STILLWATER — For years, Mike Gundy has called the Oklahoma State head coaching position his “New York Yankees job.”
But reports indicate that within the past three days, Gundy has interviewed with both Tennessee and Arkansas. They have him meeting with a Tennessee official Sunday in Stillwater, and spending more than three hours in talks with Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long on Monday in Tulsa.
What could those two SEC programs offer to lure the Cowboy coach away from Stillwater?
Though both have struggled this season, hence why each is looking for a new coach, Tennessee and Arkansas are both recognized nationally. Arkansas is also the only major conference school in a state with no professional teams.
Both could give Gundy a handsome salary, likely somewhere in the $4 million to $5 million range per year. And while neither school has a mega-booster like Boone Pickens, they both have several big boosters to keep the program in good shape financially.
Tennessee just opened a sparkling new $45 million indoor training center, while long-term plans are in place at Arkansas to continue to renovate its facilities. And both schools routinely sell out their games, with crowds of more than 102,000 packing into the Volunteers' Neyland Stadium and 72,000 spectators flocking to Razorback Stadium.
But there are notable cons to each job, too.
While Gundy has become a beloved and admired figure in Stillwater, he has no history or connections to the SEC or either school and its fans.
That creates a high-pressure situation that demands immediate results. Just ask Derek Dooley.
Not to mention, at Tennessee, Gundy's squad would have to routinely match up against Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. At Arkansas, it's arguably worse, with LSU, Alabama and now Texas A&M on the schedule every year.
Sources around OSU continue to indicate that Gundy looking at other opportunities is still ultimately about power and control over his OSU program — most notably when it comes nonconference scheduling — and a relationship with athletic director Mike Holder that has become strained.
Going to Tennessee or Arkansas would allow Gundy to move to another BCS power conference and high-profile job, with what he could perceive as a better working environment.
Would those schools offer Gundy more input in nonconference scheduling? He could always ask.
It's still probably unlikely that Gundy leaves OSU. But Tennessee and Arkansas present enough intrigue for him to at least listen.