STILLWATER — Mike Gundy's five seasons at Oklahoma State reveal a spike in positives.
Wins, bowl games and talent are all trending up.
So are expectations. And for that reason, outsiders suggest this season — a rebuilding season — could raise the heat on Gundy's seat if the Cowboys slip significantly.
OSU loyalists disagree, by a large margin in a poll produced from last week's Fan Appreciation Day.
"Absolutely not! He's done a terrific job," said Jon Miller of Edmond, echoing the majority of the masses.
"Not a chance," said Toby Chadrick of Tuttle. "He's not on the hot seat as much as (Bob) Stoops."
In a poll of 100 fans, Gundy's approval rating came in at nearly 75 percent to the question: "If the Cowboys don't make a bowl game, should Mike Gundy be on the hot seat?"
The results showed 72 voting no, many emphatically; 25 voting yes; two somewhere in the lukewarm category; and one, well, other.
"If Gundy don't win 10 games this year... Mike Leach will be here next year," said Evert Rossiter of Cushing, perhaps playing off the addition of Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator, a move some believe was urged from above, maybe all the way to Boone Pickens.
Speaking of Pickens, while he didn't weigh in on the fan poll, some OSU followers believe they have a finger on the pulse of OSU's power donor.
"Mr. Pickens has put enough money in the program," said Matthew Parmley of Tulsa. "He expects results."
Pickens, 82, in an analogy to his expectations for the program, has regularly said he doesn't plant small trees, meaning he can't wait long for results. And Pickens' aim is always high.
Still, after so much progress and so many gains, what is fair in a season where the Cowboys must replace 16 starters, including quarterback Zac Robinson, four of five starting offensive linemen, all three linebackers and playmaking cornerback Perrish Cox, among others?
"He took the program from a 4-7 team to 9-4," said Zach Foote of Owasso.
After that 4-7 debut in 2005, Gundy has amassed 32 wins over the past four seasons, bolstered by back-to-back years of nine wins in 2008 and 2009.
The bowl games have been incrementally better, too, stair-stepping from the Independence to the Insight to the Holiday to the Cotton, as the Cowboys have gone bowling four straight seasons for the first time in school history.
Recruiting is on the rise, too, with OSU's early commitments for the 2011 class currently ranking No. 10 nationally by Scout.com.
And the Cowboys are graduating at a high rate.
Beyond that, Gundy is a Cowboy. Played here. Graduated here. Assisted Pat Jones and Bob Simmons and Les Miles here, before getting his own shot to run the program.
"We want someone who wants to stay here forever," said Brett Thompson of Edmond.
Sure, like any coach, Gundy has his detractors, some of them wearing orange.
They point to his 0-10 record against Oklahoma and Texas. They point to the upgraded facilities and want an upgraded status, and now.
"I've never been a Gundy fan," said Brian Johnson of Oklahoma City. "Bottom line, does he have the edge? Does he have what it takes to get us to a BCS bowl?"
Overall, Gundy is popular with Pokes fans.
President Barack Obama would be envious of his approval numbers.
"I think Mike Gundy's done a great job," said Thomas Rossiter of Edmond. "He's developed much quicker than I thought he would when we brought him in. I was a Mike Gundy doubter initially, but I really like Gundy.
"I think he's done a great job. He has a great family. He has a great foundation here.
"I think we keep Mike Gundy."
Is Mike Gundy on the hot seat? National sports media outlets weigh in.
CBSsports.com:Gundy has a hot seat rating of 3, which means he's on the bubble and you never know what may happen.
Collegefootballnews.com: Gundy ranks No. 53 overall on the list of college coaches on the hotseat. Rich Rodriguez of Michigan sits atop the list while Navy's Ken Niumatalolo is at the bottom, ranking No. 120.
Foxsportssouthwest.com: Gundy ranks fourth in the Big 12 coaches' hot seat rankings. â€œT. Boone Pickens has donated more than $265 million to Cowboys athletics. That's a sizeable investment without a championship return. Despite playing in four bowl games, Gundy has never beaten Oklahoma or Texas.â€
By Brandon Chatmon