Oklahoma State AD challenges Mike Gundy to finish higher in recruiting rankings

Mike Gundy has led Oklahoma State to double-digit wins in six of the last eight seasons, but has just one Big 12 championship to show for it.

Cowboys athletic director Mike Holder wants more — especially from a recruiting perspective.

Mike Holder wants OSU to finish higher in recruiting rankings

In a recent podcast interview with Pistols Firing, Holder, who has been at Oklahoma State for decades and became AD during Gundy’s first year as head coach, was pretty candid about the football program. Holder commended Gundy for the job he has done, but also wondered if Gundy’s approach to recruiting has put a ceiling on the level of success the program can have.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Mike Gundy. He’s really matured into a difference-maker as a coach. I would approach recruiting a little differently than he does. I would want to finish up higher in those recruiting rankings than we consistently do. I think that ultimately puts a ceiling on what you’re able to achieve,” Holder said.

(Discussion starts around 31:25)

“We do a great job of overcoming that with (strength coach) Rob Glass down in the weight room. I think our coaches do a great job of disciplining and motivating and channeling what talent we have in the right direction,” Holder said. “I just think we would be better served with a few more James Washington’s coming in the front door. You know, he came in as a two-star or three-star (recruit) and left a five-star. We need to take some of those five-stars and turn them into seven-stars, which I think Rob Glass could do, and I think Mike Gundy could as well.”

Well, that’s pretty blunt.

Moving up the recruiting rankings is easier said than done

When you look at the Rivals.com recruiting rankings, there is definitely some room for improvement. Over the past 10 years, Oklahoma State’s average class ranking has been between 34th and 35th nationally. That usually puts OSU right in the middle of the pack in the Big 12.

But that’s easier said than done. Oklahoma is not exactly a recruiting hotbed, and it’s not easy going against the likes of traditional powers like Oklahoma and Texas.

It’s something Gundy is used to. His reaction on Twitter says it all.


Before Gundy took over, there was a whole lot of losing in Stillwater. The 90’s were especially dreadful. Gundy was a part of Les Miles’ staff for four years (2001-2005) before Miles left for LSU and Gundy took the reins. OSU had a winning record in three of the Miles’ four seasons. OSU dropped down to 4-7 in Gundy’s first year, but has had a winning record every year since.

Overall, his record at OSU is 114-53 (69-42 Big 12). Not too bad, right?

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy gestures to his team during an NCAA college football intra-squad scrimmage in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, April 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy gestures to his team during an NCAA college football intra-squad scrimmage in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, April 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Under Gundy, Oklahoma State has developed players as well as anybody in the Big 12. Just look at the NFL talent they’ve produced. A bunch of those guys, like James Washington, were not the most high profile recruits.

”I’m challenging them”

Holder arrived at OSU as a golfer in 1968 and became the golf coach in 1973. He is certainly aware of the program’s history. But he still thinks there is room for growth.

In fact, he said it’s a good problem that fans are unsatisfied after a 10-3 season.

“I can remember when they had something to complain about. It was 0-10-1, right? Think about it. Our people aren’t satisfied with 10 wins. What a high class problem. What a wonderful transformation that expectations are at that level,” Holder said. “That really gives you a chance to consistently contend for championships. That’s what we’re all about, and football is the most important thing that we do because it provides the revenue, the resources, for every other sport.”

And to do that, he thinks recruiting needs an uptick.

“I’m patting (the coaches) on the back at the same time as I’m challenging them to get out there and do a little bit more in recruiting,” Holder said. “Recruiting is the most important thing we do. You’re only as good as your athletes.”

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