July 22, 2013

Big 12 Media Days commence

The annual Big 12 Media Days kicked off this morning with Commissioner Bob Bowlsby at nine this morning. Oklahoma State fans didn't have to wait long to hear from head coach Mike Gundy.

The questions for Gundy, who is entering his ninth season at Oklahoma State, started in a predictable place - the recently-released preseason poll that tabbed his Cowboys to win the conference for the second time in three years. Specifically, he was asked what the poll says about the growth of his program.

"I think what you said really is the way we look at it. I think there's been some growth in the program at Oklahoma State," he said. "I think it's a tribute to the players that have been before this group, the young men that are on our team now, and the ones in the future. They've got a lot to look forward to.

"I know that it won't have any effect on our season, but I do think it means a lot to Oklahoma State that people feel comfortable in saying that we're good enough to have the opportunity to win a conference championship."

Given that the Cowboys' official post-spring depth chart had quarterbacks Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt all listed equally, the position was also a hot topic. Since a preseason battle between incumbent starter Donavan Woods and freshman Bobby Reid in his first season as the head coach at his alma mater, Gundy has typically played quarterback races close to the vest. Don't expect that to change with this fall camp.

"I think that we'll continue to work like we have," he said. "We've got two young men that we feel very comfortable with, and they've worked, and they're extremely dedicated to our program. They're great team players. They'll get equal reps.

"The one advantage we have in our offense is in practice and even in games we get a number of reps because of our tempo. We expect to play very fast this year. So we'll work both guys. We feel very comfortable with them."

Foreshadowing what would become yet another hot topic, Gundy pointed out that there is some small advantage in not naming a quarterback ahead of OSU's season opener in Houston against Mississippi State.

"Won't say much until after the first game," Gundy said. "We play a very quality opponent the first game. So we'll need to use every advantage we have to give ourselves the best opportunity to win that game."

Control over scheduling was a push-button issue when Gundy's name was associated with openings at Arkansas and Tennessee following last season. It is fairly well known that Gundy's preference is to open up at home against a non-"name" opponent and that he wasn't necessarily a fan of the Cowboys opening at a neutral site against an SEC school

Specifically, Gundy said he has two primary concerns; how it changes the Cowboys' approach in fall camp and the long-term affect.

"Well, it certainly changes our approach as a coaching staff." he said. "The truth of the matter is we know that, when you play an opponent that on paper is going to have as good a players -- we could debate SEC versus Big 12, and we could start lining them up and going head to head on paper, but we all know the parity that's in the Big 12 and the SEC that when you play an opponent that's in the category that Oklahoma State's in and Mississippi State's in, that you have to play well in the first game to win. I think we would all agree on that.

"So it changes our approach as a coaching staff and what we do in preseason practice.

"My concern is whether that affects us in November because we really need to be strong in the last week of October and up through November to make that run."

The speed at which many modern offenses run has been a major topic of discussion since Nick Saban and other head coaches questioned whether high tempo offenses were good for the game. Not surprisingly, Gundy is squarely in the "good for the game category."

"I think it's tremendous for college football. I think that's why college football has gone through the roof, and there's so much interest. There's been so many different people that are involved in college football now because of tempo and spread offenses.

"It would be a huge mistake for somebody to be convinced that that would have in any form or fashion or reason to cause any injury. We're spread out. We're throwing it. There's not as many collisions compared to putting everybody together tight and ramming everybody up in there and being a pile. So I certainly don't agree with that. I think it's great for college football."

Gundy will be running high-tempo with new coordinator Mike Yurcich. In our next story from the Big 12 Media Days, we'll cover that topic.

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