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Mike Holder Regrets Recruiting Comments, Makes Case for Student-Athletes to Come to Stillwater



After (a long) two weeks’ worth of the news cycle, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder has closed the loop on his end of the comments about Mike Gundy and recruiting he made to us. We still of course have Big 12 Media Days in three weeks, where Gundy will get his turn at the mic, but Holder spoke to the Tulsa World recently and said he regrets the initial quotes.

“What I should have been doing is encouraging me, as the athletic director, to do a better job of getting the message out that this is a great place to get an education and further your dreams as an athlete, not just in football but across the spectrum of every sport that we offer here,” Holder told the Tulsa World. “And challenge myself to do a better job of that. That’s what I regret.”

That’s fair. It doesn’t mean what he said initially is incorrect or that he was wrong to say it (I think Carson and I and a handful of PFB folks are all alone on Holder Island, where, it seems, even Holder has set sail). I’ve written (too much) about my thoughts on all of this so there’s no reason to dive down that well again. But it’s certainly going to be a major talking point over the next era of Gundy’s career (and even over the next year).

Holder is great — maybe even the best — at selling a dream. He had me and Carson wanting to check our eligibility as he spoke about Oklahoma State, Stillwater and why college is the best time of your life. He’s transported high schoolers from all over the country to Stillwater, USA and won a ton of titles. I presume he expects the same — he basically said as much — from his coaches. This is one reason I think he hired Mike Boynton.

But Gundy hasn’t done that to the degree that, I think we all believe, it needs to be done. Gundy has a different philosophy. One that works. It’s the degree to which it works that hangs in the balance of this entire conversation.

Climbing the entire mountain is hard. OSU is 85 percent there. Summit day can get a little crazy, though. The air is thin. Participants are tense. There’s a lot at stake after so much work has been done behind you.

This is, metaphorically-speaking, what OSU football is dealing with right now. How do you get from base camp after 10 days of climbing to a position at the top where you can plant your flag (sorry to all those triggered by that phrase) and look out over the entire landscape? Surely you don’t do it in the first, second or third attempt. It takes a lot of effort. It takes some missteps. It takes a long, long time.

“I just want kids to understand, come here,” added Holder. “We’ll change your life for the better. We’ll get you an education, we’ll graduate you and then if you want to be a great player, we’ll give you everything that it takes to realize that dream. That’s what I want people to know.”

All of that is true, and nobody can sell it better than Holder (and I’m glad he is!). But it doesn’t mean Gundy doesn’t also need to be better at bringing a few more James Washingtons in the front door.

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