Oklahoma State Cowboys

Mike Gundy ‘Making Adjustments’ to Stay Ahead of Volatility in College Football

Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy walks of the field following the Big 12 Football Championship game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Coming into the 2023 season Oklahoma State head coach. Mike Gundy had plenty of doubters when it came to his ability to put a winning product on the field.

Now, it wasn’t because he hasn’t done it repeatedly in nearly 20 years at the helm, but because the transfer portal had taken so much production from his team a season ago.

After a 31-23 win over Texas A&M in the TaxAct Texas Bowl, the Cowboys finished the 2023 season at 10-4 and ranked as a top-20 team in the nation, and Gundy, once again, is the last one laughing.

 

Making adjustments and evolving is something that all coaches must do to stay ahead in college football, but in most circles that are thought to be in regard to only on-field adjustments. Perhaps the biggest change that the Oklahoma State head coach is making is his philosophy on the things that affect his program off the field.

After Wednesday night’s victory, Gundy was asked about the stability of his team and program going forward with the transfer portal being the base of the question. His response was quite candid, as is expected, but also shows the depth to which the 56-year-old head coach has been willing to adjust.

“First off, we all know this, that there’s instability and volatility in college football,” Gundy said. ” It’s day to day, and we as a coaching staff… we like our core leadership and the values that these guys are bringing to the younger guys. So we have good young guys that are going to be developed. And then we have — we might have 18 or 19 returning starters — I don’t know, I’m just throwing that number out. So we’re a stable organization. And these guys have to decide what they want to do.

 

“Now, selfishly, as a coach, you want everybody to stay the course and be back. But sometimes players have something that could be better for them and their future. And coaches have to respect that. We had some guys leave last year, and then we tried to replace guys that left with the same maturity and positions that guys that went out. And a number of those guys made a lot of plays for us this year. And so that’s the way we’re handling it. But we have made adjustments as coaches. I have made adjustments as a head coach in trying to stay ahead of the volatility of college football. And the one thing that we can do as coaches is take care of our players, be up front and honest with them, and continue with discipline, structure, accountability, and loyalty. Then they make the decision on what they want to do. They play the games. We don’t play the games.”

For a coach who seemed so distant from the idea of NIL and the transfer portal just a couple of seasons ago, it’s clear that Gundy has made some big changes in order to adapt to the new world of college football. After another 10-win season, it’s safe to say that Gundy’s adjustments are working.

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