Budke, Gundy Say Ford Is A Fit

Oklahoma State Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budke was pressing his way down the side of the O-Club room Thursday looking to get back to where new Cowboys hoops coach Trais Ford was doing interviews with the media. Budke had yet to personally shake the hand of the new coach that will office up on the fourth floor of the Athletic Center where all of the basketball and wrestling offices are located.

One reporter yelled at Budke that Ford said he wanted to stay in Stillwater as long as they would have him and he sounded like Budke. "I'm not going anywhere," said Budke.

For Cowboy fans worried that Oklahoma State is just the next rung on the ladder for Ford in his coaching career, the Kentucky native begs to differ. He may not be from as clase by as Budke (Salina, Kansas) but he says he would like to stay as long as Oklahoma State will have him.

"This is an opportunity where I can reach my goals and dreams as a basketball coach, where I can raise my family in an incredible atmosphere in an incredible community around a great University, and it was just an opportunity that I could not let go by," said Ford is saying he would like to be in Stillwater for the next 10 to 15 years, maybe more.

That is a good message for Cowboy fans already worried that Ford's blue blood could have him headed back to Kentucky if the Wildcats were to call. If that were to happen that wouldn't be all bad as it would mean that Ford is running the Cowboy program in smooth, successful fashion.

Let's just say Ford is very sincere about the settling down in Stillwater. He has something else in common with Budke. He is a guy that recognizes the importance of being fan friendly.

After his first three seasons in Stillwater, Budke has gone from 0-16 in the Big 12 to Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Along the way he has motivated fans to follow his team on the road by the busload. He is one of the most popular figures in Stillwater and could give current mayor Roger McMillian a run for his job. Ford sounds like he has a similar approach.

"I love basketball and I love being around people. I love what I do and I want it to show. I want people to know how much I love doing my job for you," said the new coach. "I love meeting people and I love them getting excited about Oklahoma State basketball and that is just the way I've always been. I could sit up here all day long talking to you. If anybody will listen I will talk to them. That is just the way I was brought up, when you meet people and talk to people then you make them feel important."

Budke said, "I'm really impressed, really impressed. I thought that any coach that is taking a new job, this 20 minutes (first impression) is really important. He got me excited, really excited. Let's go out and start practice right now."

"This seems like my type of place and everybody has been so nice to me and my family," added Ford. "You will see me around a lot. Don't be surprised if I come up and pat you on the back. That is just who I am."

Cowboy football coach Mike Gundy said, "He seems like he will be a good fit here and is enthusiastic and with his young family he will fit in here. We'll help him here in Stillwater and help his family fit in, and any time you have change in the coaching profession you have enthusiasm and it sounds like his style of play is like our style of offense."

While Gundy probably won't seek any offensive advice from Ford, Budke said he will. Students of the game have to stick together and Budke feels certain there is something he can learn from Ford to help the Cowgirls. Ford will soon find that Budke will be a good source of advice in return.

"I study the game like he is saying he does and I just know he is going to bring something to the table that can help me," said Budke, sounding like he wanted to conference and share ideas this afternoon. "I am looking forward to learning from him. I know I am going to see something I love and want to put out there for my team, so I look forward to watching."

The resumes are similar and now have brought these two basketball coaches together. Budke was a head coach at a young age, coaching two years at Allen County (Kans.) Community College and seven years at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College. Ford started off at Campbellsville University at the NAIA level. These are jobs that don't come with the luxuries, the staff, or the support at Division I.

"I had to go out and raise all the money," said Ford of his first head coaching job at age 26. "I did the budget myself. I had to do everything myself at that NAIA school at Campbellsville. I can't say enough about them because they gave me a great opportunity. I have learned so much in these 11 or 12 years as a head coach to help me take on an opportunity like Oklahoma State."

"I like guys that pay dues and he paid dues," said Budke, knowing exactly what Ford experienced. "If you work at an NAIA school or a junior college then you've driven buses, you've driven vans, you've swept floors, you've done all those things to earn your way to where you are at."

Now maybe the combination of the two, Budke and Ford, have brought the perfect basketball storm to Stillwater. An era where the Cowboys and the Cowgirls will both spend March crisscrossing each other on the way to NCAA Tournament sites, maybe even causing OSU fans a travel nightmare by both being in their respective Final Fours. Budke sure seems to have bought in.

"I just thought he came across great," said the Cowgirls coach. "Our fans are going to love him and they are going to love that style of play. It is exciting. It's exciting for all of us."

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