Analysis: Gundy Points The Finger, At Himself

While Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy shares credit with Boone Pickens, other donors, athletic director Mike Holder and others for orchestrating the success of Oklahoma State football over the past decade, when things go bad a certain faction of fans love to point the finger at the head coach.

Gundy has been accountable in the past and to be honest had every bit the hangover and disappointment to deal with the way last season ended with Bedlam and the Cotton Bowl losses.

Saturday night the young Cowboys with five first-time starters on defense, three first-time starters on offense, and 18 players playing their first play of Division I college football either as back-ups or on special teams, the Cowboys battled the defending national champion and top-ranked Florida State Seminoles to a 37-31 finish.

It's a loss, where turnovers and special teams miscues including a missed field goal, two bad snaps on punts, and a poorly executed kick return, made a difference in the game (as did a trio of awful missed calls by the Pac-12 officials).

Gundy, who followed the first call, a fumble missed where FSU running back Karlos Williams was called down and forward progress stopped before the fumble and OSU recovery, with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Gundy was active and re-active all night long and in the end pointed the finger of blame at himself.

"We weren't very good on special teams during the game and it is unfortunate that we let that effect the outcome so much and that is my fault," Gundy said. "I am responsible for that and I will get that fixed before the next game. Obviously, I didn't see that coming and I feel bad for the players that we weren't sound in our special teams like we needed to be."

After the game, Gundy did something that I have only seen him do once before. He shut the locker room to all but players and necessary personnel such as equipment and medical. Specials guests on the trip with bench passes, other athletic department personnel, and the sideline and locker room radio guy, yours truly, were asked to go outside.

Later, I found out Gundy said to the team much of what he said to us on the radio broadcast and much of what he said in the media interview room. He was very proud of was his young Cowboys falling behind 17-0 only to have the older leaders on the team like J.W. Walsh, Daniel Koenig, James Castleman, and Ryan Simmons have the younger players follow them and stand straight up and punch Florida State back all night long. It would have been really nice if Oklahoma State could have punched first.

I can hear the chorus, as Cowboys fans begin to lose some fascination with the hard-fought and respect earning loss to Florida State there will be some angst over not finding a way to close out an opportunity to win a big game, but then again, Gundy is ahead of you.

"Overall, I am very proud of our team but this is the third game in a row that we've been in like this, Florida State, Missouri, and Oklahoma where we had every opportunity to win in the last five minutes of the game and we didn't finish," Gundy added. "We need to find a way to finish. It starts with me and it starts with the coaches and goes right down to the players."

Agree on this, you may be upset and thrilled at the same time. The Cowboys lost their third game in a row but played a national championship winner and projected repeater off the charts.

Now Oklahoma State is being looked at as a contender in the Big 12 for this season and not the next two years. Bricks, mortar, fancy interior design, weight room, training room, locker room, and stadium have all helped, but the work and attitude of the football staff from coaches to administrative staff to equipment and medical helped put Cowboys football in this position.

It helps that the head coach knows where to point the finger.


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