A Conversation With Mike Gundy: Part 1

Spring football and the end of the spring semester are both in the rearview mirror and the spring recruiting evaluation period is very close to concluding. That will lead college football head coaches and their staffs to the camp season, season preparation, some limited time with their players each week in the summer for the first time thanks to new NCAA rules, and family vacations.

All those will take place, in one order or the other, before the teams break summer school and report for preseason camp in August. History tells us it will be here before you know it.

Mike Gundy, like all Division I head coaches, is not allowed on the road for spring evaluations by NCAA rules. That allows for some organizational time, which Gundy uses and some time watching tape and evaluating recruits his staff is out seeing in person.

The way recruiting works at Oklahoma State, Gundy personally signs off on each recruit that is offered and also has to accept each commitment. That is why you get the "pistols firing" on Twitter from the various towns of Cowboy commitments.

Gundy also gets family time on this weekends this time of the year which means he and wife Kristen are following their two youngest sons, Gunnar and Gage, to various youth baseball tournaments around the region. That was the source of our early questions in our interview.

The head coach spoke to Robert Allen on his radio show (9:30 am-1 pm daily) on Triple Play Sports Radio Network (1020 AM, 1580 AM, and 105.1 FM also Apple and Android apps available) this past week.

He made a stipulation that he did not want to talk APR, but that is a subject that has been covered thoroughly here and in virtually all media outlets. Gundy has taken responsibility for the APR score deficiency and the Cowboys will be penalized one work day (two hours work time) with their squad this upcoming season. As you will hear Gundy has a feel for his team and the organization is there to handle that penalty.

You're playing or watching a lot of baseball with your kids these days but I know you keep up with OSU baseball. As a matter of fact, you played some infield as a freshman at Oklahoma State?
Gundy: I've always enjoyed it and it is a lot of fun to travel around and watch the young kids play. I'm really proud of what they have accomplished at Oklahoma State. I had a really good feeling about Josh (Holliday) and his tradition here at Oklahoma State and his long relationship with the game and great people skills and in helping young men and college athletes and the relationship. It is awesome and looking forward to the regionals and going all the way to Omaha.

You have lots of time on the road on these weekends driving your family to baseball tournaments and back. Wife and kids asleep, when you have alone time what do you think about with your football team, not organization, but the football itself?
Gundy: You do have the late nights driving home on Sundays, which means you probably made the finals and did very well in a tournament. I just think about what direction we need to go as a football team. I think each year it is important for us to identify who we are as a football team from a personnel standpoint in all three phases of the game.

It is very important as a coaching staff that we are able to communicate and relate that to our players and then practice that way in preparation for the season. At Oklahoma State we have been very fortunate over the last several years that we have had some really, really good players and a team concept in our chemistry. This may be the most important year for our coaching staff to really identify who we are with some of the youth in several positions.

When we have young players down the line get into the game there will be good young prospects with not much experience. So the majority of the time my thoughts go to how we can simplify what we do, not only X's and O's wise, but how our philosophies and how we practice to put the best product on the field with a group of young men that will play hard and care about each other, which is always the most important ingredient in winning in a team sport.

I know (defensive coordinator) Glenn Spencer was ecstatic at the end of spring practice with the opportunity for the coaching staff to have hours each week with the players. How will you use those hours with the team that the new rules allow this summer?

Gundy: We've had that plan in place for a number of weeks and we stay months ahead in our organization here in our building with our staff and players. I was one of the ones that was pushing for a little more ability to watch and observe our players in the summer. We are a state school and the tax players have a lot to do with the University. Our players are on scholarship (even though taxpayer dollars are not used in athletics) for school and we always felt that our staff needed to have some control in the summer.

I think this rule is going to be good. For us, here at Oklahoma State, we are adjusting this into what we have normally done in the summer. As you know, they are in school but they also train with Rob Glass, a pretty intensified training program to get them in cardiovascular condition for the season. What this will allow us to do is to make sure they are in class and are involved in the strength and conditioning, and the cardiovascular work that prepares them for the upcoming season.

They allow you two hours a week. I'm not sure how you can work in two hours a week with the schedule that they already have. We will plan on 45 minutes to an hour with the coaches studying in preparation, not only for coming opponents but our offense and defense and our special teams and philosophy in teaching and coaching. We are going to try and approach it from that standpoint that we are trying to get a little better each day and overload them.

I think it is important to keep them fresh mentally. In the summer there is a tremendous strain on their bodies to get ready for August. Once we get through the middle part of August the practices are reduced considerably and the prep work is in June, July and August. With it being so difficult on them physically, I don't want to overload them mentally and I still want them to enjoy themselves and feel like they get a little bit of a break from us. We'll try to get 45 minutes to an hour each week of quality football work.

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