Editorial: Gundy Wanted A Change

You can be perfectly clear on this, Mike Gundy wanted a change on defense. Or, maybe more precisely, Gundy wanted a change on staff. I should acknowledge that I'm maybe the worst person to speculate on coaching moves or changes. My batting average on being in the know in this area is lousy.

First, Les Miles tells me he isn't going anywhere and three days later he is on a jet to Baton Rouge. This time, while many fans (some of those that took offense to the cockroach comparison) were speculating that Vance Bedford might be gone at the end of the season, the evidence was never evident during bowl preparations or after the win over Alabama.

The timing was interesting too. The American Football Coaches Association Convention is the prime time to interview for openings. I've been told that while at the AFCA convention Mike Gundy is not out there in the middle of the lobby like a Mack Brown glad handing every person that passes by. Gundy keeps a lower profile and he likely did the same earlier this week in San Antonio as he sought out candidates that he wanted to speak with. Give Gundy credit, the story was kept very quiet until it broke this morning and that was after a source told me he informed Bedford of his decision late Thursday afternoon.

Bedford is a mature individual who has been in this business long enough to know how it works. I spoke with him Friday afternoon as he was working on a big pot of red beans and rice at home.

"You know me, I'm going to be OK," said Bedford. "I had a great time here and I enjoyed the players I coached and the coaches I worked with. I think Mike has a good program going and I think they will only get better."

Bedford said he didn't know what he was going to do yet, but he knows he'll get another job and be coaching somewhere next season.

He is a players' coach and the players did play for him and respected him. He was able to build a fire and motivate players. He also has a very good philosophy when it comes to defense, and his knowledge of defensive schemes and how to apply them is strong.

Still, the question begs is the change simply because the Cowboys finished ninth in the Big 12 in total defense, allowing 364.1 yards and 25.6 points per game? Those numbers in Big 12 Conference play were 401.4 yards and 30.4 points per game. Those numbers are enough to make a head coach consider a change but in many ways the defense showed marked improvement from the previous season.

There were 100 tackles for loss totalling 398 yards. There were 37 sacks compared to 18 sacks by opponents. Even an area looked at as a huge weakness, third down conversions, wasn't that bad. The Cowboys allowed opponents to convert on third down 35.7 percent, which was fourth in the Big 12 behind Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Nebraska. They ranked ahead of Texas in that category.

In the end I don't think it was stats. Bedford spoke his mind, and at times challenged authority and that is a dangerous proposition. The scene created in the aftermath of some heated debate late in the Kansas game caused an uproar that the media hit hard. There were other occasions that Bedford challenged certain individuals and certain routines within the program. I'm not saying he was right or wrong, but if you are going to engage in that activity your house has to be in complete order, or in this case your defense had better be dominating.

In today's world of modern college football there are two types of programs. First, there is the program where the head coach has the power of a dictator. Alabama, with new coach Nick Saban, is about to experience that. Saban will rule over all and will do it completely. Then there are the programs like the one Gundy runs. Yes, everybody can have an opinion and they are welcomed in the staff room. However, once the meeting ends and the program moves forward you need to be in line. Bedford strayed at times.

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