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Gundy Says He Doesn’t Think He’ll Be Coaching at Age 60: ‘I Don’t Have the Energy’



At Big 12 Media Days, Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, 77, sat atop a stage and answered questions about football, coaching and cancer.

Later during the breakout session, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, 49, sat about 30 yards away from Snyder and said it’s “amazing” what Snyder does.

“I don’t think I’ll coach when I’m 60,” Gundy said. “I don’t have the energy. It takes a ton of energy in the world today to run all over the place like you do.”

Gundy compared his job to that of a journalist. He said both go to interviews, do their homework, grab a bite and go watch a game. But it’s not the same. There are plenty of journalists in their 60s but few coaches. In fact, Snyder is only one of 13 NCAA Division I coaches over 60.

Coach University Age
David Cutcliffe Duke 62
Bill Snyder Kansas State 77
Kirk Ferentz Iowa 61
Mark Dantonio Michigan State 61
Butch Davis Florida International 65
Doc Holliday Marshall 60
Mark Whipple Massachusetts 60
Terry Bowden Akron 61
Frank Solich Ohio 72
Bob Davie New Mexico 62
Rocky Long San Diego State 67
Nick Saban Alabama 65
Joe Moglia Coastal Carolina 68

Although Gundy said he has gained more patience and learned to have more fun with age, he also said it gets more difficult to recruit.

“I was doing a leadership deal out here in Boston a couple weeks ago, and John Calipari was involved in it,” Gundy said. “They asked him about recruiting, energy, he said, ‘I’m 50 years old. I’m recruiting 18-year-old kids. I don’t have anything in common with them. I don’t know what to talk about.'”

Gundy said that is frustrating because it gets to a point where it doesn’t matter “whether you have enough energy to do what it takes to be successful.” Imagine putting weeks and weeks of energy into landing a massive deal for your day job. You go on client visits, play golf, go out to dinner and the client still says no.

Minus the NCAA violations, that’s recruiting.

Then there is game planning every week for the next team, dealing with injuries, changes in the depth chart, player morale, meetings with assistants and practice. Coaching to 60 starts to sound worse.

“They tell me you’ll just know (when to retire),” he said. “I’m nowhere near that, I don’t think. But they tell me you’ll get to a point where you’re like, ‘I don’t wanna do that anymore.'”

Gundy seems to be doing much better at coaching than he was 10 years ago. And if you somehow disagree, remember this happened:

“I don’t regret it,” Gundy said. “Would I do it again? No. Essentially, I’m way too patient for that. I would never even burn that kind of energy anymore.”

There are no tirade plans or any others for Gundy’s 50th birthday Aug. 12, he said, but then again, every day has grown into a small birthday party for him. That has come with age, he said.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia coach and Gundy’s former offensive coordinator, said he doesn’t see it that way. Holgorsen, 45, said Gundy acts “a hell of a lot older than 50.” And that he acts a lot younger than 45. Which brings up an interesting crossroads that Gundy is at the center of: Youth and wisdom.

Gundy is at the epicenter of dad mode. He is far more relaxed than he has ever been. He literally told a group of print media members a story about how he tried to embarrass his sons in front of teen-aged girls.

At the same time, he is wittier, sharper and seemingly more perceptive than ever. Holgorsen said he sees “a much more relaxed, confident Mike Gundy now,” but Gundy said there are still some negatives with the age.

“I don’t feel the same in the mornings as I did. Everything’s a little slower. I still have a lot of energy, but I can feel some things now that I couldn’t feel when I was 40. I’ll tell you that.”

Dad jokes and dad pains aside, that paradoxical wisdom and vibrance is at least partially why OSU believes in him. He is fun to be around right now. That has an effect on current and potential future players. He said he went through a stage where knocking out his new contract was “the best thing for Oklahoma State football,” and since that has happened, it’s been prime Gundy.

“You get smarter when you’re older,” he said. “You don’t take life too serious and realize that you try to do the best you can, you do the best for your players and your family and your fans and the people around you. And then you don’t worry about it.”

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