STILLWATER – Mike Gundy walked up to the podium wearing a gray sweatshirt. When he walked away, he was donned in a black-and-white striped referee uniform.
With Oklahoma State’s biggest game of the season so far on Saturday, the Cowboy football coach wanted to encourage fans to pack the stands. With the game being a “striped” affair at Boone Pickens Stadium, Gundy dressed for the occasion.
“It’s ‘Stripe the Stadium’ for this game, so you guys can go to coachgundy.com for all of the details,” Gundy said. “We’ve got to stripe the stadium. I’m guessing that all the people that tune in to this press conference for jokes and entertainment will know that I have always been a supporter of the officials and referees. They’re all good friends of mine, so we’re killing two birds with one stone.”
While he was having fun with the media regarding the fanfare of the occasion, Gundy is all business when it comes to the actual game against Boise State.
With two blowouts to gauge his team from – a shellacking of FCS opponent Missouri State and a beatdown of South Alabama, a program that’s only a decade old – Gundy knows the biggest question is still at quarterback
Redshirt senior Taylor Cornelius set an OSU school record with 728 yards combined in the team’s first two contests, something no other Cowboy gunslinger has done in their first two career starts.
However, Cornelius has also thrown three interceptions so far, something Gundy isn’t too concerned about.
“He has been here so long, and he wants to play as good of a game as he can, mentally,” Gundy said. “We run 80 plays a game. We play fast. Lots on the quarterback. There’s going to be mistakes. He has a high level of really quiet confidence, in my opinion. And I think we saw more of that in the last game in that he didn’t toss the ball. He threw the ball. I think each week, he’ll get a little better.”
Cornelius, a 6-foot-6, 232-pound native of Bushland, Texas, has not been popular with many in the OSU fan base. Replacing former star Mason Rudolph was going to be a tall task, Gundy said. He is confident in Cornelius, affectionately known as “Corndog,” and will keep rolling with him as Hawaii graduate transfer Dru Brown and highly rated freshman Spencer Sanders are being redshirted for the time being.
“We have just had so much success offensively in that position,” Gundy said. “You can go back and look at Mason’s first year as a sophomore, and he had games that people weren’t fired up about. The downfall for Corndog is he doesn’t have next year. He has to learn and grow really fast. He will be fine. Sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for and be thankful for what we have. That is how I feel about Corndog.”
Sunday, the Cowboys entered the Associated Press poll for the first time all season, coming in at No. 24.
OSU is No. 19 in the Coaches Poll, with the Broncos sitting at No. 17 in both rankings. Because of the high nonconference profile and the tendency of the College Football Playoff committee to look toward those “celebrity” games, Gundy said a victory would be good for not only the Cowboys but also the Big 12.
“They’re all big out of conference,” Gundy said. “When they started this playoff system, we get asked that question a lot as coaches. In my opinion, every time we step on the field out of league, it is big. It helps when you play these teams out of conference.”
Boise State is a nationally known program, successful ever since being brought to the FBS level in the late 1990s. Coaches such as Houston Nutt, current Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, former Colorado head man Dan Hawkins and current Washington coach Chris Petersen have been in Boise.
Current coach Bryan Harsin is another of that caliber, Gundy said. With the Broncos busting onto the national stage with a 2007 Fiesta Bowl victory against Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma, many would think Gundy relishes the chance to beat them on OSU’s home field.
However, Gundy isn’t looking toward it that way.
“I haven’t thought of that,” Gundy said. “I don’t know that. People don’t like me saying this, but we should all want our teams to win in this league because it makes us look better. I can’t say that for every fan in the state of Oklahoma. I had actually forgotten about that. It has been a long time.”