No. 12 Oklahoma State

It’s been 10 years since Mike Gundy went on that lunatic rant against a reporter in which he proclaimed to all pond-scum vultures, “Come after me. I’m a man. I’m 40!”

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Gundy turned 50 on Aug. 12 and has only slightly softened his exterior: "Come after me, just not as fast. And not from behind, or from the left, because I've lost a bit of hearing in that ear. I'm an older man. I'm 50!"

Gundy, in a decade, has matured as much as a man can who coifs a mullet.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

People are excited in Stillwater because this could be Oklahoma State’s best team since 2011, the year it last got to the brink of something big. The Cowboys got hosed—I mean nosed—in the end by a two-team BCS system that put Alabama in the title game by a margin of .9419 to .9333.

Today’s four-team playoff system that would have settled that by pitting Alabama and Oklahoma State in a national semifinal game, with the winner facing the winner of LSU-Stanford.

Gundy has come a long way since he stood after the Texas Tech game and screamed about a newspaper story he didn’t like. He’s worked hard to establish his reputation as a top-drawer coach in a Power 5 league. He’s posted an impressive 104-50 record in 12 years at Oklahoma State and shows no signs of stopping.

Not everyone, however, is overwhelmed by Gundy’s work ethic.

“All you do is sit at your desk,’’’ someone challenged Gundy this summer. “Every time I walk in you’re just sitting there. You don’t do anything.”

A decade ago, Gundy might have thrown another tantrum, but he’s changed.

Also: the person asking Gundy what he does all day was his 12-year-old son, Gage.

Gundy told his son that he spends a lot of time “thinking about what to do.”

That wasn’t good enough.

“Well,” Gage responded, “you don’t do anything in practice either. You just go up in that tower. You don’t talk to anybody either.”

Busted.

If things go well Mike Gundy won’t have to that work hard this year as he returns seven starters on one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses. The key returner is quarterback Mason Rudolph, who threw for 4,091 yards with 28 touchdowns against only four interceptions.

In baseball, you want to be strong up the middle at center, pitcher, shortstop and center field.

In football it is quarterback, center, running back and receiver, and Oklahoma State returns starters to all those positions.

Rudolph opted not to jump to the NFL, which led to the Cowboys jumping up the preseason polls.

“I think preseason polls have a lot to do with returning quarterbacks that have experience,” Gundy said. “When you go into the season and you don’t have a quarterback that has any experience, you don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in most cases.”

It’s time to get this party started. The non-conference schedule—Tulsa, at South Alabama, at Pitt—is tough but not brutal. Oklahoma State does play three of its first five games on the road, a sin for a program of its stature. Florida plays only three “true” away games all season.

No worries, though, Oklahoma State should be able to navigate this. The other twist this year is the Big 12 moving the annual Bedlam game, vs. Oklahoma, normally the last game, to Nov. 4.

Why? The Big 12 is hosting a league title-game again and doesn’t want the embarrassment of its teams possibly having to play in consecutive weeks. That happened a few years ago in the Pac 12 with UCLA and Stanford. [/membership]

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