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The Rundown: Everything Mike Gundy Said at His Pre-West Virginia News Conference

Gundy recaps Bedlam and previews West Virginia.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — After a strong start to the year, the Cowboys enter the final week of the regular season at 7-4.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy held his weekly media conference on Monday. Here is everything he said.

On the demeanor of Oklahoma State on Sunday night

“We’re on a pass-fail system right, each week, I mentioned that. So we got a fail for last week and so nobody likes that, but the good thing about this generation, without getting into a long drawn out deal, they kind of roll through things pretty quick. They’re pretty resilient. You know, like the phones they’re on to the next video and they roll. We had a couple guys do a good job with leadership last night. So my job is to tell the truth, or give them my opinion. I can not be accurate, but I give them my opinion on what transpired and then what has to happen as we move forward. That’s really what we do.”

On players that stepped up in leadership

“Brock Martin said a few words. [Jason Taylor II] did a good job. Spencer (Sanders) always does a good job. Preston Wilson, we had some guys. They run on Sunday nights. It’s a difficult run, so when you win, it’s a fun run. When you lose, it’s even more difficult, but we had some guys step up and do a good job leading.”

On the importance of leadership at this point in the season

“Well they have to do it. It’s their team. It’s not me. All I do is tell them the truth and give them my opinion and then they can do what they want with it. And then we try to guide them to the next game as coaches. But they have to decide they want to practice hard and it’s important to them, because we don’t play, I don’t play. I think they understand that and that is not a concern of mine, but it’s important because they have to decide they want to do it.”

On whether anything surprised him rewatching the first quarter of Bedlam on film

“Not really. They got us in a couple of man-coverages, made good throws. (Drake) Stoops made good catches. And then offensively, the early scores allowed them to dial up pretty much anything they wanted to do on defense, because we were backed up and weren’t moving the ball at all. So it gave them a lot of freedom.”

On the assessment of the offensive line

“Well ironically, the guy that’s graded the highest the last few weeks has been (Jason) Brooks, and he didn’t grade out because he didn’t play. A couple of the guys that graded lower, graded higher in this game. So, I don’t have an answer for you. I’m being honest with you.”

On Oklahoma State throwing it seven-straight times to start Bedlam

“Well, we do a lot of RPO stuff based on the look. So maybe 30% of the time we dictate that, the rest of them time — just like [Oklahoma], they’re an RPO team. So the defense dictates run pass.”

On his conversation with Nathan Latu after the unsportsmanlike penalty

“Well, the truth is we talk about this all the time that, one we all know the second guy gets caught. So he’s sticking up for his buddy. He’s sticking up for [Mason Cobb]. And he’s explaining to me that they did this to [Cobb] and that’s why I did it to him. And I explained to him it doesn’t make a difference who they do that too. Cobb has a helmet on, he’s got pads on, he cannot hurt him. He’s going to be just fine. Don’t take it personally. That’s just lack of discipline. I love his competitive nature, he’s more in the games now since the other guys are hurt. So he plays more. He’s competitive nature is coming out, and I like that, but not in this culture, that’s not what we do here. They’re going to snap the ball again, you get a chance to fire away at him and have all the fun you want. And I just told him that. He said, ‘Yessir.’ And I said, ‘Don’t apologize to me. You need to apologize to the guy on the field that walked down 15 yards. I just want you to keep your composure and play real football. All the sideshow stuff I’m not much for.”

On Nathan Latu

“He’s played pretty good. He’s learning and sometimes he’ll get banged around a little bit, but he’s active and he’s a competitive — he’ll fight. Like we need fighters, we got guys that want to fight, and he fights. So he’ll be fine.”

On whether the inconsistencies on the offensive line are frustrating:

“They’re just inconsistent in areas. That’s all I was saying. (Jason) Brooks graded out the highest the last two or three weeks, I think, I don’t know how many weeks it’s been. And then a couple of the guys that didn’t, they graded out better in this game. So we need them to all come together. We need them to all play well and function, and as you know, we need to be able to rush the ball a little bit. You know, it’d be nice if we can get Dominic (Richardson) back at some point to put them all together and let’s get them all out there and let them go play.”

On Spencer Sanders and the imprint he has left at Oklahoma State

“I think that the fans are going to remember him a long time as a tough guy. His competitive nature, plays injured. He fights. You know, he took more hits Saturday, right? I mean, I’m sure all you guys now are cringing for me when he runs and takes hits instead of sliding. That’s who he is. That’s why we like him. That’s why the team respects him. He didn’t play as good as he would have wanted to, but we didn’t rush the ball and we protected him very below average. That’s what you get. So he forced a couple of throws that he should have just said, ‘You know what, it’s okay. We can kick a field goal or punt.’ That’s a difficult thing for a quarterback to understand. They always try to make a play. But his legacy will be his toughness, his long-term ability to play — I don’t even know how many games he’s played in now, somebody knows, 50-something. I don’t know. Between him and the guy from West Virginia, the defensive lineman, (Dante Stills), that’s been there since the 70s. When I turned the film on, I didn’t even know he was still playing. He’s playing again this year. I think he’s got what, 55 starts or something. But that’s what people are going to remember (Sanders) as. He’s just been here all the time for five years.”

On Spencer Sanders continuing to battle despite his struggles on Saturday

“He just keeps going. And I joke about it — the offensive line, they know it, they know they need to come together as a group. They know they’re switching positions, but nobody cares about that anymore. I mean, go play, make plays. And we know you’re playing guard one week and tackle the next. I’m sorry, life’s not fair sometimes. So they all know that. It’s not something they don’t know. And they understand it. And I’m not being critical of them, because they’re critical themselves, but when you have that and then a couple things go on, Spencer never says a word. He just keeps playing. Like he’s gone through another year, last year he went through not having any wide receivers available, until, well really all year until the end. And then this year with what’s going on up front and then the in and outs of wide receivers, and he never once says a word to anybody, never, he just keeps playing. And that’s what’s important. He’s a great product of this culture. He just keeps playing.”

On whether he knew they were getting that competitiveness when recruiting Spencer Sanders

“They talked about that at the school, but we don’t get a lot of really accurate information anymore from schools. So the world we live in in recruiting is extremely difficult because, it used to be 100 years ago coaches would go in and sit and talk to Coach Evans and Coach Huggins and Coach Tremble and Coach Smith all the guys at Midwest City High School, they would tell you about whoever you’re recruiting. Now you don’t get really good, accurate information. So you have to dig deeper, but the guys that coached him down there had been around a long time in Texas and so we got some quality information. And one of the things that they said about him was, if it was his choice, he would play safety and quarterback every game. And so that is a pretty good example of what we got.”

On why coaches do not tell the full truth in recruiting

“Oh, I think we live in a society where people, teachers, coaches, parents, administrators can’t really talk about things that may potentially say something that’s not good about a kid or they end up potentially in a lawsuit or out of a job. Can’t tell the truth anymore. The only person that does it is me in these media deals. You can’t do it, I mean, you go in to see Joe Blow here at some high school 6A powerhouse in Tennessee, and you go in there and the coach says, ‘Yeah, this guy’s a good player and all that, but you know, he ain’t very tough and I don’t know that he really likes football, but I know everybody’s recruiting him.’ And then that gets out, the Quarterback Club might can him.”

On needing quality information in recruiting

“I gotta have good, quality information. So we want to be able to go out and recruit the men that fit in this culture, but we need good, quality information. It’s difficult to find that information nowadays, because of counselors, teachers, principals, coaches fear of somebody in the local neighborhood might find out I said something that might not be as appealing about a young man, and instead of just promoting and selling him, that’s just a fact. We have to do a better job recruiting, digging into the details, but I was giving her an example with Spencer (Sanders). When the coaches told me he wanted to play free safety and quarterback, that gave me a pretty good indication he’s a tough guy.”

On college football having a full-time scouting staff like the NFL

“You want me to give you another Mike Gundy prediction that will come true. I hit them all the time. College football is going to turn into the NFL, you’re going to have a scouting service just like they do in the NFL. So our group, Todd Bradford, and all of our people that work for him, are going to be like the NFL somebody where they’re on the road and watching games live. They can go watch a young man five times. That’s where you learn about him, right? You don’t learn about him — we got all the video in the world. I can pull up every game that was played last Friday.

“So the NFL does that. They invest millions and millions and millions of dollars into a young man and they still miss sometimes. But they’re here all the time watching games live. I don’t know if the fans know that. But NFL scouts go watch college games live and then they watch them practice. So they try to get a good idea before they invest $25 million into a kid.

“Eventually college staffs are going to have a recruiting staff that goes out and watches guys play in my opinion, then it will also allow the assistant coaches to be with the current team that they’re coaching and helping tutor academically and athletically during the season, which is where they should be instead of out on the road recruiting on Thursday and Friday nights. Because these are like our own kids and we should be with them all the time, not leaving them at home. So eventually that’s going to happen and then you guys can say I told you that in three or four years, but they’ll have it eventually. Because we’re already paying these recruiting staffs now, what’s the difference? And they’re unlimited, right? There’s some SEC schools that have 20 to 25 guys on the recruiting staff.”

On how much of that potential future recruiting strategy has been discussed already

“Very little, but I’ll be honest with you, you guys probably have meetings where you get together as a staff, these meetings I go to when there’s 10 or 12 people in the room. I don’t even listen, because nobody’s paying attention and most things that we do are decided by a committee of university presidents and athletic committee. Coaches really don’t have much say so in any of that. They say we do, but we don’t really have much say so. But I think that’s where it’s gonna go, because it’s such an expensive side of it. These recruiting staffs that some of these schools have, it’s expensive. I’m talking about multi-million dollar-a-year investments. So they might as well be out recruiting, and then bring that information back to the staff. And then when the season’s over, the staff can go out and talk to these kids face-to-face and talk to their parents. But we don’t really have time to go watch and play. So we have to trust the five or six people that are out and get their opinion and then move forward. I think that’s eventually what’s going to happen.”

On more benefits of having more full-time recruiting staffers

“Even more so than ever, we talked about this with mental health, okay. More so than ever, the guys on our team need us around them all the time. That’s our job. And when we scatter on a Thursday night and a Friday and show up and go play a game Saturday, we’re not around as much. And you can say, ‘Well, they’re big kids. Figure it out.’ That’s true. But on a little smaller scale, it’s no different than you want to be around your children when you’re raising them. You want to be there to help them make good decisions or when they need help to talk to them, or when they’re hurting. It’s the same thing. So it would be good for the recruits, their families and for the coaching staffs if that was taken care of. Then everybody has a job.”

On potential roadblocks with his prediction for the future of recruiting

“Well, there’s always roadblocks when you’re trying to get things through an administrative group of people. You know, they’re having issues right now with who’s actually going to govern big-time Power Five football, because nobody is right now, right? That’s why we’re in the situation we’re in. So there’s discussions going on right now is who’s going to police all this? Who’s going to govern it? Who’s going to make the decisions? And they’re having issues, because some of the committees they have that are making these decisions and all these rules, have people on him that don’t have a representative at a big Power Five conference football school, when we know that that’s really what’s driving the train. And so, until they get that, whoever that may be, they’re going to always have administrative difficulties, in my opinion. Like I don’t make decisions on the rowing team at New Hampshire, and I wouldn’t want to, and I love watching rowing in the Olympics, but I don’t know anything about rowing. So I would not want to make a decision on that. So they’re going to have to form a committee of — to me a committee of more than three people is a bad decision, because if you get more than three in there, nobody can make a decision. But let’s just say it’s five. And they need to have Power Five conference football backgrounds. Let them start to make the decisions on the things that are important, right. (Transfer) portal, NIL, rules and some sort of cap for staff across the country. Because if they don’t start capping the staff. There’s going to be coaching staffs that have 80 people on it eventually over the next five to 10 years.”

On who he would want on that committee

“Oh, I could give you some ideas. You know, Bob Stoops needs something to do. He’d be good on it. Guys like that. They’ll be other guys that have been head coaches, and they’ve had to make administrative decisions in a lot of different areas, but they’ve also been around the players and they know the rules. Those guys could be a really good influence. It’s like Coach Beamer at Virginia Tech. I mean, he’d be a great one. He’s been around 100 years and he gets it. He knows it. He knows the players. He knows rules. Those kinds of guys would be very influential and make good quality decisions at some point, in my opinion.”

On if he could see himself on that committee

“Hopefully not for a long time. I don’t know what you’re hinting at there, but early in my career, I thought, no way. But I think that we’re in a very traumatic, volatile time right now in college football and there needs to be really good decisions made to protect this game if we’re not careful. That’s my opinion. So at some point, if I could help that to try to get this thing back on track, I think it would be important.”

On West Virginia

“Well, they’ve played good at times. They’re like everybody else in this league. The only team that really has been able to avoid anything has been TCU. They’ve been able to find a way to convert the last second or whatever. The other teams in this league have been vulnerable each week but then have shown signs of playing pretty good. And really, [the Mountaineers] fall in the same category. There’s times when you watch them on tape they’re playing as good as most teams in this league, and then there’s times, I’m sure, that Neal (Brown) would wish they would play better, like our team.”

On Neal Brown

“He’s a first-class guy. The conversations I’ve had with him at the meetings and before games and wherever else, the minimal times I’ve run into him, he understands family. He understands culture. He understands taking care of the right people and doing things the right way — from a distance, in my opinion. Obviously, I don’t know him real well, but that’s what I see with him. Our profession is difficult based on a variety of things that can happen. I just have a lot of respect for him as a person. And, you know, I hate that anybody has to go through whatever somebody could be going through.”

On the TCU-Baylor finish

“I was watching the game. That was right before our pregame meal. Very rarely get to do that, but I watched the game. I mean, I say the game, the end of the game.

“We’ve had hurry field goals. Unless Baylor would have laid on the guy that got tackled. They didn’t lay on him. So, what if they lay on him because you can’t make them get up. So what if they’re laying on him for five or six seconds? Could have been real interesting. So those things worked out great for them. Those things you practice, we practice, and there’s a certain time on the clock that you feel like that you can run a play and then still have enough time to get in and get out. But we have to work on a lot of things. Like for example, sometimes when we practiced it out here in the spring kicker is running on and he gets hit by a defensive player, knocks him back. I mean, seriously, you got to think about those things. And then he tries to recover, and then he gets out there later. A lot of things can happen, but that one fit their season so far. It was well done.

“What if he runs for 10 more yards? … So now we’re gonna get into this deep. This is good stuff. What if he runs 10 more yards and then Baylor lays on him? There is not a rule that says when you have to get up, so if he runs 10 more yards and then they lay on him, then they tried to get on. Now the interesting thing is if you could get some truth serum to Coach Dykes and to the running back or somebody on their staff, did he go to the middle of the field and stay located there on purpose? If so, that’s pretty good. But for a running back to do that, it’s not the easiest thing to do. We don’t run to certain places unless we’re coached to do it. So if all that was coached, it’s really, really good. But if he runs for 10 more yards, for example, if your defense is going out there, and you’re able to say, ‘Hey, if he starts running, just let him run. Just don’t let him cross the goal line.’ And he runs down there, another 10, 15 yards and they lay on him, might not ever get the kick off.

“There is no substitute rule in a hurry field-goal situation. So, when they sub, you’re talking about the old, ‘OK, we’re gonna get our group on.’ In a hurry field-goal situation, when they run on the field, you better run on with them because there is no stopping it. And if you’re late coming out or you’re late getting off, you actually get a flag.

“We’ve known that for several years. We had a situation like this. I can’t remember, but it’s been several years. And so we’ve had that discussion that in a hurry, hurry situation, they’re not going to let a team lose a game because you’re slow coming on the field. And they shouldn’t. The substitution deal is an issue that we have to deal with for college football to make better. You certainly don’t want this going on in the last-second field goal. I think it’s a good rule.”

On different teams playing in the Big 12 title game

“There’s a lot of parity, and we’ve talked about this. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time, but the portal and NIL has thrown everybody in a bag and you can just shake it up. That’s what’s happened. My job is to look at everything all the time, but some of the things that we’ve gone through this year would be a little different if the portal wasn’t in place. It’d be different, but it is in place. They’re gonna reel it back in. It’s gonna go away, but right now it’s in place.”

On what it would do for the conference if TCU makes the College Football Playoff

“At the point they’re at now, we should want them to be able to try to get in there. It elevates them, and it elevates everybody in postseason and all along, so on and so forth. For what they’ve been able to do, like they’ve been behind in the fourth quarter in six games, right? Or five? And to come back and do that and then what we were just talking about, so they put themselves in that position to kind of, you know, finish it off or whatever you want to call it. But yes, yes, we want each other to do good when we’re not playing against each other.”

On if Jaden Bray will redshirt

“He got hurt. He’s out, so he is redshirting. He’s out for the year.”

On West Virginia’s willingness to go for it on fourth down

“Well, we need to have a fourth-down plan. We talked about this five, six weeks ago. I guess now it’s been longer than that. However long ago we played Baylor because remember, Baylor was a fourth-down team. But we have to have four-down call sheets now, unlike what we’ve had to have in the past.”

On Logan Ward

“Doing good, isn’t he? We were awful the last couple games with what we were doing protection-wise and all that. We didn’t do a good job, but we altered some things with what we hope fits his style of punting. And we were better. Yeah, he did a nice job.”

On whether Ward’s punting style is different than Tom Hutton’s

“Oh, 100% because there’s no movement, so there’s no moving pocket. Tom could run over here and punt, run over here and punt, stay straight ahead and punt, walk over here and punt. So there’s really no target for a team to attack him in. When you’re this style of punter, you know you’re pretty much located in the same spot, so it’s different. Hopefully we’ve got our protection adjusted now where we’ll be better. We got away with poor coaching against Iowa State and got one blocked that very well could’ve cost us the game.”

On NFL players speaking out about turf vs. natural grass

“I have said that I think this new surface [in Boone Pickens Stadium] is safer than grass. Now, I haven’t done the studies. I haven’t done any research, so don’t pin that on me. But, we have played on grass surfaces where we’ve slipped a lot, where guys slip a lot. I have been really concerned about that. These new surfaces, even in wet conditions if you guys watch, you don’t see people slip much based on the stuff they use now. I don’t know about the NFL. I don’t know what’s going on there, I just know that to me, this surface that we use is really, really good. Now, somebody else is gonna have to do all of the research. And I don’t know that we have enough years of service on this to get a quality number, right? It’s like the FDA approving a new drug; it takes like eight years of studies. I don’t know that we have enough years of service on this, but I know that we don’t hardly ever slip on these surfaces.”

On OU’s cross-field lateral on a kickoff return

“That one was more of not the desperation, that was kind of a planned one. That was a nice thought. I don’t know if I’m giving somebody down there too much credit. I hate to give anybody that wears that color credit, but the guys that’s playing that spot for us, that’s job is to watch that, that’s the fourth guy that’s played that spot this year. He’s new. So, somebody might have figured that out, and then he’s bending too much. And then he has to have vision over there. If they figured that out and realized it was somebody new and all that, then credit to them. That’s a smart play. We see that play quite a bit where the guy goes and lays down in the end zone or fades off to the sideline and tries to hide, but they brought him over, almost in a return mode to about the middle of the field. We still should have known. If it would’ve been the guy that it normally is, I think he would’ve seen it because he’s aware of that, but new guys, they don’t figure that out. It was a nice play, well designed.”

On why OU did that up 28-3

“The next team might not provide them that opportunity and they practiced it. They felt like the guy we had checking the backside, they’re like, ‘Hey this guy just started playing. Maybe we can get this.’ He was bending on the play without having vision of leverage. They might feel like Tech doesn’t give them that play. Like they’ve watched it and go, ‘The other guy stays wide. Might as well use it.’ That’d be my guess.”

On what sort of reception he thinks Spencer Sanders will get for Senior Day

“Oh, people love him. I mean, everybody loves a warrior, and that’s what he is. He’s a gladiator and people like that. They’ll be excited but sad to see him leave.”

On Tanner Brown

“Really he brought himself — he and (Brandon) Weeden, it worked out good. He kind of brought himself and has developed into being a really, really good player.

“They train themselves. They’ll video themselves and send it off to somebody that’s a kicking specialist. I don’t know how they do all that stuff, but they all take care of themselves. They live in their own little world. (Matt) Hembrough, I think Hembrough is gonna play in the pros as a snapper. It’s the snappers, and the punters hold for the kickers, and the kickers are the backup punters, and they’re all just buddies. There’s like six of them. They travel around together. They’re all buddies. Tanner’s come in here, and we did not know what we had when he came here as far as kicking.”

On what he can do long term to fix OSU’s offense

“I got a lot of notes in my office. There’s a couple things that maybe we need to do differently than what we’ve done over the last 15 years schematically, but not a lot. Most offenses, as we know, are going to live and die with your quarterback. And then secondly, they’re going to live and die with a gamebreaker at wideout and running back. Then the guys up front, unless you’re — like OU’s offensive line is pretty good. I mean, they’re good. I don’t think they’re where they were a couple years ago. All those guys now are playing in the pros, but they’re pretty dang good. A lot of the other schools, if your linemen will cover guys up and they’ll fight and they’ll be tough guys, and you have a quarterback that can make a play and you have a skill kid and a running back, you’re gonna have good offensive numbers. We’ve not had that luxury consistently outside all year and in the backfield also. That’s one of the contributing factors. Schematically, we can do a couple things differently, but we don’t need to do a lot. And we certainly don’t want to panic. We need to get back into the flow. This is a couple years now where we’ve just not been able to put it together up to this point. And then we go out in the Fiesta Bowl and we run 600 yards of offense on Notre Dame. It’s been, to say the least, a little inconsistent for me also. But we have some answers, yes. Stay tuned at November of next year.”

On Matt Hembrough

“He came on his own. Those guys are aware that they can come here and walk on and if they end up doing it, they get put on scholarship. We knew that he was a good player but not like that. It’s hard to know when you have a young kid that they’re going to be like that good. Like, he’s really good.”

On how Hembrough got that good

“I don’t know. You’d have to ask him, and it’d be good to ask him. That’d be a good story. He’s a great kid. And I’d like to know. I’ve never asked him. I didn’t want to mess him up. They do it on their own. [Zach Allen] did it. I don’t know how they do all that. They train and people watch them. They send a video to some guy in Dallas that teaches deep snappers. They have their routines in what they do. Now, I will say this for Hembrough, he developed himself with Coach (Rob) Glass big time. Changed his body completely, which obviously helped him a lot.”

On whether he has changed how he recruits specialists

We recruit a certain number of scholarships for those three positions. In most cases, it’s when one goes out, we’ll bring one in. We don’t recruit them every year. Because most years, you’re gonna finish with your long snapper, your kicker and your punter. Now, this year we haven’t had much luck with injuries. We even got our punter hurt, which is pretty rare. But you can’t stack those guys. Well, I guess you can, but we don’t stack them up numbers-wise because if they’re not kicking or punting or deep snapping, most times they’re not on the field. So, it’s not a good numbers game.”

On identifying walk-ons

The young man down at Marlow [Jace Gilbert], didn’t he go to Iowa State? Yeah, we were trying to get him to walk on here. We go after those guys to show them what we have and all that. He ended up going to Iowa State. I think they scholarshipped him. But we were trying really hard. He was a quarterback, a really good basketball player, good athlete, good mom and dad, good people — we thought he’d be good for our culture and I think they scholarshipped him.”

On his favorite Thanksgiving side

Thanksgiving, I like to do the side stuff. I don’t like to do the turkey and ham and waste my time. The green bean casserole, any kind of potatoes, my sister does good sweet potato casserole — she does marshmallows. … Hold on, I got some good stuff here. Broccoli casserole. My sister’s girls are health nuts, so they do like fruit and all that stuff. You put it on your plate and you walk by and you [scrape it into the trash]. You don’t want to be on Thanksgiving eating healthy. I don’t waste any time … mashed potatoes and gravy. I don’t waste any time with meat. [Cranberry sauce?] Oh yeah, mix some stuff in it.

“I got a good story. We have one family member that used to take the cranberry sauce and in like a Jello deal and then whatever’s in the refrigerator, just dump it in and stir it all up. It might be crackers, it could be carrots, whatever. And that was definitely like the stuff that got slid over to Cousin Eddie. It was like, ‘Yeah, he’ll eat it.’ But all the side stuff — good stuff. You really don’t want to eat healthy on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Then there’s always, well, you guys might not have this, but there’s always two or three people in the family that drink too much, right? They go straight for the wine and all that, but anyway.

“My sister’s husband is a hotel and restaurant grad from OSU, so he knows how to cook, like big-time cook. We put it all on his plate. Make him do it.”

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