Impact Of The APR Reprieve

STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State football staff was in the staff room meeting since 9 this morning. On the agenda were final revisions to the itinerary for fall camp, which starts on Thursday when the players report back and practice begins on Friday. The itinerary is a 20-page product of director of football operations Mack Butler and it is the road map in some ways through the preseason.

The staff also discussed recruiting. Houston (Kinkaid) offensive guard prospect Tyler Higby and his family had visited on Monday and the 6-4, 285-pounder has an offer from the Cowboys.

A good 45 minutes was spent discussing the changes the Cowboys were going to have to make to their routine each week during the season because of the NCAA-imposed APR penalty. The penalty was going to take away one day and a minimum of two hours of preparation time each week during the season.

The majority of the staff had thought giving the players Sunday off was the best answer. The meeting adjourned with no decision, but as the staff filed out I was told athletic director Mike Holder was there to speak with head coach Mike Gundy and inform him that the APR penalties had been lifted.

So the Cowboys coaching staff maybe wasted 45 minutes Tuesday morning, not to mention all the previous minutes spent on the subject since May. But at least 14 days of practice were saved and at least 32 hours of practice or meeting time gained back.

Gundy and the Cowboys will take that any time. A former player from the decade of the 1990s decided to come back and get his diploma and his one graduation point awarded under the APR formula was enough to put the Cowboys in the good on the NCAA scale.

What does the reprieve mean for OSU football this season?

Most coaches, players, and football programs as a whole are routine oriented and driven. Some are more than others, and Mike Gundy is very routine driven. So much so that when the Cowboys are forced to vary their routine the head coach is not a happy camper.

The program has used a game week routine of Sunday check-in, lifting, meetings with video, dinner, and a short practice. Monday has been a day off and press conferences with the coaches game planning.

Tuesday and Wednesday are heavy practice days with meetings. Thursday is a shorter practice split up against scout teams with polishing on special teams and game plans on both sides of the ball. Friday is meetings, travel (if a road game) and a walk thru. Saturday is game day.

Now the Cowboys can stay in the routine that has become familiar and comfortable and led to many successful seasons.

If the APR penalties had come before the 2013 season then they might not have led to much of a difference. When you are playing with so many older players that have extensive game experience then a few hours missed on the practice field or in video study with the coaches might not have mattered much. In discussing it, Gundy even told me with an older team the extra day off might have been a plus late in the year when players are banged up and sore.

However, this season these Cowboys are dominated by youth and the experience present is confined to less than a season for most players that have played and so many have played very little, if at all. With that kind of team, every hour, every meeting, each video study, and obviously, a full day of preparation is vital.

I don't know who that '90s player is and unless he wants it known none of us likely will, but by coming back and getting his diploma he may have scored huge for Gundy and the 2014 Oklahoma State Cowboys.


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