Oklahoma State’s Gundy still learning on the job

Mike Gundy hasn’t lost his love for dialing up the right play to

keep Oklahoma State’s offense purring along.

That passion, which he has called the most enjoyable part of his

job as head coach, was bred into him as an offensive coordinator.

Long before that, he was a starting quarterback for the

Cowboys.

But after nearly five years in charge at OSU, Gundy realized

that it was time to start letting go.

”I knew that eventually I was going to have to get out of it

because I couldn’t keep up,” Gundy said. ”Just physically, I

couldn’t do it.”

Fairly or not, the 43-year-old coach gained an intense

reputation around college football three years ago when he

delivered his ”I’m a man! I’m 40!” rant at a newspaper columnist

after a game. It may still be the moment people know best about

him, but Gundy sees himself continuing to learn and grow as a

coach.

He said he understands now the value of patience, and

appreciates that players who are giving their best and committed to

his system will get better in time.

”You can go out there and scream at them and run them to death.

You’re not going to get anywhere,” Gundy said. ”It’s not going to

make them a better player.”

And running himself to death won’t do the trick, either.

In the same exhausting profession that caused Florida’s Urban

Meyer to temporarily step away to focus on health concerns, a

worn-down Gundy began wondering late last season whether he needed

to bring in help.

He’d already decided to take more of a hands-off approach with

the defense, trusting coordinator Bill Young’s decades of expertise

over his own background as an offensive coach. Then after last

season, he approached athletic director Mike Holder about taking

similar steps on the other side of the ball, seeking an offensive

coordinator who could handle more of the game-planning and

play-calling.

Gundy found his man when Dana Holgorsen, the architect of the

nation’s top offense last year at Houston, agreed to sign on.

”It’ll definitely add years to my life,” said Gundy, who added

that he’s never been asked to change coordinators. ”I love this

job because of the many challenges we face, from finding an

offensive and defensive scheme to recruiting to dealing with

(disciplinary issues) and all the things you deal with every single

day. I really enjoy it.

”I’ve always said if it gets to be where I don’t look forward

to it, I’m done. I’ll go do something else.”

Instead, he’s finding a new way to do what he loves. In putting

Holgorsen in charge of the offense, Gundy estimates that he’s

regained six hours each day to spend on other ways to improve

Oklahoma State’s football team.

He’s taking time in the morning to call recruits and doubling

the number of letters he can write to those players. No longer does

he find himself rushing into the office at 5:45 a.m. trying to

figure out what the Cowboys should run on third-and-5.

That new routine still doesn’t feel entirely comfortable heading

into his team’s season opener Saturday night against Washington

State. He believes the non-stop pace he’d grown accustomed to was

also a way to keep him from losing focus.

”That’s the one concern I have is I’m here all the time, but

I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” Gundy

said.

He believes the head coach, like the CEO at any company, should

be working just as hard as the new guy still trying to prove

himself. Sometimes it’s hard for him to realize that while he’s not

as involved in some aspects of the game-planning, one of those

extra phone calls or letters just might end up bringing in the

Cowboys’ next program-changing superstar.

”If somebody would put a sprinkler system in your front yard, I

want to be digging the ditch. I don’t want to be standing there

telling somebody to dig it,” Gundy said. ”That’s hard for

me.”