In 2016, there were 20 schools where the head football coach made at least $4 million in base salary. Bob Stoops has now retired (for now), Charlie Strong was handed his walking papers at Texas, and Les Miles was shown the door at LSU. That left 17 schools where the head coach was making bank.
What if I told you that the $4 million club has its newest member and his name is Mike Gundy? It’s true.
When I first heard this news, my first reaction was, What? But then I thought about it and my reaction changed to, Right On!
Gundy has been at Oklahoma State since 2005. In those 12 full seasons, his Cowboys have gone 104-50. His only losing season was his inaugural 2005 one and he won the Big 12 Championship in 2011. Some schools would consider building a statue for that sort of resume. Yes, I’m looking at you Missouri. Other schools would chase a coach with that resume out of town. Yes, I’m looking at you LSU.
But underneath that snarky comment is a slice of truth. Embedded within my snark is what the value of $4 million and a 67% winning percentage is.
Not all schools have the same set of expectations. Just look at LSU and Miles. Miles was at LSU for the same amount of time that Gundy has been at Oklahoma State. But you knew that since Gundy replaced Miles after Miles left Stillwater for Baton Rouge.
Miles was making $4.3 million at LSU and all LSU had to show for it was a record of 113-34. That 76% winning percentage included a national championship in 2007 to go along with a runner-up finish in 2011. Miles was considered over paid. Go figure. But that’s the difference between coaching at LSU and coaching at Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State fans should be ecstatic that a long-term deal was agreed upon. There has always been grumblings that Gundy wasn’t happy at Oklahoma State. That Gundy didn’t get along with mega donor T. Boone Pickens. Signing a five-year contract extension should put all of that to rest. But college coaching is a flow business, so all of that could change by this time next year. Who knows?
What we do know is that Gundy is now one of the highest paid coaches in the Big 12. First-year Texas coach Tom Herman will be making $5.25 million this year. Like I said, a coach’s worth depends on the school they’re working at and what the expectations are. Texas has money. Texas has ridiculous expectations. We all know that.
Oklahoma State is poised to have a terrific 2017 season. Expectations are high in Stillwater and for good reason. The Cowboys have what appears to be a loaded offense, a coach that the administration has committed to, and their two biggest rivals – Oklahoma and Texas – are breaking in new coaches along with Baylor. Suffice it to say, this can be a huge year for Gundy and Oklahoma State.
I liked Oklahoma State as the 2016 dark horse. This year they should be the outright favorite to win the Big 12. Gundy has nothing to prove at Oklahoma State. He wouldn’t have been offered the fat contract extension if he did have something to prove there. But he may have something to prove to all those fans and writers who don’t give a coach from the state of Oklahoma not named Stoops the time of day.
E-mail Seth at seth [dot] merenbloom [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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