Lane Taylor.jpg

Oklahoma State strength and conditioning coordinator Rob Glass (right) talks with former Cowboy offensive lineman Lane Taylor following the 2022 spring football finale at Boone Pickens Stadium. Glass’ new contract gives him an annual salary of $1 million.

Spencer Sanders has seen the vibrant green turf that was recently installed at Boone Pickens Stadium.

He approves.

As of July 13, he was waiting for the locker room to be unveiled, but it’s undergoing renovations, too.

“Obviously, that’s going to be exciting,” Sanders said. “It’s supposed to be done before fall camp, so I’m excited about that.”

While Sanders prepares for his fourth season as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback, his surroundings are gradually evolving. A bright, new OSU logo is stamped at midfield. The end zones are shaded in a matching orange hue, and workers have added yardline numbers to the turf. The transformation has attracted attention beyond the football program – Barry Hinson, an analyst on the Cowboy basketball staff, has taken to Twitter to share photos of the turf installation outside his Gallagher-Iba Arena office.

The enhancements represent a larger mission for OSU football: keeping up with the heavyweights.

At Big 12 Media Days on July 13, OSU coach Mike Gundy candidly discussed how college football operates. Money is the gargantuan sun at the center of the solar system, and the inevitable truth is that programs need dollars to stay relevant. As television contracts and plans for generating revenue govern the landscape of college sports, OSU’s athletic department is showing its willingness to invest in elevating Cowboy football.

“We’re all aware of the direction that college sports is going, particularly football,” Gundy said. “And we can’t sit around and watch other people grow. We have to grow it ourselves.”

Gundy referred to football as “an expensive game” and described the cycle that drives athletic departments to keep spending. Financial support nourishes a program and allows for hires of successful coaches. A winning season with significant television exposure can lead to substantial revenue – but it also often means an athletic department needs to dish out millions to keep those coaches on staff and maintain a program’s prominence.

After a 12-2 season that culminated with a conference title game appearance and a Fiesta Bowl win against Notre Dame, the Pokes are living a little more lavishly. Rolling out the new green carpet at Boone Pickens Stadium is only one of several changes. The stadium renovation is expected to cost a total of about $40 million, including an expansion of leg room in the stands and other upgrades geared toward fans.

For strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass, the reward for success arrived in the form of a pay raise.

Glass’ raise brings his salary to a whopping $1 million per year, and the five-year contract became effective Feb. 1, Scott Wright of The Oklahoman reported in early July. Wright said based on available records, the contract makes Glass “likely” the highest-earning strength and conditioning coach in college football.

While meeting with athletic director Chad Weiberg about financial plans for employees, Gundy advocated for Glass, who has spent a combined 27 seasons at OSU with a decade at Florida sandwiched in the middle of his career. Gundy said Glass hadn’t asked for a raise, but he and Weiberg agreed it should happen – Gundy declared Glass “the most important person in our building.”

Gundy reiterated that statement at Big 12 Media Days, pointing out how because of the Cowboys’ workout schedule, Glass spends more time with the players than most of OSU’s coaches do. Junior receiver Brennan Presley mentioned how Glass’ instruction shapes the Cowboys physically and mentally.

“He’s been around long enough to know the system,” Presley said. “He’s seen great players come through, so he knows what it takes to be at that level, and he’s seen great teams, so he knows what it takes to be at that team level.”

From upgrading facilities to retaining Glass, OSU’s athletic department is using money to make a statement. With the departure of OU and Texas for the SEC – a conference that split $777.8 million in total revenue among its 14 schools for the 2020-21 fiscal year – OSU plays a vital role in the Big 12’s ability to stay afloat.

As the whirlwind of conference realignment rages on, Gundy keeps his eyes on lofty visions for OSU. He wants his team to eventually join the club of college football elites, to be regarded as one of the powerhouses. Gundy said he hopes OSU has reached this status by the time he is watching games from the stands instead of coaching from the sideline.

“There’s a lot of moving parts, but I am very comfortable and I am 100% convinced that we have the right people in place to make it happen,” Gundy said. “It’s not an easy process, but it can happen, and I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

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