Editorial: The Biggest Loser & The Big Winner

On the television show The Biggest Loser, the loser is a big winner. I wish I could lose the weight like that last woman on the NBC show. In Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder's coaching search for the Oklahoma State new basketball head coach the biggest loser is UMass. The Minutemen had a coach in Travis Ford who appeared to have them on the brink of real success in the Atlantic 10.

Like in the TV show, UMass will get some money as Holder and OSU will compensate them with the buyout on Ford's contract. Another loser is UMass athletic director John McCutcheon, who will now have to interrupt his spring time activities, which for me would include some leisure trips to Fenway Park, to go look for a new coach.

The big winner in this scenario is Travis Ford. The one time sharp-shooter who played in Gallagher-Iba Arena as a Missouri Tiger freshman for Norm Stewart will come back to Stillwater, this time nearly doubling his salary by our guesstimate. Ford, who hit 207 of his last 231 college free throws, will coach a freshman guard in Pawnee's Keiton Page that strongly resembles himself when he came out of North Hopkins High School in Madisonville, Ky.

This Ford comes as tough as an F-150 and he was never anointed a coach, but earned his stripes working up the coaching ladder from NAIA power Campbellsville University, to reviving dormant Eastern Kentucky in the Ohio Valley Conference to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly 25 years, to his latest work at UMass (49-20 in his last two seasons). Ford should be a big winner on the scoreboard, and if he is then Mike Holder will be a big winner with the Oklahoma State fans.

There is another winner or two as a result of the activities of the last two weeks. A week ago today Holder received a call that he says broke his heart, similar to calls he once received on occasion as golf coach from a prize recruit telling him he was going to Georgia or UCLA or Stanford. It didn't happen often, but it did happen. In his first major coaching search Oklahoma State grad Bill Self reminded Holder that he is not perfect as a recruiter and there are potential heartbreaks out there.

What Mike Holder discovered is that coaching searches for your major sports are no fun. While Holder, myself, and many of you believe Oklahoma State and Stillwater are nestled somewhere on the map between Heaven and Nirvana, there are others that don't share our orange-colored sunglasses with us. They would opt for other locales like the East Coast, the West Coast, Tobacco Road, even Kansas, which is close to what we have in Stillwater.

These searches are no fun. It's hard to keep secrets, although Holder is about as good at it as any athletic director I've run across. It's a lot of travel and there are a lot of politics involved and many people, namely your fellow ADs, who don't want to answer your phone calls.

Holder now knows what the search process is like and as a result OSU football coach Mike Gundy, Ford, and possibly some other OSU coaches should get Holder's most full cooperation and understanding. Because if they win and keep fans happy and interested, then Holder gets to save money on his NetJets account and spend more time in Stillwater rather than selling some coach on coming there.

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