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The Top 5 Quotes from Mike Gundy’s Tuesday News Conference

On John Smith, the future of the spring game and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — The Cowboys’ spring practice schedule is nearing its end.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy on Tuesday met with the media for the penultimate time this spring. Here are five things he said with a video of his full news conference below.

1. John Smith Needs a Statue

Gundy said he and John Smith made trips around the country together in their youth going to different freestyle wrestling tournaments.

Smith retired last week after spending 33 years as Oklahoma State’s wrestling coach. Gundy and Smith grew up near each other in the Mid-Del area. Thinking back to those days of the two going different places to wrestle, Gundy said everywhere they went, people knew who Smith was.

That wouldn’t change as Smith grew older. He went on to be a two-time NCAA champion and three-time All-American for the Cowboys and won six world titles and two Olympic gold medals. Then after all that, he took over as the Cowboys’ coach and led OSU to five national titles, and Smith finished with a program-record 490 dual wins.

“I was thinking the other day, I don’t know when they started on his statue, but it should have been a while back,” Gundy said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had anybody at this university that’s been the best at what they’ve done in the world for seven years. He was the best in the world at what he did for seven years. Barry Sanders was for one year, I agree with that. But John was the best at what he did in the world for six or seven years. Two Olympic golds, obviously, won [152] matches here, which I think is still a record, and he was their head coach for 33 years.

“So there’s nobody on this campus that deserves a statue more than him. The only debate is do you make it of him as a wrestler or as a coach? I say you make it a collage and do both.”

2. Elder Offensive Linemen Still Getting Better

The Cowboys have a lot of experience everywhere, but particularly along the offensive line.

Jake Springfield, Joe Michalski, Cole Birmingham, Taylor Miterko, Preston Wilson and Dalton Cooper are all super seniors in their sixth seasons of college football, and all but Cooper started their careers at Oklahoma State.

That group paved the way for Ollie Gordon to lead the nation in rushing last season, and even with all their experience, Gundy said the group can still get better.

“We have to be protective of them, as I’ve shared with you for three weeks, but they still get decent reps at seeing all the different looks and communicating with each other without talking, like knowing what they’re doing,” Gundy said. “If a backer moves over here and stacks, they know they’re gonna do this instead of that. Just things that you really never get enough of. When you have a veteran offensive line, you can do so many more things — integral parts of offense that are really detailed that you can do, that young guys, it spins there heads. These veteran guys, they can work on things that can make you much better.”

3. Logan Ward ‘The Guy’ at Kicker

As experienced as the Cowboys are throughout the roster, they don’t have anyone who has attempted an in-game field goal.

Logan Ward is the closest to being able to say he has, as he kicked seven extra points at the end of last season, making all of them. Other kickers on the roster are Thomas Murray and Kason Shrum, who haven’t played. The roster also includes punters Hudson Kaak and Wes Pahl. Both saw in-game action last season but haven’t kicked.

“Logan is the guy right now,” Gundy said. “Joe (Foteh) keeps statistics, puts them on my desk every other day of where we’re at. Logan is floating in the 82 to 87 [percent] range right now, which is good. The other guys are about 78 t0 82 [percent]. Right now Logan is the guy, but they’re getting some decent kicks.”

4. Stribling Has NFL Ability

Through four games last season, De’Zhaun Stribling seemed to be destined to become OSU’s next star receiver before an untimely wrist injury kept him out for OSU’s magical run to the Big 12 title game.

Transferring in from Washington State, Stribling caught 14 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ first four games, but perhaps more impressively, he looked the part on the outside for the Pokes with his size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and route-running ability.

The Cowboys are being cautious with him (and Talyn Shettron) this spring, as there is no need to rush him back, but Gundy is high on what Stribling’s ceiling can be.

“He’s got enough ability to play beyond this level if he continues to work and practice and take care of his body and all the things that are important to get to the next level,” Gundy said. “He’s willing to put the work in. We’ll get him ready. We’ll train him. We’ll put him in that position. He does have enough of that ability to go to the next level.”

5. Spring Game Could Be Gone for Good

For the second straight year, the Cowboys won’t have a spring game.

Boone Pickens Stadium’s north side was under renovation last year, and now the south side is being updated. Spring games across the country have started to resemble football less and less with programs justly not wanting their guys to get injured.

It was once a big recruiting deal for the program, but in the fallout from not having spring games, the Cowboys have been able to host recruits for live practices, where they get a better idea of what day-to-day life would be like as part of the program. That method seems to be doing just fine, as the Cowboys have secured five commitments in April.

Gundy said they need to find some way to engage the fans in the spring, but it sounds as if OSU’s spring game could potentially be on the outs moving forward.

“What’s happened here the last two years is almost like what happened in COVID,” Gundy said. “Like a lot of stuff in COVID, you’re like, ‘That’s a pretty good idea. I can stay home. I don’t ever have to go to the office. I don’t have to get out of my PJs.’

“I think we’ve learned not having a spring game, other than not engaging the fans — it used to be the fans and the recruits. Now the recruits are fine, it’s just the fans. We might have to implement something for the crowd, the fans, but it’s certainly more advantageous for us to have a practice.”

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