MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

February 8, 2014

Gundy ‘underachieves’ on National Signing Day

Wednesday should have been a big day for the Oklahoma State football program.

After all, Mike Gundy said this year’s recruiting class was “the most complete class and talented group of quality young men that we’ve been able to sign since I’ve been the head coach here.” He even pointed out that it was the first time they didn’t have de-commitments.

The problem is, nobody heard this from the Cowboy coach until Thursday morning — the day after National Signing Day and the day after the world of sports media focuses solely on college football.

The Cowboys could have been talked about on television shows and in newspapers about landing a top 15 or 30 recruiting class — depending on which recruiting website you have stock in. Instead, Wednesday was all about in-state rivals Oklahoma and Tulsa.

Oklahoma State tried it’s best with a wide array of social media and website content that was rather impressive. The problem was, however, it wasn’t complemented by the program’s head coach.

On Thursday, when Gundy finally met with the media about his “most complete class and talented group” in his 10 years at the helm of his alma mater, a grand total of 10 media members were on hand. There were no columnists in the crowd to help brag about OSU’s continued growth in the recruiting landscape, and there were only two television stations that made the trip from Oklahoma’s major cities — a far cry from the usually large contingent on hand for his weekly press conference during the season.

Gundy spent just 30 minutes hyping up his 2014 class, with the first 10 minutes seeming more like an acceptance speech at The Oscars — with the Cowboy coach even using note cards to remember everybody to thank. And the majority of his other recruiting comments were just hollow echoes of the information provided by OSU on Wednesday.

There wasn’t a single question asked Thursday that the Cowboy coach couldn’t have answered on Wednesday.

Gundy gave two excuses for pushing his press conference a day.

First, he wasn’t sure they would receive all their letters of intent from their commitments. News flash, that’s a concern for every college football coach in America. Yet the likes of Bob Stoops at Oklahoma — and a handful of assistant coaches — and Tulsa’s Bill Blankenship found time to address those recruits that did send in their letters of intent.

For excuse No. 2, Gundy said he had a meeting about replacing offensive line coach Joe Wickline, who accepted a job at the University of Texas, and “knew I would be distracted and not really function and be able to pay attention to you guys and answer your questions.”

Since Gundy hasn’t announced a replacement — stating Thursday that he was hoping to make a hire in the next week — it’s difficult to believe that if it would have distracted him Wednesday that it magically wouldn’t distract him 24 hours later.

What needs to be remembered here is that the media is doing their job. Poll most members of the media and a vast majority would say they loathe the idea of National Signing Day and the circus it has become.

But the fans want it.

That’s why websites like Rivals.com and Scout.com have become so popular and get people to pay yearly subscription fees. And that’s why we have to spend the first Wednesday in February combing through all the recruiting content provided by universities.

It’s a circus that Oklahoma State attended a day late.

Gundy admitted Thursday, “we got out-coached at the end of the year” in losses to Oklahoma and Missouri.

They got out-coached again this week.

Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press.

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