Roundtable: Trying To Make Sense of Underwood To Illinois

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Written by PFB Staff

What better than a 3,000-word roundtable on a Sunday as Michigan heads to the Sweet 16 and OSU tries to figure out what the heck just happened to its head basketball coach. Let’s dive right in.

Carson Cunningham

(Sits at the head of the round table)

On a scale from 1-KD how shocked were you when you saw the news?

Kyle Cox

“It goes to 11, mate” (in bad British accent).

Justin Southwell

Lol at the Spinal Tap reference. Solid.

I’m more shocked by Underwood leaving. He convinced me he was all in. You could kind of tell KD was on his way out. I’m more upset that KD left because of where he went, but Underwood didn’t really leave any better. He just went to a random school.

Kyle Boone

Absolutely stunned. And the thing is, OSU was just as blindsided as everyone else. There was no real indication that he was leaving. He talked like he was ready to be the next Eddie Sutton with his talk of bringing back GIA, reviving one of the greatest venues in basketball, etc… At least with KD we knew it was possible. Like legit no one knew. Can you imagine Holder’s reaction when Undie dropped the news?

Cox

Definitely more shocked by Underwood. I thought KD would stay, but it was actually a topic of conversation for two years leading up to last July. The thought of “Undiexit” would have seemed ludicrous yesterday morning.

Caleb Deck

Yeah. I had been feeling bad and had some crazy dreams the night before. I woke up from a nap to my phone buzzing with slack notifications and was *100% sure* it was a fever dream.

It was so out of the blue. Just no indication.

Thomas Fleming

This is a bit better than KD but not by much. I still got that same empty feeling, though. Why can’t we just have nice things?

Deck

The Facebook post comment sections from the past 36 hours are a good indication. Just glowing Undie praise on the posts of game recaps and his senior speech, followed by responses on those comments by the same people 18 hours later, somewhat rightfully feeling hurt and saying he’s a liar and a snake and confused meanwhile he’s already taking a pressers in Illinois….

Cunningham

I was at Channel 5 – sunburned from a fun round of golf. Slow news day other than the Thunder game and then BOOM. My first thought was Holder completely dropped the ball but now I’m torn.

Underwood is giving word-for-word quotes at Illinois he gave at OSU: “Feels like home.” “Once in a lifetime opportunity.” Praising the Illinois tradition. It’s cringeworthy.

Clearly all of the Iba-Sutton talk was lip service. Which feels very KD-like “I want to retire here.” “Oklahoma fits my personality.”

What do you guys make of the Holder-Underwood dynamic? They worked together less than a year and it crumbled.

Cox

He’s a business man who sells himself well. That sucks cause we all fell in love with him from an emotional fan standpoint. ? We weren’t special… He’s like the girl who got hot and told them, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

Fleming

We’ve heard from multiple accounts that holder isn’t the most amicable person. That probably played a part in it. But when it comes to money, Undie either knew he couldn’t make what he wanted to here or he loathed dealing with Holder so much that he bolted without giving OSU a real chance to counter an offer.

Or did he, and Holder didn’t budge?

I never thought that money was an issue at OSU, being a Power 5 team and all, but with this fiasco and Gundy’s extension up in the air, I’m not so sure.

Deck

It’s hard for me to believe this is ALL on Holder and that Undie was this poor guy who couldn’t get a meeting and wasn’t getting paid and loved the place but just couldn’t make it work, etc…. He told Holder and was on a flight from OKC like an hour and a half later. Dropping the news and getting outta dodge is what he did.

Fleming

He’s more like Frank Underwood than I thought. Straight savage.

Southwell

It’s definitely interesting, and I’m not sure I can fully wrap my head around it. I think that you can work for someone and you don’t have to get along or agree on everything. But I guess you can do whatever you want when you have options.

The way Underwood left tells me that he was fed up with something. Otherwise he would have been more professional about transitioning.

Fleming

One thing I keep seeing in comments is does his one season here (and past seasons at SFA) justify him getting paid $3M? Sure, he’s getting that money in IL, but should he have gotten it here and would he have deserved it? The fans seem to be split.

Cox

True. And I agree that he comes off disingenuous with his statements but nobody who is leaving a job is telling people up front. Players, staff. You just don’t that would be stupid. That’s not how it works. it is a business and that comes with the cold side of things.

“Deserve” is relative to market value. Teams will overpay for a winner and if you want to keep ANY winning coach, you have to pay them big time… if that was all it was, and Holder had the ability to keep him with the bump to $3M, and didn’t then Holder failed miserably … Deserve doesn’t matter to me.

Boone

Bottom line: If Underwood wanted to be at OSU, he would have made the deal work. At least give OSU an ultimatum like, “Hey , Mike, I’ve got an offer from Illinois that’s worth more than my life insurance. Can you match?” But it sounds like he was paper chasing.

Fleming

Chances holder eventually retired and Undie comes back and says “I want back now” and retires here?

Cox

Zero.

Cunningham

The thing I can’t wrap my head around: Underwood accepted his OSU contract over more lucrative offers (UNLV among others) because it was OSU and he saw the potential. So why less than a year after signing that contract do you raise hell and demand $3 million? It doesn’t make sense. Makes you think more about the Holder dynamic.

Fleming

HE WAS SUPPOSED TO RETIRE HERE and whoever prevented that from happening deserves to be ostracized from civilization

Cox

Right, there’s got to be something to that. Is Mike Gundy just contentious? i don’t think so. But he can’t get along with the AD.

Deck

Sucks to say but it’s also possible part of it as he saw Oklahoma State as a bigger stepping stone than UNLV etc and he could jump to his next step faster and bigger this way… ?

Southwell

To me it seems like Oklahoma State and Illinois are both stepping stones to get to Kansas State for Underwood. Illinois fans will soon believe he is supposed to retire there. He has a way with words.

Cox

Gross.

Boone

I think it goes back to what Don Wolken reported: He agreed to a less-lucrative deal with a handshake agreement that they would re-visit/renegotiate after a year if he won. So Underwood probably felt he deserved a much bigger deal than what Holder thought, just because he saw butts in seats and the turnaround he made in year one. Underwood probably felt slighted.

Fleming

How is Kansas State some prestigious job? Is he just jumping around schools until the job opens up?

Cunningham

Ok, you are Mike Holder (puts on orange cowboy boots): Who do you hire?

Fleming

I want to look hard at Jankovich, Miller, Crean, Doug, not particularly in that order. Maybe Enfield and maybe say screw it and give Hoiberg a text.

Boone

My first call is Gregg Marshall. If he wants $3.5, you make it happen. If he’s willing

Kyle Porter

This is the part that doesn’t make sense. Is OSU willing to pay ANYONE $3.5 million? How much better could Underwood’s first year have gone? And you don’t think he’s worth betting $3 million on … so who exactly would you bet it on if you’re Holder? Or is it just a $2.5M job and the ceiling is future Travis Fords?

Southwell

If Doug Gottlieb truly was the silver medalist in last year’s job search, hire him. You know he will stay loyal and true to Oklahoma State. He’s family. He doesn’t have coaching experience, so he’s not going to chase paper like Underwood.

It’s a win/win for Holder. He can save money and hire who the fans want. If Doug succeeds, Holder is a genius and everyone is happy. If he fails, we have him a shot. Can’t be worse than what we’ve had recently, can it?

Porter

I’m not convinced Holder would pay Gregg Marshall $3.5 million. I’m really not.

Fleming

And Doug won’t cost much, which is apparently all holder cares about

Cox

I agree, Porter. if Holder pays anyone $3M or more he looks like a hack.

Boone

Holder will not pay Gregg Marshall 3.5 mill, but $3 million he might. Maybe throw in a membership to Karsten Creek and see if Boone can throw some bonuses in. Marshall has a cush life in Wichita. He makes good money. Low expectations. I don’t think he would leave unless its for Indiana or UCLA. But gotta try.

(and yes, he would get Karsten membership regardless)

Southwell

Wouldn’t that be hilarious? Pay someone else that kind of money and get Underwood’s reaction.

Deck

I’m not necessarily 100% sold on Doug (I’m probably 99.6% sold tho…), but he definitely seems like the best option in my opinion for where OSU is at right now. As long as he can recruit decently and we don’t totally tank as far as bringing the horses in, what’s the issue with another season or two of some losses.

The reputation is already in bad shape and the recent tourney record is in shambles so might as well take the long shot with big upside. All dependent on keeping recruiting high.

Cunningham

My thoughts are well known, Porter put the same thoughts in print, perfectly.

If Doug doesn’t work out, then go hire another mid-major guy. (I think Doug would crush at Hoiberg-ian levels, maybe even better with experienced assistants he will surely hire)

Boone

Fleming

Doug knows basketball and how to improve players. He points out the little things on Twitter, e.g. ISU not pinching on FT box outs, effectiveness of a flex cross screen, etc etc.

And if you think that the knowledge he’s spouting doesn’t matter since it’s on social media, you’re wrong. He’s very knowledgable.

Only thing I don’t know about him is player development, but assistant coaches can play a big role in that as well.

Boone

And we don’t know if he can recruit. Or if he can make adjustments on the fly. Or if he can coach well in late-game situations. We don’t know if he can coach period …

Cunningham

Marshall isn’t leaving Wichita for anything less than $4 million. Certainly not less for Oklahoma State.

Deck

Bring Desmond Mason back as an assistant. Instead of pregame warmups just have him dunk over and over and I’d consider some season tickets….

Cunningham

Marshall is in the Self phylum for me – pipe dream. You can make a courtesy call, sure.

Fleming

Recruiting-wise, I bet you anything he can recruit. He’s very charismatic and down to earth. I saw him speak at some OSU alumni thing this past year and he was incredible.

Cox

I think any hire is a risk and if we’re being reactive (which Holder most certainly is) your biggest risk is a fan revolt. The safest bet is Doug on that front.

Porter

I’ll say this … if Holder doesn’t hire Doug now, it will never, ever happen. Ever.

Cox

True.

Southwell

100% agree.

Porter

It’s perfect timing. Sell the “we found a guy who won’t leave” thing. Cover up the fact that you sort of blew a perfect fit. You don’t lose momentum.

Fleming

If he is in fact a good developer, I think he could become a great coach. He has everything else.

Porter

Stop, Thomas. You’re going to kill Carson.

Fleming

That’s a big if. But on the other hand, if you’re comfortable with your assistant coaches and their ability to do their job, then I say why not.

Lol.

Cox

Do we know if Doug would be a great or even good coach? No. But disqualifying him only for the experience box not being checked seems a little narrow-minded given the whole situation.

They checked all the boxes with Underwood and he left. They checked them all with Ford and he set the program back 20 years.

Southwell

It probably doesn’t matter too much, but I would rather Gottlieb take over the team after a year of Underwood than immediately after Ford.

Porter

Yes.

Cunningham

Key factor Porter has mentioned: Holder has kind of painted himself into a corner salary-wise.

Boone

Remember last year when everyone was on the Doug train, then everyone thought the world might end when they hired Underwood?

Everyone thought a Southland coach wouldn’t translate to the Big 12. Now we look at him as the one that got away. Gottlieb can no doubt sell the home-grown aspect … but to say he’s the only one that makes sense is equally as narrow-minded.

Porter

Yeah, that’s also true.

Fleming

I wonder what his teaching style would be. Doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy to lay into his players. And, this is what I’m curious about, what would he run?

If he were smart, and he is, he’d keep the same general style in place. Push the pace, score, play some defense, win.

I’m sure he has tweaks in mind

Porter

I love that Thomas is all in on him philosophically. That makes me feel good.

Chris Knox

I know I usually don’t jump in on these roundtables, but there is something I’ve been thinking about since yesterday; if Brad and Co. were out there playing Louisville right now, does anything change with how this played out?

Or would it just be a matter of the news breaking tomorrow instead of yesterday?

Fleming

Every guy who knows the game well has imagined what he would run if he were a coach at some point in his life. I bet Doug has an entire mental playbook.

Cox

I don’t think he’s the only one that makes sense. They need to do a thorough coaching search. even more pressure than a year ago on Holder now.

Just saying “we don’t know if he would be good at XYZ” doesn’t do it for me. We don’t know that about a lot of candidates OSU is realistically going to be able to get.

Boone

But we know that outside of Gottlieb, they all have coaching experience. You’re so locked in on Doug that no one else will fit your profile.

Fleming

Yeah, I agree. See who’s interested, go from there.

Boone

This is the longest roundtable ever

Porter

I’m beyond biased so take this for what it’s worth, but Gottlieb is a compelling human being to listen to talk. That sounds like a ridiculous thing to say out loud, but it matters in recruiting and player management.

Fleming

I agree.

Cunningham

Last question: ? to your head — Who does Holder hire: Gottlieb or the field?

Porter

Gottlieb. Don’t @ me

Deck

Hopefully Gottlieb.

Boone

I think he hires Gottlieb.

Cox

I have no clue.

Fleming

That’s a toughie. But unless he can get a home run hire, it’s gotta be Doug.

Cox

Kelvin Sampson.

Porter

omg

Southwell

#bringdoughome

Fleming

Can anyone see him becoming the next Eddie in that he coaches here until he retires?

Cox

/Whispers Eddie didn’t retire at OSU

Fleming

Yes yes you get what I’m saying lol.

Southwell

If Doug is hired and has success, he will retire here. GIA will house Sutton-Gottlieb Court

Cunningham

Porter

Mike Holder will go down as the legend who instilled top-notch coaches who doubled as alumni at Oklahoma State in the three major sports. Legend. It’s a monstrous risk, but the payoff is that he’ll exit as the greatest AD in OSU history and likely never be touched.

Of course if he goes 5-25 the first three years, Holder will be unceremoniously be fired and thought of as “the golf coach who couldn’t AD.”

So … no pressure.

Fleming

He’s a big boy, he can handle it.

Cox

Or OSU slips into basketball oblivion and his legacy is reversed after Mike Gundy has had enough and walks his snakeskin boots down I-35.

Porter

The dirty little secret here is that OSU is kind of becoming a not-that-great job in a conference without as much money as a lot of other conferences.

Cox

Maybe playing KU, WVU, ISU and BU twice a year weighed in on it.

Porter

Fox and ESPN gave Illinois the money it needed to hire Brad Underwood because Michigan and Ohio State are good at football. Economics are not tilting in OSU’s favor in the future.

Cox

Good point.

Cunningham

Big 10 Network — ???

Can I make a roundtable guarantee?

Porter

Do it.

Cunningham

One year from today: Brad Underwood will be the head coach at Kansas State.

Porter

Wooooooooooow.

Fleming

I really hope that doesn’t happen.

Cunningham

He can sell the homecoming, alma mater “dream job” for the third time. No more $6 million Big 12 buyout to deal with.

Fleming

I’ll become a Bruce weber fan for life if it means he stays there.

Cunningham

2019, sold out GIA: Gottlieb vs. Underwood

Southwell

I bet he ultimately ends up there. Not sure if it will be next year.

Porter

Gottlieb throttles him as Lindy goes for 38. I’ll die.

  • kspokesfan

    It’s started a log time ago and now revived… #BRINGDOUGHOME

  • Scott in Texas

    After the shock wears off I’ll bet most of us realize / accept / think Underwood played us like he’s playing Illinois now, and he was never going to be here more than 2-3 years.

    Based on what Underwood has said to OSU players then Illinois fans and staff over the last couple of days, it’s clear to me that hiring him is the equivalent of marrying a stripper.

  • Guest

    Boone talked about Nik Starkel being an elite talent when he was committed to OSU while throwing for 200 yards with a TD and 2 INTs against high school competition.

    Him not trusting Doug as a coach puts me even more on the hire Doug train. Do it, Holder.

    • CaptainObvious

      Idk if you have figured this out but Boone is kind of an idiot when it comes to sports journalism (not that he is exceptional in this regard, as most sports journalists don’t think about sports in the way that fans do, thus resulting in stupid articles that betray any sense of passion)

      Take this stupid sentence from above “everyone thought the world might end when they hired Underwood”. Very few, if anyone, thought this. But to act like some “objective”, know-it-all, voice-of-reason journalist he says this. OSU fans were very happy with the hire, even people who wanted Doug. It’s a constant willful ignorance of history and facts to push a narrative to gain credibility with readers. Boone wants to share his worldview with the world, and has convinced his employers that people want to hear it. So he gets points for projection, but not for actual intelligence.

      • Bradley Underwood

        This. Yes. Boone has more ego than I do lol. He is the only voice I have heard back in Cowboy country that seems 100% Anti Doug Gottlieb. Of course this is his “I’m a CBS basketball writer so I know more than any of you” voice. I get he is concerned about experience of Doug. But this kid acts like he almost would despise a Gottlieb hire. It’s pretty sad. Does he want another guy like me who will run off for more money?

  • miller918

    Important question, is the EVERY.DAY.GUY mantra completely dead to us now? I get it if that has to die with Underwood’s departure but at the same time it’d be a real shame. Doug will probably come up with something even better once he gets there though.

  • Cole Shelton

    So what happens to the assistants? I assume they are either going with Undie or looking for a new job?

    • seedyberry

      Might be smart to keep some of the current assistant coaches to provide some continuity, as well as actual coaching experience in the event that Doug is hired

  • Saucy Takes

    Gottlieb comes to town stinks year 1 great year 2 followed up with big raise extension..stinks year 3 and 4. Holder can’t nurture gundy relationship. Herman stinks it up at UT gundy takes the job at the End of 2021. We hire unproven coach. and spring of 2022 we are watching the NCAA’s from the couch. And we don’t look very attractive for conference realignment.

    • DataAddict

      zzzZZZZZzzzzZZ…

  • OKsailor

    If there was really the handshake, talk after a year deal, it sure seems like he gave it all up easy. If Holder did offer the 2.2mil, doubling his salary, why couldn’t underwood say okay but if I go to the NCAA next year AND win a game, it goes to 3 mil the next year. I mean are there some bills he couldn’t pay with the 2.2 if he really wanted to be here that bad?

  • JP

    This was too many words.

  • LMC

    I would look at other smaller school talent other than a sportscaster. Like Tony Jasick of Jacksonville (formerly IPFW where he built the program to hang with IU).

    That’s just thought from a Fort Wayne Ok State alumnae. And I west to school with D Gottleib, so I understand the draw well. He is an OSU hero. I just think if he wanted to coach, he’d have gone into coaching 15 years ago.

  • Guest

    Holder eliminating Gottlieb for no coaching experience is so hypocritical considering he got the golf coaching job with no coaching experience as well.