GELFAND: The "Wisdom" of Mike Gundy and Week 11 Picks

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the statute of limitations has run out, I can admit that I used to write speeches for the president of a thriving life insurance company.

I learned two important lessons from this soon-to-be obscenely wealthy executive. First, I learned that the backbone of the industry, the venerable whole-life product, was essentially a fraud. Basically a product that was one-part terrible investment, and the other part a wager that you were going to die before your time.

Second, I learned that one profession was a veritable gold mine of potential kick-ass insurance salesmen (no inclusive gender terminology needed in this case): football coaches.

“You don’t want salespeople who are analytical thinkers,” my boss told me. “But most of all, you want guys who believe their own bullshit.”

The latest example of just such a specimen is a zealot who is Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. In the past, he’s been credibly accused of various disgraces, such as helping his players cheat on tests; arranging for lucrative summer ghost-jobs sponsored by wealthy team boosters who demanded only that the young gladiators pocket the money and kept quiet. Oh, and there were the “hostesses” who showed five-star recruits a good time.

Anyway, Gundy, whose team is now mediocre and whose job seems to be withering like a Dust Bowl wheat field, undoubtedly believe his own bullshit the other day when he declared that liberals are destroying his team.

As the son of a man who had the misfortune of growing up in Tulsa in the midst of the Great Depression, I can tell you that then, as now, a liberal in Oklahoma is as hard to find as a scissor-tailed flycatcher in Minnesota. (Fun fact: the scissor-tailed flycatcher is Oklahoma’s state bird. It typically winters in Mexico, which means the day is coming when it won’t be allowed to return to the Sooner State in the spring.)

Anyway, football coaches — like many politicians — are always looking for a soft target. For some, that means a non-conference schedule that includes Rutgers. For others — Gundy comes to mind — it means blaming your own players. And liberals. (Football is for authoritarians, and as a card-carrying libtard, I got over that a long time ago.)

So after the Cowboys lost to hated rival Oklahoma 48-47 last week, Gundy was in a nasty mood the next day. Imagine, then, his hurt and shame when, with the morning rheum still clouding his bloodshot eyes, he discovered that his disgruntled safety, Thabo Mwaniki had announced that he was transferring out of Oklahoma State.

The next morning, at his weekly presser, Gundy suggested that Mwaniki was soft and that it was the fault of liberals, Generation Z, bad parenting, entitlement, fake news, and, of course, Mwaniki himself.

By then a philosopher, Gundy said, “I think we live in a¬†world where people are noncommittal. We allow liberalism to say, ‘Hey, I can really just do what I want and I don’t have to be really tough and fight through it.’ You see that with young people because it’s an option they’re given.”

Nostalgia being the last refuge of the authoritarian, Gundy added: “We weren’t given that option when we were growing up. We were told what to do, we did it the right way…”

There seems to be a lot of this churlish finger-pointing these days, and generally it comes when the pointer is frustrated when his leadership has been rejected — and, perhaps more significantly, when the pointee can’t fight back. You may recall that last week, after Minnesota’s talk-show host turned U.S. House member Jason Lewis was rejected by voters, he blamed a dead man for his defeat. It was all war hero John McCain’s fault, he said, for failing to fulfill his party’s pledge to destroy Obamacare.

I suppose you could take a millisecond to sympathize with Lewis. He’s going to return to Minnesota only to discover that while he was gone, AM radio quietly passed away.

Gundy, on the other hand, will undoubtedly get to return to his job next year, bowl bid or no bowl bid. Because if Oklahoma State fired him, they would have to pay him something like $16.5 million.

Seems like a lot of money, but Gundy undoubtedly believes he’s entitled to it.

Houston at Washington

Both teams are among the leaders in rushing defense, and neither has a ground game. The Texans have gone under in 11 of their most recent 15 contests, while Washington has gone under in 10 of its last 13. The Redskins don’t want Alex Smith to throw downfield, and the Texans don’t want DeShaun Watson’s partially collapsed lung to become fully collapsed. (Not to mention his broken ribs — and, come to think of it, Houston hasn’t mentioned his broken ribs.)

Nov 4, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin (84) and defensive end Carlos Watkins (91) and defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrate the win over the Denver Broncos at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The pick: Houston 20, Washington 16 — Under 42 1/2 for $50

Tennessee at Indianapolis

The Colts were ahead of Jacksonville 29-16 last week and were so giddy about it that their hapless coach, Frank Reich, gave the offense the rest of the game off. As in somehow they were shut out in the second half. Marcus Mariota is surging lately, maybe because Corey Davis is finally being allowed to run more than one pattern, and maybe because everyone surges against the Indy defense.

Nov 11, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts defense celebrates after recovering a fumble late in the fourth quarter to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The pick: Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 26 — Over 49 for $50

Minnesota at Chicago

There’s nothing mysterious about this pick. Despite their lofty position in the standings, these teams aspire to mediocrity. If there’s any justice, the game will end in a tie. Neither team has defeated a winning team this year; in fact, it’s been well over a year since the Bears have defeated a team with a winning record. Chicago looked great in the first half last week but went into full retreat in the second have, which the Lions won 15-8. The Vikings could have their most balanced offense of the year with Diggs back, Cook perhaps at full strength and all-Minnesotan Adam Thielen invincible against everyone.

Nov 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Tom Johnson (96) and defensive lineman Danielle Hunter (99) sack Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The pick: Vikings 23, Bears 20 — Minnesota plus 2 1/2 for $50


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