Can Mike Holder Salvage Some of OSU’s Momentum from Last Year?

Written by Kyle Cox

One year ago, Oklahoma State and its fans were in a cautiously optimistic position.

Finally, the Travis Ford contract-sized cloud looming over Stillwater seemed to be dissipating. A new head coach was being sought and one of the names championed for it was as polarizing to the fan base as Mike Yurcich’s offense finishing top-20 in scoring for two straight years.

Many wanted Doug Gottlieb as the head man, but when Brad Underwood took the job, he really took the job. There were few naysayers after his introductory press conference at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

It was quite a show.

Underwood said all of the right things. He tugged at the heartstrings of fan base desperate for a fresh start with notions of Mr. Iba’s ghost nodding in approval as he welcomed in all the alums who had stayed away for nearly a decade.

And Underwood’s on-the-court results cast little doubt on his ability to coach and captain OSU’s program. He won the players. He won the fans. He did everything you would want him to do in his first year — except stay.

Sure, we can point to his first-round loss to Michigan and draw comparisons to Travis Ford. But’s that’s revisionist history. If the media bomb of March 18 hadn’t occurred, no one’s making that remark.

What did we expect in his first year? A Sweet 16? The truth is that his team lost a game they should have won because Michigan went cheat code from 3 in the second half.

The question of Underwood’s intentions, or Holder’s for that matter, does not change the state of the OSU fan base when they woke up on Sunday morning. The optimism has left the room and the Travis Ford cloud is peeking over the horizon.

Where do you go from here? Kyle Porter really nailed it in his 10 Thoughts about the corner Mike Holder has painted himself into. Who is the answer? Do you simply lower your standards and start from scratch? Do you just call Doug?

This IS the biggest gaffe on Mike Holder’s record — unless he somehow loses Mike Gundy. I think it’s worse than the Travis Ford contract. At least with that we could somewhat understand the big contract after suitors came calling.

This has an overall worse stench of not being in control. Either a) Holder can’t get along with his coaches or b) OSU just got big-timed by a mid-level Big 10 program. Neither is a good look.

This next hire may not be his most important, but it will certainly be under the most scrutiny.

Underwood’s one year in Stillwater got GIA rocking again. It was a much-needed shot in the arm. Holder’s charge is to make sure it wasn’t just a shot of starting fluid. She was purring. But once the fumes ran thin, she stalled out.

Mike Holder may find that once it dies, it’s much harder to restart.

  • David Einstein

    We’ll be alright. A coach for 362 days doesn’t make or break your program.

    • Cowboydroid

      But an incompetent AD wh can’t negotiate or get along with coaches certainly can.

      • David Einstein

        If he’s incompetent then why do baseball, football and wrestling all have successful coaches that are alums?

        • Cowboydroid

          We already know Holder’s relationship with Gundy is strained.
          We don’t know yet how well he and Josh Holliday get along. Let’s see what happens if Holliday keeps winning.
          John Smith is already at the pinnacle wrestling job in the country. There’s nowhere else for him to go, and the sport doesn’t generate significant revenue anyway.

          Holder has expressed incompetence by 1. hiring Ford, an unproven coach who never won an NCAA game, 2. Giving him a ridiculous contract that was guaranteed to come back and bite us, 3. Hiring the best fit coach OSU has had in basketball since Eddie was hired, and then running him off in less than a year, and 4. Having repeated contract disputes with Gundy that lead to rumors of Gundy shopping around. You don’t allow you’re most successful coach in history in the premier revenue generating sport to go shopping around.

          Holder has a reputation for being awful to work with. And he has it for a reason.

          Also, it’s alumni, not alums. Alums isn’t a word.

          • David Einstein

            It’s a comments section, not a thesis paper.

          • Cowboydroid

            So you’re not going to address the response to your question because it was a paragraph too much for you?

  • Hackleman poke

    I just don’t get the finger pointing at Holder for the financial decision. If ppl in the know point the finger at him for his management style that’s entirely different.

    How on earth do we pay someone anywhere close to top 10 $ when he was 500 in conference and 3-12 against tourney teams.

    Not only would it create budget probs but we’d also forever be in a bidding war. This guy if he wins will be making $4mm in a couple of yrs.

    At OSU that puts him in Gundy territory. And we’ve already seen what happens when Holder passes out contracts to not top 15 coaches. Gundy is as close to a top ten coach if there ever was and he’s 22nd in pay and can’t get what he wants in a contract. no need to invite that fight if you are Holder

  • Cowboy82

    This is what i just heard and i dont know how i feel about… james dickey as head coach and trae youngs dad will be an assistant. Trae young will come here if this happens.

    • PokeinChief

      Screw that.

    • JB

      James Dickey should be hired if he’s the best candidate and fit. Trae Young’s dad should be hired only if the eventual head coach feels he is the best candidate and fit. Trae Young however, is 100% irrelevant.

    • PokeinChief

      Also, if OSU acted so… Baylor-ish, I would immediately stop the monthly checks I send to the university. They may not miss me, but doing something like this is gross.

      I love James Dickey, but NO. And hiring Young’s dad? Oh god, why don’t we hire that scumbag Calipari while we are at it. Not disparaging Young’s dad, but I will disparage any athletic department who does stuff like this.

  • Nathan

    It seems so difficult for people to take an option C – when given the options of blaming Holder (A), blaming Underwood (B) or not blaming anyone (C). Both did what they were supposed to do and Underwood was just in an odd position in terms of his resume at OSU and what others perceived his value at. It’s not normal to have such a small sample size to use to justify a salary, but yet other schools offer to make you a top 10 paid coach. He is taking care of his family and himself. Holder is taking care of OSU. Nothing to be mad at anyone about. Occasionally it works like that. Move on.

  • Cowboy82

    Well… from what im hearing is dickey is the guy and will be announced soon. Geez… although trae young and evans would be nice!

    • Tyler

      The Dickey rumor is ONLY: “if hired, it would be on an interim basis if we felt this process was going to take longer than a week or so”. This rumor came from Robert Allen this afternoon on the radio. He has been the interim before, so it would make sense.. but I doubt it happens because he was promised a spot on the new staff last year and then when Brad came he said no thanks.

      • Kim

        Did Dickey know something about Brad everyone else missed? (I thought it was weird he never wore the right colors.) I love Dickey & he would work great with Gottlieb. He would bring the experience everyone seems to think Doug is missing.

        • TL

          I meant Brad said no thanks to Dickey. He wanted an all new staff of his own guys

      • two4osu

        Robert Allen with basketball scoop, ie: rumor…smh.

  • FreeDrop

    Why not hire Henderson?

    • TL

      Because hiring a rookie head coach with zero ties to the school before last year, and only 4 years removed from coaching high school would not excite the fan base. With that being said, I think he is an excellent coach and I hope we can retain him

      • seedyberry

        Amen to that

  • Chris Saxon

    James Dickey is waving the white flag

  • Chris Saxon

    James Dickey = John Phillips.

  • Kevin Keck

    Holder should stay away from basketball. He absolutely has no eye for talent! He let go one of the best and to offer him less that dumb ass Ford was making was just downright stupidity.