No one exactly what the relationship is like between Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and Cowboys super booster T. Boone Pickens, but we know enough to know it isn’t good.
When asked in November what he thought of Gundy’s job performance, Pickens had this to say: “My response to that is I’m certainly supportive of Oklahoma State University. I’m always going to be for OSU, I don’t care who coaches ‘em.” Gundy, keep in mind, is the most successful coach in Oklahoma State’s modern history with an 83-44 record, though the Cowboys did slog to a 6-6 record this fall.
It’s generally not a good idea for a coach to be at odds with the big money folks in his program, especially one that swings as big a stick as the Dallas energy tycoon. Cantankerous as he’s been this season, even Gundy realizes that. His team does play in a stadium named after the guy, after all.
“I don’t know what his thought is, but I would like for there to be more communication,” Gundy told the Tulsa World on Sunday. The paper reports that no one knows exactly the last time Gundy and Pickens spoke, but it’s believed to be on Dec. 3, 2011, the day the Cowboys clinched their lone Big 12 championship with a drubbing of archrival Oklahoma.
Oh, about Oklahoma. When asked before Oklahoma State’s season opener to evaluate Gundy, Pickens said, “You look at the other schools we play, and we’re competitive. The only one we haven’t been competitive with is OU. Like last year, we’re a 10-point favorite and lose. … We need to do better on OU.”
They did better on OU this season, stunning the Sooners 38-35 in overtime in Norman on Dec. 6.
Perhaps that’s enough to get Pickens to grab hold of the extended olive branch.
“To summarize it all,” Gundy told the Tulsa World, “I think (a Gundy-Pickens reconciliation) is best for Oklahoma State — not just football, but for the university. The university cannot divide. If we divide, we’re weak. We need every resource that we can have. Hypothetically, if you have a fan base that supports Coach Gundy, and then you have elite, million-dollar donors who support Boone Pickens, and the (sides are opposed), then the university is weak.”
And what about the man caught in the middle of it all, Oklahoma State athletics director Mike Holder?
“Our coach is doing a good job,” Holder said. “My gosh, in 2011, we were within an eyelash of playing for the national championship. It shows we’re close. (The 2014 season) was disappointing for everyone. Losing five games in a row is no fun. It leads to a lot of self-analysis, self-evaluation, self-criticism — whatever you want to call it. Things got a lot better after that win down there in Norman.”
Thanks to that Oklahoma win, Oklahoma State will conclude its season opposite Washington in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2 (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).