By Glen Chenoweth
When the final buzzer sounded last Friday afternoon it hurt. Not the usual disappointment and “what could’ve been” thoughts that generally accompany first round losses, this was more of the “we just took 16 3-pointers straight to the balls” variety. After the shock wore off from the Bombing of Indianapolis, we could all hold our heads high after all. Yes, we lost but we were proud of our guys. Everything from the midseason turnaround, fighting tooth and nail with the Big Ten Champs, the overall trajectory of the program as a whole… You could feel that despite the loss, we were back on track and led by General Underwood, we had hope again. Less than 24 hours later, Brad Underwood was in Illinois signing his contract and the whole Cowboy plan went to shit.
So what the hell happened? Money? Underwood did get a nice pay increase with his new school, but for a man who was so fiercely committed to all aspects of the program, as well as the student body, was a few 100k a year really the reason? Yes and no.
When Underwood sat down to discuss his contract before the tournament, he was low-balled by an AD that wasn’t too shy about throwing around money just a few seasons earlier. AD Mike Holder was understandably a little hesitant on making that mistake again, especially with his already declining popularity amongst Cowboy Nation. The problem was the jury was still out on Coach/Actor Travis Ford when they gave him the extension, this was not the case with Underwood. Brad took a crashing program and turned it around on a level that makes Sully look like just an asshole floating in a bay, and in the process he revived the fan base. For Underwood, the 3 million a year wasn’t about the money but rather a symbol of respect, he wanted to be appreciated for his commitment as well as results. Holder either couldn’t see this or was just being a cheap prick. Either way, a man who worked as hard as Underwood deserved a better deal.
Holder has a strange pattern of rubbing people the wrong way. It’s no secret about the tension with Mike Gundy over the years, leading to Gundy perhaps weighing other options as his contract nears the end. Starting beef with the most successful football coach in OSU history and the man that just turned the basketball program around sure seems like a common and unnecessary theme with Holder. Is it as simple as Holder’s just a dick that no one likes? Who knows? I’m sure there’s blame to go around with all parties but it seems very odd that an AD can’t get along with multiple successful coaches. It would be incredibly sad if personalities would get in the way of a good thing at the expense of the university. Holder has his job on the line with this next decision, and it doesn’t look to be as easy as having another Brad Underwood fall into your lap again. Do yourself a favor Mike, look inward, hug a puppy, bake some cookies, give Coach Sutton the occasional sponge bath, anything to help with those people skills. Mike, if you allow your personality to screw us again, the fan base won’t be here to catch your fall. Especially since most of us would rather pay Underwood the 3 mil and have Bullet be the AD if given the choice.