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Mike Holder Said What Many Won’t About Mike Gundy’s Recruiting

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Texas

It’s June. So it’s the perfect time for media folks to discuss Mike Holder’s relationship, or lack thereof, with his head football coach Mike Gundy. The two have notoriously had a rocky relationship, but it looks like they’ve both grown up over time to improve that partnership for the benefit of Oklahoma State athletics.

Holder recently went on a podcast with our friends at Pistols Firing Blog, and said Mike Gundy needs to recruit better.

Well guess what, he does!

Specifically, Holder said, “You’ve got to give 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’d want to finish higher in those recruiting rankings than we consistently do. I think that ultimately puts a ceiling on what you’re able to achieve … I think sometimes we settle when we don’t have to.”

And ya know what, Holder’s right!

I’ve been saying for the past two years that Mike Gundy is not recruiting as well as he should be at Oklahoma State based on the success the team has had on the field, the facilities and the improved branding that T. Boone, Gundy and Co. have brought to Stillwater.

Since 2008, Oklahoma State’s highest recruiting finish in the 247Sports composite rankings is 25th in 2011. Hell, Matt Rhule is killing it on the recruiting trail, in some cases better than Gundy! Last year, Gundy finished 38th in the 247Sports rankings, while Rhule finished 40th. That was weeks after Rhule took over a job that many viewed as toxic. This year, Rhule, coming off a one-win season, finished 30th. Oklahoma State: 33rd.

The defense of Gundy is that he’s still winning games. Just twice since 2008 Gundy has won fewer than nine games. And yes, he takes three-star guys like James Washington and Justice Hill and turns them into All-Big 12 players. Plus, don’t forget Justin Blackmon, a former two-star player who was a top-5 NFL Draft pick (it wasn’t so good after that).

Some folks say, “Hey, Gundy gets his guys and wins. That’s all that matters!”

But by that argument, if Gundy can turn three-star players into NFL pros, what could he do with four or five-star guys?

Sure, coaches need to get “their guys” that they think can play at a Big 12 level, but are also solid individuals, buy into what the program is selling and all that jazz. But just look at the recruiting rankings. It’s no fluke that Alabama recruits near the top of the rankings every damn season and plays for National Championships year after year. Georgia and Clemson are in that same category. Oklahoma keeps moving up the ranks in recent years as well, and it’s paying off.

There are, of course, schools like Texas and Notre Dame that recruit well, but don’t meet expectations. However, they are the outlier versus those that recruit incredibly well and actually end up winning, and winning big.

And if you don’t like the recruiting rankings, then there’s this tidbit from Berry Tramel at The Oklahoman, who looks more at NFL Draft results:

“And OSU has produced a stunningly-low number of NFL Draft picks. In the last 10 years, 19 Cowboys have been drafted. That’s the same as in the 1980s, when OSU won 70 games total. The Cowboys have 96 victories the last 10 years.”

So whichever way you want to slice it, Mike Gundy has not capitalized on the on-field success during his tenure at Oklahoma State. And by now, it should’ve happened. There was not a big bump following the 2011 season where they nearly played for the National Championship and there haven’t been bumps the past three years when the Cowboys won 10 games each season. That’s just unacceptable.

The whole point in college football is to continue to build a program where instead of rebuilding, you simply reload. Oklahoma State isn’t there yet and frankly, it should be.

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