Mike Gundy on the college football landscape, new defensive coordinator Derek Mason and more


Mike Gundy sat down for a rare summer meet-and-greet last week with the great Dave Hunziker on Cowboy Insider’s OGI Summer Series to talk about the landscape of college football, its revitalization under the new leadership of the OSU, the enduring success of OSU (and in general) and much more.

You can find the full conversation here (which I highly recommend!). Here are some of the highlights of their discussion below.

• “The more we do, the more you start to realize what’s important. You get better with age at what you do. I feel like I’m better at raising my third son than my first. In the last three or four years, a lot has happened that has put a lot of people in a bad mood, not just in college football, but across the country. So it was discouraging. Then you have social media wear. I learned how fragile each day is for us.

• “[Chad Weiberg and Dr. Shrum] are now at the age where they are hungry, it is new to them, and they have been fantastic. They are ready to listen, ready to do what it takes to succeed. It was invigorating for me. We must work together. I have to commit them 100%. It’s important to me when I’m not coaching that this place operates at a high level. . .”

• “There are different levels of jobs and coaching programs in college football. There are certain schools that are going to have the depth of quality players who could potentially play in the NFL. If they can make things work, they can consistently achieve double-digit gains. Then there are the schools that don’t have as many potential NFL players, who are struggling to be consistent, like we do at Oklahoma State. Have a culture, do everything right. . . getting started and then maintaining a high level are the two most difficult things.

• On taking the post of OSU in 2004: “For at least six to eight years, I never looked up. I wasn’t smart enough to realize how difficult it was. If I had realized how difficult it was to get to where we are now, it would have scared me. I just did, I was lucky. We were able to grab some players and smart enough to know we needed glue guys, OSU guys within 2-3 hours that really nobody wanted, wanted to be Cowboys, guys that would put it all in play and who may not have been recruited. .”

• “Rob Glass basically directs the training of Navy Seals mentally and physically, so when we get them in August, they are trained.”

• Continuous rhythm: “The accessibility of it. . . I asked some of the state reporters if there was any other team that beat OU, Texas and Notre Dame in the same year. Has anyone done this before? If so, that’s a small number. Did this coach or team come from behind to beat all three? This gives you an example of what the tempo, fast attack has done for us. We started by equalizing when we faced teams that we thought were physically better than us. And we got really good at it.

• “I think it’s true, unless someone can prove me wrong: we invented RPOs. I’m not talking about inside running or throwing on the flat. To me, a real RPO is a real running block/throwing the ball down concept. We invented this. I think Coach Saban is credited with that. They did it many years after we did it, they had to do it, and he will admit it now.

• On Gundy’s surprise regarding the changes with NIL, transfers and the university landscape: “I never imagined that we would be at the point where we are for two reasons. One, it happened fast. When you are in a competitive sport and you give a human the opportunity to capitalize or improve your team, you will benefit. It happens quickly. We can complain about it, or we can adapt. . . the people who implemented the regulations did not understand the speed of it. Now we don’t have any more regulations or anyone to govern all of this. Its sustainability is my concern. It takes money. There are about 15-20 programs that have unlimited money. . . others cannot. There are 45 other power conference programs that cannot support it. What will become of them in three years? What happens to TV rights? What happens to athletic directors? . . . They have committees in place to try to regulate it. We have two problems. It’s hard to get people in a room to make a decision. Now you have a group of people trying to figure out how to fund college athletes, what rules to put in place. The rules that USC wants are very different from the rules that Western Kentucky wants. There’s a lot of uncertainty there. We have to adapt and move forward.

• On recruitment in this world: “We go through worldly things in life, in society, fads for lack of a better term, hot flashes, all that will calm down. I know the administration, the coaches, everyone is in a panic right now. College football fans are in a panic right now. It’s kind of media driven, social media driven, to incentivize, because it’s a good story. It’s driving the media market right now. I don’t think the financial aspect of what we hear about NIL – in my opinion it’s going to subside because it’s not sustainable. I could be wrong. . . when it does, what are you left with? Core values, your system, your culture. Things that we have been able to endure for 18 years. When it all fades and goes, that’s what you’ll be left with. For us at Oklahoma State, we don’t want to stray too far from the base. We want to deal with NIL, deal with young men. Will we lose? I would say you are probably going to lose players. . . if it happens, it happens. . . We stay the course with who we are and what we do.

• On Derek Mason: “He fits really well into our culture. He is a social person. Loves his family, loves the players. An autodidact who rose through the ranks. Has been head coach. He yearned to enter a culture where he could have fun and train. I got him at a time when he maybe wanted out of the game. . I convinced him to come into a culture where he will smile every day, I’m an easy guy to work for, we have good kids, it’s fun to work here. We are in a relaxed environment.

• “In my opinion, the greatest college coach of all time is Bill Snyder. . . Talks about Tom Osborn and other coaches who probably wouldn’t have had the same success at K-State as Snyder.

• “Jim [Knowles] is very smart. Entered the first two years in a system similar to TCU and Gary Patterson. . . and it didn’t really work. We had discussions and decided that it would not work. We had to make adjustments to the league. He listened, made some adjustments, had a lot of discussions about the changes. . . and we found what we were last year. (Which was the elite.)

• More from Gundy on Derek Mason and the D: “Coach Mason says he will come and run our system” (with his own spin on things)


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