Gundy Knew OSU Would Be A Challenge

Mike Gundy says when he took over the program 12 years ago that he knew there would be challenges to building a winning program that will be playing in its 11th consecutive bowl on Dec. 29.

Mike Gundy is now the winningest head coach that Oklahoma State football has ever had. He is 103-50 as he heads into the Alamo Bowl Game with 10th-ranked Colorado on Dec. 29.

Gundy long ago passed his head coach Pat Jones as the all-time winning coach at Oklahoma State by number of wins and by win percentage. Gundy made an executive decision on Friday as he put his team through two-a-day practices with the team going in the morning, meeting in between, and then going again late Friday afternoon.

The head coach wasn't trying to pull a Vince Lombardi or on this campus a Mr. Iba or an Eddie Sutton as the two hoops coaches used to put their teams through multiple daily workouts during the break between semesters. Gundy was trying to keep his players out of being outside for two hours Saturday afternoon in what is now projected with wind chill to be temperatures in the teens or even single digits. 

"The weather has been crazy and it was warm today, so it made more sense to get the work in today," Gundy explained. "The players have Sunday off so we will have them lift and will meet on Saturday. It just makes sense to try to keep any of them from getting sick being out there. Even in the indoor, when the weather is like that it is cold."

A good decision because there is no need to practice in the cold when the bowl game is inside the Alamodome. The team will work out on Monday and Tuesday in Stillwater and then break for Christmas before meeting up on Friday in San Antonio to start bowl workouts. 

In his news conference this week, Gundy was asked about a lot of things, including his contract extension, which has not been signed, his legacy and if he is worried about it. But an interesting question was what he thought the challenges would be at Oklahoma State to build the kind of program that the school, Gundy, and his staff and players have built. The kind of program that goes to 11 bowl games in a row.

"I thought it would be a challenge to build a program like this and have this kind of success and run a clean program, which we were dedicated in doing," Gundy said.

He said in the recent years another challenge was recruiting top players, feeling like you were in on them but then losing them at the end of recruiting. Gundy compared it to going out to the clubs and flirting with the prettiest girls but then striking out and leaving alone. He confessed that his staff keeps a "B" list to have players they know can play and that they can recruit.

Oddly enough, a good chunk of players that helped Oklahoma State get to the Alamo Bowl this season are going home to play in the game. They are fronmSan Antonio and Gundy is proud Oklahoma State kind of opened that city up and has made it a popular place to recruit. The bad thing is it has increased the competition as San Antonio has become more popular to recruiters.

"It has in the last six or seven years," Gundy said. "We were able to identify quite a few players in our travel camps that had good numbers. When we did research on it, the number of schools that were spending quality time in that area was somewhat minimal compared to the major metropolitan areas in Texas.

"We started to jump in there and had some success with Ryan Simmons and those guys, then word got around. We just kind of followed up and we've been very fortunate to get good players and good quality people here. It's been a really productive area for our program."

Gundy also said that OSU is seeing in-state recruiting getting better and he knows the Cowboys need to get their share of players.

"Oklahoma is getting better and better each year, which is really good for us," he added. "The number of players that are being evaluated by us, and the number of players that we think are good enough to play in this conference, has gone up considerably in the last few years, in particular. Even more this year, and I foresee next year being even better."

Hopefully a successful trip for the bowl game including a win will make sure the next few recruiting seasons the Cowboys recruiters won't be coming home alone. They'll have plenty of talented prospects ready to sing on the dotted line.

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