Mike Gundy ‘hopes’ to coach past 65, credits leadership for renewed energy
A week before the start of his 18th season as Oklahoma State’s head football coach (and a week after showing his one-arm pump form), Mike Gundy says he feels as good as has been for years.
And who could blame him?
OSU just made its first Big 12 Championship appearance and returns a loaded defense, fourth-year starter and all-conference winner at quarterback and talent in the oodles.
Earlier this month, Gundy turned 55 – that’s A man 15 more years – and he’s not averse to going at least another decade if things continue at this clip.
Gundy has been building a monster in Stillwater for nearly two decades and has transformed OSU football into a perennial Big 12 threat and national brand. He went from an exciting, young (and stubborn) head coach to a polished CEO. On the verge of a milestone of 150 career wins, Gundy credited continued strong leadership with the likes of university president Dr. Kayse Shrum, athletic director Chad Weiberg and others for his confidence in the future of the program.
“We’re all pulling in one direction now,” Gundy said. “And trying to build that until at some point someone takes over, and that’s going to be a hell of a job. That’s my goal right now, not necessarily winning anymore. But I would like to win on Thursday, I’ll be honest with you.
This behemoth is fueled by forward thinking and innovation, something Gundy has become known for in a bit of a niche around college football circles. But that also means the monster is a well-oiled machine, too.
“I hope so. I mean, I want to stay healthy,” Gundy said of training in his golden years. “I mean, I feel good. We have a great staff now. I don’t really do anything anymore. Honestly, I don’t know. Gage, my 17-year-old son, he comes all the time and he sees me in my office, usually I’m thinking, and he says, ‘You’re not doing anything. What do you do? Just sit there. And I say, “Well, believe it or not, they pay me to think, so I think.”
“We have so many teams now that everyone has responsibilities and few coaches are leaving us because it’s a great place to be and I’m a great person to work for so I don’t really have to do much. For example, I couldn’t have a staff meeting for a week and everything would be normal. It hasn’t been that way for 10 years for two reasons. First, I was out of control and I was all over the place, bouncing all over the place. And two, we had coaches leaving all the time. Then coach (Mike) Holder said, ‘Hey, we’re stopping that. We’re doing assistant coaching contracts at long term,” when no one in the country has. We were a pioneer there. We kept the coaches from leaving, except for (Joe) Wickline. Then the coaches stay, the place works by itself now.
Seven 10-win seasons. Sixteen consecutive bowl appearances. He is ninth all-time in bowl wins. When he took the reins, OSU averaged 4.8 wins per season in its first 91 years. He has an average of 8.7 over his 17 years.
If the Cowboys start 2022 with a W, Gundy will reach another milestone with career win No. 150. (He’s already ranked fifth among active FBS coaches). But he’s more focused on the long-term health of his program than his individual win total.
“I really don’t [thought about the 150th win]”, Gundy said. “We have been very lucky here to have a lot of success. Knock on wood, I feel better now than I have in years and years here. I reflect on the whole I mean, I thought once at 65 about checking in. I don’t see that happening now if I’m feeling good.