STILLWATER — A few years ago, Mike Gundy would not have been happy to see his program on the cover of one specific magazine: Sports Illustrated.
After the fallout of a perceived expose of Oklahoma State football in a 2013 issue that was found to have almost no merit after an NCAA investigation, there was some backlash against the magazine.
Bygones have become bygones, and Gundy said in today’s news cycle, four years is an eternity. The people over at SI seem to think so as well, putting OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph on one of four regional covers in the annual college football preview Wednesday morning.
The magazine also put the Cowboys at No. 4 in the top 25 poll, good enough for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Aside from the 2013 cover, it’s the Cowboys’ third cover in Gundy’s tenure since he took over in 2005. The other two were Zac Robinson and Levy Adcock in a 2009 preseason issue and Dez Bryant after the 2009 Georgia game.
Gundy said at media availability Wednesday that he sees the national exposure as a good opportunity for the OSU brand and something his players ought to be proud of.
“For Oklahoma State to be one of four covers nationally, and for them to think enough about our football program and our players to put them on the cover, is a big deal, so we’re very proud of that,” Gundy said. “There’s a lot of hard work and effort that has gone into it. Our guys should take pride in that, as well as the guys that have been here over the last 12 years. They’re a part of this. It has been a long process for us to get to the point where people across the country are saying that they respect Oklahoma State football.”
Rudolph said though he hadn’t seen the cover at the time, he was excited to see how the team reacted to it. Although it’s a photo of him from last season’s Alamo Bowl, Rudolph said it’s a team deal, confirmed by the preseason ranking.
“I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s pretty cool to be recognized as one of the teams that people have confidence in, but like I’ve said before, none of that stuff matters preseason wise,” Rudolph said. “I think it’ll add to the collective chemistry that this team feels and has day to day at practice. It just gives us an extra boost, not that we pay attention to that stuff, but it’s inevitable to hear about it. It’s cool, but it’s a team deal.
“It’s good any time we get some national attention, which we have lately, so it’s good for us and good for the program.”
When asked about the difference between the program’s relationship with the magazine four years ago and now, Gundy said first of all, the people behind ‘The Dirty Game” article no longer work at the magazine. That made the forgiveness aspect a lot easier, Gundy said.
“You had people that went against rules of journalism and wrote an article that was abusive for no reason at all,” Gundy said. “Me personally, that happened in ‘13, we’re four years from then, so the young men in this program and the young men we are recruiting were 12, 13 years old. We all know we live in a world where people have a hard time remembering what happened a week ago. They could give a flip about what happened in 2013.”