Mike Boynton may be a success in Stillwater.
And undoubtedly the folks and fans who support Oklahoma State are hoping Boynton goes from unknown and uncertain to unbelievable.
And who knows if that’s unlikely. That’s not the point. The point is, athletic director Mike Holder put a lot of pressure on himself. Not pressure on Boynton. Not pressure on the basketball program. It’s squarely on Holder’s shoulders. And it’s a significant amount.
Hard to say what the situation is truly like around Holder and what expectations his bosses have for him, but the perception now after Brad Underwood bolted, and with the hiring of a relative unknown, is Holder has gone rogue.
How else to justify the hiring of Boynton? Again, it might be a home run waiting to happen, but the hiring of Boynton, at least for now, is not exactly the mandate of the people.
Bring in Doug Gottlieb. Or Desmond Mason. Or even someone who’s a name, a person most have heard of, and Holder is essentially off the hook.
Now, Holder isn’t on the hot seat, it’s a seat already at a rapid boil.
No telling if Gottlieb or Mason or anyone else would be a success, but either of the two former Cowboy players would have been a get-out-of-jail-free pass for Holder. That’s the benefit of voting with the will of the public. Fans would have been pacified in the short term.
The fan base would have continued to be energized. The same fan base, encouraged by Underwood leading the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament, would have been behind Gottlieb or Mason and not nearly as concerned Holder, contracts, money or the long-term future.
Instead, everything the program does next season, and not just the big stuff like wins and losses, will be scrutinized significantly. If the Cowboys don’t win, it will be Holder’s fault for hiring a guy almost no one has heard of. If the fans don’t show up, well, the blame will be on Holder again for not wanting to continue the momentum Underwood started. If the recruits don’t come to Stillwater, again, that will be something people will say could have been solved by hiring Mason or Gottlieb. Fans and critics will call Holder cheap. Say he wasn’t looking out for the best. He’ll be called names and people, if they aren’t already, will be lining the streets with teeth bared and pitchforks raised toward the mountaintops.
And all of that’s fine, clearly, it has to be, to Holder, who has always been his own man. He’s publicly feuded with football coach Mike Gundy. He famously offered what seemed like a lifetime contract to Travis Ford. Both show Holder isn’t concerned about what the people, or his fan base think.
Holder may have pulled off the perfect heist – hire someone who isn’t expensive and get back to the NCAA Tournament. He may know more than the rest of us. It’s a possibility. It’s not unlikely Holder knows what he’s doing.
And with this decision, all eyes will be on the athletic director.