In Mike Gundy’s estimation, the mullet he’s been growing for the last year or so has amounted to millions of dollars worth of publicity for Oklahoma State, at only the cost of whatever it takes to get his sides sheared down a couple times a month.
He looks clownish and maybe a bit needy, but that’s Mike Gundy’s game, and he’s been playing it for 10 years.
Yes, this September marks the 10th anniversary of Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!” rant, an episode that elevated Oklahoma State’s program at the expense of Gundy’s dignity. His unhinged defense of quarterback Bobby Reid made Gundy look like a loon, but parents and recruits appreciated his stand, Gundy later said. If nothing else, it got him on TV a lot.
Gundy had only been the coach at OSU for two years at that point, and things had gone just OK. The Cowboys had won a bowl game in 2006, Gundy’s second year, but at the time of his rant, Gundy had an overall record of 13-15 in Stillwater. Since then, he’s 86-31. Until 2010, when OSU went 11-2, the Cowboys hadn’t had a 10-win season since 1988.
Now they’re coming off back-to-back 10-3 seasons, and Gundy has a mullet haircut that is in its second year of development and attracts attention everywhere it goes.
Looking the way he does, Gundy is a difficult man to take seriously. But what Mike Gundy understands that other coaches don’t is that being taken seriously by the public is not strictly necessary, and may not even be desirable.
A lot more has gone into Oklahoma State’s success under Gundy than a couple of media stunts, but there is sometimes an advantage to be had by being the one guy who isn’t taking things as seriously.