Mike Gundy has done ridiculous things since taking over at Oklahoma State in 2005, including five double-digit win seasons since 2010. There were three in the rest of the program’s history combined.
Gundy deserves mention among the best coaches in the sport. However, one thing consistently stood in the way of him receiving that credit: Bob freaking Stoops.
Gundy and Oklahoma State were 2-10 against Stoops’ Sooners. Six of the losses were by two touchdowns or more. In fact, Stoops’ teams outscored Oklahoma State by a combined 478-331 over the 12-year stretch.
Granted, this is a patently stupid criticism. Stoops won nearly 80 percent of his games at Oklahoma. The Sooners won more Big 12 titles (10) than it lost home games (9) over his tenure. A whole bunch of great coaches lost a whole bunch of games to him.
But after 18 years with the program, Stoops shockingly retired a month ago. He passed the program into offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s capable hands. Regardless, the specter of Stoops is gone. Gundy has a major opportunity.
Big 12 battle
For all the rousing success at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys only own one Big 12 title. Oklahoma is mostly to blame.
The Cowboys were just one win away from winning the title in 2013. Unfortunately, that game was Bedlam. Oklahoma State was also one game away from a berth in the 2010 Big 12 Championship game. You guessed it, Oklahoma won that spot by tiebreaker.
But now, Oklahoma State has the offensive firepower to pull off a win in Stillwater.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph will contend for All-America status. Wide receiver James Washington is an early favorite for the Biletnikoff Award. Jalen McClesky posted more than 800 yards too. As if that’s not enough, the Cowboys also added former 5-star recruit Tyron Johnson from LSU.
Running back Justice Hill was the first 1,000-yard rusher in Stillwater since Joseph Randle in 2012. The last time Oklahoma State possessed both a returning quarterback and 1,000-yard rusher, the Cowboys were arguably the best team in college football.
While Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield remains arguably the best individual player in the nation, his surrounding talent takes a major step back. Top receiver Dede Westbrook graduated, while running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon declared early for the NFL draft. Just 55 percent of Oklahoma’s offensive production is returning next year, per Phil Steele. It’s a massive opportunity.
Gundy ranks among the most underrated coaches in college football. Perhaps no Big 12 coach’s success has been taken for granted more. Even Les Miles failed to win double-digit games in Stillwater – he still earned the LSU job.
Playing across the state from Stoops ruined people’s opinions of him more than almost anything else. That’s ridiculous.
Only one active coach has more than two wins over Bob Stoops – that’s Bill Snyder of Kansas State. His record against Stoops is still just 3-10. Nick Saban only beat him once, in the national championship game with LSU. Urban Meyer only played him twice. No other active coach did it.
But now, Oklahoma State has a chance to put that behind them. Before Oklahoma hired Stoops, the Sooners won just 53 percent of their games post-Barry Switzer. New Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley is an offensive savant, but is still the youngest head coach (33) in the sport. The Cowboys are as well set up as they could ever be.
Winning a Big 12 title in Riley’s first season could help set the tone in the state in a way we have never seen. With the roster Gundy brings back, it’s time for him to prove the Stoops monkey is officially off his back.