BY BERRY TRAMEL
STILLWATER – Mike Gundy calls Oklahoma State his “Yankees job.” But what happens when the Yankees call?
What happens when Ohio State or Penn State want Gundy's services?
Don't laugh. People take notice when a school like OSU becomes a national force. The Big 12 leader. No. 2 in the BCS rankings.
LSU, no college football small fry, lured away Les Miles after seasons of 8-5, 9-4, 7-5. Defending national champion Miami pilfered Jimmy Johnson after seasons of 7-5, 4-5-2, 8-4.
The big boys know the Stillwater phone exchange. And any that don't will book the next stagecoach into town in search of the newest gridiron guru.
Will the Cowboys be able to keep their man? Probably. OSU football 2011 isn't OSU football 1983. Or OSU football 2004.
This OSU football has the facilities and the resources and the pedigree to keep climbing, which really is what the Cowboys have done every year since Gundy's maiden season.
And besides, Gundy wasn't woofing. OSU is his Yankee job. Stillwater is his Utopia. He arrived on this campus as an 18-year-old in 1986, soon enough became its golden-boy quarterback and now, a quarter century later, has coached the Cowboys to their greatest heights.
Why leave your dream job after a dream season, with no sign of major retreat?
“It'd be hard to get me from here,” Gundy said. “I would prefer to be here for a long time. I would prefer to retire here.”
Trust coaches at your own peril. Not every favorite son sticks around his alma mater. Frank Beamer has for 23 years at Virginia Tech, and Steve Spurrier did for 12 seasons at Florida. But Rich Rodriguez bolted West Virginia for Michigan.
Gundy turned down overtures from Miami last season. Others no doubt have called, too. But the calls won't stop. Notre Dame, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas. Gundy goes on the list of anyplace with big history and big money and big hopes.
So it will cost OSU. In the kooky-economics of college football, Gundy is underpaid, at $2.1 million this season. That's about midlevel in the Big 12 and not much more than Cowboy basketball coach Travis Ford, who in 2009 signed a 10-year contract. OSU is committed to Ford for $17.45 million.
The Cowboy triumvirate knows it. Boone Pickens, Mike Holder and Burns Hargis have two things in common. They all love OSU, and they all are savvy businessmen.
Holder has a policy of not talking contracts during the season. But he did say, “We will revisit Coach Gundy's contract at the end of the season … our football program is moving in the right direction.”
An OSU source said: “There have been discussions. They realize that Mike has matured into one of the premier coaches in America. He's running that program just like you'd want a CEO to run it.”
Hargis declined specifics, too, but said the school is “very pleased” with Gundy. “Our football program is having unprecedented success. We look forward to many more great seasons under Coach Gundy's leadership.”
Gundy admits he's not the greatest negotiator in the world. He doesn't have an agent, and when you readily admit the job you have is the job you've always wanted, leverage is scarce.
“I've never had any interest in anything outside of here,” Gundy said. “Part of the success we've had, one of the key factors from Day One, my commitment to Oklahoma State has never wavered.
“It's a huge factor in recruiting. It's a huge factor in the coaching staff.”
Gundy's three sons are 15, almost 10 and 7. They've never known another hometown. Grandparents on both sides are nearby.
“I don't think it's ever a good time to move,” Gundy said. “We think it's better for our boys to be in the situation we're in. We're very fortunate to be somewhat close to where we have family.”
Bottom line, Stillwater is home. It's a place where Gundy can go to PTA meetings and the grocery store and be bothered no more than anyone else who has lived in a town for virtually half his life.
And now Stillwater is a place where a football coach can win big and be paid the same. Gundy's Yankees job is inching closer to becoming the Yankees.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.