Starting Lineups: Mike Gundy, John Cooper And Continually Failing To Beat Your Rival

Ed The Sports Fan, Football — By on December 9, 2013 at 4:12 am

mike gundy oklahoma state cowboys

The Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys engaged in the annual collegiate state championship on Saturday morning, also known as Bedlam. Blake Bell, the third QB off the bench for Bob Stoops (and the guy I idiotically once compared to Cam Newton), put together one of the most absurd drives in history to give OU a 33-24 victory in Stillwater. It was a game the Sooners had no business winning, and for Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, it put an ugly mark on an otherwise impressive coaching résumé.

Mike Gundy is now 1-8 vs. Bob Stoops and the Sooners.

I had a few friends hit me up, wondering if this would be the end of Gundy’s regime in Stillwater, and immediately I said hell no and please get up off of my phone. However, when given more time to ponder, I had to ask if maybe my comrades had a point. I mean, hell, T. Boone Pickens ain’t putting all that oil money into Stillwater for no damn reason, right? The man wants to win. The Cowboys fan base has to be itching for more from Gundy, as three seasons with 10+ wins in the last 4 years feels nice, but having only beaten OU once since I graduated college probably stings worse.

All of this made me think of John Cooper’s legacy as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, where his losses to Michigan were compared to being a “cross he lugs around Columbus.” Per the SI Vault in 1997:

He began his head coaching career at Tulsa in 1977 and after five straight Missouri Valley Conference titles jumped to Arizona State in ’85. In Cooper’s second season in Tempe, the Sun Devils won nine games and then beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. That triumph over the Big Ten champs did not go unnoticed when Ohio State went in search of a new coach after Bruce was fired following the ’87 season. If nothing else, Buckeyes boosters said of Cooper, the guy can beat Michigan. In the nine years since, Cooper has gotten the better of the dreaded Wolverines just once. It is a cross he lugs around Columbus, despite his otherwise irrefutable success. “People come up to me all the time and say, ‘So, Coach, are we going to beat Michigan this year?’ ” says Cooper. “Now what kind of a stupid question is that? No one wants to beat Michigan more than I do. But if you’re going to coach football at Ohio State, it’s something you have to accept. Michigan means everything to people in Columbus. That’s the way it’s always been.”

National championships are great things to have, especially when you need to prove your team’s worth across the country. However, when you’re not traveling across the country, you’re usually rubbing elbows with your friends and family. In Ohio, it’s not uncommon for Ohio State fans to rub elbows with Michigan fans. In Oklahoma, Sooners fans and Cowboys fans do the same. Being unable to brag to the representation of your hated rivals every once in awhile can make a soul weary, even if you succeed in other ways.

I love Mike Gundy. I think he’s a hell of a coach who deserves to see this thing out in Stillwater … but I’m not a die-hard Oklahoma State fan, alum or booster. And if Mike Gundy’s head ends up on the chopping block … well, I won’t be surprised.

Here are your morning links for Monday, enjoy.

MLB denied Oakland’s San Jose move request — ESPN

Ujiri does it again — Eye On Basketball

Make Your Own Cold-Brewed Tea in a Jar — Lifehacker

Kobe Bryant Makes Season Debut in the Nike Zoom Kobe 1 “Prelude” — Sneaker Files

On Marlo Stanfield, A Heartless Takeover & The “Price Of The Brick Goin’ Up….” — The Smoking Section

Brett Ratner Is Directing Beverly Hills Cop 4 Starring Eddie Murphy — Film Drunk

You Need This Unreleased Pimp C Interview From 2007 In Your Life — Day & A Dream

Six questions Mike Shanahan declined to answer — DC Sports Bog

Games That Need HD Remakes: NBA Street Vol. 2 — Ourcade Games

NBA execs think Kyrie Irving is pouting his way through shooting slump — Los That Sports Blog

LeBron James needs old shoes, Garnett and Bargnani II needs to happen — SB Nation

Eddie Maisonet, III

Eddie Maisonet is a connoisseur of the ultimate reality show that is sports.

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    7 Comments

  • Chris says:

    So I am an OSU fan/alumni and since I started college I’ve seen 3 OSU victories in bedlam and I am grateful for every single one. It doesnt matter if OSU is 11-0 and has beaten every team by 1000 points and OU were 0-11 and hadnt scored a point all season I will ALWAYS believe my Pokes will lose. It’s just nature.

    Having said that, I think fans who want Gundy gone are REEEEEEEDICULOUS. Look, yeah they can’t beat OU, but they can beat everyone else. I remember when OSU couldn’t beat ANYONE. Gundy is a great coach. Yes, great. To do what he’s done for the program is almost miraculous. It isnt Art Briles miraculous raising Lazarus from the dead, but he did turn water into wine.

    Bottom line, Gundy is worth it. If he can’t beat OU, meh. 84-17-7 shows that nobody else can either.

    • I’m with here 100 percent, as a casual observer from the outside. But it is true that rivalries really run deep in college football, which is why things like this come up. Gundy is a tremendous coach who has brought OK St. to a place it’s pretty much never been … but there’s always a contingent that wants nothing more than to beat OU.

      I kind of understand the criticism but I don’t understand anyone wanting him gone given the way he’s turned that program around.

    • It’s an interesting take, because if Stoops had a 1-8 record vs. Texas and was winning 10-11 games a year, I think he’d be fired. Same with John Cooper at Ohio State.

      -Ed.

    • Diane says:

      As an “older” passionate” rabid fan of 40 years with Season tickets, it does more than “burn”. 99% of the time if you beat OU you win the conference. Since my husband’s family never went to OU BUT are passionate season ticket holders they make our life unbearable year after year. One even buys season tickets to OSU when the game is at “our house” in order to have tickets. They get hotel tickets at the premier “bowl game sites” in September because the KNOW OU will win. Gundy does not know how to manage the clock and his offensive coordiantor hire is laughable. Look what Gus Malzon did at Auburn in the SEC. It seems like we may be a second tier football team for the next 40 years.

  • Juice T. says:

    It’s a struggle as a fan, especially from our perspective that we have had the better team in the rivalry for the last 5 years. We miss the fiery attitude of Les Miles when it came to the Sooners. Personally I’m not the type of fan who relishes beating OU in a 4 or 7 win season, but when we’ve had chances at the BCS in 4 of the 5 years, and to lose to OU in the 3 of those seasons (2009, 2010, 2013) keeping us from the BCS- frankly it burns. It burns because Gundy treats the game as if its just another game, when the reality is that isn’t just another game. It’s called Bedlam for a reason, but I think it goes back as a player Gundy (0-4) was unable to get over the hump against them also, and rather treat as another game rather than deal with the fact that we hate losing to the Sooners more than anything.

    • Chris says:

      I hear what you are saying and I want to get to that place where losing to OU reaaaaly stings, but my word if I didn’t detach myself like I have I’d want to jump off a building every November/December.

      I graduated from OSU and OU and I would wear my orange round Norman knowing I’d get clowned with “7 billion-7-7″ every day but I did it anyway. Having said that I figure we aren’t spoiling OU’s seasons, OU’s spoiling ours and I can at least appreciate the irony in that.

  • Chuck Chillout [insert 5 fly aliases] says:

    Speaking as a fan of THE OSU #NoShade…I think the big difference here is that Gundy “gets it”.

    Like…Cooper was a helluva recruiter and a helluva coach. I’ve ran into several former players of his who get misty eyed just talking about him. This is real life.

    But the thing about Cooper, not being from Ohio or Michigan is that I don’t think he ever fully grasped the gravity of beating Michigan. Even with the latest debacle with Michigan State this past weekend has a little less sting because we beat Michigan.

    I don’t think Gundy is as ambivalent about losing to OU as Coop was about losing to Michigan. The other (#NoShadE) OSU would be smart to keep him. Good quality coaches aren’t just lying around on the street.

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