Mike Gundy could be making an appearance on “SportsCenter” or doing an interview with Colin Cowherd or sparring with insufferable Sooner fan Skip Bayless.
And all the while Thursday, he could be spreading the Cowboy gospel.
Instead, the Oklahoma State coach will be 2,237 miles away from Bristol, Conn. He’ll be in Park City, Utah. He’ll be at a 12-and-under baseball tournament.
Right where he should be.
On a day when the parade of college football coaches continues at ESPN World Headquarters — they call it the car wash — the worldwide leader wanted Gundy to be part of the lineup. He would join fellow Big 12 coaches Art Briles, Gary Patterson, Kliff Kingsbury and Charlie Weis.
Instead, Gundy will be watching his middle son play baseball.
“Oklahoma State’s important to me. My team’s important to me. But my son’s also important to me,” Gundy said earlier this week during Big 12 Media Days. “You kind of get your stomach in a knot, even though it’s an easy decision for me. But there’s still some pain involved because you want to make everybody happy.
“You know that’s impossible.”
In this instance, Gundy chose his kids over his Cowboys, his family over his job. That isn’t always the case when you’re in the demanding profession that he’s in, but Thursday, he decided it was more important to cheer Gunnar instead of talk football.
Good for Gundy.
Some folks don’t feel the same way. Gundy is the only football coach from the five major conferences who isn’t going through the car wash. Sixty-four coaches. Sixty-three in the car wash.
Gundy has heard the criticism about his choice. Understands it, too. It’s not every day, after all, that you get offered hours of free publicity on the world’s largest sports network. Even Boone Pickens’ deep pockets would get stretched to pay for what OSU was offered for free.
Yes, you have to answer their questions. Yes, some of them might make you squirm a bit. But most of the time, coaches and athletes who do the car wash at ESPN aren’t treated as hostile witnesses. There are no kid gloves, but there are no jail-house interrogations either.
So, when ESPN called a couple months ago with the car wash invite, Gundy was inclined to go.
Then, he looked at his calendar and saw the conflict — the 12-and under Triple Crown World Series.
Gundy and OSU offered alternatives. He could fly up early and pre-record some interviews. He could fly up after and give them a couple days.
ESPN said thanks but no thanks.
“They felt like with 63 people there,” Gundy said, “they had enough to fill the time.”
From all accounts, ESPN wasn’t mad at Gundy and Gundy wasn’t mad at ESPN. They just couldn’t get the schedules to work out.
“ESPN’s been great to Oklahoma State,” Gundy said. “The car wash that we’ve done a couple times has been very valuable. But at this time … I think it’s more important that I’m with my family.”
This is the last summer that Gundy and wife, Kristen, will still have all of their boys at home. Gavin, 17, will graduate high school next spring, leaving Gunnar, 12, and Gage, 9.
“They’re only going to be 17, 12 and 9 once,” Gundy said.
“It’s actually the first time that all five of us will be together this summer,” he said.
Roll that around in your head a minute. Because of Gundy’s work schedule and his sons’ sports schedules, everyone who lives under the Gundy roof hasn’t actually been in the same place since the school year ended in May.
This decision might play differently if Gundy was always shirking his football duties. But by all accounts, he is a guy who arrives early and stays late and works hard in between. You don’t turn OSU football into a consistent winner without putting in some serious hours.
Truth be told, all of us who have kids and careers could actually take a lesson from Gundy’s choice — putting the wee ones before the work a little more often is OK.
This should be celebrated, not criticized.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.