LAWRENCE, Kan. — Pat Jones has thought little about the end to his reign as Oklahoma State's all-time winningest football coach.
It's something he and Mike Gundy, Jones' former player and pupil, haven't really discussed.
But Gundy could record his 62nd career victory as OSU's head coach Saturday afternoon against Kansas, which would tie the win total Jones compiled from 1984-94.
And Jones admits that if anyone is going to surpass his mark, he's glad it's Gundy.
“It would probably irritate me a little bit, if I told the truth, if it were somebody probably outside, that was not associated with us,” Jones said. “I probably wouldn't have said it, but it probably would have.
“But this here is just kind of almost like Mike has almost inherited the thing, really. The torch has been passed.”
Gundy has become a lauded figure in Stillwater, turning OSU into a prominent national program that put together its best season in school history in 2011 with its first Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl win. But before that, Gundy was the slinging quarterback for Jones' 1980S teams that featured Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Hart Lee Dykes.
And since then, Jones and Gundy have stayed in each other's lives.
Jones saw a personality and dedication in Gundy as a player that made him believe the quarterback could someday become a coach. He hired Gundy as an assistant straight out of college, then promoted him to offensive coordinator in 1994. Jones also played a role in helping Gundy get assistant jobs at Baylor and Maryland. And Jones truly believed Gundy had what it took to become a head coach when he returned to Stillwater as the offensive coordinator under Les Miles in 2001.
“He's always had exceptional qualities about himself,” Jones said. “…My opinion was he was always very capable of handling it.”
It took Jones 11 seasons to compile his 62-60 record. Gundy's about to reach that mark in his eighth year, and currently has just 32 losses. And after signing a lucrative contract extension through at least the 2019 season, it appears Gundy not only will eventually create distance between himself and Jones.
Jones is still an occasional visitor at OSU practices, and Gundy enjoyed attending Jones' induction into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year. They often talk football, but “not about (the record),” Gundy said.
Jones said he'll give Gundy a congratulatory call when the mark is broken. And he is “incredibly proud and happy” that distinction will soon belong to his pupil.
“For him to do it,” Jones said, “former player, gave him his first job as an assistant and all that kind of stuff — I think it just makes it all the more special.”