Recently, Mike Gundy flirted with the idea of leaving the Oklahoma State Cowboys for Tennessee or Arkansas. Apparently, at least part of the reason was a rift between Gundy and Cowboy athletic director Mike Holder over nonconference scheduling.
That much has been confirmed in a press conference by Gundy himself, according to Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World. The rumors have indicated that while Gundy wishes to schedule lesser opponents to get big wins, Holder wants to schedule big names that will bring in more money.
Most OSU fans might be more inclined to agree with Gundy. After all, he is certainly more well-known than Holder and is the university’s favorite son.
However, Gundy is dead wrong concerning his scheduling philosophy.
It makes sense to schedule teams like Savannah State. They are automatic wins, and it is true that a win over a bad team like that counts just as much as a win over a Top 25 team when the season is done.
Or do they?
For now, it appears that going undefeated in a BCS conference will give any team a great shot at getting to the championship game.
However, that will change in just a few short seasons. In 2014, the current BCS mode of finding a college football champion will be a thing of the past.
In its place will be a four-team playoff whose participants will be chosen by a committee, much like the NCAA basketball tournament is picked. The criteria that such a committee will use to choose have yet to be determined, but it seems incredibly likely that strength of schedule will be a factor.
Wins over FCS teams will actually count against prospective championship contenders.
In that case, scheduling three cupcakes will not be an option for an Oklahoma State program that is looking to continue to grow into a national power.
There is also the fact that other teams continue to prove that a terrible nonconference schedule is not necessary to win even now. Back in September, Alabama played a neutral-site game with Michigan (then a Top 10 team) followed by an obviously tough SEC schedule. Notre Dame played five teams (almost half its schedule) against teams ranked in the Top 25.
However, despite their tough schedules, each of these teams is just one win away from achieving every college football team’s ultimate goal.
Another factor that supports Holder’s interest in scheduling big-name opponents is the money it brings in. Next season’s home opener in Reliant Stadium against Mississippi will funnel tons of money into the athletic department. The Florida State opener in 2014 will earn the department even more money.
The athletic director has to worry about funding all of the sports the school competes in. Holder has to find some way to pay all those bills.
Of course, it is easy to understand Gundy’s rationale as well. He is concerned with one thing: winning. The reason for that is simple: Winning is what he is expected to do.
If Gundy does not win, he does not keep his job. That is the nature of coaching at the Division I level of college football.
However, the program and the OSU brand are better served by playing big-time opponents.
Not only does it grab headlines and cash for the university, but it also builds a better resume for the potential championship contender the Cowboys could become once again very soon.