Wiedmer: Mike Gundy yet another failed effort for John Currie

Wiedmer: Mike Gundy yet another failed effort for John Currie

November 29th, 2017 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Oklahoma won 62-52. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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So on the subject of possibly becoming the next head football coach of the Tennessee Vols, Mike Gundy wanted to mullet over, did he?

Sorry. Couldn't resist. But Gundy apparently could. Disappointing thousands upon thousands of Tennessee boys and men of all ages who gladly would have sported mullet haircuts in the coming months to show support for Gundy as the new boss of the Big Orange, the longtime Oklahoma State coach apparently decided to remain with his alma mater for the perceivable future.

Around 10 p.m. Tuesday he tweeted out "Cowboy for life," which would seem to officially end any chance of Gundy becoming the coach of Team 122.

But had such a hire happened, had the mullet-coifed Gundy left Oklahoma State, his alma mater and the place he's coached in one capacity or another for the past 18 years — including the last 13 as the Cowboys' head coach — I just hope I would have been smart enough to invest in a company manufacturing UT ballcaps with a mullet wig attached to the back.

Because had a Gundy-coached Vols squad knocked off Alabama next October, or any October thereafter, those mullet caps would have become the hottest headgear in the Volunteer State since Davy Crockett coonskin caps ruled the 1960s.

Heck, Gundy had even taken to channeling his inner Bruce Pearl earlier this autumn. Remember when Pearl, the former UT basketball coach now in the same position at Auburn, went shirtless to support the Lady Vols one night against Duke?

Well, Gundy recently removed his shirt during a pep rally inside Gallagher-Iba Arena prior to OSU's game against Baylor. So he would certainly have seemed ready to charge up the UT fan base beyond the not-so-little 113-53 record he's responsible for at OSU.

Not that his mullet, his impressive record or his famous declaration when defending a player against a newspaper article 10 years ago — "Come after me. I'm a man, I'm 40!" — were the only reasons for the Big Orange Nation to have been excited about this potential hire.

As ESPN's Trevor Matich said Tuesday: "He has qualities Tennessee needs. One is to identify recruits. Guys that might be two stars or even one-star, but he knows they will be great college players that other people bypass. Also quarterbacks want to play for Mike Gundy. And on the other side of the ball, pass rushers want to play for him because they know they'll have big leads in the second half and they can show the NFL what they can do."

The numbers don't lie. Gundy's teams have won at least 10 games five of the last seven seasons with a chance to make that six of eight at the close of this year if his 9-3 team can win a bowl. And anyone following the Cowboys in the Big 12 knows that it's insanely fun football for anyone who prefers offense to defense.

Take this season only, in which the Cowboys have scored 40 or more points in 10 of their 12 games and 50 or more six times. Their average score: 46.25 to 30. The only downside might to a Gundy hire might have been the Neyland Stadium concessions revenues, since you'd be afraid to leave your seat lest you miss a touchdown.

What's worse, Gundy seemed to really want to work for this dysfunctional program when the job went to Butch Jones in 2012. He even told CBSSports.com in 2013 that "at some point, (UT is) where we thought we were going to go."

Of course, when asked about possible job offers last Saturday after OSU's 58-17 rout of Kansas, Gundy also said, "I'm rooted here. Knock on wood, if you're doing good, you get calls. I get calls every year. But my stability here is more than it ever has been."

That stability had been questioned at times, Gundy, now 50, reportedly having had issues with the school's super booster billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who's 89. But if "Cowboy for life" is to be believed, those issues are past, which means we won't again see mullets growing throughout the Volunteer State at a pace not seen since country music star Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart" heyday in the early 1990s.

It also means that UT athletic director John Currie will be forced once more to downsize his wish list, possibly moving from proven head coaches to career defensive coordinators such as Clemson's Brent Venables or Auburn's Kevin Steele (who at least is a former Vol). And if that's the case, one also wonders just how many more coaching disappointments the Big Orange Nation's achy, breaky heart can take.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.

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