Football: Gundy Q&A

This interview will be used in its entirety in the upcoming April issue of Go Pokes Magazine but we thought that you would like to read some of it now as the Cowboys head into spring.

GP: Has it sunk in now with spring about to start that you are the head coach of Cowboy football?
MG: It's started to sink in the last two or three weeks. I think from the organizational standpoint of exactly what to do in spring ball, our recruiting procedures for the next class, everything that is involved that I had to make a decision on makes it sink in quick. It's been a lot of fun. We are enjoying spring football. We've been recruiting and getting both sides of the ball going in spring practice. Even though it is a little bit of a down time for us we've been very busy trying to get on the same page for a month of spring football and get back on the road recruiting for next year.

GP: You have a lot of believers in Mike Gundy, but watching the feature that Channel 4 in Oklahoma City did with you and your family, there's no believer bigger than the one at home in your wife Kristen.
MG: I have often said that anybody that has been with me for 18 years -- how ever long it has been since we've been dating and been married -- there is a good place in heaven for her. I've been lucky to have her and she is a very strong supporter in her own way, offers advice on and off the field, and does a great job at home of raising my three sons. It is a relief for me to know that I can go to work during the day and somebody like Kristen is there for them. She does a great job. She has her own way of getting a feel for people and determining which way things are going. She offers great advice at times behind the scenes. She doesn't want to be out front, but she likes to be in her own little world and is very, very competitive and wants to win as bad as anybody. She will do whatever it takes to have success here, and her lifestyle change has been a much greater change than mine because I come home two or three hours later a day than I used to. I'm traveling and gone on weekends now and involved in some things that I didn't used to. It's been a change for her but she's accepted it and handled it well.

GP: You had to make two very tough decisions right off the bat in dismissing both Brad Girtman and Prentiss Elliott. I know you can't get into details but those are very tough head coach decisions.
MG: I learned quickly having this job that it obviously requires that I make tough decisions. Just in the short amount of time that I've had the job I've realized that most of my decisions are made for me, and I just have to gather the facts and the information and be the guy that says this is what we're doing. In an unfortunate situation like Prentiss and Brad, those decisions were made by those individuals. It is my responsibility as head coach to orchestrate everything and make sure that the system runs smooth. It's unfortunate and extremely hard for me to do that because I'm for the players and developing and building. I'm looking forward to things working out for them on and off the field, and at times when things don't work out then I have to make a decision for 115 players. I've had to make a lot of tough decisions in the last 30 or 40 days, but I was told by some other coaches, and it is starting to turn where I can see it, that when you make those decisions then you can go home and rest easy at night knowing it's what's best for the football program, this staff and this school. That's the way it is. I'll have to make a lot more of them on game day, off the field, on the field, in recruiting. It's certainly part of the job and I'm learning each day better how to make those and how to gather information to make very good decisions.

GP: You've opened practices. I know some of that is for the fans but there are other reasons too, right?
MG: Closing practice last year hurt us because we didn't get any traffic through here with our high school coaches. We are encouraging the high school coaches to get back here and be back of what we're trying to do. They like to come to practice and learn. Next spring and this fall we'll be over on the grass fields. Right now we can't use our grass fields because we're getting them reconditioned the way they need to be so we can use them throughout the season. The downfall of that is we can't let the high school coaches down on the field because of space, but in the future we want the high school coaches right down there with us.

GP: You really want to bring former players back in the program. That is a high priority for you, isn't it?
MG: I've been working hard along with our POSSE to do that. I've been on the telephone with former players all the way back to Walt Garrison. We are working hard for the April 9 scrimmage to get as many former players back as we possibly can. That is our final scrimmage and we've got some stuff for them to do. They can go on our web site and get that information. That's important to me. We've had that spring scrimmage where we've had that alumni weekend and only had 18-20 guys come back. That's crazy. My goal this first year is to get about 75 guys to come back and next year I'd like to have 150, and then in the future have as many as 500 come back for at least that one reunion in the spring. We want to get these players that have been through and have been out there and know what it's like and our current players can see them, knowing they've been there and have gone on to be very successful in the real world. It's been encouraging to me the work and what is going on out there for Oklahoma State football to try and get people in this family to come back. It's good for us as a program and good for Oklahoma State as a University to try and get these people back.

GP: Going into spring are you expecting a lot of player movement?
MG: We may move some guys during spring practice. We already moved Charlie Johnson down inside to tackle. The reason why is that have Paschal, we like Pettigrew and Justin Waller. We don't need four tight ends. We need an extra guy on the offensive line. We may try and find a linebacker somewhere. We may move a fullback or we move a safety down. It just depends on what Vance (Bedford) and the defensive staff see that fit that spot. There may be some guys move around a little bit. It will depend on our health during the spring and after the first seven or eight practices we might re-evaluate who we have and where they are at and then go from there.

GP: What is your philosophy on scheduling?
MG: I think that the first thing is that we play in the toughest division in college football. In my opinion, right now, the toughest league is the SEC, but the toughest division in all of college football is the Big 12 South. Because of that we don't want to schedule the big boys all of the time because you can't take the physical punishment in an 11, which is going to be a 12 game season starting next year, week in and week out. I want to play teams that help us in recruiting. I enjoyed the game with SMU in Dallas. I would enjoy having games in Houston, places in Texas. People complain about certain teams we play, but when you have to go through the league schedule we do you don't want to play games with the very big and mature Division I opponents because physically you won't hold up throughout the year. To sum it up we don't want to play a bunch of games that the fans don't want to come and see. We'd like to have some games early against teams that will help us get up and going and then we'd like to play games against teams in areas that will help us recruit.

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