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The Story of OSU’s Rookie Head Coaches: Mike Boynton Might Have the Toughest Path



Mike Boynton, like all new head coaches, has a lot on his plate. It started with all the foundation work when he was hired back in March like building a staff and recruiting. His relationships with last year’s players was already intact but going from assistant to head coach is a completely different dynamic and in some ways might be harder than walking into a completely new situation.

Boynton also starts his first season with the unenviable cloud of an FBI investigation and firing of his associate head coach Lamont Evans for alleged acts that started well before either were on staff at OSU. And on top of all of that, he’s never done any of this before, at least not as a head coach.

In the modern era of Oklahoma State men’s basketball (from Henry Iba on — i.e AI) there have only been four head coaches take the reins in Stillwater with no prior head-coaching experience.

Let’s see how they fared.

Coach 1st Year Record Overall OSU Record Seasons at OSU
Sam Aubrey 7-19 18-60 3 (1970-71 thru 1972-73)
Leonard Hamilton 8-20 56-63 4 (1986-87 thru 1989-90)
Sean Sutton 22-13 39-29 2 (2006-07 and 2007-08)
Mike Boynton 0-0 0-0 ?
Sam Aubrey

The first rookie head coach to take the whistle was the successor to Iba himself, Sam Aubrey, who played for the legendary coach at Oklahoma A&M before his time served in the U.S. Army. Even after a German bullet shattered his hip, Aubrey would return to Oklahoma A&M and start for the 1946 team, the first to ever win a second-consecutive NCAA title.

After his playing career, Aubrey coached at Okmulgee Tech Junior College for a stint before returning to Stillwater to join Iba’s staff. When Mr. Iba retired in 1972, Aubrey took over and coached the Cowboys to a 7-19 record his first year. He would hold the position for three years but stayed on at Oklahoma State filling various positions until he retired in 1983.

Leonard Hamilton

Just three years later and tens years after Aubrey’s coaching tenure ended, Oklahoma State hired a rising up-and-comer known as an ace recruiter with strong defensive principles.

Leonard Hamilton was a long-time assistant and first-ever associate head coach of the storied University of Kentucky basketball program. When the head coach who hired him, Joe B. Hall stepped down, his lead assistant was not even granted an interview.

Hall would be replaced by longtime Arkansas head coach, Eddie Sutton. Hamilton stayed on under Sutton for one season before being hired away by his new boss’ alma mater.

In his first two years, the Cowboys went 8-20 and then 14-16. Hamilton recruited some star talent to Stillwater like Byron Houston, Richard Dumas and transfer John Starks.

In his third and fourth seasons, Hamilton led the Cowboys to consecutive postseason appearances (NIT) for the first time in 32 seasons which led the board of regents to approve a three-year contract extension for the hot coaching commodity. But the University of Miami lured Hamilton away and the Cowboys would bring in Eddie Sutton the next season.

After 10 years at Miami, Hamilton would spend one year in the NBA manning the Washington Wizards post before taking over Florida State’s program where he is now in his 16th season.

Sean Sutton

After coming to Oklahoma State and playing for his dad for two seasons, Sutton took a job under former OSU staffer Rob Evans at Mississippi. When Bill Self left Stillwater to take the job at Oral Roberts a year later, Sean returned to Stillwater to take his place.

The younger Sutton was an ace recruiter securing the likes of McDonalds All-American James Anderson and was tabbed the “Recruiter of the Year” in 2005 by Rivals. Sutton had already been pegged as his father’s replacement but that transition was expedited by off-the-court issues.

Sean took over for Eddie and had a couple of mediocre seasons in the win-loss column but again non-basketball issues ended a Sutton’s career at OSU. Who knows what could have been.

Hamilton was the only one that wasn’t hired from within and was lured away to greener pastures. The others followed legends at OSU. Sutton was the only one with a winning record his first year. Each situation was different, but none were as tough as the one Mike Boynton walked into with the way Underwood left and with what had become a Bring Doug Home bonanza. And that was before the FBI got involved.

Mike Boynton’s story has yet to be written but it starts tonight. Regardless of his experience coming into the job, there’s no doubt that he begins his tenure with challenges that few coaches have faced, maybe ever at OSU.

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