I’m not an Oklahoma State fan. One look through the Heartland Sports Twitter account during Bedlam week will make that clear. However, I am a long way off from being a Mike Gundy basher. He’s certainly not a perfect coach but there’s no way you’d convince me that OSU Football would be where it is today without him. The mullet literally made the Cowboys a national brand.
All that said, I think Gundy is way off on his stance about not making the conference championship. When asked on Monday by the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig about not making the conference championship game, Gundy went into an extremely awkward dialog about not winning the championship if it resulted in losing seasons to come and there really is no second place prize in the conference.
“If you have a good run and get there and then the next two seasons you have a losing record is that productive?” That’s how Gundy responded to not making the conference championship. That’s not a good response!
TCU made the conference title game in 2017 and then went 6-6 during the 2018 regular season before sneaking past Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl. Texas followed up its 2018 conference championship appearance with a 7-5 record in 2019.
The 2020 Baylor Bears are the only team to drop a losing record in the year following the Big 12 championship game since the conference reinstated it. Prior to that it happened just five other times from 1996-2010. Texas did it in 1997, Kansas State did it twice (2001 & 2004), Colorado in 2003 and Nebraska was awful in 2007 after playing for the title in 2006.
So, what point is Gundy making here? Is he seeing losing seasons on the horizon and therefore any accomplishments made by appearing in the Big 12 title game would be washed away? If if that was his line of thinking it doesn’t hold water. Texas, Kansas State, Colorado, and Nebraska all made it back to the conference championship game within a few years of the losing season. You know why? Because second place matters!
It matters in recruiting and it matters in revenue. It should prep athletes, fans, and donors that you team is heading in the right direction. Texas and Baylor are the Big 12’s last two “second place” teams. You know how their season’s finished out? With a trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
“I’m not disappointed with anybody in this organization. I’m disappointed that — every year our goal is to win a Big 12 Championship. If you win a Big 12 Championship, you win first place. If you get second or 10th, you get the last place. There are no second-place medals. We’re all trying to get to the championship game and then try to win it.”Mike Gundy
This is all about deflecting which disappoints me the most. Oklahoma State entered the year ranked #15 in the AP Top 25 and many sports writers, pendants, and fans had the pokes penciled in for the Big 12 championship game. Chuba Hubbard was returning after being the best back in the country in 2019. Tylan Wallace was back from injury and Spencer Sanders was a year older and wiser. This was supposed to be the most potent offense in the country and one of the best in the nation.
It didn’t happen though. The offensive line was decimated, Chuba quit during Bedlam and hasn’t been seen since, and as much talent as Sanders has he’s still prone to making turnovers. The Oklahoma State offense has instead become one of the biggest disappointments in the conference. So much so that the defense has become the story in Stillwater.
Cowboy defenders took the ball away from TCU four times last Saturday but the offense only produced 15 points. Had Brock Martin not returned a fumble 42 yards for a score that game would have been an even more disastrous loss.
Mike Gundy either doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to talk about failure. That’s why he’s blowing smoke about possibly losing seasons after making the conference title game and second place being the same as the other eight teams that didn’t make it to Arlington. For all the good he’s done in Stillwater this could end up being his fatal flaw. It would be so much more admirable just to own it and say the season was a let down. Say you have to go back to the drawing board and start over with a plan for 2021. Say there are open tryouts for offensive lineman. Any of that would have been a welcomed relief over line of garbage he gave us on Monday.
By the way, in 2019 the Sugar Bowl paid out $10.5 million to its participants. That’s a pretty good second place medal.
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