Has Mike Gundy missed his chance with Oklahoma State football?

Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy has never been able to truly get the Cowboys over the hump. Was 2021 his last chance to do so?

Mike Gundy has been at the helm of the Oklahoma State football program since 2005, making him the longest-tenured head coach in the Big 12 by a convincing margin; and that kind of job security is not something that one manages to obtain with luck.

Over the course of building Oklahoma state football up to what it is today, Gundy has only seen one negative record—and it was in his first season (4-7). Considering that he was taking over a power that, at the time, had seen 12 losing seasons out of its last 16, that’s rather impressive.

However, by the time Gundy’s career is all said and done, how will he be most remembered: as a coach who turned a once-lackluster program into a perennial powerhouse, or as one who could never manage to get his team over the hump? Considering the heartbreaking ending that the Cowboys saw to their 2021 run, he is at serious risk of bleeding into the latter.

Will Mike Gundy ever get Oklahoma State football over the hump?

First off, it should be acknowledged that Gundy has actually achieved very little at Oklahoma State beyond his overall winning percentage, and this is especially noticeable when eyeballing his performance in league play.

Since 2005, the Cowboys have struggled tremendously with multiple rivals, and doing so has left them a heap of trouble when trying to keep a foot in the Big 12 door.

Some examples of such struggling include their records against Baylor (10-8), Texas (8-9), and, most notably, Oklahoma (3-14) in that span.

Because of this evident inability to dominate in its conference, OK State has only seen one Big 12 title in the Mike Gundy era. That fact alone causes his legacy to take a nasty hit, but the worst part comes when seeing the peak that the Cowboys reached, along with just how long it’s been since they’ve done so.

Gundy was once able to lead his squad to an impressive 12-1 record that, thanks to the Colley Matrix, paved the way to an unclaimed national title. This was a feat that Oklahoma State used to cap off their 2011-12 run—a season that is now a decade old.

In the years since that monumental accomplishment, the best that the Cowboys have done is fall just short of greatness and leave people wondering “what if.” Last season looked like a moment where that trend could’ve been halted, but a loss to Baylor in the Big 12 title game killed any chances of it actually happening.

Their in-state inferiority can’t even be used as an excuse, as last year was the first time since 2014 that the Oklahoma Sooners didn’t win the conference; it was also the first time since then that OK State has managed to beat them head-to-head. However, there was still no league crown to be seen.

With OU never staying “down” for long, Dave Aranda’s Baylor Bears seemingly being on the rise, and Mike Gundy not getting any younger, it is hard to see when the Cowboys can win the Big 12 again and/or make the CFP bracket anytime soon. If such milestones are never hit, it will be hard to look back on Mike Gundy’s coaching career as favorably as his talent deserves.