Mike Gundy on College Football’s Landscape, New Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason and More

Mike Gundy sat down for a rare summer sitdown this last week with the great Dave Hunziker as part of the Cowboy Insider’s OGI Summer Series to talk about the landscape of college football, his reinvigoration under new OSU leadership, sustaining success at OSU (and in general) and much more.

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

• “The longer we do stuff, ya 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. The last three or four years, there’s just a lot that’s went on, put a lot of people in a bad frame of mind, not only in college football but across the country. So that was discouraging. Then you have the wear and tear of social media. I learned how fragile every day is for us.”

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

• “There’s different levels of coaching jobs and programs in college football. There’s certain schools that are going to have the depth of quality players that could potentially play in the NFL. If they can keep things running, they can consistently reach double digit wins. Then there’s schools that don’t have that two deep of potential NFL players, that fight to be consistent, like we do at Oklahoma State. Have a culture, do everything right. . . getting started and then sustaining a high level are the two most difficult things.”

• On taking the OSU job in 2004: “For at least six to eight years, I never lifted my head up. Wasn’t smart enough to realize how difficult it was. If I had realized how difficult it was to get where we are now, it would have scared me. I just did it, got lucky. We were able to grab certain players and smart enough to know we needed glue guys, 2-3 hour radius guys of OSU that really nobody wanted, wanted to be Cowboys, guys who would lay it on the line and maybe weren’t recruited..”

• “Rob Glass runs essentially Navy seal training mentally and physically so when we get them in August they are trained.”

• On going tempo: “The accessibility of it . . . I asked some of the in-state reporters if there has been another team that has beaten OU, Texas and Notre Dame same year. Has anyone ever done that? If so, it’s a small number. Has that coach or team come from behind to beat all three? That gives you an example of what tempo, hurry-up offense has done for us. We started it as an equalizer when we played teams who we felt were physically better than us. And we got really good at it.”

• “I think this is true, unless someone can prove me different: We invented RPOs. I’m not talking about inside run or throwing in the flat. To me a real RPO is a real run block/throw the ball downfield concept. We invented that. I think Coach Saban gets credit for that. They did it several years after we did it, they had to, and he’ll admit that now.”

• On Gundy’s surprise on changes with NIL, transfers and the college landscape: “I’d never imagine we’d be at a point where we are for two reasons. One, it happened fast. When you’re in a competitive sport, and when you give a human an opportunity to capitalize or make your team better, you’ll take advantage of it. It happens fast. We can complain about it, or we can adjust . . . the people who implemented the regulations, didn’t understand the speed of it. Now we don’t have regulations or anyone governing any of it. The sustainability of it is my concern. It takes money. There’s about 15-20 programs who have unlimited money. . . the other ones can’t. There’s 45 other power conference programs who can’t sustain it. What happens to them in three years? What happens to television rights? What happens to athletic directors? . . . They have committees in place to try and regulate it. We have two issues. It’s hard to get people in a room to make a decision. Now you’ve got a group of people trying to figure out how to fund college athletes, what rules to put in place. The rules USC wants is much different than the ones Western Kentucky wants. There’s a lot of uncertainty in it. We have to adjust and move on the run.”

• On recruiting in this world: “We go through things in the world in life, in society, fads for a lack of a better term, flashes in the pan, all this is going to settle down. I know administration, coaches, everyone is in a panic right now. College football fans are in a panic right now. This is somewhat media driven, social media, to instigate, because it’s a good story. It’s driving the media market right now. I don’t think the financial side of what we’re hearing about NIL — in my opinion, it’s going to settle down because it’s not sustainable. I could be wrong. . . when it does, what do you have left? Core values, your system, your culture. Things we’ve been able to withstand for 18 years. When all this fades out and goes away, that’s what you’re going to have left. For us at Oklahoma State, we don’t want to get too far off base. We want to deal with NIL, deal with young men. Will we lose some? I’d say you’re probably going to lose some players. . . if it happens, it happens. . . We stay the course with who we are and what we do.”

• On Derek Mason: “He’s a really good fit in our culture. He’s a people person. Loves his family, loves the players. Self-made guy who worked his way up. Been a head coach. He was hungry to get in to a culture where he could have fun and coach. I got him at a point where he maybe was wanting to get out of the game. . . I convinced him to come into a culture where he’ll be smiling every day, I’m an easy guy to work for, we have good kids, it’s fun to work here. We’re in a relaxed environment.”

• “In my opinion, the best college coach ever is Bill Snyder. . . ” Brings up Tom Osborn and other coaches who probably would not have had same success at K-State that Snyder did.

• “Jim [Knowles] is highly intelligent. Came in first two years in a system similar to TCU and Gary Patterson. . . and it didn’t really work. We had discussions and decided it wasn’t going to work. We had to make adjustments to the league. He listened, made a few adjustments, had a lot of discussions on changes . . . and we came up with what we were last year.” (Which was elite.)

• More Gundy on Derek Mason and the D: “Coach Mason says he’ll come in and run our system” (with his own twist on things)

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