Watching Mike Gundy’s famous rant of nearly a half decade ago will never get old. All you have to do is punch the Oklahoma State coach’s name into YouTube and his fiery speech lashing out against a reporter is in front of you once again. will remind you of the classic tirade. I think we all got a laugh out of that guy, but that’s clearly the Mike Gundy of old. Gundy says in the following interview that he can’t believe he was even hired as a head coach by Oklahoma State when Les Miles left Stillwater in. Oklahoma State has flirted with being nationally relevant on the field, but most fans associate Gundy and the Cowboys program with Gundy’s famous rant. That’s on the verge of changing as well. The Cowboys are now a legitimate national title threat, and can prove they are that caliber at Texas A&M on Saturday. Mike Gundy joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Galloway and Company to discuss how he’s gone about changing the culture of the Oklahoma State football program since his hiring, how he thinks he’s evolved as a head coach and leader since his first year in 2005, how he can’t even believe that he was hired in the first place over six years ago, the personality of Dez Bryant based on his experience coaching him, how good the Dallas Cowboys’ receiver can be, and the hot topic of realignment in college sports.
How have you changed the culture at Oklahoma State?
“Well we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had some really good players come through here. We’ve had a strong administration that’s really funded our facilities here and changed the way people look at us at Oklahoma State. And our coaching staff has been really good. … We’ve lost two guys outside of coordinators and head coaches. … I just think it’s a philosophy. We started here and said we wanted to do it with class. We want to have a lot of morals and character with our team and we’re going to do it the right way. And it wasn’t easy early. … But we’ve stayed with our foundation.”
How have you evolved as a head coach in that time?
“I’m considerably different. I look back at myself and I don’t know why anybody would’ve even hired me as a head coach. … Patience has really helped me understand that if you just have a plan and you stick with it and you’re patient and you do everything you can for your players … in the long run it’ll pay great dividends for you .”
What was it like to work with Dez Bryant when he was there compared to what the public perception seems to be?
“People really don’t know Dez. He is a kid at heart. The best example for Dez is, when we asked him to do something here, outside of football, he did everything we asked him to do. People knew there were times that he’d oversleep and he may be late to a class, but it wasn’t in a detrimental way. That was just kind of Dez’s personality. … Dez has some issues that he needs to clean up. And as I’ve watched him over the last six months, I think he’s done considerably better. But he is a good person at heart.”
How good can he be?
“I don’t think there’s any question Dez can take a game over now. As a receiver, yes, but if you just watch him return punts, then you’ll see the difference in him athletically from the other men that are playing that game. … We’re very proud of Dez and we’ve got his picture hanging in our hallways.”
Do you expect to be in the Pac-12, or 16, next year?
“I heard last night there’s a chance that the Big 12 can survive. They don’t give me a lot of information. People know that I’m a big proponent of the Big 12. My honest opinion is I don’t really know why we can’t make this thing work. You hear about the Longhorn Network and you hear about A&M not liking that, but if you just sit down and look at what the Big 12′s done — the athletic department budgets of the schools that are in this league have gone through the roof; we’ve had national champions; we’ve been in BCS bowls, sometimes two in a year; we’ve had the television; we’ve had teams consistently in the top 10 and top 25. I don’t understand why this league may not survive. … The coaches and the players, we’re going to buy into whatever. Someone else is making the decisions.”
Is all of this good or bad for college football?
“I don’t know. It’s confusing, because a lot of it’s way over my head. Is it good for the student-athletes that are competing right now in college football? I’m going to say probably not, because some of these young men came to Oklahoma State, or came to Baylor, or came to Texas Tech, to play in the Big 12 for those schools. They may not have that future now. Is that really fair to them? The travel that could be involved with schools being in one part of the country and playing in a different part of the country when the standards are being raised every year and the APR’s being raised every year, I don’t know if that’s best for the student-athlete.”