By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — Over the years Mike Gundy has made it known how he has no input when it comes to the scheduling for the Oklahoma State University football program.
On Thursday, a day after it was announced the Cowboy football team will open the 2014 season against Florida State at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Gundy explained his reason for not being a fan of games of that nature — as well as the 2013 season opener, which will be held against Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium.
“I don’t like giving up a home game. I’d rather play here. Just so everybody knows, in recruiting, there’s nothing better than a home game,” Gundy said. “There’s nothing more effective than bringing a young man to your campus, letting him be around your crowd, he sees the tailgating — we have 35,000 people that tailgate now. It’s one of the most exciting home field advantage football stadiums in the country, in my opinion.”
Gundy may not be a full supporter of playing big games in NFL stadiums, but he did yield to the notion that the fact teams and stadiums want to include OSU in the early-season marque matchups is a sign of the program on the rise.
“There’s no question. We’re going to have an opportunity to play in games of that style, for the next how-many-ever years,” the OSU coach said. “There’s no question about that.”
Wednesday’s announcement, along with the previous announcement of the 2013 opener against Mississippi State, is likely to make OSU’s biggest donor happy, as well. Boone Pickens, who has a suite at Cowboy Stadium, has said he’d like for his alma mater to play more meaningful games.
“I want an upgrade to the non-conference schedule,” Pickens said prior to the season opener against Savannah State. “... I think we can play there (Cowboy Stadium). We were actually going to be the first game in the stadium at one point and we couldn’t get Texas Tech to sign up.”
While Gundy is looking at prospective Cowboy players, those on the roster already like the opportunity of getting to play in a NFL stadium.
“I think it’s great exposure, especially for the university — and even for the recruits, getting to know that we’re going to play on prime time television in some big arenas,” said junior quarterback Clint Chelf, a native of Enid. “I think the exposure is great. I think it will be exciting.”
While Chelf will likely graduate before the 2014 opener in Dallas, redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh would be a junior at the time of game — and be a part of his second-straight season opener in a NFL stadium in his native Texas.
“It’s really cool. It’s really special to be able to play in such a big venue like that,” Walsh said. “I think it’ll also be a challenge for us, because you don’t want to go in there and just be in shock because you are playing in one of the bigger stadiums in the country.”
Playing in JerryWorld, as it’s also known, will be nothing new for Walsh, however. The quarterback from Denton, a suburb of the Metroplex, said he played several high school football games in the nearby Dallas stadium.
“We played about four or five games in Cowboy Stadium. For me, playing there won’t be anything new,” Walsh said. “I’ve played a few games there, including a state championship game. So we’ve played in front of the big crowd there, too.”
The redshirt freshman quarterback said the first most notable difference about the arena in the Metroplex is the over-sized video screen hanging above the football field.
“The very first game, it was a little difficult,” Walsh said. “You’d catch yourself looking up at it because it’s so big and such a good picture.”
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor at the Stillwater NewsPress.