Slowly but surely, Mike Gundy is getting everything he wants.
That’s good, of course. But it also means he’s running out of excuses.
A year ago at this time, everyone wondered why the winningest head coach in Oklahoma State history hadn’t signed a contract extension that had been offered by university administration. It sat on his desk for months.
Turns out, Gundy wanted more money to pay his coaching staff as well as a bigger budget for recruiting. He got both.
Last July, OSU regents approved an additional $332,000 to pay Cowboy assistants, raising the staff pool from $3.31 million to $3.64 million. Gundy also got more money to spend on recruiting, though that figure hasn’t been disclosed.
And, naturally, Gundy himself got a raise, too. Two, actually, one last offseason after signing that contract extension and one in December after flirting once again with Tennessee. He’s now up to $5 million a year, still third in the Big 12 behind Texas’ Tom Herman and TCU’s Gary Patterson.
This week’s developments — Gundy broke the news Monday on Twitter that he was bringing on six aides, though he hasn’t announced their assignments yet and OSU hasn’t formally announced their hirings — show that Gundy is still getting what he wants.
After Gundy fired Glenn Spencer, OSU was in need of a defensive coordinator. That opening was filled when Gundy hired Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.
OSU already had an opening for a 10th assistant — the NCAA voted last year to let schools expand their full-time coaching staffs from nine to 10 — and it appears Gundy has filled that job as well, with either Oklahoma City native and former Cowboy defensive end Greg Richmond and/or Sand Springs native and former Tulsa Golden Hurricane Chris Thurmond.
Thurmond was previously the defensive coordinator at Rice and has coached at TU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and TCU. After his playing career in Stillwater, Richmond played three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (2004-06), then coached on the high school level in Oklahoma as well as at Division II Northeastern State. He returns to OSU from Division II Fairmont State in West Virginia.
It’s also possible Gundy soon could have additional openings on his staff. Defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements is widely considered a candidate to return to his alma mater and coordinate Bill Snyder’s defense at Kansas State. If Clements leaves, Richmond likely will assume the d-line post; if Clements stays, he and Richmond probably will split the duties into ends and tackles.
Gundy is fundamentally opposed to raiding other FBS staffs before National Signing Day, and rightly so. So don’t expect many more developments before next Wednesday.
But bringing in coaches from lower levels is different, and it seems Gundy has done that by adding Shane Eachus from Division III Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, M.K. Taylor from Division II Jacksonville State in Alabama, and Brian Rock from Division I-AA Holy Cross in Massachusetts. All are expected to be added to the payroll as analysts. (Taylor on Monday changed his Twitter bio to “Oklahoma State University special teams analyst.”)
In 2015, Gundy was allowed to add an offensive analyst (Darrell Wyatt, who left for Houston and now is at Central Florida) and a defensive analyst (Bill Clay, who’s still at OSU). Last year, Gundy was allowed to add a third analyst for the defense (Brian Van Gorder, who just was hired as Louisville’s defensive coordinator).
Last month, Gundy hired Bob Stitt from Division I-AA Montana as an offensive analyst to replace A.J. Ricker, who’s now coaching at Kansas.
So Gundy had two analyst openings (one on offense, one on defense), and apparently has been allowed to add two more (one on offense, one on special teams for a total of five, though that’s yet to be formalized).
To be clear, OSU’s analyst positions last year paid $50,000 each. And adding assistants from Division I-AA, Division II and Division III won’t exactly break athletic director Mike Holder’s bank.
But rewarding Gundy with more freedom to expand his staff — and the money to pay them, and the money to allow them to recruit, and additional money for Gundy himself — also means there’s more risk.
Such as, the next time Gundy has a team that’s loaded with NFL talent and is favored to make a run at the College Football Playoff but instead somehow loses three home games and ends up in the Camping World Bowl, Holder and the OSU brass will be much less likely to give Gundy what he wants.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.