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The Top 5 Quotes from Mike Gundy’s Pre-Big 12 Championship News Conference

Gundy talks Texas, Nick Martin and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — After starting the season 2-2 with a nonconference loss to a Group of Five program, Mike Gundy and his Cowboys turned the year around and will play in the Big 12 Championship the second time in three seasons.

Gundy met with reporters Monday to preview his team’s bout with Texas. Here are five quotes from that news conference with the full presser below.

‘Good for the Wellbeing of the Program’

In the past five seasons, only three Big 12 teams have made it to the Big 12 title game multiple times: Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State, each with two apiece.

The Big 12 is a conference of parity. This is the Cowboys’ second appearance in the past three years, being the only Big 12 team to do that.

With the college football landscape shifting because of conference realignment, a lot of talk in Big 12 country has been about which team will fill the conference bell-cow void that OU and Texas leave from a brand perspective when they go to the SEC. OSU seems to be in a decent spot to do that if it can parlay this year’s success going forward.

“I think it’s good for the wellbeing of the program, your donors, people that want to be involved with success, administration,” Gundy said. “I’m sure board of regents like it, enrollment likes it, university likes it. Recruiting-wise, it’s interesting, we talked about it a little bit — most of recruiting is complete. Now, can it help solidify those guys? I would say yes moreso than no. Not as much of an impact as it would’ve been in years where you were still finishing the last six or eight, 10 spots in recruiting. I’m gonna guess there’s a marketing value financially that we’re gonna gain as a university through making a championship game. So there are a number of reasons its a plus for us.”

On Nixon’s Fourth-Down Play

Jaden Nixon had 16 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards in Saturday’s 40-34 double-overtime win against BYU, but he is rightly getting swarmed with praise online from the OSU faithful.

A 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back from Dallas, Nixon caught a swing pass on a 4th-and-2 with 3:17 left in regulation. He caught the ball a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. Going into the boundary, there wasn’t a ton of space for the speedy Nixon to try to make a move if he wanted to. Instead, he lowered his shoulder and laid the boom on BYU defensive back Eddie Heckard about a yard short of the first-down marker, powering through Heckard for a first down.

OSU was trailing at the time, but OSU finished that drive with its first lead since it was 6-0 in the first quarter.

“A play we had in for that situation for him,” Gundy said. “He’s a good receiver. He’s a good runner, and he’s smart. He understands when he got near the first-down marker, he knew exactly what to do, where he dropped his pads and ran through it and knew that he just needed to get that yard-and-a-half. It was a really good football play. Big play, and a really good football play.

“[Heckard] played it perfect. He came off, he saw it, he read it, reacted — he played it perfect. We’ve run that play a number of times and not had a defender play it as well as that young man played it. The law of averages are against him. Jaden’s running full speed at him. It was a good play — certainly a play we needed.”

‘He’s Got Malcolm Rodriguez Numbers’

Everyone in the top 10 of OSU’s tackles in a season played before 1990.

James Ham (1985), John Weimer (1976) and Leslie O’Neal (1984) are tied for 10th on that list with 134 tackles. Malcolm Rodriguez came oh, so close to cracking the top 10 with his 129 tackles in 2021. But there is a new contender to crack the top 10, and he came out of nowhere.

Nickolas Martin hadn’t started a game before this season, and now he leads the Big 12 with 120 tackles. He has an 18-tackle lead on UCF’s Jason Johnson, who is in second place in the Big 12. Martin has two games to get 14 tackles to crack onto that list. He has had 17 tackles in a game twice this season. If he shoots his average of 10 tackles a game through OSU’s last two, he’d finish with 140 tackles on the year, which would put this season at No. 6 on that list.

“I think Nick’s at like 120-something tackles,” Gundy said. “That’s crazy. We talked about Malcolm Rodriguez and how nobody ever being able to do anything like it again. He’s got Malcolm Rodriguez numbers.”

On Texas Trying to Flip Ollie Gordon’s Recruitment

In past leadups to games against Texas, Gundy would often mention how there weren’t many (if any) players on his roster that the Longhorns offered a scholarship to. Well this year, the biggest piece to the Cowboys’ success did have an offer to be a Longhorn.

Ollie Gordon committed to OSU in February of 2021. Texas offered him in late November, trying to flip the DFW running back to the Longhorns shortly before the December early signing period.

It’s something I wrote about Sunday with Gordon’s perspective on how that went down. Gundy said Monday that UT came after him “like 12 hours before signing day” and “as soon as somebody else told them no.”

It’s worked for Texas in the past. Just this past cycle, the Longhorns flipped four-star Jelani McDonald from an OSU commitment.

I asked Gundy on Monday what those times are like from the coaching staff perspective.

“They’re going to pick the phone up and call and offer him, and if he’s gonna go to Texas, he’s gonna go to Texas,” Gundy said. “They might text me and say, ‘Hey, Ollie Gordon got an offer from Texas.’ And then I’ll text them back, ‘That’s great.’ There’s nothing I can do. I’m not gonna get on the phone and talk him out of it. If he’s gonna go, he’s gonna go — for the most part.

“Is it a little uncomfortable? Sure it is. But the one thing in recruiting now that’s different is the availability of phones and FaceTime and all the ways that young men can communicate with coaches all the time. You can’t keep them away from anything. It’s like way before you were born, in recruiting, coaches would go get a player and they would take him somewhere and put him in a hotel for two days and not let other coaches talk to him before signing day. Then they would sign him in the hotel room, and it was over. Those days are history now. There’s communication 24/7. It is what it is. If they go, they go.”

‘They’ve Been This Way for a Long Time’

Is Texas back? It’s a question that has been around for about a decade at this point.

At No.7 in the AP Poll, the Longhorns still have a shot at making the College Football Playoff for the first time should they make it past Oklahoma State this week. Texas has already won 11 games. It’s the first time the Longhorns have done that since losing the national championship game in 2009.

Whether they are or aren’t back, the Longhorns have always had outstanding talent, and this year is no different. Texas has had the top recruiting class in the Big 12 in seven of the past 10 cycles, being second to Oklahoma the other three years.

Gundy is 9-9 against Texas as OSU’s coach, but since 2010 he is 9-4.

“They’re this way all the time,” Gundy said. “They’ve been this way for a long time. When I first started playing them as a head coach 20 years ago, Mack Brown was the coach. They were top five in the country pretty much every year for a while. They got good players. I got a lot of respect for them. Sark does a good job. They’re well-coached.”

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