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OSU football coach Mike Gundy on conference realignment: 'Don't worry about Oklahoma State'

Jacob Unruh

Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy remains a traditionalist.

He wasn’t fired up about losing the Big Eight Conference. Losing Colorado and Nebraska from the Big 12 was no fun either.

So with OU and Texas departing the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference last week, Gundy’s belief in tradition again took another hit.

“Whether we like it or not, right now there’s a business that’s involved that’s taking over college athletics, so we have to move forward,” Gundy said before he was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Monday.

But even as tradition changes, Gundy believes OSU is in a strong position to thrive in the future.

The university has new leadership in new president Kayse Shrum and new athletic director Chad Weiberg. Shrum has been particularly open about the changing landscape.

That was a big topic on a night the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame inducted six individuals and one legendary team.

“I have a lot of confidence in Oklahoma State University,” Gundy said.

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Mike Gundy was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month.

Monday’s inductees included longtime NFL back judge and Big Eight basketball official Roy Clymer, former OU women’s basketball star and current NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales, legendary Oklahoma Christian men’s basketball coach Dan Hays, late OU football star Bob Kalsu and longtime Wichita State baseball coach Gene Stephenson. 

The 1958 Cameron State Agricultural College baseball team, which won a national junior college title during a remarkable run, was also inducted.

Gundy reflected on his upbringing in Midwest City, which led him to OSU as a quarterback before eventually becoming the head coach. He’s spent 17 years leading the Cowboys.

OSU has had 15 straight winning seasons. It’s become one of the most consistent programs in the Big 12.

The Big 12’s future is uncertain, though.

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke to Texas lawmakers Monday and said there is no timetable for expansion. He also said if the conference dissolves a judge will likely be involved.

“I think there's probably a judge someplace that's going to decide those things,” Bowlsby said, according to The Athletic. “If the organization ceases to exist, it would put us in a position where the grant of rights would likely be null and void."

Gundy last week didn’t want to boast much about the state of the Cowboys’ program on ESPN. On Monday, he made a stronger statement.

“We can cut this any way we want and say anything we need to say, but essentially it comes down to television revenue, the dollars, and they’re looking to football to see what football has to offer,” Gundy said. “Football has been fantastic at Oklahoma State. I'm just the guy that was in charge when it happened. 

From left, Mike Gundy, Ted Owens, Dan Hays, Stacey Dales, Jan Kalsu McLauchlin, James Robert Kalsu Jr., widow and son of inductee Bob Kalsu, Gene Stephenson and Roy Clymer are the 2021 class for the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

“But we have an unbelievable product to sell. We're a fun team to watch. We've had tremendous success, we have a lot of stability with the head coach that’s been there 17 years. 

“So, I have no idea what's going to happen. I just know Oklahoma State’s in great shape. And Oklahoma State’s going to be just fine.”

As for Bedlam, Gundy wasn’t ready to take a stance on the longtime rivalry.

“I have to make enough decisions on gameday where everybody doubts what I do,” Gundy said. “So, I’m going to pass the buck to (Shrum, Weiberg and board of regents) because they know a lot more about the big picture than I do. Again, I’m a traditionalist … but I also have enough respect for the people that are making decisions that are going to affect the entire athletic department and in a sense the entire university, and Stillwater.

“We're not just talking about a university and athletic department. The direction that it's going now in society today is going to affect Stillwater as much as it is any other area.”

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Gundy said there will be a time to really market the athletic department as a whole.

That might be sooner than later.

“When you look at the well-rounded athletic department with the number of sports we have — for lack of a better term — per capita, based on our total level of sports and the success we've had by national championships, probably as good as anybody in the country,” Gundy said. 

“So we have a great product. And we have a class group, an organization of people.

“I’ll give an example. For me, it's a big deal. Does this say much at the marketing table? I don't know. We have 130 players, our team GPA is 3.4. Pretty good. And so we have guys, young men that are graduating, they're performing on the field, they're an exciting brand and it's in all of our sports. 

“So overall, Oklahoma State's going to be fine. Don't worry about Oklahoma State.”