STILLWATER - Mike Gundy sees no reason to hide it. He's not the man in charge of Oklahoma State's defense, and he thinks the eighth-ranked Cowboys are better off that way.
Gundy was questioned on the topic Monday after television footage showed him distanced from his team and focusing on a strategy for Oklahoma State's next offensive series while the defense was on the field in Saturday's upset of then-No. 3 Missouri.
“Let me just say that we have a lot of confidence in our defensive staff, and everybody has a job. My job is not to call defenses,” said Gundy, promoted from offensive coordinator after Les Miles left following the 2004 season. “I have faith in those guys. They watch tape all week. I don't watch the tape.
“I don't know their tendencies, I don't know their schemes, I don't know their assignments. I don't understand all that. I would like to do the offense and then stop the game and get that plan ready and go over and watch the defense, but they don't give us that luxury.”
Gundy instead focuses his expertise on being the play-caller for the nation's second-highest scoring offense, with a 481/2-point average, and leaves defensive coordinator Tim Beckman and his other assistants in charge of the defense.
“Probably the worst thing I could is click over and start trying to make decisions on what's going on defensively,” Gundy said. “Because I don't put the time and effort in, it wouldn't be fair to the players or the coaches.”
Quite clearly, Gundy's hands-off approach is working. The Cowboys (6-0, 2-0) have their highest ranking since 1985 heading into this Saturday's game against Baylor, and the defense is the best it's been in years.
Gundy has called Beckman's game plan the best he has seen in his 19 years in coaching. It held Missouri's offense 30 points below its 53-point average and produced three interceptions against 2007 Heisman finalist Chase Daniel, who had thrown only one pick in his first five games.
“I saw a quote the other day from Bear Bryant: There's a lot of guys who can draw Xs and Os on the board, but how many of them can get the players to execute it on Saturday? I think they did a tremendous job of not giving them too much, but they gave them enough to keep Daniel off-balance,” Gundy said.
“They changed coverages, changed blitzes, twisting and played with great effort. They were able to offset some of the tendencies and some of the strengths that they had.”
Gundy said he's gotten a lot of questions about his approach after the game was on national television Saturday night, and he thinks it's mainly because Missouri's Faurot Field has spacious sidelines compared to Oklahoma State's Boone Pickens Stadium, where the walls are notoriously close to the field and create cramped quarters for both teams.
“My routine in that game is not any different than it's been in any of the other five games that we've played,” Gundy said.