The Rundown: What Mike Gundy Said Entering the Big 12 Championship Game

November 30, 2021

STILLWATER — For the first time in his coaching career, Mike Gundy is headed to a Big 12 championship game.

Oklahoma State plays Baylor on Saturday in Arlington. Gundy held his weekly media luncheon Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium. Here is what he said (video below).

On his assistant coaches

“It’s kind of a follow up from what I said after the game that each week my job is to evaluate our talent level, the other team’s talent level, what our matchups are, and then Monday through Wednesday I get a picture in my mind and what I think our schemes are based on offensive and defensive staff. And then Saturday I evaluate whether I think it was right, wrong or the same, and get that information to the staff and then they’re responsible for relaying that to the team by position, getting the information they need to correct mistakes and tell them what they did good. And then things in practice that we can adjust, adjust, all while improving in just our basic schemes over four months. So, they’re responsible for their position, for those guys to get better as the season progresses. My job is just to evaluate them.”

On if the team needs to adjust less this deep into the season

“Well, it varies based on how the game plans were played out the Saturday versus who we played. Like sometimes, and I said this as a coordinator, sometimes I looked at my work on Sunday and said, ‘That wasn’t a very good game plan. It didn’t really give our players the best chance.’ So, we might have won the game, or we might not have won the game, but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t have done these three or four things. I was wrong in my evaluation of them and my matchups, so each week it just varies a little bit. In the end, the coaches have to do a good job of preparing their players and keeping them motivated individually. I mean, I can’t motivate 140 guys. They need to motivate their players individually and get them to maximize themselves in practice.”

On Kirk Herbstreit praising how his team was built

“I had a good conversation with his group, the four of them last week, and really the first time I had an in-depth conversation with him this season. The majority of their questions revolved around those topics and, I mean, I just told them the truth. This is what we do. This is who we are. We haven’t really changed. We’ve made adjustments. I’ve been fortunate to have Rob Glass here for 18 years. The majority of our staff is here. They understand the culture. And, we make minor tweaks throughout the years, but overall this is a very structured, disciplined organization that is regimented down to the minute of every day, year round. I mean, that’s the way it is. And we don’t change much and we stay the course and we treat the kids with respect. I mean, their question was the same as we get, you know, we’re not playing with four- or five-star players. We’re trying to get four- to five-star players, sometimes we don’t get them. Most of the time we don’t get them. It’s not like we’re not trying to recruit them. And then there’s some four- and five-stars that we don’t want, you know, we don’t think they’re going to fit into our system. Nothing against them. They may go somewhere else and do just fine, but not here. This is a different environment. If you want to go to school and play football here you have to abide by certain policies. That’s the way it is. We don’t budge much. And that became a topic for about 15 minutes during the discussion with those guys last week.”

On how his approach has changed over the years

“Well, I’m much more patient and a completely different person now than I was maybe even six, seven years ago. I don’t know, I mean, I got into my late 40s and just changed quite a bit. I’m calm, I think, I have a lot more patience. I understand young people more now than I did. I guess I’ve done it a long time and get better at it. So, I changed considerably, and even with the approach with my assistant coaches, and the administration for that matter. I didn’t really take no for an answer for a lot of years. Now, sometimes I take no for an answer and it’s okay. But, I’m just much more impatient now than I ever had as a head coach in dealing with all the different areas of things that I have to deal with in my position.”

On how his approach with assistants has changed

“I mean, I say this and I really believe this. I think I’m the easiest guy in the country to work for, I believe that. And, I think that’s been that way for 17 years. I think over the last six to eight years, it makes it even more of a good place to work from the standpoint that — there’s just a lot of things that come up with my job, and if you’re not careful, and if you don’t have enough experience, you can become frustrated and frustration causes anger and then that cause dissension among people. It’s all human nature. And I’ve been able to avoid that over the last five, six, eight years or so, and that’s helped with my relationship with the guys on our staff. Not just 10 or 11 coaches, but there’s a lot of people in our building, recruiting staff, equipment staff, strength staff, medical staff, there’s a lot. And so there’s just a lot of moving parts and my patience has allowed me to become a better person, and become a better coach and dealing with people in the organization.”

On his relationship with OSU AD Chad Weiberg and president Kayse Shrum

“Well, I don’t want to take coach (Mike) Holder and president (Burns) Hargis and throw them under the bus because we had our differences over my career, but we also did a lot of good things. We also want a lot of games. We built a lot here, and we’ve been very successful. But, this is a new way, there’s some youth, there’s excitement, there’s new ideas, and I think there’s a much more direct line of communication pretty much daily. I’ve had more sit down conversations with Dr. Shrum, or standing conversations in three months than I have with anybody in administration in 17 years. She was at my practice last night.

“So, we’re just in a new wave here and what our goal is, and I don’t want to speak out of turn for Dr. Shrum or Chad, but our goal is to take Oklahoma State football to another level in all areas, period. And we’ve had that plan since they got the job and we sat down and had a discussion, and I don’t mind telling you, I told them, ‘This is who I am, this is what I believe in. I might not be your coach. If you guys think something else, you need to get a new coach. I’m not changing who I am, and I’m not changing our philosophy. I just need to have a partner to develop a relationship where we can take this thing to another level.’ And we all came to an agreement on what our goal is, and our goal is to turn Stillwater into a big-time college football town on Fridays and Saturdays. Very similar to what you’re getting in the SEC at some of those schools that are in communities the size that we are, 50,000-ish or so.. We’ve got a long ways to go, but we have a plan to get there, and I think — I know we have the leadership and we have the system in place now. We just have to make that decision as an organization and as administration and my people that we’re taking this to another level where we can over an extended period of years start to bring in the culture, young men that fit our culture, that may be the talent and what people are looking for that can potentially be NFL players. But we’re not going to sacrifice the culture at that. And that’s really what our plan is with the communication that I’ve had over the last three months.”

On what it would take for OSU to take the next step

“You have to have a full commitment. Guys, we can call it like it is, football is the most important sport on this campus, period, financially. If you don’t have football, you can’t run the operation. If you love football to be in a position to financially run the operation and also market the university in a big way — I’ll give an example, how much money of marketing do you think this university got in the last four weeks on Tuesday nights? When your logo is on that TV for an extended period of time and it’s on the bottom of the TV all week until Saturday of being in this playoff system or whatever you want to call it, you can’t put a dollar figure on that marketing. So, in order for football to maintain a high level, we have to make full commitment. If we make that full commitment, we can take this place to places it’s never been before. If we don’t, then we shouldn’t expect for that to happen. It’s as simple as that.”

“I’m talking about everything. I’m talking about infrastructures, I’m talking about every couple years having a plan to remodel, redo the academic center, make the academic center better, professional career development, make the staff as highly paid as we can within reason to make this area over here function. We’re do for a new field here, update the stadium, I mean, the stadium is perfect, it just needs to be refurbished at times. Practice facilities, support staff, recruiting budgets, airplanes, all the things that you talk about in the SEC that’s going on right now, that has to happen here if we want this to continue up and be a level that people say ‘Wow, they got a real chance now.’”

On if he thought of that type of big picture stuff when he first got the job

“No, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I went in my office over here, closed the door and started to cry because I didn’t know what to do. I called Joe DeForest and begged him to stay, just to help me. He said he would stay and then after that, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened the first six or eight years, I don’t remember much of it to be honest with you. I just worked 16 hours a day, every day. I’m sure I was not easy to deal with, I’m sure I probably wasn’t a great husband, maybe not the easiest guy for the administration to deal with, but I didn’t know any different. I was just trying to figure it out.”

On if OSU and Baylor are in a strong position to lead the new Big 12

“So, I’ve had these discussions with Dr. (Kayse) Shrum and Chad (Weiberg) and other people that are involved in the decision making process, and so I’m not afraid to say that, in my opinion, we should take the lead role. I think Baylor is in a great situation, and I’ve said this, I don’t hide it, that you can get in a car and drive four hours and not have to go do anything else to recruit at Baylor. I was there, I know what they have. I can draw a circle around a four hour radius of Waco and I know what type of players are around there. So, they’re in a great situation and I think [Dave Aranda] is a really good coach, and I think he’s really smart. I don’t know him real well personally, other than discussions I’ve had with him. I like him, which doesn’t mean anything. I’m just calling it like it is, but, in my opinion, I’m going off of he’s in Year 2, I’m in Year 17. So, it is a big difference, just from that standpoint of the conversations that are taking place here and there’s a lot of agreement that we need to establish ourselves as the top of this thing in moving forward. That doesn’t guarantee you any wins, because just like you said, we’ve been in the middle of the row in this conference for years, and we’ve done pretty well.

“So, it’s not guaranteeing wins, it’s just, you know — a new facility doesn’t guarantee you wins and new facility guarantees you’re going to get a few more eyes in recruiting. But you can still win with the old facility. So, there’s a combination there, but more importantly than anything, what I want to see — because someday around here, they’re going to run me off, or I’m going to say ‘I’m done coaching’ and when that happens I want Oklahoma State to be a big-time college football town for good as we move forward. That’s the way I would like it to be whenever they run me off or whatever. That’s my goal, because I think that’s what’s best for this university.”

On his message to the team about staying motivated after the emotions of Saturday

“I mean, I’m comfortable with this team because of their maturity. And we’ve been in what would be a playoff system for the last five weeks, right? You get to a point about the time we start talking about, ‘Are you gonna watch the Tuesday night show.’ Once you get to that point, you’re kind of, if you win, you’re alive. If you lose, you know, you better hope that you get a couple breaks to get back into the picture. So, they’ve been good every week.

“They burned a lot of energy, they burned a lot of motion last Saturday night. We can’t — that’s over with. It has nothing to do with this next game. Absolutely zero. And we’re playing a good football team that has also improved during the year. They’re a better team now than they were when we played them, this is a good football team. They have talent, they know what they’re doing. I think they’re well-coached in all phases, I think they’re well coached. And so, if our guys don’t reprogram themselves this week, then they don’t get themselves a chance to play at the highest level Saturday morning. You just can’t. So, I mean, we don’t get any guarantees in winning the game, but we can control the guarantee that we can play at the highest level we can based on our commitment this week. And I don’t think that will be an issue. I think there’s enough maturity that these guys will prepare and practice well Tuesday and Wednesday.”

On Baylor

“Their schemes are good. They know what they’re doing. They block well, they’ve got skill at the running back position, we know that, they got skill at the wide receiver position, and their quarterback was a runner and a thrower. I don’t know which quarterback’s playing. The other guy came in and played pretty good, from what I’ve seen. Now, I have not studied him as much as the other guys in the building, I haven’t got that far.

“Defensively, they’re aggressive. You know, they play zone, they play man, they don’t sit back. [Jalen Pitre], you know, makes play after play after play. The big nose guard makes a bunch of football plays, they’re active, they’re running. And you’re also seeing a team that’s winning. So, when they win, they play harder. That’s where they’re at. These are two equal teams. I mean, we’re on the same level. Field position is going to be important, special teams is going to be important. We all know that effort and turnovers play a big role, and you go play. We need to control what we can control, which I think they will with the maturity that’s in that locker room.”

On keeping Jim Knowles in Stillwater

“Well, it’s been a priority all year. It’s not a matter of finding a way to keep him, it’s a matter of providing him with something that puts him at a level that he deserves to be at based on his success. That goes back to the question that I just answered, that long answer, that’s part of what I’m talking about. So, if you want to play with the big boys, and that’s your goal and that’s the philosophy of the people in the organization and fans, you got to get into the same boat. If you want to get into the boat, then get into the boat. If you don’t, then don’t expect it. And so, we’re gonna do everything we can to keep him here within reason, but we also understand, my responsibility is to be feasible with the resources that we have available and be fair with administration and decisions they have to make based on the resources they have available. But there is a side of it where you have to decide whether you want to play in the big games or not moving forward.

“I’m fairly certain that he’ll be coaching here next year. I can’t — I don’t know, I mean, the Green Bay Packers may offer him $3 million, I can’t say for sure. But within reason I’m very, very certain that he’ll be coaching here next year.

“It could happen next week for all we know. We know that we can’t predict much in this profession, right? We know that, for a lot of reasons, when money’s involved, that’s the way it is. The money has gotten out of hand and it’s out of control, but it’s not stopping. There’s a value based on success and what people would predict your future to be and that market value has gone through the roof and that’s not going to change. We don’t control that.

“I don’t like that. I don’t poach other people’s staff’s until after the games, I never have. But that doesn’t mean that at some time it night no change. I mean, I hate to say that, but I have not gone in and taken coaches from other people’s staff during the season, because I don’t want it done to mind. But they could. I mean, you know, is what it is.”

On the physical advantage of having older players

“It’s a big advantage. So, when you’re competing with 23-year-olds instead of 18-year-olds, just like the other night I said after the game, we have a number of 22- and 23-year-olds that were playing in the fourth quarter on defense and they were very productive. And then we had a true freshman jump offsides in a crucial situation. And that’s just maturity and experience and age. So, these players that continue to come back and be a part provide a huge impact for our team. So, I mean, we got eight guys coming back next year that should be graduating. They’re all coming back for next year’s team. Most of the defense is coming back, they already told me they want to come back. They love it here. They want to be able to play another year, and they’re coming back.”

On the pride he has in players sticking around a while even if some aren’t playing

“Well, it’s important to me that these guys have an experience that when they leave here, if somebody said ‘Would you do it again?’ And they said ‘Yes, I would do it again.’ I don’t want 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-olds being in this program, being in college and then when it’s over, saying ‘I’m glad it’s over’ because we all know how fun it is to be 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. That’s the best year of your life. And if they had a bad experience here, that doesn’t sit well with me. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t work hard, that doesn’t mean they don’t take care of their academics, but just the enjoyment of growing and maturing as a young man, those things are important to me. They weren’t in my first six or eight years here that somebody brought up. I didn’t know that was important, but since then, and particularly the last five or six years, I really understand the importance of wanting them to have a great experience while they’re here. We’re not going to win every game. We win a lot of them, but we can’t guarantee that. You can’t make that a part of criteria of what a good experience is. So, it’s very important, selfishly, for me that these guys want to come back and stay longer and spend time with us for another year.”

On Dez Bryant being on the sideline Saturday

“I think Dez would come back, yeah. Dez was like a little kid down there. Every time somebody bumped into me it was him. He loves OSU.”

On when he thought this team would have a shot to do something special

“Well, after the nonconference I thought the chance was zero. I didn’t even think that far. I was just trying to get to where we can function to play the next game. I think it was Kansas State. … I was just trying to figure out a way to somehow win the Kansas State game. Maybe after we played Kansas and we started to get some guys back on offense and our O-line had played together for a couple weeks and we played really good, I thought we were better than I thought we were at that point because I didn’t know where we were because we really hadn’t been healthy. We had played excellent on defense, but offensively it wasn’t anything to write home about. You have to have both to get to a certain level. And then when we played really well against TCU, and I know that they lost their coach but they’re still very athletic and they know what they’re doing, I felt like it kind of solidified to me these guys are a little bit better than what I thought they were. I don’t think anybody should look down on me for that. I don’t know anybody in here thought that. Certainly after game three.”

On what he thinks about rematching with a team he has already played this season

“I think that when we decided to have the conference game, or somebody decided it, might have been pressure from the committee, playoff system, maybe there’s more money in it from the television revenue. I don’t know particulars of it. We had our league set up to where we played each other, so the way it used to be decided you really did have a champion. Then they’ve gone this route. We all signed up for it. I will say that it does generate more interest and TV viewers because right to the end they watch, I’m guessing all of the Baylor fans watched our game to see what happened. So you draw more attention in viewers to that game because they’re watching to see ‘Can we get in the game?’ So from that standpoint, I would say it’s positive. It would have been a little bit unusual to play OU and then turn around and play them six days later. That would have been unusual. That would’ve kind of been weird. I actually was thinking of what to say if y’all asked me about that. The old Ernie Banks deal, let’s play two concept. That’s the only thing I had to say. I don’t know. It’s kind of weird, but we haven’t played them in quite a while. That helps.”

On coaching in a rematch

“What’s interesting with that is they’re really kind of who they are, and we’re kind of who we are. I’ve already had that discussion with them this morning, with both groups. When you look at the last few games of them and you look at our games, we were kind of who we are and they’re kind of who they are. There hasn’t been much of a dramatic change. They played another quarterback, but their philosophies were pretty much the same. Same thing with us. We play the other quarterback, we don’t really change other than we don’t run him on option. But from that standpoint, it’s really similar.”

On the option play that Spencer Sanders scored on in Bedlam

“He was really good on it. Did a good job cutting up and took off, made a good run, made a play. We needed a spark at that time. Both offenses were struggling. We needed a spark.”

On how Joe Michalski has done filling in at center for Danny Godlevske

“Good. He will show signs of youth and inexperience, but he’s performed at a higher level than what I thought he would have.”

On player development specialist Beni Tonga

“Beni is an illustration of hard work and loyalty to our culture. When we hired Beni, I didn’t know Beni, he came very highly regarded. We hired him for administrative work but also as a way to communicate and build relationships with his heritage, Polynesians. There are a lot of those types of players that have played at this level on the other level and do really well, and we didn’t have a good way to communicate with him. At times, there could be language barriers, so they can be first generation or second generation back and maybe their guardians, parents, aunts, uncles, very traditional families, they might live with a bunch of people, might not even be their parents, and could be a language barrier with the Tongan language. He was a source of communication for us with that heritage of player has been tremendous. We actually have a Polynesian wall of honor in our office, where all their pictures are up there. I think now since he’s been here, there’s 12 or 14 that have come through here, and for the majority of them he’s been the communicator with them and their family so they could understand our culture and their culture and help us during communication in recruiting.”

On if Tonga has helped them recruit more prospects from the west

“Yeah, he’s a guy that, I would say, three out of four of the guys that we recruit that are within that area, some in Arizona also,  he’s involved in communication, particularly when the parents get on campus, a family gets on campus. If there’s a language barrier there for whatever reason, he can help communicate that. From that standpoint, in recruiting, it’s a communication business. He helps.”

On the Polynesian culture blending with OSU’s culture

“Sammy (Tuihalamaka), Sione (Asi), (Nathan) Latu, maybe there’s five or six right now on our team. You know what’s funny is they kind of know each other. The culture here with the family and the strength of their families is important to them. When they come into this culture, it’s very similar to the culture that they’ve been raised with, and it does help because they’re already adjusted to that style.”

On the relentlessness of OSU’s defense

“I think it starts with our culture, but then it goes really quickly to Jim (Knowles). Jim has a very unique style of coaching and has a unique relationship with them. He has the ability to coach old school and keep them motivated and involved and not create friction. He treats them all the same. He’ll chew on (Devin) Harper or (Malcolm) Rodriguez the same he would a true freshman. That’s a lost art in coaching today, compared to where it was 10 years ago, or particularly 30 years. ago. So that style that he brings to the defense helps with what you’re talking about. And then we all know this, once they start playing well and have success then they almost don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t play hard. So when they watch video on Sunday, they’re in a room and if everybody in here can see and if somebody is not giving effort, like out of the corner they’re eyes are cutting at him because they know you’re not playing hard. Got 10 guys playing harder, and you’re not playing hard. I think there’s a tremendous amount of peer pressure there for that, so now the snowball is going downhill and you can’t stop it. It’s working in our favor. Those were two great plays because [Caleb Williams] was going to go on that and convert a first down. [Devin Harper] was the last guy for a long ways. He was able to kind of foot-sweep him and get him down, and then on the other one with Collin (Oliver), I think that was the last play. I mean, he’s on the ground. He’s crawling, and he dove at his feet and got him down. Honestly, you really have to get him around his feet to get him down. I knew he was slippery, but he’s even more slippery than what I thought he was. Those two guys made great plays.”

On if Devin Harper’s fourth-quarter tackle and Collin Oliver’s game-sealing sack are among the biggest plays in program history

“There’s no doubt. If he doesn’t trip him up, he’s got to first down, and a new set of downs, the play calls are going to be much different from that side. Then obviously the if the game didn’t end there, we all know what [Caleb Williams has] done. Like when he took off on the long run, I didn’t know if we were going to catch him because he’s done that in games and scored. Then when he’s running around back there, I don’t know how many times we’ve all seen him when he’s going to his right where he throws the ball sidearm and throws it to somebody in the back of the end zone. It’s happened six or eight times already this year. If you don’t get him down, that could have happened.”

On where Spencer Sanders is different from the first Baylor game until now

“His composure has been good. His ability to listen and learn has been good. His relationship with (Tim) Rattay has been good. Everything else he does is good. So when we protect him fairly well and we rush the ball decent, he plays better. That’s going to be fairly common for most quarterbacks in high school and college and in the pros. His protection in this last game was average, but he still played pretty well. His gains of experience this year obviously have helped him.”

On if he would’ve been able to bounce back from the two interceptions he threw in Bedlam if it happened in previous seasons

“I think he’s much better now than he was two years ago. Last year his composure was pretty good, but I think he’s considerably better now than he was two seasons ago.”

On how he expects the atmosphere to be Saturday in Arlington

“I’m sure that we’re going to sell every ticket. They’re hard to come by. We can’t get tickets. I know that our administration wanted to provide every ticket we could for the fans, once we take care of the people that are involved in the game, and I’m guessing that that’s already taking place. But Saturday night, it comes back to the discussion that I had earlier, that environment is the way it should be. Again, if we’re going to take this step, then they have to be a part of it, and they were and they have been this year, and they were Saturday night. I’m guessing that all of our seats down there will be full and everybody will be excited and ready to watch us play again because that’s kind of been the attitude of the fans and the team both this season.”

On if this game in AT&T Stadium will be different than games he has been a part of there in the past

“I would think it would be like, it was a pretty exciting environment when we played Florida State. There was a lot of people there. They had just won a national championship. There was kind of an electric feel to that game like you had out here Saturday night during warmups. Bowls are a little different because fans have been there a week, and they’ve been partying and it’s not quite like … it’s good, but. Now, when we were in the Fiesta Bowl, you had that feeling, and the Sugar Bowl, and really the Cotton Bowl. But I think it’ll be different. I think it’d be more like the Florida State game where everybody’s revved up because they’re probably going to get in there on Friday night, get up, come straight to the stadium. They’ll be ready to roll. I would guess it would be a pretty cool environment from that standpoint.”

On Josh Sills

“He’s an old-school, small-town, hunts, fishes, more of the old offensive lineman concept. He comes in here, he really kind of fit our culture before he got here. So, it was easy to get him going. He likes that, he likes it the way it is here. So, he brings a lot to the table from a maturity standpoint, and then it was easy for him to adapt to our culture, kind of based on his background.”

On if he has any thoughts on Lincoln Riley going to USC

“No, I hadn’t even thought about it. I mean, I obviously hadn’t talked to him about it. At some point I will, but it’s hard to predict nowadays with what goes on. I mean, no. Nothing surprises me anymore.”

On if he has talked to Cale Gundy about Riley’s departure

“I mean, he was as shocked as you and I are. They did a good job of keeping it under hat. It was a nice job.”

On OSU’s ability to grind out close games

“So, the majority of our defense are 22, 23 years old, and there’s no substitute for age and experience period. That’s where it starts, and then I think the young players feel guilty if they don’t grind it out with them because then they get identified as not playing their role, and that’s called leadership and that’s what’s happening. Coaches can’t make that happen. This is a player’s game, okay. This team has decided to do, just what you’re saying, and that’s why they’re playing as well as they are. If coaches could make that happen, every coach would be successful. There wouldn’t be coaches getting fired. But the culture and the players have to decide to make this happen. We can’t do it for them. I tell them all the time. I can’t go out there and play. I don’t play, you play. We can give you a blueprint of what to do. And hopefully it’s correct. And if you follow that blueprint, you can go and give effort like what you’re talking about, but we cannot do it for you.”

On if the types of recruits OSU gets are used to grinding things out

“There’s some truth to that. I don’t know for sure because I’ve never coached on a team that had a mess of four or five-star player, so I don’t know. But I know that the players that we have in this organization, the majority of them are hungry. And I think that’s a big part of athletics.”

On Demarco Jones’ fumble recovery

“I think anybody that predicted what transpired there and said you’d still be able to come back and win, and then both teams did it. But, there’s more parity in college football than ever, and there’s a lot of parity in this league. So, special teams plays more of a role than it used to when offenses were scoring 50 points a game. There were a number of special teams plays over the last six to eight years that took place that should have been talked about in postgame media conferences, but nobody talked about them because there was too much offense to talk about that it didn’t matter. It’s not that way now based on the improvement of defenses and the parity in this league, and really the parity in college football.”

On Blaine Green at Cowboy back

“He gave us some options that we hadn’t had all year. He’s practiced there some, but he’s young, he’s immature. We’re maximizing what we can get out of him, but he’s still a freshman. He gave us some options in this game that we hadn’t had based on his athleticism.”

On if he has thought about the impact making the College Football Playoff could have on the program

“Oh, I don’t know. I guess, maybe, subconsciously. At some point I have to hypothetically think through every situation in my mind to be able to make a good decision the next day. I haven’t really gotten that far yet. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where it goes. What I really want, and not just coaches talk, I really want the players to focus and practice hard this week and give themselves a chance to play at the highest level on Saturday, because that’ll make me happy. And as I told the team, I guess I’ll kind of conclude with this, a little bit of what the question you asked me is, since we started having this format of having a championship game, years before we were playing in a game that most of the time against Oklahoma at the end of the year that the winner was the Big 12 Champion, right? Three, four, five times? I don’t know. But, we’ve been in that situation based on it was the last game of the year, and if you won, you won it. If you didn’t, you got second. But, this is the first time that this format has been out that I’ve been in the championship game, and for you guys, it’s the same. There are no guarantees that you can get in this again. We don’t know that, so, I’m asking you to maximize yourself in all areas to give yourself the best chance that you can play on Saturday. So, as you look back on it, you don’t have any regrets. When you talk about going where you’re going, that kind of fall into that, because if you have a chance at that, you want to maximize yourself. 

“You said this six weeks ago, or four weeks ago, you’re close to having a chance to do something special. Have you thought about it? I didn’t really then, but I have in the last couple weeks, because how many more times do you get this chance? You don’t get this opportunity often. And that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

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