STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Tuesday that Oklahoma and Texas “took the money and ran” in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.
“Let’s just cut to the chase. They made a choice to financially secure their athletic departments for the next 12 to 15 years,” Gundy told ESPN. “People can talk about all the reasons, but that’s why they did it, all for the money, and took a lot of history from this league and a lot of history from college football with them.
“Now, they’re not the first to do it. Texas A&M did the same thing when they jumped into the SEC [in 2012].”
Gundy, entering his 18th season as Oklahoma State’s coach, guided the Cowboys to a 12-win season a year ago and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame. Oklahoma State ended the regular season with a 37-33 victory over Oklahoma, which in Gundy’s mind was almost certainly one of Bedlam’s final games.
“They made that decision when they left for the SEC,” Gundy said. “It’s just not going to be feasible. We’re scheduled out to 2036, I think, and I’m sure the SEC will go to nine conference games. They’ll have to, or the media will kill them. The fans would playful [Bedlam]but the people behind the doors making the decisions will say, ‘No.’
“That’s what you lose, some great rivalries and a lot of history.”
Gundy is confident the Big 12 is going nowhere and isn’t bothered by all the talk of the league’s teams losing their brand names.
“That’s never going to change. They always talk about brands, and there are always teams that are ranked in the preseason polls just because people think they’re going to be a Top 25 team for sure,” Gundy said. “But those polls mean nothing. Nothing counts until the end of the season, and our brand is growing … on the field and off the field.
“We don’t have the kind of logo that Texas or Notre Dame do, but we’re making strides where it matters.”
Oklahoma State, ranked No. 12 in the AP preseason poll, has beaten Texas in eight of their past 12 meetings and has lost just once in Austin since 2008.
“The Big 12 is going to be fine, and I’m just giving you my opinion and I know people are upset with my opinion, but we’re fortunate that the two teams that left did it when they did. [last year] and not now,” Gundy said.
Gundy said the four teams slated to join the Big 12 — BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF — “can compete at any level.”
“They have great television markets in different locations in the country that we don’t have,” he said. The SEC and Big Ten will be strong, but after that, we’ll be there.”
Gundy, who doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, said he wasn’t sure why he offended anyone earlier this year when asked why OU and Texas representatives were still allowed to attend meetings with business.
“I’m just calling it like it is,” he said. “If two software companies in Silicon Valley are fighting for leverage through technology, and one of them gets a new technology that could be worth $1 billion in sales, why would they share that with the other companies?
“Now, I said it kind of jokingly, but I’m not in administrative meetings. I’m in meetings with the head coaches and athletic directors, and we’re not getting anything done. We’re never because there’s too many people. in one room. It’s a fact. In the end the presidents make the decisions. The coaches don’t make the decisions.”
Gundy is one of only six active FBS coaches with more than 30 career wins against nationally ranked AP teams; the others are Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Brian Kelly, Kirk Ferentz and Mack Brown. Gundy received a new five-year rollover contract in March worth a total of $33.25 million over the first five years, a deal that includes a $1 million retention bonus if he’s still the coach at the end of the calendar year.
It’s a contract that Gundy said is essentially a “deal of a lifetime” and that he has never been more comfortable with the administration at Oklahoma State, including president Kayse Shrum and athletic director Chad Weiberg.
“Obviously, OU has been more successful than anybody in this league the last six or eight years, and we’re second,” Gundy said. “So we have an opportunity with our new administration to continue to push for things, to keep this program at a high level. I have other offers, to some really good schools, offers that It intrigues me, but I won’t think about it. This is home.”
The late T. Boone Pickens, the namesake for Oklahoma State’s stadium, was the most powerful figure at the university for decades and was “incredibly supportive” of the money he poured into athletics, Gundy said. However, Gundy said it was a challenge at times with Pickens, because “he runs the whole university, and it’s not always easy to coach here based on his control from a distance.”
Gundy said he interviewed multiple times at Tennessee “because I always felt like that job was a gold mine.” He joked that the Vols had “so many different coaches” that he couldn’t remember the specific years he talked to at Tennessee.
“That’s why I’m so appreciative of what we have at this place, the continuity and stability that we’ve had,” Gundy said. “People aren’t leaving. They’re staying here, and with our new administration, there’s a lot left there for us.”