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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

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, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
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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