A week ago, the biggest problem in the Cowboy Nation was a football team losing back-to-back games and landing with a thud in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Seems like small potatoes now.
After a weeklong ride on the coaching carousel, Mike Gundy says he isn't going anywhere for now. The Oklahoma State coach insists he plans to coach the Cowboys next season. Yet, that doesn't mean all is well.
Gundy and Mike Holder still have a relationship to fix.
That is no small thing.
These are two of the three men who make OSU athletics go, and regardless of what they're saying now — Holder called their relationship good and Gundy insisted it's a lot better than what people say — the evidence indicates otherwise.
Gundy, a lifelong Oklahoman and an orange-blooded Cowboy, considered leaving OSU. He toyed with uprooting his family, moving his school-aged children and living somewhere else.
I'll say it again: mending this relationship is no small thing.
“It can be done,” Rick Brenner said. “It's fixable.”
He would know. Brenner is an organizational problem-solver. That's a fancy title for someone who helps groups work through their problems and issues. One of his areas of expertise is workplace conflict.
Brenner, by the way, isn't an OSU fan. He is based in Cambridge, Mass., and his biggest sports allegiance is to the Boston Red Sox. Needless to say, then, he knows a thing or two about dysfunction in sports.
But the truth is, workplace conflict is a common problem. I mean, who among us hasn't disagreed with our bosses from time to time?
The thing is, most of us have those arguments behind closed doors. Our disagreements don't play out in the media for all the world to see.
Gundy and Holder's has, and it's left plenty of Cowboy fans uneasy.
But Brenner cautions that we might not know what we think we know about this situation.
There's been a lot of theorizing in the past week. One theory contends that Holder is being obstinate about nonconference scheduling and about turning down other requests because that's who he is. Cool to people. Tough to work with.
But what if he's just looking out for the best interests of the entire athletic department?
Remember, this is the man charged with funding not only football but also 15 other sports. He must be mindful of the bottom line, and scheduling better nonconference football games helps him pay for everything else.
Or what if Holder is getting to a point in his career where he's starting to think about retirement? What if he's considering all the things that he still wants OSU to accomplish before then? What if the 64-year-old is more mindful than ever about how he wants to leave this athletic department?
There are all sorts of factors that most of us haven't even considered that could be weighing on Holder's behavior.
Same goes for Gundy.
“The main thing about workplace conflict ... is that the conflict you see is not the whole thing almost for sure,” Brenner said.
In other words, the problem is never the problem.
That means this rift is likely more complicated than what nonconference games Holder schedules or how many schools Gundy flirts with. Fixing the fracture is not as easy as Holder and Gundy talking it out. Not as easy as going into a room, sitting down and emerging a few hours later with everything fixed.
Brenner considers that approach like do-it-yourself brain surgery.
These guys need help.
“You need someone to hold the mirror so they can see,” Brenner said.
It's impossible to say what they might see. It might be uglier. It might be prettier. But either way, these guys need each other. They need to be able to work together, and because of that they need to work things out.
If they don't, losing a couple football games and going to a bad bowl will be the least of the Cowboy Nation's worries.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.