DALLAS — Unlike past years, Oklahoma State won’t ease into its football schedule with a string of home games against nondescript opponents. This season, the Cowboys will open against Mississippi State on a neutral field in Houston.
Playing a SEC opponent so early has made OSU coach Mike Gundy rethink the way he conducts training camp.
“It certainly changes our approach as a coaching staff,” Gundy said. “The truth of the matter is we know that, when you play an opponent that on paper is going to have as good of players ... that you have to play well in the first game to win. I think we would all agree on that. So it changes our approach as a coaching staff and what we do in preseason practice.
Gundy is not in favor of playing difficult nonconference games, and has openly complained about Oklahoma State’s decision to face Mississippi State. Still, he will do his best to have the Cowboys prepared for the game. As well as everything that comes afterward.
“I have not always been a big fan of it, but we make adjustments,” Gundy said. “In life, we don't always get what we want. So it changes how we approach preseason practice. My concern is whether that affects us in November because we really need to be strong in the last week of October and up through November to make that run.
“We've had a formula at Oklahoma State over the last really five, six, seven years that we feel like gives us the best chance to be strong, be in great shape, and be fresh at the end of the season so our teams can perform at the highest level. We have to alter that some when we play teams early in the season, particularly the first game, that are very capable of having success against your team if you don't play well.”
Weis sounds off — If the Big 12 Conference awarded league championships for blunt assessments, Charlie Weis would be measuring his trophy case for a second straight Big 12 title.
Weis. brought his unvarnished thoughts to Big 12 football media day on Monday morning, providing a blunt state-of-the-program message: Kansas was 1-11 last season, dead last in the Big 12 for the third straight season, and there’s no getting around that.
“We’re 1-11 and picked by everybody to finish last in the league, and that’s justifiable,” Weis said. “If I were you, I’d pick us in the same spot. We’ve given you no evidence or no reason to be picked anywhere other than that.”
The Jayhawks, though, have some reasons for higher expectations. And those begin with a proven rushing attack and the potential emergence of transfer quarterback Jake Heaps. And Weis, despite the on-field setbacks, was also able to piece together a highly touted recruiting class that leaned heavy on junior college players. And when asked about his success in the cutthroat recruiting world, Weis turned on the charm.
His recruiting pitch, he says, was simple — and perhaps a little too honest.
“Everyone wants to play,” Weis said. “There’s no one that wants to not play. I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that?’ So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It’s a pretty simple approach. And that’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.”
Age not a problem — At 33, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is the youngest coach in the Big 12, by far.
Some say his inexperience will be a challenge for the former Texas Tech quarterback and Texas A&M offensive coordinator.
He thinks it could be an advantage.
“I hope so,” Kingsbury said. “I think not only age, but being in a place that I played and wasn't too far a move from, I think that helps. It's easy to sell a product when you lived it and you loved it and you're telling the parents and telling the kids. Hopefully, they see that passion.”
Teaching spanish — Bill Snyder had quite the story to tell when a Texas reporter asked him about his first coaching job.
“My first position as an assistant coach was in Gallatin, Missouri,” Snyder replied. “This was a high school position. I was an assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach and assistant women's basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year. And I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, in all honesty, because I'd never had a paycheck worth very much prior to that.”
Snyder makes much today as K-State’s football coach, but still remembers that first job fondly.
“I made some relationships and friendships there that were forever lasting,” Snyder said. “I don't think my salary went up hardly any at all, but, nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience.”