Just got done at the Cowboy Caravan. Got a couple of posters, enjoyed some finger foods (those banana chips are amazing!), and listened to a few of the coaches and players talk about their respective upcoming seasons. This year seemed a little more "ho hum" than in the past. It definitely had nothing to do with the turnout. I'm guessing there were close to 1,000 people in attendance. My guess is that the coaches, especially Mike Gundy and Travis Ford, are a bit tired as this is the heaviest part of their recruiting year.
Even so, each of the coaches were very humble and gracious enough to speak to and take questions from the audience. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon also made a special appearance and gave a lot of thanks and praise to the fans. By the way, does anybody else find it weird that people are having Weeden take pictures with their babies? I felt like I was watching a scene in Friday Night Lights.
Click the jump for notes from all of the speakers.
Larry Reece (voice of the Cowboys) emceed the event. He gave a lot of info on current numbers and statistics for OSU athletics.
- The Branding Success campaign has raised over 750 million dollars thus far.
- Three years ago, OSU was dead last in the conference in scholarship endowments. We are now second in the conference with over 50 million dollars raised for athletic scholarships.
- So far, over 36,000 football season tickets have been sold for the upcoming season (only 2,000 of those are student tickets). The goal is to hit 50,000.
Chris Young - Women's Tennis Coach
- Pretty funny guy. Very personable. Started off by thanking the crowd for coming to see the women's tennis coach speak.
- In the last couple years he and his staff have privately raised 4 million dollars for the new tennis facilities. An unnamed donor told him if he can raise 3 million dollars by the end of this year, he will match it (Boone, maybe?).
- He is bringing in the 4th best recruiting class in the nation. Not bad considering what he has to work with.
Travis Ford - Men's Basketball Coach
- Great speaker. He can go on for hours. You can tell he really wants to be considered part of the OSU family.
- Just got back from being on the road recruiting for three straight weeks.
- Told some funny stories. One involved his kids loving Justin Blackmon and Ford asking them "What about Keiton? Markel?" Another involved an Oklahoman journalist actually calling his cell phone to ask him what he thought of the new football uniforms. Seriously.
- The players had a great summer working out and practicing. They are very close knit. Keiton Page has really become the leader of the team.
- Phillip Jurick is going to be tremendous. He's about 7 feet tall, 275 lbs, and is solid muscle. The players have been raving about him in practice.
- Coach threw a couple of jabs at Colorado and Nebraska. I liked it. He said that the league is tougher without them because OSU has to play Kansas twice, K-State twice, Mizzou twice, instead of them. I think everyone knew that but it was pretty refreshing to hear him bluntly say it.
- The point guard position is Reger Dowell's to lose. Fred Gulley is pushing him hard for it, though.
- Keiton Page will definitely start. In fact, he is the only one that Coach Ford is sure will be in the starting lineup.
Mike Gundy - Football Head Coach
- Over forty players without scholarships stayed in Stillwater to participate in summer workouts. Think about that. They are paying their own way, getting very little benefits, and still chose to give up their summer to participate in workouts in 100 degree weather. Most of these guys will never see a down in a game. That's some dedication.
- The new practice fields are coming along fast. Two grass fields are down and being watered.
- He likes the challenge of this season's expectations. The players do too. He likes the fact that fans are no longer content with winning records and simply making bowl games. It shows how fast the program is growing.
- He likes the speed and athleticism of the new linebackers and defensive linemen. He says these are the guys that need to step up. The "no name" guys. The stars are going to be stars. But the "no name" guys are the ones who will determine whether the team finishes 10-2 or 12-0.
- If Big 12 coaches were to answer honestly, they would all say they hate tough non-conference schedules. They'd love to schedule a really easy cast of games so that players can stay healthy for the conference opponents and so that their respective team peeks at the right time.
- Todd Monken and Brandon Weeden have a really good relationship. Lots of trust between the two.
- Even though he is a traditional type of guy, he loves the uniforms. Mainly because the recruits and players love them. He has no idea how the combinations will be selected for games. He wants no part in the decision.
- The number of offensive plays per game should be similar. They will change certain things in certain situations but the overall look of the offense will stay the same.
- He misses running the offense sometimes but knows that he has way too much on his plate to handle it and make it successful. He said that sometimes he'll hear a play being called in his headset and he'll have to turn off the volume because he wants to run a different play but doesn't want to say anything.
- He is sad that it didn't work out for Johnny Deaton.
- He said that we have more athletes on defense than ever before and that this is the best secondary OSU has had in all his years with the program.