The actual release from Oklahoma State University did not focus on what I thought was most important about the negotiating process and the resulting agreement. Yes, Gundy got a raise as he goes to $4.2-million in a five-year annual roll over contract. That is good. Gundy climbs up the ladder nationally and in the conference in salary. I know there are some that don't think that is important, but what a school spends on coach salaries, overall budget, and certainly facilities sends a message to recruits, media, fans, and rivals in how important football is to your school, administration, and the culture of your University. As Mike Gundy told me once, coaches don't set the market and he doesn't set the market. The schools set the market and when Alabama decides that Nick Saban is worth close to $9-million dollars a year and Michigan pays Jim Harbaugh a fortune to coach their team when he has yet to win a conference championship in Division I and Baylor pays Matt Ruhle damage-money to ask him to come in and put the pieces of their torn program back together again, well, the market climbs.
The roll over is good because it is perpetual and means that Gundy and Oklahoma State may not have to negotiate again. Those negotiations have always seemed to turn tense and even dramatic. Drama is not a good thing when it comes to a football program and athletics.
That said, Gundy likely could have negotiated for more money, but what he did that I honestly think the coach is most proud of is that he got every member of his staff and support staff a salary that puts them in the middle to upper half of the Big 12 Conference. The office staff that includes Gundy's assistant Danielle Clary and Sharla Curtis work really hard and pour themselves into the program. That pair works a lot of 60-80 hour weeks. Zack Ramsey and his video staff, which thanks to the training of the late Jeff Naple is one of the very best in the conference and in college football; the medical staff including Kevin Blaske and Scott Parker; new equipment coordinator Justin Williams and his staff; Chris Deal and all the graphic designers that pump out so much material all received raises.
Johnny Barr, Mike Groce, and Beni Tonga have been doing excellent work supporting the coaching staff in recruiting and building a walk-on program that may be the best in college football. They all received a salary boost.
The strength staff was in good shape as were most of the assistant coaches, but Gundy worked to get some of the coaching staff up to that middle and above level in the Big 12. The support staff really had never been there, but it was back when Gundy was hired that the coaching staff salaries were near the top of the league, at least right behind behemoths OU and Texas. That had slipped some, but now those figures are back up there.
The message to recruits and everybody else I mentioned is that Oklahoma State cares about football, cares a lot, and is going to do what is necessary to keep football strong and contending for championships. Nobody at Oklahoma State should ever forget the last 7-8 years as conference realignment put all of us through some painful times, seeing longtime league members like Nebraska and Missouri and even a short-time member in Texas A&M bolt for what they considered greener pastures.
Oklahoma State has always had options and it was because football was strong. Basketball, golf, baseball, tennis, or any other sport won't get you a seat at the table for Power Five memberships. They are all good sports and the championships count. OU is now recognizing that championships count in all sports. The Sooners are even bragging about them. Football drives the bus and football is what schools are judged by when it comes to being a worthy conference member.
Just one last note, after witnessing the fanfare of the past week by OU, it's administration, fans, and as always, the media in this state over the retirement of Bob Stoops and the coronation of Lincoln Riley it is my opinion that the best coaching job done in this state the past decade and a half was done in Stillwater where facilities did catch up, but tradition, and the infrastructure was still topped by the Bedlam rivals at Oklahoma. Mike Gundy has used the fine facilities and hired excellent coaches that have contributed to recruiting hardworking and talented players that haven't always had a lot of starts next to their name and won 104 games, averaged nine wins a season the past five years, and gone to 12 straight bowl games including a Fiesta, two Cottons, and a Sugar. Prior to Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State had been to one Sugar, one Cotton, and one Fiesta (before it was a major bowl) in the previous 103-years of Oklahoma State football.
If you want to brag about Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State football then stick your chest out and do it. It's okay because it is certainly something worth bragging about.