The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 10, 2012

Gundy, the Yankees and the coaching mill rumor

ENID, Okla. — I guess the New York Yankees aren’t what they used to be, and not simply because Alex Rodriguez has a bad hip and Derek Jeter a balky ankle.

When Mike Gundy took the job as Oklahoma State’s head football coach in 2005, he called the position his “New York Yankees job,” implying that his dream had come true and he would be in Stillwater the rest of his career.

Of course, the Yankees have had 34 managers since 1901, 20 of which have held the position for one season or less.

It wasn’t the Yankees trying to lure Gundy away from Stillwater recently, but Tennessee and Arkansas.

Gundy reportedly talked to both schools, and listened, but remains in orange and black.

Reports had Gundy feuding with OSU athletic director Mike Holder and unhappy about his lack of input in crafting future schedules.

In a media event promoting OSU’s acceptance of a spot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue, and on a satellite radio show, Gundy downplayed the reports and reiterated his commitment to O-State.

Why, Cowboy fans asked throughout the rumor storm surrounding Gundy, would he leave?

OSU has made great strides under Gundy, winning 9 games in both 2008 and 2009, 11 in 2010 and breaking through with 12 wins and a Big 12 championship and a BCS bowl win in 2011. This season was a bit of a hiccup, with the Pokes closing the campaign losing two straight to finish at 7-5. The Cowboys have a bunch of starters returning next season, including most of its offense, and should contend for the conference again.

In college football, success causes envy. When a coach wins, his name immediately becomes associated with every high profile job that opens up. Gundy has reached that level, so Cowboy fans had better get used to his name being involved in the job rumor mill.

Just ask Sooner fans, who have become accustomed to hearing Bob Stoops’ name bandied about every time a high profile job opens. The difference is, Stoops usually speaks out to quash the rumors nearly as quickly as they begin.

Gundy was coy about both the Tennessee and Arkansas talk, fueling speculation there was, indeed, fire beneath the smoke.

Gundy is supposedly unhappy about Holder scheduling games like next year’s Cowboy season opener against Mississippi State, rather than loading up strictly on cupcakes. Of course, OSU’s 2012 season opening 84-0 victory over Savannah State, not so much a cupcake as a creampuff, didn’t seem to help much as the Pokes turned around and stumbled through a loss at Arizona the next week.

The reality is, Gundy likely will not spend the rest of his career coaching his alma mater, and might not even remain until his contract runs out in 2019. The more OSU wins, the more schools with deeper pockets and greater football tradition will come calling. Despite the largesse of OSU benefactor T. Boone Pickens, many schools can offer better financial packages, because of larger stadiums and more lucrative TV deals.

Cowboy fans can take heart in the fact OSU is no longer simply a mid-level coaching stepping-stone. If and when Gundy does leave, OSU’s program has been upgraded to the point it should attract a number of good quality candidates.

OSU fans breathed a sigh of relief when it became apparent Gundy decided to stay put. With the returning players and a promising recruiting class coming back, the future looks bright for OSU football. But Gundy’s name will be grist for the rumor mill again. It’s only a matter of time.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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