Why is Mike Gundy flirting with Tennessee?


  Mike Gundy comes to the fore during the Bedlam game on November 4. (Photo by Bryan Terry)
Mike Gundy comes to the fore during the Bedlam game on November 4. (Photo by Bryan Terry)

Remember the old Homer & Jethro song, "I Do not Flirt Anymore"?

I thought about that song on Tuesday when the news came that Mike Gundy was talking to Tennessee officials about his vacancy coach position.

We thought that the flirting was over with Gundy. The bad blood between Gundy and sports director Mike Holder, between Gundy and the benefactor Boone Pickens, seemed to be over.

Controversial contract negotiations were over, too. Gundy signed a contract in June that gave him a big raise ($ 4.2 million now is his salary, he is the highest paid public employee in the state, about 100 times more than the average teacher) and also provided good impulses for support staff The in your program.

Gundy's Cowboys finished disappointing 9-3, with three losses at home and a loss of 11 Bedlam th in 13 seasons of Gundy, but never heard a discouraging word from OSU brbad or boosters, at least not publicly.

However, here we go again, another flirt with some other work that Gundy almost certainly does not want.

I mean, I guess Gundy might be singing Rocky Top at nightfall. But I do not believe it. Much more likely that Gundy is playing the crowd. The vocational equivalent of taking off your shirt or removing your hair.

Does Gundy really want to take care of the headaches of Tennessee? According to the testimony of its own source, it has already rejected Florida. The Gators are a much more attractive job than the Volunteers. As I wrote today, Florida has had a difficult decade, according to its standards. The Gators are 52-28 in the SEC game.

During those same 10 years, Tennessee has a record of 26-54 on a conference play.

The Vols have the mess of fiasco Greg Schiano to clean up, a fan base that has become angry and fractured, and there is no clear understanding that Tennessee football is anything like it once was. In the last nine years, the Vols have fired three coaches (Phil Fulmer, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones), and another (Lane Kiffin) left after one season.

Odds indicate that whoever hires Tennessee will be expelled from Rocky Top in four or five years.

Why would Gundy want to leave a place where he is a man made, his alma mater, the home of his family, a program he has built, for a place that probably does not chew him?

The answer is that, surely, Gundy does not want to go to Knoxville. He wants to stay in Stillwater. He just wants everyone to know they want him.

But that's the weird thing. We all know that. Gundy is a winner. His Cowboys averaged 9.3 wins per season for a decade. OSU has become one of the 15 most successful programs in college football, including the second most accomplished program in the Big 12.

Gundy is not underestimated. He is well compensated for his administration and loved by the fan base. Of course, there is frustration about Bedlam. But competitors, of which Gundy is one, do not shy away from that. They fought through him.

Over the years, Gundy used Tennessee, Arkansas, Baylor and whoever is more like a lever to get what he wanted in OSU. Now he has what he wants. And he's still looking at jobs he probably has no interest in.

To quote Homer and Jethro, Gundy no longer flirts, but flirts no less.

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