Gundy’s name on this list is probably somewhat surprising to most. In his ten years at Oklahoma State he’s averaged over eight wins a season including three 10+ win seasons in the last five years. He’s brought his alma mater their first outright Big 12 Championship, and won the school’s only appearance in a BCS bowl.
Gundy’s name is synonymous with the rise of Oklahoma State, and it’s because of this that we’ve been so quick to forget just how much tension was in Stillwater last season as the Cowboys skidded through a five-game losing streak.
It’s no secret that super-booster T. Boone Pickens has a lot of influence in Stillwater, and that Holder, Pickens, and Gundy don’t always see eye to eye. However, last season there was visible strain in the relationships when Pickens openly took a shot at coach Gundy.
“I’m certainly supportive of Oklahoma State University. I’m always going to be for OSU, I don’t care who coaches ‘em.” Pickens said last November.
It wasn’t just Mr. Pickens that Gundy was at odds with either. He became downright confrontational with the media. Gundy had become embattled, and had some fans wondering if it wasn’t time for him to go.
Combine that with Gundy’s habitual flirtation with other job opportunities, and the goodwill Gundy’s record earned him was fading quickly.
Then the unexpected happened. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops decided to punt again, and a 96-yard punt return changed everything. The Cowboys won Bedlam.
The Big three in Stillwater have spent the spring making up, and the Cowboys are poised to be contender for the conference title. What happens if the Pokes struggle though? How long would it take for tension and open hostility to return to Stillwater? Will Gundy, Holder, and Pickens keep holding hands and singing kumbaya, or will they turn on each other once more?
That’s a really interesting question, Chris. Things feel a little … too placid in northeastern Oklahoma right now. First off, I don’t think anything OSU could do this year (short of going, like, 3-9) would get Gundy fired. I do think if he goes 6-6 again or 5-7 with a stud QB1 and older defense, the rumblings will be as loud as 2014, if not louder from more mainstream outlets.
Last year had a lot to do with timing. If OSU had alternated wins and losses from the first game on, there wouldn’t have been as much as angst as losing five in a row at the end of the season. Of course, that could happen again with the way OSU’s schedule is back-loaded, but as long as OSU beats one of TCU, Baylor and OU, everything should be all right for Gundy and Co.
“I don’t think you can quantify how important it is (to have a coach who has been around for a long time). Look at the programs that have long-term success, and it starts with stability in the staff.
“It helps in Mike Gundy’s case that he has seen the Oklahoma State athletic department operate from three perspectives — that of an athlete, an assistant coach and a head coach. That’s pretty unique.”
If Holder’s opinion means anything (and it very much does), then this tells me a lot.