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Mike Gundy on his energy level, coaching his sons and the pressure he feels with a new contract

Gina Mizell Published: March 7, 2012

Mike Gundy had a pre-spring ball conversation with the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten and I on Tuesday. We talked about several things during the hour-long chat — position battles (ahem, quarterback), Michael Harrison, who will coach special teams, etc.

But the topic of how much longer Gundy wants to coach and if he feels more pressure now that his new contract is in place also came up. He gave some really long but insightful answers. So rather than weave a few quotes here and there into a story, I’m just going to let him talk.

I’ll have some more notes from our conversation up tomorrow.

On his current energy level going into the 2012 season:

“I hope I can keep this energy level until I’m 50. Maybe I’ll keep it until I’m 55. But this job, now, can wear you down. Once somebody started making (cell phones), then there is no break. We all used to go home.

“Are there signs of age on me? Yeah, there is. I spent six hours with (Clemson coach Dabo Swinney) yesterday, and in listening to him talk, it’s the same. It’s no different. You’ll sit down with Bob (Stoops) and I bet it’s the same with him. It’s the same with the boy at USC, (Lane) Kiffin. Probably the same with Brady Hoke up there at Michigan. It’s the same. So is there wear and tear? Yeah, there’s wear and tear. But it’s not gotten to a point where it’s ever discouraged me from wanting to get in here as fast as I can and do something about an issue or encourage something else that’s going on. That hasn’t crossed me. Now, I’ve heard it will. Guys will tell you there’ll come a point where it completely wears you out and it’s no fun anymore. That hasn’t gotten to me yet. I don’t feel that way.

“It’s hard to imagine I’m going into my eighth year. I was laying in bed last night trying to see what the weather was going to do and it showed the preview for sports and it was ‘Bob Stoops enters his 14th spring.’ I would have thought he would have been there like eight, nine, 10 years. I never envisioned 14. I don’t know where it’s all gone, but I started adding it up and he was here before Les (Miles). It’s gone fast.

“Honestly, I hope to coach about 10 years. I just don’t know if I’ll have the energy to do it at 55 and do it the right way. You have to have a lot of energy to perform at a high level at this school. I don’t know if anybody wants to hear that or not, but that’s a fact. And I’m not knocking anybody else. I’m just saying you can go to a certain place and there’s some built-in opportunities there for you. And if you’re a good manager, you take care of your people, you have a relationship with your players, there’s accountability and those things, you can run the thing. But here, you have to do all of that, and then you have to hope that most decisions you make are good, and you have to do extra to keep up. You just do.

“It takes a lot, in my opinion, to do it and do it the right way. Now, you can walk away from recruiting. I field phone calls all night. I can just not take a call after 10:30 p.m. and my phone will still ring, and it’s 2013 kids, 2014 kids. I have to make a choice when I talk on the phone. If my kids are in the car, I have to tell them quit talking. I can do that forever. You can stop recruiting and still keep the job if you want, but you won’t be very good.”

On if he feels more pressure now that the new contract is in place:

“Less pressure. It’s only human nature. I can only speak for myself, but in our profession, the one thing that’s always an issue is moving is no fun. It’s just a mess. We’re all creatures of habit. I moved around a lot when I just lived in an apartment by myself or (with) my wife when we got married, and I didn’t even like that. I could have moved all my stuff on a flatbed trailer, (but) it was no fun. When you tie children into it and a school system, they have their little league teams and teachers. I have always been leery of picking them up and putting them in a (new) system. When you get another contract, you have more stability for your kids.

“If it was just Kristen and I, I could care less. The little one (Gage) is in first grade, but the oldest one (Gavin) is a teenager. He’s in ninth grade, so he’s got his clique, his world. You’ve got the girl problems and all the typical things you go through. You pick him up and throw him in a different deal, and his daddy’s the head coach, and he may not fit the criteria, how’s that going to affect him? I don’t know. That’s life and they go through it. But we all want to shelter our kids from the things that we think can harm them. So after I got the first contract I said, I can be here four more years if I want to. And then, after I get this contract, for the most part, I can be here as long as I want, to a certain extent. I don’t have to move. If Kristen and I want to, we can stay here and our kids can finish school here in Stillwater. The school system’s good. All the things we’re comfortable with, they’re comfortable with. They can ride their bike anywhere.

“All of us are different. Some coaches, they can just get up and leave. They don’t care, even if it’s their alma mater. Not that they have anything against the school, but moving doesn’t bother them. I asked (OSU defensive coordinator) Bill Young why he moved so much. He didn’t have kids. He said, ‘What’s the big deal? Me and the old lady, we jump in the car and we’re out of here.’ Well, I don’t feel that way. That’s not what I’m comfortable with. This contract allows me to sit. I would prefer to just retire here. I don’t have any desire to coach anywhere else, really. That doesn’t mean that when people come to you, you don’t listen, but I don’t really have a desire to do it. It takes a lot of pressure off of me, because I feel I’m responsible for my family.”

On if he wants to coach his kids at OSU:

“I don’t know if my boys will ever play at this level. But if my boys ever want to play at this level, I don’t have a problem coaching them. Some people don’t want to do that. (Former OSU offensive coordinator and North Carolina head coach) Larry Fedora I don’t think ever wanted to coach his boy. I don’t mind coaching my kids. The old rule, like my dad always says, it’s always easy to coach the little league team or the team you kid’s on if your kid’s the best player. But it’s not easy to coach your kid if he’s not the best player, because you have a tendency to want to play him, and if he’s not the best player, it’s not the best thing to do.”

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