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Fixing the Mike Gundy-Mike Holder relationship is no small thing

Oklahoma State football: 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.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 8, 2012
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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.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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