A project born of a couple of days with his two youngest sons spent without a cell phone? A new innovation born of the continuing effort to find new ways to connect with the modern day high school football standout and college football recruit? Something to further inform media and fans? Something new that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh hadn't come up with yet?
It was all of those and more on Thursday when Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy announced at approximately 1:30 p.m. that he and his staff, primarily Chris Deal, his director of creative services, two new graphic designers in Joe Johnson and Forrest Buckner, and BFAC, a technical support and design firm in Oklahoma City, had launched the first ever college football head coach app for iPhone and Android devices.
Gundy made the announcement at the close of his weekly press conference. Gundy capitalized on a full media audience and made the most of the launch. Deal was ready behind the scenes to make sure the launch went smooth as he told me 48 hours into the start of Coach Gundy for your technical devices that everything had gone smooth.
"I checked and we had 5,000 downloads in the first 24 hours. I'm going to check later to see where we are after 48 hours," Deal said. "I think the first 24 hours is your biggest jump and that is a lot. I think it will continue to grow, but that is a great launch. I also checked the visitors and 75 percent of those were new views, the first time, but 25 percent of the views were returns or repeat viewers and I think that is good. Often somebody will go there after they download and forget about it for a while. Having that many return visitors is a good thing."
All of the Cowboys recruits, both committed, those they have offered, and those they have just made contact with were able to be informed of the app either through social media or mail. There is no doubt that group is a target audience, but so are you the fans. Heck, the media too is a target audience.
Gundy said he's learned so much on the viewing habits of the next generation of students and college football players because he has laboratory for that at home with his sons. He took note this summer when the cell phones lost reception when they took a side trip from a baseball tournament.
"When I was gone a couple of weeks ago with my kids playing baseball in Colorado, we had a break for two days between two tournaments, so we just got in a minivan and started going north," Gundy recounted. "We didn't stop until we got to Yosemite. Not Yosemite, Yellowstone. I wish we could have gone to Yosemite but we didn't have time. We went to Yellowstone. Well they lost cell service for a day and a half.
"Well you would have thought they lost their life. 11 and 14 I'm serious. For me it was awesome. Kevin [Klintworth] and Gavin [Lang] were trying to call me, and I don't have any cell service. They didn't have WiFi or anything. For 36 hours they lost essentially their phones. They wanted to turn around and go the other direction as fast as they could so they could get into cell service and get into WiFi service, and so that will give you an example of how important these guys are from a communications standpoint to who we're trying to target and what we're trying to accomplish."
Gundy seems to be as pleased with his new graphic designers as he is with his coaching staff after a big win.
"They've been awesome, and we need two more," Gundy said of Johnson and Buckner. "Everything is moving in that direction, you guys know that. It'd be a waste of oxygen for me to talk about how important technology is.
"You could read, there's an article on ESPN that talked about just recently you guys may have seen it today or yesterday. It came out and talked about how it's changed the subscribers and just what technology and social media is doing to all of our lives. So if we don't try to stay ahead of the game in that part of the world then we're really lessening our chances in recruiting the quality student athletes that need to come here and perform on the football field because that's the world they live in."
Speaking of ESPN, they didn't seem to be as excited about the app as others. It was featured in the new "Three and Out" segment on the new format of College Football Live and former LSU and NFL lineman Booger McFarland gave the major response to the Coach Gundy app.
"I'm not that excited," McFarland said. "In his years at Oklahoma State he has won one Big 12 Championship. He should devote more time to the field and less with his app."
The other panelists, Paul Finebaum and David Pollack, showed looks of disagreement with McFarland's harsh comment.
ESPN might have been a little mad since Gundy did not make the "car wash" trip with other Big 12 coaches to their Bristol, Conn., headquarters this summer, but this just in – any publicity for an app is good publicity.