Mike Gundy once said, “I’m not much of a portal guy.” Well, he better become one. The Oklahoma State football roster is starting to look like the Avengers after Thanos snapped his fingers.
A four-year starter, All-Big 12 quarterback with a year of eligibility left? Gone.
A starting linebacker who led the team in tackles this season? Poof! Dust.
A multi-year starting defensive back? Scattering on the wind.
Last year’s starting running back? Fan-favorite and future star defensive end? Talented receivers? Depth along the offensive line? Gone, gone, gone, and gone.
At the time this was written, the Cowboys had 13 players, some of which are very important, in the transfer portal. To paraphrase a line from Peter Parker after that infamous Thanos snap:
“Mr. Gundy? I don’t feel so good….”
All is not lost, yet, Cowboy fans so don’t completely panic. Okay, panic a little, but let’s stop short of doing anything drastic. Right now, the portal is unkind, but there is a season to everything.
The portal giveth and the portal taketh away. We are just stuck on “taketh away” right now.
Gundy Has Used the Transfer Portal Efficiently
Mike “Not Really A Portal Guy” Gundy went 12-1 last season on the backs of transfers. Tay Martin, the number one receiver, started his college career at Washington State. Jaylen Warren, a stud running back, transferred in from Utah State. Starting cornerback Christian Holmes came from Missouri. Offensive linemen Josh Sills was a West Virginia transplant. All four of them were instrumental in OSU having maybe its best season ever. All of them made NFL rosters. So, maybe Gundy doesn’t like the portal but he’s used transfers effectively in the past and he may just have to ramp it up this off-season to fill some holes and find some depth.
Quarterback Spencer Sanders leaving wasn’t a surprise to most but linebacker Mason Cobb was a shock.
Sanders is super talented but often injured and wants a chance to win a championship. With the current state of the OSU team and staff, his best chance is somewhere else. Good luck, Cowboy! You gave us all you had for four years. I truly hope it works out for him. I’ll cheer him on wherever he ends up.
Cobb, well with him it’s looking more like the rumors that old Big 12 buddy A&M sent the bag man are true. If so that’s okay, go get your money, it’s allowed now. Hope you guys can make a bowl game next year.
Concerning Quote from Braylin Presley
While Sanders and Cobb will probably hurt the most it was what one soon-to-be former player said about transferring that sent the most ripples through the OSU fan base:
“I just feel like our backs weren’t being used correctly if I’m being completely honest,” Braylin Presley said. “I just didn’t feel like they were being coached right – to be the best running backs they could be.”
Presley’s comments hit home with the fan base. Most of us are already prepared to move on from our offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn and having a highly-rated recruit and younger brother of everyone’s favorite current receiver saying “we aren’t being coached right” added fuel to the fire. Add in Dunn saying that he didn’t even know what to say to his offensive unit after the meltdown in Bedlam followed by rumors that Sanders didn’t play against West Virginia, not because of injury but because he was done with the offensive staff’s incompetence and we’re lucky things didn’t go nuclear.
Granted we were all surprised to hear the diminutive Presley talk about being used in the backfield because despite him being a running back at the high school level he was expected to play slot receiver in college like his brother. That being said it’s hard to argue that the running backs were underwhelming this year. Maybe Braylin Presley will be the next Deuce Vaughn, I wish him the best.
Staff Changes are Necessary for a Turnaround
This off-season will go a long way toward swinging my opinion to one side or the other but despite his flaws, I don’t think Gundy is a fool and I do still feel like he honestly does what he thinks is best for Oklahoma State. Not everyone feels that way obviously. To quote a text I got last night from Pete Mundo, Mr. Heartland College Sports himself, “Gundy is starting to come off like a stubborn dinosaur!” It’s hard to disagree. (And smart not to when they’re your boss!)
Gundy has made big changes before that have worked out and I feel like he has to make another one now. When the bend-don’t-break defense philosophy of Glenn Spencer wasn’t working out Gundy brought on Jim Knowles and his high-pressure scheme which worked out beautifully. When Gundy was calling plays himself he gave it up to bring in Dana Holgorsen and let him completely change what OSU did. He’s not afraid to shake it up.
The main focus of my ire has been offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn, and he’s the change I think needs to happen. A lot of fans like to point to Gundy and say he’s puppeteering the offense from behind the scenes but I don’t believe it’s as severe as people want to think. After Holgorsen and Todd Monken (now Georgia’s OC) had their turns shredding Big 12 defenses with Cowboys teams, Mike Yurcich did a pretty good job for six seasons. After Yurcich (now the OC at Penn State and my bet for who’s calling plays for Spencer Sanders next season) the offense has gotten less effective every season.
The bottom line is, Gundy may help design the game plan, and he’s the one that decides to go for it or punt on 4th down but he doesn’t do any in-game play calling, and in my opinion, that’s where Dunn fails the most. Some of the calls he made in the season finale were truly mind-boggling. So I say gut the offensive staff. New offensive coordinator, new offensive line coach, new wide receivers coach (Dunn if you can get him to stay and think it wouldn’t cause problems. He’s that good at that job), new running backs coach, new quarterbacks coach. Rip the bandaid off and start fresh. Hit reset on the scheme as you did with Holgorsen and Knowles. What you have now has gotten stale and the players are starting to turn against it.
The chatter is that it’s happening. I’ve heard things from people I trust, but who knows what’s true and what’s not? I’ve gotten word of everything from bringing back Zac Robinson (ex-OSU QB and current QB coach and passing game coordinator for the LA Rams) to Gundy bringing in his brother Cale, who would be tremendous, but who was fired from his decades-long job at OU before the season started for a racially charged incident. One thing I’m sure of is Gundy is slow as molasses when it comes to this stuff so I wouldn’t expect any news soon.
While the first few days of the transfer portal seemed rough I don’t feel like this roller coaster ride has truly started yet. No, we’re still chugging up to the top of the first big drop I think. I expect many ups and downs, maybe a few loops. More players leaving, exciting transfers coming in, and coaches fired and hired. My advice is to let go of the bar, put your hands in the air and scream. Try to enjoy the ride the best you can.
Or even worse, what if nothing happens and we just go into next season just like we are now? That, my friends, is the scariest scenario of them all.