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Three Thoughts on Mike Boynton’s Contract Extension

On the terms, Boynton and the administration.

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The city of Stillwater let out a collective sigh of relief followed by floor slaps and fist pumps Monday; Mike Boynton is sticking around.

Boynton agreed to an extension through the 2027-28 season that included a pay raise to $3 million annually. Here are three thoughts on the topic, keeping in mind that some of this is probably too soon to have a solid opinion on until further details of the contract come out, like the buyout, the bonuses, etc.

1. The Terms

I saw some Travis Ford PTSD folk saying the 7 years were too many, but I think the 7-year, $3 million per is a great sweet spot.

I wrote after OSU’s win against Texas Tech on Feb. 22 that Boynton’s price tag had the opportunity skyrocket, and then the Cowboys went onto beat Oklahoma twice, West Virginia twice and Baylor. I thought then that about $2.8 million would be a good number, before the Cowboys dispatched their rivals, beat West Virginia in Morgantown without Cade Cunningham and Isaac Likekele, and battled to the Big 12 Championship game.

On the way back from Indianapolis, I thought more about it and thought somewhere in the ballpark of $3.2 million would be solid, so I think the $3 million with the extended 7 years works out great. Again, who knows what types of bonuses could also be tacked on.

As for those who still have nightmares about Ford’s 10-year deal, I would argue that this is an entirely different situation. And the difference in 10 years and 7 years is a lot in college sports. It’s almost a whole cycle of recruits. Likekele just finished his third season in Stillwater, and it feels as if he has been here forever.

The deal will put Boynton around No. 25 in coaching salaries nationally compared to the No. 65 he was at last season. If you’re scared of your favorite program paying top-25 money for a coach, then I don’t know what to say.

2. The Coach

Mike Boynton has made OSU basketball cool again.

Not long after Boynton took this job, he was set up for failure with the FBI investigation turned NCAA sanctions. He also had to discipline a handful of kids, some of which he recruited, some of which he didn’t.

But through all of that, Boynton has always had a knack for saying and doing the right thing at the right time. He harkens back to Henry Iba and Eddie Sutton every chance he gets (which OSU fans adore). He shows up to random soccer, softball and baseball games (which OSU fans adore). He wears the orange blazer during Bedlam games (which OSU fans adore).

The term “culture” is almost a clich√© in sports, but Boynton has dove into whatever Cowboy culture is as hard as Mitchell Solomon jumped on that ball by Trae Young.

The most exciting part about Boynton’s tenure is Cade Cunningham. … But the second most exciting part about it is that you can see the build. He took a veteran-heavy team in Year 1 to a Tournament snub and a good NIT run, but then he had to rebuild.

In Year 2, he brought in Likekele’s class, of which Likekele is the only one left. But he didn’t try to hang onto things that weren’t perfect for the “culture.” Kids weren’t following rules, they got sent home. Yor Anei wasn’t all the way in after the NCAA sanctions, thanks for coming.

In Year 3, Boynton added the Boone twins, Avery Anderson and Chris Harris, a class that seems to fit what Boynton was after well.

Then in Year 4, boom. Cade Cunningham, Rondel Walker, Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe. It was another set of guys to push things along. It was OSU’s best season in a long while and it came the first year Boynton coached a team full of players he recruited.

Now Mike Boynton has a young, good team that is getting older.

The build has been obvious, and OSU needed to keep Boynton in place to see it through.

3. The Administration

There has maybe never been a more difficult time in the history of college sports to give someone a 62% raise, but good on Mike Holder and/or Chad Weiberg for doing it.

It’s no secret to anyone that most athletic departments’ biggest cash cows are football and men’s basketball. When those two sports are doing well financially, it’s only going to help everywhere else.

As the great Sam Presti once said, “Scared money don’t make none.” If OSU was bullish in this situation and somehow lost Boynton, it could take years for the basketball program to recover.

Now, excitement for the basketball team is as high as it has been in a long while. When 13,611 fans can pack into GIA again, it will happen. Those fans will buy tickets and hotdogs and shirts, and that’s going to help OSU recover from any pandemic losses a whole lot faster than paying a coach less to have an empty arena would.

This is all easy for me to say from the comfort of this here website, but I think Holder, Weiberg and the rest of OSU’s administration deserve high praise for making this call at this moment in history.

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