Please welcome a new and entertaining step in Mike Gundy’s journey into the realm of caring less than any human on Earth what you think about him. Yes, he’s already fought publicly with his billionaire booster and shadow-boss, T. Boone Pickens. Yes, he launched the most infamous/famous college football coaching tirade of the past decade by declaring his age publicly and repeatedly in monologue form. Despite multiple offers, Gundy has continued to stay in Stillwater, Oklahoma because...he likes it? He must like it.
That’s not a slap at Stillwater, or if it is, at least it’s a gentle one. Gundy could easily be elsewhere, coaching a team closer to recruiting hotbeds, and certainly one further away from the dysfunctions of the Big 12. He could have taken other jobs where he didn’t have to snipe back and forth with an octogenarian energy baron, or replace his offensive coordinator each year, or fight through the relative obscurity of coaching very good football teams in a place as far off the national media radar as Stillwater.
Gundy hasn’t. Instead, he keeps practicing for fewer hours than other coaches and with less contact, and winning more games than most of this peers while doing it. He’s 104-50, a record that puts him just under Bobby Petrino in terms of winning percentage, and in the lead for total games won as head coach at Oklahoma State. He’s the best coach the school’s ever had by the numbers, and all done in an era of brutal competition—-not just from everyone else in conference, but from a powerful Oklahoma Sooners program they recruit against in-state and play every year.
So there’s Mike Gundy, just quietly being his weird excellent self, sitting in a wrestling singlet with a mullet he grew out this past season just to annoy his son, making sure you see the “Big Daddy” mug on his desk, selling out for the school’s wrestling program on Twitter in the doldrums of February. He needs butts in every seat, because no one is more psyched about a wrestling match at Oklahoma State than Mike Gundy.
That’s why today he’s a grown man in a singlet, on your phone or computer screen. It’s weird, and more than a little endearing, and you want to go to this wrestling match, don’t you? You totally want to go to this wrestling match, because Mike Gundy stays local with himself. That’s different for a lot of reasons, and not just because of the singlet or the gold chain Gundy’s rocking like it’s 1988. Mike Gundy is a local man, and he’s also local, man.