Let me preface this with a little note: I am a huge fan of Mike Gundy and everything he has done for the team. He has taken the team to unseen heights and has showed no signs of coming back down. He reshaped the attitude of the program and has changed the culture surrounding Oklahoma State Football. This article is not about me wanting to see him fired. This article is to focus on what I perceive as problems with Gundy and his coaching philosophy and explain why I personally would not be upset if he were suddenly replaced.
Mike Gundy is, of course, the golden boy of Oklahoma State football. From his time as their quarterback under Pat Jones to working his way up the coaching staff and to becoming the winningest coach in school history, Gundy has become a fan favorite, being loved by fans both young and old. He brought Oklahoma State its first Big 12 Championship and BCS Bowl victory. He's helped many players make their way into the pros and even more graduate. His coaching tree has contributed to North Carolina, Illinois, West Virginia, Southern Mississippi, and Texas. Even his "lowest moment," the famous "I'm a man" rant, was used in his favor to help make pitches to the mothers of recruits. No matter what the rest of his career holds, he is guaranteed a spot in OSU Athletics' Hall of Fame. He has led the team to places his predecessors could have only dreamed of.
But he isn't without fault.
Mike Gundy has 3 huge flaws that would put his job at risk at any other school. He is so safe here because right now he's the best we've ever had. As long as he keeps winning most fans will overlook his issues, but a rough season or two might land him on the hot seat with fans saying "Remember back when..."
We almost lost our Golden Boy. Or so we thought, while he was flirting with Arkansas and Tennessee prior to this last season. But wait, wasn't he happy here? Isn't this his dream job? That's what we believed right? Why would he even consider leaving us? Well the "why" is a little complicated, but in simplest terms: Scheduling. Mike Gundy wanted to get complete control over the non-conference games that OSU would be playing. This came almost immediately after the athletic department announced that the team would be playing Mississippi State in Houston to kickoff the 2013 campaign and Florida State in Arlington to start off 2014. These announcements came out after Gundy had expressed his desire to schedule cupcakes in order to rack up wins, rather than strengthen the schedule to look better in the eyes of the CFB Playoff Committee. This disagreement between Gundy and Holder essentially led to a game of chicken with the head coaching job at stake. Though we got to keep our golden boy, it makes you wonder what will happen if Gundy doesn't get his way in the future. Will he crash the program or just take his money and run?
17-84-7. We've all heard it a thousand and one times. That is the all-time Bedlam record against OU. And how much has Gundy exactly contributed to that? 1-8 as a coach and 0-4 as a player. By any and all standards of any team, that is mediocre. Gundy simply can't win Bedlam, a skill inherited from his mentor, Pat Jones (0-10-1 in Bedlam). Think of any respectable rivalry, any at all, and there is no point in the history of any of them where a coach has a rivalry win percentage of 0.111 in 9 games. If any of them at all were to have a significant losing streak then the school's athletic department would change coaches because rivalries are one thing that is deemed important. But not at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have gotten used to losing Bedlam football and apparently aren't that concerned about it. I can rant on that tangent for a while but that's not what this article is about. When you step back and look at Gundy's record against OU from an unbiased perspective, you really start to wonder if he is that great.
Something is going on behind closed doors. While Mike Gundy's coaching tree is quite impressive, the latest fork has left a couple of questions. When OL Coach/Co-OC Joe Wickline announced his departure for Texas as their new OC, many subtle, snide comments came out about how well Gundy was getting along with his assistants. This raises the question about if it was just a clash with him or is it an issue with all of his assistants. Is it really that they are so desperate to become head coaches they leave Oklahoma State for Non-AQ teams or are there other reasons to be leaving the program? This upcoming season is the first in a while that he is not replacing at least one of his coordinators. Will Mike Yurcich and Glenn Spencer stick around or abandon ship after getting tired of dealing with Gundy? It seems like they have a good setup right now and we all would love to see it last a while.
Rebuild or Reload? That is the question every Oklahoma State fan has been asking since the end of last season. For a coach of Mike Gundy's caliber, reloading should be quite possible. But regardless of how good our Golden Boy is, his imperfections cannot be overlooked. Maybe he'll change and grow, and some of these "rough edges" will smooth out. Maybe he'll be the next Coach Snyder or JoePa. Or maybe he'll slide into a forgotten place if the fans turn on him. Only time will tell.