Ever since the University of Arkansas fired Bobby Petrino back in April, the school’s search for a head coach has been a subject of much discussion. That discussion has included Mike Gundy as a possible candidate. However, Gundy would be a fool to leave Oklahoma State for Arkansas.
According to Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World, Gundy was asked in mid-November about the Arkansas job and reports that have linked him to it. Gundy refused to comment, stating that he did “not want to talk about speculative reports or other jobs.”
While many have read into this response that Gundy may have some interest in the job, the truth is that a move to Arkansas would be among the most foolish things Gundy could do for his career.
Granted, on the surface it does not seem like such a bad fit. The Razorbacks had great success with Petrino, an offensive mastermind who used a spread attack somewhat similar to the one Gundy now employs in Stillwater.
There also has been speculation about Gundy’s relationship with Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder, especially given how long it took for Gundy to get a contract extension after last season’s 12-1, Big 12 title-winning finish.
Arkansas is a pretty good job just on its own merits. It is the big show in its state, with no other competition to speak of. It also has plenty of money and the prestige of being a member of the SEC.
However, none of these factors are enough to make the Arkansas job the right one for Gundy.
First of all, Arkansas is really not that much better of a job than Oklahoma State at this point. The Cowboys have a better recruiting base to work with, especially considering how successful Gundy has been at mining Texas for diamond-in-the-rough recruits (like Kendall Hunter).
Up until a few years ago, Arkansas would have had a decided edge monetarily, but that is no longer the case now that T. Boone Pickens is around and the program is surging like never before.
Winning at Arkansas would not be easier than it would be at Oklahoma State. Sure, right now Gundy has to face Oklahoma and Texas every year. Few teams have a tougher twosome to face year in and year out.
Arkansas is actually one of those few teams, having to face LSU and Alabama every single season. Those two are decidedly tougher right now.
There is also the issue of Oklahoma State being Gundy’s alma mater and his “Yankee job” as he put it himself. I am not naïve enough to think that is the most important factor, but it does play a part.
The program has to have a very special place in Gundy’s heart, especially now that he is the winningest coach in the program’s history. He will forever be linked to Oklahoma State and it would be a shame to break that bond to go to Arkansas where he will have a tougher time being successful.
There is another aspect to this discussion that it seems few are talking about: the chance that Gundy could be up for other, even better jobs in the future.
The biggest one I thought of is down south of where Gundy is right now. Mack Brown has not been stellar at Texas lately, and if I am the Longhorn AD, Gundy would be the first man I’d call if the job came open.
Who knows what other jobs will come up, but the truth is that Gundy does not want to leave Oklahoma State. He proved that almost a year ago when he was considered for another job.
What should Mike Gundy do?
Last season, Gundy could have had the Texas A&M job when it opened up if he had wanted it according to Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World. Apparently the Aggies stalled current coach Kevin Sumlin while Gundy considered the decision.
Ultimately, he turned that offer down, even as Oklahoma State dragged its feet in giving him the contract extension he deserved after delivering the best single season and half-decade in school history.
The fact that he did not get on a plane to College Station, Texas then proves that deep down, Gundy wants to remain a Cowboy for good. He won't be boarding any planes to Fayetteville any time soon either.