OSU is at the Big Boy table, hoping it continues to trickle down to other sports

For years, Oklahoma State football has done more with less.

Whether beating Texas with a team of mostly three-star rookies or not necessarily having a national brand, the Cowboys have continued to win under Mike Gundy. Oklahoma State pulled out its elbows and fought its way into the big boy table of college athletics on Friday when it gave Mike Gundy a raise, paying him $7.5 million in 2022.

For some perspective, here’s a list of coaches who earned less last year than Gundy will earn in 2022, according to USA Today:

Kirby Smart—Georgia
Ryan Day – Ohio State
Chip Kelly—UCLA
Steve Sarkissian (Texas)
Scott Frost (Nebraska)

These are the types of schools that OSU has had the conversation with. The $7.5 million would have been tied with Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M as the seventh-highest-paid coach in the nation in 2021. It would have been more believable to think that Gundy would be the Big 12’s highest-paid coach when Oklahoma and Texas are gone. for the SEC, but even with the Sooners and Longhorns holding their own in 2022, Gundy’s salary still exceeds what Norman and Austin coaches will be paid.

It will be somewhat divisive that Gundy makes so much money, of course. Some would say he earned it by turning OSU into a winning program, going 149-69 in 17 seasons, beating Notre Dame in a Fiesta Bowl. Others will say that a coach who won a conference title in 17 seasons and is 3-14 against his in-state rival shouldn’t be making that kind of cheddar. Whichever side of this argument you fall on, you can’t deny that OSU has taken a step forward in this area by committing to be a great football program with this raise.

Other questions will be asked to find out if this money could have been used elsewhere. Well, there’s the old adage that you have to spend money to make money – or as Sam Presti once eloquently put it, Thunder GM, “Scared money doesn’t make money. not.”

OSU non-pay sports have seen massive improvements over the past decade. The Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center, Neal Patterson Stadium and O’Brate Stadium have all opened since 2014. It was amazing. But there is still work to be done.

In no particular order, wrestling, softball, and track need improvement.

The winningest program of all time in collegiate athletics, the OSU wrestling team just finished tied for 14th at the national championships. The Cowboys are behind the Big Ten schedules in terms of facilities. Iowa, for example, is preparing to build a 38,500 square foot training center at an estimated cost of around $25 million. The OSU wrestling team recently got a $1 million locker room upgrade, which is a start, but it’s silly to think it’ll rival a $25 million wrestling-specific facility. of dollars.

OSU track runner Taylor Roe won the indoor national championship this month without OSU having an indoor track. OU, Arkansas, Kansas, and Kansas State, all in the same region, have indoor facilities.

Kenny Gajewski led the Cowgirl softball team to back-to-back Women’s College World Series despite recruiting in a stadium with 452 seats. The Cowgirls got an upgrade with new turf and outfield fencing this season, but that’s just a holdover for the main course Gajewski wants.

Football is the cash cow that can support these other programs. It’s a balancing act that OSU athletic director Chad Weiberg has to find on a tightrope – how much to give the machine that is football so he can still create money for other programs. . But the fact that these not-for-profit sports need football is not lost on coaches.

“I’m very aware that football has to improve,” Gajewski said in February. “We have to have it. I am very aware that they have to be good for us to be good. It is enormous. We need them. We need them to do over and over again what they just did. It’s a huge deal.

OSU was in a good place with what it was spending before this Gundy increase, but it was going to be incredibly difficult for the football program (and the athletic department) to go from good to great without more commitment.

Oklahoma State had a good thing. But now it’s time to see if OSU can turn this great football program into a great national program and what it might do for the rest of the athletic department.

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