STILLWATER — Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy definitely isn’t happy that billionaire booster Boone Pickens spouted off this week.
But Gundy said he doesn’t feel personally offended.
Rather, he expressed displeasure that complaints about the coach from the man whose name is on the stadium ultimately hurts the OSU program.
In his postgame press conference following the Cowboys’ 49-31 victory over Texas on Saturday, Gundy said he “didn’t have any reaction” to Pickens’ comments to the Austin American-Statesman earlier in the week that Gundy “doesn’t handle people relationships very well.”
“If you’re doing something that’s hurting us in the big picture, well then I don’t like that. Because that means it makes it worse on these guys who bust their ass.”
— Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy
But after the press conference, in a brief one-on-one interview with The Franchise, Gundy expounded on the fallout from Pickens’ commentary.
He said it wasn’t a distraction, but acknowledged that people throughout the program — including players — get “barraged with it” during the week.
“Everybody knows about it. Right?” Gundy said. “You get it walking around in the street. I mean, the players know about it. You can hear them talking about it a little bit. And then it fades away.”
Does it bother Gundy when Pickens continues to take public shots at him?
“It bothers me when people — anybody (does),” Gundy said. “If you really care about OSU, then I want you do things to help OSU. I don’t care who it is. That’s the way I see it. You know what I’m saying? If you’re doing something that’s hurting us in the big picture, well then I don’t like that. Because that means it makes it worse on these guys who bust their ass. You know? So the way I look at it is, if there’s things I really care about — like you, things you care about, you’re doing whatever you can to make it better. Right?
“It’s just like with your family. If somebody’s doing something to harm your family, you’re probably not gonna like it. Right? That’s really what it comes down to.”
“I just have to do my job. I can’t do anything about it. And you know what? At some point, if somebody feels it ain’t good enough, then hell, somebody else can come in here and try it.”
— Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy
Pickens, who attended Saturday’s game, said in a telephone interview with the newspaper — the interview was recorded for a podcast on the paper’s website — that he and Gundy didn’t speak for a couple years but after the Cowboys’ surprising victory over Oklahoma in the 2014 season finale, he and Gundy met and patched things up. He said after that, Gundy called him routinely.
That stopped, however, after OSU’s 10-0 start to last season was ended with a home loss to Baylor, Pickens said. He also said hasn’t spoken with Gundy since the Cowboys’ victory over TCU two weeks before that Baylor loss in November 2015.
The silent treatment, apparently, has left Pickens with hurt feelings. So has Gundy’s 2-9 record against Oklahoma, an apparent obsession that Pickens keeps bringing up in interviews.
Saturday morning, Pickens’ Twitter account posted a statement to “clear the air” on his comments.
“Mike Gundy has accomplished a lot at Oklahoma State,” the statement read, in part. “I recommended him for the head coaching position. I was one of his — and the school’s — staunchest defenders during the Sports Illustrated attack on our university. But the reality is that I have a full-time job at BP Capital. I have not placed a call to Mike Gundy in years. It’s his program to run, not mine.
“Coach Gundy and I are united in the belief that the school is bigger than both of us. I wish Coach Gundy well. I am proud of our football team. I remain the school’s number one fan. I do not intend to talk about our relationship publicly going forward.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
In the underhalls of Boone Pickens Stadium, in between greeting recruits, standing in front of sprawling murals depicting his team’s bowl successes following an emotional victory that moved his team to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 Conference play, Gundy sounded equal parts ambivalent and exasperated with Pickens, like someone acknowledging he was at the end of his rope but determined to not lose his grip.
“I hate that he feels the way he does,” Gundy told The Franchise. “I mean, I don’t know what to do. I just have to do my job. I can’t do anything about it.
“And you know what? At some point, if somebody feels it ain’t good enough, then hell, somebody else can come in here and try it. I mean, I’m good.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard on The Franchise Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. every weekday with co-host Lauren Rew and most mornings on The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Listen on fm107.9, am1270 on the 107.7 Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.