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Brian Davis | Austin American-Statesman | July 19, 2016

Oklahoma State football: Cowboys flying under the Big 12 radar -- again

  Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy turned some heads with his mullet at Big 12 Media Days.

Mullet talk dominated Big 12 media day on Monday.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, long known for his short, spiky hairdo, showed up for interviews at the Omni Hotel with a longer, brown throwback hairstyle. Gundy himself called it an "Arkansas waterfall."

"I was thinking Joe Dirt," OSU safety Jordan Sterns said. "I think it looks good on him, man. Gives him a little swag to him."

Quarterback Mason Rudolph likes it, too. "Is he trying to make a statement and get some flow action back there? He's got his '80s swag back."

The Cowboys should have plenty of swag heading into 2016. Gundy's program has almost its entire offense returning and will add Stanford graduate transfer Barry J. Sanders, the son of the famous running back who raced to national fame in Stillwater during the 1980s.

The turnaround job Gundy has pulled off doesn't get near the attention it should. Prior to the 2010 season, the Cowboys had an all-time 474-483-41 record. Since then, the Pokes are 58-20, having posted four 10-win seasons in the last six years. Not only that, but OSU has played in the Fiesta, Cotton and Sugar Bowls.

Gundy just received a two-year contract extension earlier this year for his troubles. This was the same guy who faced criticism in 2014.

And yet, Oklahoma State is still perceived as an underrated outfit. This year, reporters who cover the league pegged OSU to finish third behind Oklahoma and TCU, a team that lost both its star quarterback and receiver.

"In my opinion, tradition takes years and years and years to develop and build," Gundy said. "For that reason, people don't necessarily see us at the point that we are."

RELATED: TCU reminds Patterson of 2014 season

The Cowboys were 10-0 last season when things fell apart. The entire season might have turned when Baylor's KD Cannon hauled in a 71-yard touchdown pass. A manageable game got away, and the Cowboys lost, 45-35. Two more losses followed.

"I don't know what exactly happened," linebacker Chad Whitener said. "But you could tell the last couple of games, we didn't play the same way we came out against TCU, Kansas or Kansas State."

Gundy's bunch could benefit greatly by a better rushing attack, something Sanders should help revive. The Cowboys were ninth in the Big 12 last season in rushing yards per game (126.9).

Sanders rushed for 315 yards on 51 attempts last season. The Cardinal gave the ball to all-around dynamo Christian McCaffrey, who piled up 2,019 yards. As for Sanders, Gundy said, "I know that he's mature. That he's dependable, seems to be durable."

OSU plays five of its first six games at home, giving the Cowboys a chance to get rolling early.

"We've just got to keep winning," Whitener said. "Got to keep bringing more championships back to Stillwater."

This article was written by Brian Davis from Austin American-Statesman and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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