As we get further away the
disastrous disappointing less than stellar 2018 campaign, and closer to the start of the 2019 season, optimism seems to be growing, a bit, that Oklahoma State will have a bounce back year.
There are plenty of reasons to believe that will be the case — namely the fact that it has been after every other down year under head coach Mike Gundy. But there’s one reason in particular I think is worth discussing; the guys on the other side of the field.
After 14 years and 180 games as the man in charge of OSU’s football program, Mike Gundy has faced his fair share of opposing head coaches. He’s seen guys young and old, come and go just about every year at just about every program. That’s going to happen when you’re the third-longest tenured head coach currently active. Only Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and TCU’s Gary Patterson have been with their programs longer.
That means Gundy has faced his fair-share of head coaches in their first year at a school. This year though, will be a first; OSU faces off against five (!!!) teams breaking in first-year head coaches: McNeese State, Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas Tech.
While that’s a lot for one season, it’s nothing new for Gundy. Since his second season in charge, the mullet has faced off against 30 different head coaches in ‘Year One’ at their program, including 21 in Big 12 conference play.
In those games? He is 25-5. In Big 12 play, he’s 17-4 (though that does include Clint Bowen taking over mid-season in 2014 at Kansas).
His record shouldn’t be too surprising. A coach like Gundy, who runs an established winning program, should beat a new head coach in his first season. Most of the time, especially with a Power-5 program, there’s a new man in charge because the team under-performed under the previous regime.
Oklahoma is a rare case where the program was thriving under Bob Stoops before he retired and Lincoln Riley took over. As a program that has won 10 games in four of the last six seasons, OSU should beat teams coming off multiple losing seasons.
One other possible reason for Gundy’s success against ‘Year One’ guys? Familiarity.
“The one interesting thing in college football to a certain extent most teams are doing the same thing scheme-wise offensively and defensively, everybody is playing 3-down, everybody is playing 4-down,” said Gundy at Big 12 Media Days. “If you’re not a tight end-fullback running team you’re in a spread, you’re trying to play action pass and trying to flow it down the field. So there are similarities more so than ever in college football.”
So all of this is to say, for those OSU fans who still fear the wheels have fallen off the program and Gundy is steering it into a deep dark crevice; fear not. The Cowboys will face five schools with new head coaches this year, four of those at Boone Pickens Stadium, and three of them in the first half of the season.
There is always the chance that OSU loses one of these games. The Cowboy tend to have at least one head-scratching loss in them each year. And these new coaches aren’t untalented. Klieman has four FCS National Championships, Les Miles has a title and is familiar with Gundy, and Neal Brown at West Virginia showed an ability to upset teams while at Troy.
“Big 12 athletic directors did a good job and brought quality coaches in our league,” said Gundy.
But with five first-year head coaches on the schedule, even with OSU breaking in a new quarterback and offensive coordinator, it should help set OSU up for a big rebound season after last year’s disappointing 7-6 campaign.