Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma State football: Would Texas come after Mike Gundy?

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm •  Published: November 19, 2013

Texas head coach Mack Brown, left, talks with OSU head coach Mike Gundy after the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Texas Longhorns (UT) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Texas won, 41-14. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
Texas head coach Mack Brown, left, talks with OSU head coach Mike Gundy after the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Texas Longhorns (UT) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Texas won, 41-14. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Monday morning, a radio talk-show host said that he figures Mack Brown is out at Texas and that one of the people UT should call about the job is Mike Gundy.

That radio talk-show host was Pat Jones, Gundy’s coach and boss at OSU in a previous life.

Back in September, when the Cowboys lost at West Virginia, the OSU offense was lifeless and a Big 12 championship seemed a pipe dream, Gundy’s attractiveness to other schools was on the wane.

But now OSU is back in the top 10, is 9-1 overall and hosts Baylor on Saturday in college football’s game of the day.

Are we headed for another round of Gundy rumors and interviews?

“I hope not,” Gundy said. “I think it’ll settle down. Our profession, it doesn’t ever change. It’s easy to throw names around with what’s out there. Just takes one person to put something on line, and people jump on it.”

Well, two things about that:

1. The person who put it out there Monday was part of the coaching profession himself. So tread lightly on media-bashing.

2. Gundy himself stoked the flames last December, talking to representatives from Arkansas and Tennessee in an obvious attempt to gain negotiating power, not so much for money but for decisions like scheduling. It didn’t work, though Gundy and athletic director Mike Holder seem to have found a little more accord.

Arkansas and Tennessee are interesting jobs that once were far better than OSU. Not so much anymore.

Texas is different, though. Texas is widely acclaimed the nation’s best job. Pat Jones says it’s the best football job in America, NFL included. I think that’s nonsense – give me the Steelers or the New York football Giants – but it’s a fabulous job.

So would Gundy consider it? Would Texas consider Gundy?

Maybe, maybe not is the answer to both questions.

Texas would at least have Gundy on his list. With all the talk about Baylor’s Art Briles, some will tell you that Briles is a little raw-boned for UT’s delicate nature. Briles is a little too Texan, if you will. I think that’s nuts. I can’t think of a better coach for the Longhorns. But maybe the bluebloods can. Gundy, at least the way he presents himself, is a lot more polished than Briles.

And the way Gundy has beaten the ‘Horns – three straight wins in Austin; UT’s only victory in the series since 2009 came on a survival last season that included a late fourth-down conversion and a controversial call at the end. Over the last six years, Gundy’s Big 12 record is better than Mack Brown’s, and that includes two seasons in which UT was a national title contender down to the wire.

I think it’s more likely that Texas goes after someone like Stanford’s David Shaw. But you never know.

However, a wild card is that Bobby Stillwell is on the Texas board of regents. Stillwell is the personal attorney and long-time friend of Boone Pickens.

Pickens and Gundy clearly have been at odds in recent years. I don’t know if that stems from the Gundy/Holder feud or is something deeper. And what that means for Stillwell, I don’t know. Does that mean Stillwell knows too many Gundy warts? Does that mean Stillwell would be doing Boone a favor by taking Gundy off OSU’s hands? I’m in the dark. I don’t know. But it’s danged interesting.

Would Gundy consider going to Texas? Well, any coach in America would have to at least consider it. It’s Texas, for crying out loud.

However, best job does not equate to easy job. The natives are restless. The Longhorn Network is an albatross to a coach. The cushy environs create an entitlement culture that can be difficult to counter.

Texas has won three Big 12 titles in 17 years.

And it’s not like Gundy doesn’t have a dream job. When he was hired almost nine years ago, Gundy declared OSU his “Yankees job.” It was a Yankee job to him, maybe, but not a Yankee job to anyone else. More like a Mariners job.

That has changed. OSU is not on the level of Texas or Alabama or Ohio State, but it’s a heck of a job. Good recruiting territory. Fabulous facilities. Solid track record of winning.

“It’s a great job,” Gundy said. “You can base head coaching jobs on a variety of things. We’ve taken the facilities we have to another level. We’re able to recruit a broader base than what we would six or eight years ago. It’s a much better job than it was going on 10 years ago.”

Gundy said that 2013 “is as fun as I’ve ever had in coaching.”

But I had to ask. Why the interest in Arkansas and Tennessee a year ago? Gundy virtually admitted the power play, saying he needed 100 percent agreement between the coaching staff and administration on what is best for his players. That’s code for scheduling. “If I don’t believe it,” he said of doing whatever it can to give OSU the opportunity to win, “I shouldn’t be in someone’s homes trying to get them to believe it.”

So the odds are great that Gundy remains at OSU. But schools will call. They always do. And sometimes, coaches listen.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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