gundy story, I laid out several things I enjoy about the head man himself. But as a former OSU football player, I found myself writing at length about some of the qualities I admire about Gundy after getting to know him in a more intimate setting.
Hope you enjoy my perspective, as well as a fun anecdote from my undergrad.
1. Marketing Strategy
Coach Gundy is not bothered by the fact that he is the head coach of the school with the smaller fan base in Oklahoma. He promotes the team like they are the only team in the area. He was the first coach with an app, and he’s completely on board to go all out when it comes to uniforms, graphics, recruiting, mullets, singlets, etc.
2. The Dance Movement
There’s no one in the nation who can get down like Coach Gundy.
— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) October 29, 2016
I am amazed by how Coach Gundy is able to bring Stillwater together, especially in crisis situations like homecoming in 2015. There are things we can control and things we can’t control. We couldn’t control what happened in that tragedy, but Gundy led the team to do what they could to help the people and families of those involved in that incident.
4. Hey, Coach. I’m Justin Southwell.
After about a month of being on the team, I had finally built up enough confidence to talk to Coach Gundy. We had broken down the huddle after practice and everyone started making their way back into the locker room through the tunnels of the West End Zone. I noticed Gundy was a few feet in front of me and was walking unimpeded by anyone.
This was my chance to let him know who I was, how excited I was to be on the team, and that I would give it my all in every chance I got. I jogged up next to him and said, “Hey, Coach. I’m Justin Southwell…”
“I know who you are,” Gundy said.
I was shocked. “You do?!”
“You won scout team player of the week a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “Why weren’t you in the team meeting the other day?”
“Oh, yeah. That was me,” I said. “I was in class. My schedule was set before I made the team, so I can’t make it to meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
“Well, that’s good. Keep going to class,” Gundy said. “Where’d you go to high school?”
I told him that I went to Westmoore where I played football and wrestled. We talked a little longer about a potential recruit from my hometown before we got into the locker room and went on our separate way.
I didn’t get to tell him that I was grateful and excited to be on the team, but I think he already knew. Even before I came to OSU, I admired him as a coach. It was really awesome to see firsthand that he cares about everyone on the team – even the walk-ons that have only been there for about a month.
One of my best friends from the team, Anthony Hill, lost his uncle during the summer of his senior year. Hill continued to work hard through this tough time but never said a word about the loss of his uncle to Coach Gundy. This news made its way to Gundy and he made sure that Hill was able to go back home to Kansas City for the funeral. This undoubtedly meant so much to Anthony and his family. Things like that prove that he cares so much for his players. Coach Gundy will decide to do something like that without looking for any kind of recognition.