Earlier this week, GoPokes.com's Terry Tush released a project he had put a lot of work into, looking back and measuring the value and the reward and excitement of each of Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy's previous 99 coaching wins at his alma mater since becoming the head coach in January of 2005.
A lot of wins at a school that prior to Gundy had the mark of 62 as the all-time top wins total by any previous head coach. That number belonged to Pat Jones, Gundy's head coach when he played quarterback at Oklahoma State. The same man that gave Gundy his start in coaching right after he walked across the stage to receive his diploma in Stillwater.
On a sun splashed afternoon, fresh from a Gatorade shower, and sporting his oldest son, Gavin, who had come home from college at the University of Arkansas to be there for his dad's big event, hugging his neck, Gundy dashed to midfield to shake hands with a former assistant and contributor to that 100-win total in former Cowboys offensive coordinator and now Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen.
Then with Fox Network television and the Cowboy Radio Network waiting to get a word in with the newest century man in college coaching, Gundy made a dash toward the northeast corner of the stadium where the visiting team trudges up toward its locker room. Gundy wanted to shake hands and congratulate West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, a fellow coach that he, Mike Yurcich, the Cowboys offensive staff and quarterback Mason Rudolph spent loads of extra time and late hours this week plotting to move the ball against. Gundy respects good coaches and he feels the Mountaineers defensive coordinator is a very good coach.
"I mentioned that this was the very best, X and O's technical coaching job that we've done as a staff this year," Gundy said afterward. "We had sound game plans and we were able to execute them. I appreciate quality players that play the game and I appreciate coaches that put a lot of effort in to coach the game. The X's and O's, the integral part of coaching really is fascinating to me and I think he is one of the best in the country.
"They were giving up an average of 17 points a game coming in today in this league. He is really competitive and it gets other coaches in this league, even ours, they start pointing at each other across the field. That is the competitive nature and in the end you have to appreciate that. I have a ton of respect for Dana [Holgorsen]. You can't say anything other than they are a good football team and they don't have a team full of great players. They do a great job."
"Coach has been really helpful and more in tune to what we've been into offensively," Rudolph said of Gundy. "He was fired up all week for us to go up against this defense and he really does respect their defensive coordinator."
Gundy gets it. He doesn't spend a lot of time listening to sports talk radio but he does some and he hears about it. He does check out social media some and he knows what he, his staff and players through the 11-plus years he has been head coach of the Cowboys have created.
Each win feeds the monster and many forget where this program once was. Gundy does not and he even laughed when for the first time I congratulated him on being bowl eligible. Nobody really thinks of congratulations at the six-win mark anymore.
"It didn't even get brought up today in my press conference and I didn't think of it until now and that used to be a big deal," Gundy laughed. "We have created a monster here and with social media and every other outlet out there the only way you can feed it is wins. You have to keep winning and that is what we have created. I still have to look at that, but also what are we doing for the players and for their future."
Gundy believes his program is worthwhile. He believes that coaches and players grow in the program. He sees players, many walk-ons, experiencing the fun of being in a big-time football program, gaining a diploma, and then going into society and being productive. Sure, some are in the NFL like the Weedens, Bryants, Lane Taylors, Michael Hunters, Brandon Pettigrews, and more. However, more come back to homecoming with wives and children in tow and thank Gundy for what he did for them.
"We're putting out solid young men," Gundy said proudly. "They understand core values, they understand character, they understand being productive in society, and they have manners. That is the greatest accomplishment for all of us. The 100 wins just backs that up for the players for their effort on the field."
In the locker room afterwards were close to 50 prospects that may have the chance to be the future of Cowboy football and they heard the lessons Gundy preaches, win or lose about doing the right things, being a good person. Those are part of every postgame speech.
Gundy walked out of Boone Pickens Stadium after the 37-20 win. His 100th win also was his 19th over a ranked opponent. He signed a few autographs and took a few pictures and then drove home for a quiet celebration with close friends and family. There was a cake that simply said, Congratulations 100th!
It it those boys he went home to and the oldest one on the field with his arm around his dad's neck that mean a lot and show so much about Gundy, much more than 100 wins. In fact, it's also those former players that have those wives and kids coming back with them on homecoming.
"When we're gone all we have left, what we leave behind is our kids," Gundy said. "No one cares how much money you made, about your house, your car. If you are lucky then it is your kids that you leave and that show what you were about. I'm always going to make sure I have my kids at heart and first. It is my impact on them and how I raise them that will be what I leave behind."
As a head football coach he just has the opportunity to have so many more kids. Now, he also has 100 wins!