Do Gundy's Struggles vs. Oklahoma Prevent Him from Being a Texas Candidate?

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterDecember 9, 2013

Dec 7, 2013; Stillwater, OK, USA;  Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy and Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops before the game at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

It may as well be up there with the great unsolved mysteries like Bigfoot and the Bermuda Triangle. 

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, for reasons that lie somewhere between bad luck and black magic, can't quite get the best of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops in the Bedlam game.

Why is this important? B/R's own Adam Kramer wrote over the weekend that, in the event Texas Longhorns coach Mack Brown retired or was let go, they should take a good hard look at Gundy as his successor. 

Kramer points out that Gundy has helped turn Oklahoma State into a yearly contender in the Big 12 (with the help of booster T. Boone Pickens, of course.) He's an offensive mind who has been able to keep scoring points despite heavy turnover at the offensive coordinator position. 

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 16:  Mike gundy, head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and Mack Brown, head coach the Texas Longhorns, meet at midfield prior to a game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  Oklahoma St
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

To expand on that point, Gundy is the most underrated coach in the Big 12 and one of the more underrated ones in the country. Not only has he bred success in Stillwater, he's made solid hires at the assistant coach level. Former offensive coordinators Larry Fedora, Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken have quickly gone on to land head coaching jobs elsewhere. 

If Oklahoma State's defense continues to thrive under coordinator Glenn Spencer, you can bet he'll be in the running for a head coaching job sooner or later, too. An expansive coaching tree reflects well on a coach.

Hypothetically speaking, would Gundy leave his alma mater for Texas? He was reportedly tied to the open Arkansas and Tennessee jobs last year, so it doesn't appear he's married to Oklahoma State. 

After its 30-10 loss to Baylor on Saturday, Texas fell to 8-4, leaving Brown and/or new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson with a decision to make about the future of the program. The Longhorns were in position to win the Big 12 in the first place only because Oklahoma State lost to Oklahoma earlier in the day.

Which brings the conversation back to Gundy's inability to topple Stoops. 

Sure, it happened once—2011, to be specific. That's when the Cowboys blasted the Sooners 44-10 while making the case—a good case, at that—that they should play LSU for the BCS National Championship. Instead, the Pokes were sent to the Fiesta Bowl where they beat Stanford and some guy named Andrew Luck.

Oklahoma State had two first-round NFL draft picks that year in quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. It was easily Gundy's best team in Stillwater. 

But it's not like the Cowboys have had only one good season under Gundy; they've won at least nine games in five out of the last six years. However, Gundy is just 1-8 against Stoops. Those nine games can be split into two eras: from 2005-09, and 2010-13.

From 2005-09, the Sooners were the class of Bedlam and, for most of those years, the Big 12. Not surprisingly, then, Oklahoma outscored Oklahoma State by an average of 41-19 in Bedlam games during that span. 

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 2:  Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy reacts during game action against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on  November 2, 2013 at AT&T Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Oklahoma State won the game 52-34. (Photo by John Weast/Gett
John Weast/Getty Images

The series has been much tighter since then. Taking out the 2011 game, Oklahoma's Bedlam wins have come by an average score of 44-38. That's a matter of one play. 

Oklahoma State had the better record coming into Bedlam in four out of the past five years, though the separation has generally only been by a single win. Among the most inexplicable losses by the Cowboys came in 2009 when the Pokes, at 9-2, got shut out 27-0 by a 6-5 Oklahoma team. 

None of this is to say Gundy shouldn't be considered by Texas—or any other program, for that matter—if the job were to become available. What may also affect Gundy's short-term appeal is Sports Illustrated five-part series, released earlier this fall, alleging NCAA violations that took place under Gundy and former coach Les Miles.

The SI series was generally poorly received, and no NCAA action was taken, but it is nevertheless attached to Gundy's name. Ultimately, it won't be a deterrent that comes back to haunt Gundy time and time again if he's in the coaching carousel rumor mill. 

Whether Gundy would leave is a different story too, but it always behooves a program to at least speak with qualified candidates. Gundy most certainly is one. 

Gundy's record against Stoops, though, should be a red flag if the Longhorns ever decided to look at him, if for no other reason than he wouldn't be escaping Stoops if he went to Texas. 

The Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma is among the biggest in college football and its importance cannot be overstated. That Brown had lost the last three games against the Sooners prior to this season was one of many reasons 'Horns fans were growing weary of him.

Would Gundy finally be able to get the better of Stoops if he began wearing burnt orange? There's no way to know unless it happens. 

But Texas would have to at least consider the record if talks ever got that far. 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval


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