Did Loss To Houston Set Back Program?

It's been nine days since Oklahoma State's 34-25 loss to Houston – an area where the Cowboys recruit heavily and more than 20 current players call home. So how much did the loss hurt and what has OSU head coach Mike Gundy learned about his program in the time since his team's first loss? We asked him, and I think you'll be surprised at his answer.

"That's a good question. (long pause) Yeah, I have (learned something). One thing is we still get bashed with prospective student-athletes and recruits (wanting to know about OSU)," Gundy said. "They don't care (that we lost to Houston).

"We have a (about) 100 players that we call every week … so they give me six or eight or 10, whatever they want me to call. Every one of them I talk to (says) ‘Coach, I can't wait to get up there and visit, and see the new facility.' You would think you would get some of the …. I don't know what you'd get, but I think I learned something about the direction our program is going just from that."

Gundy says the players he has visited with see the progress the Cowboys have made in his two seasons as head coach, and want to talk about that and not how OSU lost to a Conference USA team.

" I don't think there is any question," he said. "I think there are a couple things that I don't think anybody can hide in recruiting. Everybody can say what they want to, but when I was back in school in the ‘80s we didn't have study hall. We did, (but) you walked into one room and there was one person sitting there, and you walked out the back door. That's what it was. That's what you had.

"Now days look at what you have. You have $4 million academic centers, and you have a staff of 15 people, and you have enough computer equipment there to run NASA. (I hear parents who are concerned and say), ‘So you stress education and the opportunity for my son to have success in school, and be very well taken care of by the people who touch his life every day, and his living conditions be good.' Those are more important than it's ever been before. Because of what's happening here, and the reputation we have of taking care of our players, and what we're doing facility-wise, and the attitude here, it's helped us tremendously.

"There's no question it's much different than it was 10 years ago. They didn't talk about academics and things when we used to recruit kids. Nobody every talked about that. How many players did you used to call back in the ‘80s and say ‘I'm interested in Northwestern because they have a great academic tradition.' Everyone I call (talks about it now), and every mommy and daddy I talk to (talks about it). (The parents used to ask) when does he play, who's in front of him, how many tailbacks do you have? Nowadays that's a very minimum part of recruiting. It's about taking care of him academically, and all those other things I talked about."

Gundy's Day At Home With The Family
OSU head coach Mike Gundy is not unlike other Cowboy fans who enjoyed Saturday away from college football – he mowed his yard. "My 2-year-old rides with me, and it gives his mom a break," said the Cowboy head coach. "Then I went to my 10-year-old's football game, and then I babysat that night while my wife when to Orange Peel."
Gundy admitted that he did watch some football on television. "I did not watch a game until about 5:30 because I was at (10-year-old Gavin's) game. I was flipping between (Kansas-Nebraska) and the Ohio State-Iowa game. I was flipping back and forth but truthfully when you have a 4-year-old who wants to play tackle football, and a 2-year-old, you don't see a lot."

By the way, the Golden Eagles (Gavin Gundy's team) won by the score of 38-0. Gavin plays center and on the defensive line.

Cowboys Again Open Big 12 Play On Road
The Cowboys will play their conference opener on the road Saturday for the eighth time in the 10-year history of the Big 12. OSU's only Big 12 openers at home came against Colorado last season and against Iowa State in 2004.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the home-field advantage is proven more now than it has been in years past. I guess we're not in tight with the commissioner," Gundy said. "I don't know. I don't have an answer for that. Now at times games can get juggled around a little bit because of nonconference, home and away (situations) … I don't know how that happens. It's a good question, though."

Van Zant Nominated For Courage Award
Cowboy cornerback Martel Van Zant, who is deaf, has been nominated for the FedEx Orange Bowl FWAA Courage Award, which will be announced at the end of the 2006 season. The requirement for being nominated include displaying courage, on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Van Zant relishes being looked up to by others, especially children who are hearing impaired. "I enjoy all these kids that look up to me as a role model," Van Zant said through interpreter Allie Lee. "I've received letters from deaf kids in Florida. When I went to the State Fair the other night I met some deaf kids out there, and some kids recognized me. They recognize me from TV, and they think it's pretty cool."

Van Zant, a junior management major, is scheduled to graduate on time.

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